This delicious vegan birthday cake recipe was generously sponsored by our friends at Fancy Sprinkles. They make some of the most amazing, beautiful, delicious vegan sprinkles on planet Earth. They’re kindly offering 15% for our readers on your first order with the code “WORLDOFVEGAN”—enjoy!
We set out on a mission to make the most delicious vegan birthday cake…and finally, here it is! We’re so happy to bring you this scrumptious, crowd-pleasing, foolproof recipe for a celebratory cake made without a drop of cow’s milk, chicken eggs, or bug secretions.
This cake is 3 layers of moist vanilla cake with the most irresistible vanilla frosting layered in between. Perfection. It’s light and fluffy, and the frosting is rich and decadent. And friends, don’t worry. You don’t have to be a pastry chef or a crafting queen to bring this beautiful cake to life. This recipe makes it easy-as-pie!
The Best Vegan Cake for Any Occasion
Whether you want to make a special cake for someone you love, for a kiddo’s birthday party, or just for the heck-of-it, we’ve got your back with this tried-and-true recipe. It’s been tested and enjoyed by many—vegans and omnivores alike. Truthfully, you’d never know it’s vegan!
This 8-inch cake is perfect for a gathering and will serve at least 12 people, if not more because it’s rich. It doesn’t have to be just for birthdays, as it could really be served for any occasion. Heck, you don’t even need a special occasion, just make it for you and your family or friends if you feel like it!
The Basics (Hint—It’s Wicked Easy)
For this recipe, all you need to do is prepare the batter and bake the cake layers.
Just keep in mind the size of the cake pans you use does matter, as it will impact how thick each layer will be. 8-inch pans like these are ideal! If you only have one cake pan, you can bake the three layers one at a time, just know that it will take significantly longer that way (instead of just 30 minutes, you’ll need to allow 90 minutes for baking). But hey—it also gives them time to cool!
While the cake layers are baking you can prepare the icing. Once the cakes are removed from the oven and completely cooled, you can frost, layer, and decorate them. Before you know it, your homemade vegan birthday cake will be ready to enjoy!
This decadent vegan birthday cake has a light and fluffy vanilla base, and the most delicious and addicting vegan frosting that makes a great base for decorating! It’s the perfect 3 layer cake for absolutely any occasion.
- 2 cups of soymilk (at room temperature—this is important)
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 ⅓ cup of granulated sugar
- ¾ cup of vegan butter (at room temperature)
- 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
Icing (this makes enough for a 3 layer cake; halve the recipe for a 2 layer cake)
- 2 cups of Earth Balance vegan butter (at room temperature—do not melt)
- 5 ½ cups of powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Advance Prep: Allow butter and milk to come to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and apple cider vinegar and allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the sugar, butter, and vanilla using a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer.
- Run the mixer and slowly drizzle the soured milk until combine. Slowly add the flour mix a little bit at a time and again, beat until combined.
- Distribute the batter evenly between 3 8″ greased and floured cake pans. Bake the cakes on the center rack of the oven for 27-30 minutes, or until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- While the cakes are baking, you can prepare your icing. Use an electric mixer to whip the butter for a couple of minutes until it’s nice and smooth. Add the powdered sugar half a cup at a time and mix until it begins to form a frosting. Add the vanilla extract and whip until the frosting is smooth. If you’d like to color the frosting, add the coloring agent now and mix well.
- When the cake is completely cooled, you can gently remove each layer of cake from the pans. If your cakes are a bit rounded at the top and you want them to be perfectly flat, feel free to use a cake leveler (or sharp, serrated knife) to gently slice off the top of each cake. Then stack the layers, one on top of the other, smearing a layer of frosting between each using an icing spatula (or a generic spatula). Beware, if the cake is still warm, the frosting will melt!
- Frost the cake exterior using your icing spatula (or kitchen spatula) and decorate as desired.
Want to make a 2 layer cake instead? You can use the same recipe, just divide the batter into two cake pans instead of three (approximately 2.5 cups of batter in each). Increase the baking time to approximately 45 minutes, until baked through (test for doneness by piercing the center of the cake with a wood or metal skewer and seeing if it comes out clean). Then halve the frosting recipe (you can always whip up more if needed, depending on how you choose to decorate).
If you notice the cake frosting is softening or you won’t be serving the cake immediately, store it in the refrigerator. The frosting will firm up in the fridge and the cake can last several days there!
Please note that different brands of vegan butter behave differently in frosting. Earth Balance vegan butter baking sticks have provided the most consistent results for me, so that’s what I recommend! I also tried Miyoko’s butter which didn’t work nearly as well in this.
Make It a Vegan Confetti Cake!
Birthday cakes are supposed to be fun, right? And I think we’d all agree that more color = more fun. So I invite you to do what I did. To turn your cake into a vegan confetti cake!
You can easily turn your traditional cake into a color-speckled confetti cake by mixing 1/4 cup of confetti sprinkles (like these vegan confetti sprinkles from Fancy Sprinkles) into your batter before pouring it into the cake pans to bake.
If you’re baking for a little one who loves unicorns, you could call this a “unicorn cake” and decorate it accordingly! Or… celebrating Pride? Call it a rainbow cake!
Are There Bugs in Your Sprinkles?
The more sprinkles, the more fun and festive, in my opinion! But be forewarned, many sprinkles out there today are not vegan. Sprinkles are commonly colored with food dyes that are animal-derived. Plus, sprinkles are often coated with confectioner’s glaze derived from shellac.
