Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Buttercream

Raspberry layer cake topped with raspberries and raspberry leaves.

Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Buttercream ~ a pretty pink raspberry cake recipe for the raspberry lovers in your life! (Tip ~ use frozen berries when fresh aren’t available.)

A slice of raspberry layer cake being served.

This raspberry layer cake recipe is the ultimate pretty in pink dessert for berry lovers.

When it comes to berries, raspberries are definitely top of the line; their flavor is unrivaled, and it just makes sense to feature them in a celebratory dessert. This could be a lovely summer birthday cake or a ‘just because’ family treat to brighten up this weird summer we’re all having. It’s also a welcome change from plain chocolate and vanilla.

Cake layers on a cooling rack and frosting in a stand mixer for raspberry layer cake.

Every great layer cake starts with a great cake recipe

After some experimenting I landed on a formula that makes a super-soft, tender, ‘boxed mix style’ cake. It’s an irresistible texture. I use a mixture of melted butter (for flavor) and oil (for moistness) plus a little bit of vinegar that I find really helps to make an extra soft and pillowy crumb (don’t worry, you won’t taste it!)

The cup of hot water is something I borrowed from Ina Garten’s chocolate cake recipe ~ it helps keep the batter moist and the little bit of added heat helps to ensure even cooking even before the cake hits the oven.

Filling and stacking the cake layers.

A ribbon of raspberry filling amps up the raspberry flavor

A thick raspberry sauce tucked between the layers of this cake gives you a burst of fresh berry flavor in every bite. When you gently cook raspberries you enhance the flavor by a factor of ten, it really pops. I use this technique in my Raspberry Eton Mess my Raspberry Pavlovas, and my Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream to get vivid flavor.

Topping a raspberry layer cake with raspberries and raspberry leaves.

How to make a simple raspberry filling

  • Start with fresh raspberries (use frozen in a pinch)
  • Cook them gently with a little sugar until they break down and release their juice. Start over low heat and stir often so the sugar doesn’t scorch. (You can add a splash of water to get it started if you like.)
  • For this cake I added a little cornstarch to thicken the mixture.
  • Let cool and store your filling in the refrigerator until needed.

Vanilla cake with raspberry buttercream frosting

Put away the red food coloring, the same raspberry sauce that fills the cake also tints the frosting that perfect pink. You can control the intensity of the shade of pink by how much raspberry you add. (If you add more raspberry, just add less cream.)

Tips for making raspberry buttercream

  • Strain your raspberry sauce before you add it to get a clean pink color.
  • Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature, or at least not cold. Adding cold raspberries or cold cream to your frosting can cause it to ‘curdle’ or break.
  • If this happens, I transfer it to my food processor and process until smooth, it works like a charm.

Make your frosting ahead of time

You can make the frosting ahead of time and refrigerate, tightly covered. When ready to use it, bring to room temperature and whip it again to freshen it. If the frosting seems too thick, add a bit more milk or cream to loosen it and whip again.

A slice of raspberry layer cake on a plate with a fork taking a bite.

For the raspberry obsessed:

Raspberry layer cake with fresh berries





Raspberry layer cake topped with raspberries and raspberry leaves.
4.95 from 18 votes

Raspberry Layer Cake

Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Buttercream ~ a perfect vanilla layer cake covered with pretty pink raspberry frosting and topped with fresh berries (tip ~ use frozen berries when fresh aren't available.)
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Yield 12 servings
Author Sue Moran


Raspberry filling

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Vanilla Cake

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract (or substitute more vanilla extract)
  • 1 cup whole milk (or half and half)
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 cup hot tap water

Raspberry Buttercream

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 3 tbsp raspberry puree
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream or milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • fresh raspberries, for topping the cake, if desired.


For the raspberry filling

  • Add the raspberries and sugar to a small saucepan, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until the berries have broken down and the sauce has slightly thickened. Sift the cornstarch into the pan, and stir well. Continue to cook for just about another minute, then remove from the heat. Push the cooked raspberries through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. You'll want to use a flexible silicone spatula or the back of a spoon to press the sauce through the strainer so that you get as much of the berries through as possible.
  • Set aside to cool completely. This can be done up to a couple of days in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to use.

For the cake

  • Preheat oven to 350F and grease 2 8-inch cake pans. I also line the bottom of mine with a circle of parchment paper for easy removal.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan or the microwave and allow it to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, milk and melted butter and whisk everything together until smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and add it to the wet ingredients. Mix to combine but don't over mix.
  • Finally, add the hot water along with the vinegar, and fold the batter together until all the ingredients are well mixed. The batter will be thin, and you may even see it start to fizz a little bit from the vinegar reacting with the baking soda. This is ok!
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until risen and golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out without wet batter clinging to it.
  • Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the edges of the pans and flip them over to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.

For the raspberry buttercream

  • Cream the butter for a minute or two in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or with electric beaters) until smooth.
  • Add the sifted confectioner's sugar, about a cup at a time, mixing well between each addition.
  • Add the raspberry filling, cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Feel free to add a little more or less of the liquid ingredients depending on your preference for taste and texture (leave about 1/4 cup or so of raspberry filling to add to the middle of your cake.) Beat the frosting until smooth and creamy.
  • To frost the cake, add a layer of raspberry buttercream to the first cake layer, and top with a thin layer of the remaining raspberry filling. Add the next cake layer on top, and use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides. Top with fresh raspberries, if desired.

Cook's notes

Make ahead tips:
  • The raspberry sauce can be made up to a few days in advance and refrigerated.
  • The cake layers can be made ahead, cooled completely, wrapped in plastic and kept overnight on the counter, or in the refrigerator.
  • The frosting can be made up to a day ahead, covered with plastic in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temp and re-whip before using.
Pan size conversions:
  • This cake can be baked in a 9x13 pan, same oven temperature, and increase the baking time a bit.
  • You can halve the recipe for a single layer cake.
  • If you want to use 9 inch cake pans decrease the baking time a bit.
  • You can make cupcakes, same oven temp, check them at 18-20 minutes.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    March 21, 2022 at 11:18 am

    Hi. If I wanted to substitute Buttermilk in place of the cup of milk, would I omit the hot water and vinegar?

    I fell in love with the flavor and texture of your orange creamsicle cake and thought about trying this recipe for just a regular vanilla cake with buttercream frosting.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 21, 2022 at 11:51 am

      Good question, I think if you want to use buttermilk I would still leave the vinegar in, and definitely you will need the water. I think this cake would be delicious with a vanilla buttercream.

      • Reply
        March 21, 2022 at 12:31 pm

        Thank you so much.

  • Reply
    October 2, 2021 at 10:41 pm

    4 stars
    The cake overall is lovely but a bit too sweet. I would definitely recommend dropping down by a half a cup for the cake itself

  • Reply
    May 9, 2021 at 9:21 am

    5 stars
    I made a different vanilla cake froma recipe I have uiswd before. But zI loved the raspberry frosting! It tasted so wonderful.. The only issue I had was that the top layer of cake slid around a bit with the raspberry filling in the middle. I probably put too much in,. I made double the raspberry jam and piped an outline of a heart on top of the cake whicj I filled with the jam.

  • Reply
    Vanessa Knapp
    March 29, 2021 at 1:48 pm

    I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe out for my daughter. How many cupcakes would you say this makes?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 29, 2021 at 2:18 pm

      Depending on size, it should make 20-24 cupcakes.

      • Reply
        Vanessa Knapp
        March 29, 2021 at 3:15 pm

        Great, thank you!!

  • Reply
    January 30, 2021 at 11:04 pm

    Pls respond ASAP

    Baked this cake yesterday for my birthday today. Stored in fridge overnight and out on counter during the day (it’s winter where I live now, so it’s cold/no humidity) – cut open this evening to serve. On the bottom in the centre, a light grey-ish blue-ish colour has formed in a small area. I had put a dollop of frosting on the centre of my cake board to help it stick. It seemed way too soon for mold to form, so I went to Google. Various people are claiming that raspberries can stain cakes blue/grey, but I wan’t to know if you have experienced this with this cake! There’s also a subtle tint between the layers of frosting/filling in the centre, but none on the plain parts of vanilla cake that are not touching the frosting. I cut off a bit of the bottom from the slices and I was going to drop off slices tomorrow for my friends/family, but don’t want to put anyone at risk.

    Please let me know! P.S. it’s delicious 🙂

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      January 31, 2021 at 6:02 am

      Yes, it’s totally normal EF, no worries, raspberries sometimes do create a blueish color when baked. I think it has to do with the pH of the batter, but not sure.

  • Reply
    Lindsey Ford
    October 9, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    I’m looking high and low for a recipe for raspberry CAKE with raspberry frosting. What would be the best way to add raspberry to the cake itself, particularly if I wanted to make this as a sheet cake?

    • Reply
      October 10, 2020 at 4:47 am

      You could fold some fresh or frozen raspberries into the cake batter.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2020 at 9:07 am

    5 stars
    I love all of the recipes of yours that I have tried thus far. It seems you have esp and know what I am needing to make or use out of my garden. I have an abundance of raspberries that needed to be used, your cake was the answer
    .I made it using your technique, very unusual, but I trusted you and I am glad that I did. Very easy to make the batter, it baked up perfectly, and the taste and texture were perfect. I did the raspberry filling and used raspberry buttercream, what a great breakfast treat it was for my husband and me.
    I do wonder if the assembly can be used with other cakes, I loved not using my stand mixer. Also, I used buttermilk instead of milk and vinegar (I always have buttermilk in the refrigerator). Keep up the good work, your recipes and stories are both enjoyable.

  • Reply
    July 24, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    7 and 1/4 cups of sugar in one cake….you’ve gotta be kidding me! Totally ridiculous.

    • Reply
      Ava Vivion
      September 25, 2021 at 11:46 am

      If you don’t like a recipe then don’t make it, but don’t be rude about it if it’s not to your liking. It is a dessert if you haven’t noticed and I am pretty sure that it isn’t intended to be eaten by one person in one serving. I appreciate this site for recipes so if it’s not to your liking, then unfollow it.

  • Reply
    July 24, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    Raspberries — one of my favorite fruits! Is the Raspberry Puree used in the Raspberry Buttercream Frosting some of the Raspberry Filling? Or is the Puree something different?
    Making this for a family birthday party. My mouth is already watering!

    • Reply
      July 24, 2020 at 4:02 pm

      Yes, the raspberry puree is used in both the cake and the frosting.

  • Reply
    July 24, 2020 at 5:16 am

    We are all raspberry lovers in this house! Can’t wait to try your recipe!

    • Reply
      July 24, 2020 at 6:00 am


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