According to our good friend Wikipedia, shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug. It’s commonly used as a glaze or varnish for food products (like baking sprinkles) and…wood? Yup. Wood varnish. Shellac gives that high-gloss to most sprinkles you see in the store.
And if that doesn’t weird you out, consider this.
It can take between 50 thousand and 300 thousand lac bugs to produce just 1 kilogram of resin, and when the resin is collected from the trees, squashed up lac bugs are too. The bugs are theoretically removed before the resin is sold for use in food products, but still. Yuck.
Vegan Sprinkles, Please!
Here at World of Vegan we’re not into eating bug secretions that have been melted off of dead bugs (seriously—who comes up with these things?!). And that’s exactly why we were so thrilled to discover Fancy Sprinkles.
Fancy Sprinkles offers a huge array of 100% vegan sprinkles that are shellac-free. Not only that, but they are stunning! Vibrant colors, fun shapes, glossy finishes, creatively themed sprinkle mixes…you’d never know they’re vegan. Plus, they taste delicious!
Seriously, when I served up this cake to a group of friends, more than one commented about how good the sprinkles are. They have a delicate sweet vanilla flavor and don’t leave that nasty waxy residue on the roof of your mouth.
Fancy Sprinkles is not the only company to make vegan sprinkles, but I have to be honest. Most vegan sprinkles I’ve seen and tried over the years are dull and uninspired. I was blown away when I first found Fancy Sprinkles, and they’re my absolute faves to this day! Which, of course, is why we reached out to them about teaming up on this recipe.
You can check out their array of vegan sprinkles here. Note: not all their sprinkles are vegan but the vegan ones are clearly labeled, and you can easily search for all the vegan sprinkles in one place on their website. We can’t wait for you to try them and hope you love them as much as we do!
Fancy Sprinkles is kindly offering 15% for you, our World of Vegan reader, on your first order! Just use the code “WORLDOFVEGAN” at checkout.
Let’s Talk Frosting
This is our favorite vegan frosting recipe because it stays perfect at almost any temperature. Assuming you don’t live in a crazy-hot climate, you should be able to leave the cake out all day if you feel like it! Some vegan frosting recipes don’t sit well at room temperature, but this one is perfectly stable.
But if you are battling particularly hot temperatures, just pop the cake in the fridge and it will firm up. This frosting is made with vegan butter which, like any butter, is very firm when cold and can get soft and even melty in the heat. The same applies to this frosting!
And don’t worry, you can store this cake in the fridge for days and it won’t get too firm. In fact, it tastes absolutely delicious straight from the fridge!
Aside from the fact that this vegan frosting is super stable and won’t melt at your dinner party, it’s also likely to be the most delicious and authentic vegan frosting you’ll ever have! It really does taste just like conventional frosting. It’s sweet, buttery, creamy, and soooo tasty.
How to Color Frosting Naturally
You can leave the frosting white as it is, or you can have a little bit of fun with it and use all-natural vegan food coloring. Many conventional food dyes aren’t vegan, and they’re usually filled with chemical ingredients.
There’s no need for that.
You can use all natural food dyes to achieve beautiful colors in cooking and baking, without artificial ingredients.
Natural Food Coloring Options
Some basic ingredients that you can use for vegan food coloring to achieve your desired look are:
- frozen blended dragonfruit pulp with seeds, thawed (this is what I used—I mixed a teaspoon at a time directly into the frosting until I got the pink shade you see in the photos)
- freeze-dried dragonfruit powder
- beet crystals or beet juice
- berries or berry juice from fruits such as strawberries and raspberries
Yellow / Orange
- barley grass juice powder
- spirulina powder
- chlorella powder
- matcha green tea powder
- organic blue matcha powder (aka blue butterfly pea powder)
- blue majik powder (a form of blue spirulina)
- blueberries or blueberry juice
Find Vegan Food Coloring in Stores
Also, note that there are many vegan-friendly food dyes on the market as well! You’ll most likely find these in a large health food store or even online.
When adding food dyes to this icing recipe, I suggest whipping up the icing first. Then turn on the stand mixer on medium speed (or your handheld mixer) and add very small amounts of food coloring just a little bit at a time until you achieve the desired hue that you’re going for.
If adding food coloring elements makes your frosting too soft and liquidy, you can always add in more powdered sugar to firm it up!
Customize Your Cake
This vegan birthday cake is the perfect base recipe for many cake variations. Feel free to play around with the recipe and customize it as you wish!
Want a vegan chocolate cake? You can add some cocoa powder to the batter and/or the frosting for a decadent chocolate cake.
Want a strawberry whipped cream cake? Switch out the icing for coconut whipped cream instead and add slices of strawberries in between the layers!
Want a berry cake? Add fresh berries into the cake batter or even the icing.
There are so many possibilities with a recipe like this that truly acts as a blank canvas.
Alright, comrades. With that, you’re ready to tie up that apron and get to baking. Enjoy! This vegan birthday cake has such a nostalgic taste to it, and something about it is even reminiscent of the childhood classic Dunkaroos. Yep, it’s that good.
Recipe by Kathy Chrzaszcz for WorldofVegan.com. Photos by Michelle Cehn. Recipe and photographs copyright of World of Vegan™, all rights reserved. Please note that this article contains affiliate links which means shopping through them helps lights on at World of Vegan. Many thanks to Fancy Sprinkles for making delicious vegan sprinkles, sponsoring this recipe, and supporting our work at World of Vegan!