The Best Vanilla Cake Recipe from Scratch

Make the best vanilla cake recipe from scratch for an impressive yet easy dessert. Bake it in a cast iron skillet or a regular cake pan. Both are wonderful!

best vanilla cake recipe in cast iron skillet piece missing

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Sometimes it’s good to try something new. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering…even the simplest new thing can make you feel accomplished. I’ve always wanted a cast iron skillet, but never bought one because I wasn’t sure exactly what to buy. Vintage or new? What brand? Anyway, the decision was taken out of my hands when a friend bought me my very own skillet. And you know what? I love it!

It’s made by Lodge and measures 10.25 inches. It’s new and came preseasoned. I followed the directions from Lodge and seasoned it with oil before I used it the first time. My first try was making a Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie but more on that at the end of the post. Today I’m sharing the best vanilla cake recipe that is moist and delicious. It’s actually the sort of cake that could be eaten for breakfast, a snack or dessert. It pairs perfectly with any kind of fruit, ice cream or other toppings. 

vanilla cake batter in cast iron skillet


The Best Vanilla Cake Recipe from Scratch!

This is a very straight-forward, simple recipe that uses basic pantry ingredients. At any given time, you should be able to whip up this cake. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can us any 10 inch round pan (if the sides are tall enough) or a 9 x 9 inch square cake pan.

best vanilla cake recipe in cast iron skillet


This Vanilla Sugar Skillet Cake Recipe is baked in a cast iron skillet and uses basic pantry ingredients. It's light, moist and delicious!

The Best Vanilla Cake Recipe from Scratch

Make the best vanilla cake recipe from scratch for an impressive yet easy dessert. Bake it in a cast iron skillet or a regular cake pan. Both are wonderful!
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4 from 5 votes
Servings: 8 pieces
Author: Ann Drake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 1/2 cup shortening I used Crisco
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, or large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the shortening and milk for 3 minutes.
  • While still mixing, add the vanilla sugar.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Add the flour mixture to the shortening/milk mixture in three batches. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl very well.
  • Separate the yolks from the whites of 4 eggs. Add the egg whites to the batter and beat until mixed. Don't overmix.
  • Spray a 10-inch cast iron skillet with Baker's Joy OR coat well with shortening and dust with flour.
  • Pour batter into prepared skillet.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cake is done when a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool completely on a wire rack. Lightly dust with powdered sugar if desired.
  • If not using vanilla sugar, add 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste with the regular sugar.
Like this recipe?Follow me at @onsuttonplace


piece of vanilla cake beside cast iron skillet

Vanilla Cake Tips

  • Vanilla sugar is easy to make. Click {HERE} if you want to DIY your own version. Or buy it {HERE.}
  • This vanilla cake can double as a shortcake. After a few days it does dry out a bit (if there’s any left!) If that happens, top it with fruit and whipped cream, milk, or half and half. It’s delicious!
  • You don’t have to use vanilla sugar. Just add two teaspoons of good quality pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste along with the sugar when you are making the cake. 

I will be sharing more skillet recipes as I find them so stay tuned. This particular cast iron skillet is very reasonably priced so if you don’t have one, I hope you treat yourself to an early Valentine’s present! 

Thank you for stopping by and spending part of your day with me. Now get in that kitchen and bake a cake!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Maureen Akal says:

    Hi Ann. This looks amazing. Just one question I didn’t see anyone else ask, could I use fat free milk or would you suggest whole milk? Please advise.

  2. I’m wondering about using a cast iron skillet on a smooth top range. Do you use it ONLY in the oven. My instructions for both smooth top ranges I have say NOT to use cast iron on it so I donated by skillet. I’d love to be able to use cast iron if it’s safe for my range top.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Kay…I have used my cast iron skillet on my glass range top. The thing is that the skillets are VERY heavy, and with one wrong move your glass top could break. To my knowledge, and I don’t know for sure, the skillet won’t actually damage the top as long as you don’t slide it. You have to lift it carefully. I have strong hands, and am very careful. If you have any doubts at all, I would not do it. I hope this helps!

  3. Looks terrific and comforting for the colder weather! I love my cast iron pans, they’re especially good for cornbread. I put it in the oven during preheating and it lends a nice crisp edge and bottom to the cornbread. I made your small batch applesauce a couple days ago, it’s delicious for a light dessert. Saving this recipe – thanks!

  4. Lisa Cicchinelli says:

    Oh my ! That vanilla cake looks amazing, I love that you use and attach the link to the best vanilla bean paste ever ! Normally the extract is everyone’s go to but until you try recipes with that Madagascar paste you’re missing out on an amazing flavor. I first tried it when my husband brought home a jar and since then ? The rest is history . I adore reading your emails and trying your recipes and tips and this cake is a must try. Thank you for bringing your special touches into our homes .

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Lisa…my favorite part of using vanilla bean paste is licking the spoon! :)

  5. Hi Ann,
    I was going to use this cake for my pineapple upside down topping, in the cast iron skillet. What’s your thoughts?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Crystal…I think it would work well. My only concern is that there might be too much batter. Just make sure you leave about half an inch space in the pan so it doesn’t overflow. If you try it, let us know how it works out!

  6. This cake was very easy to make and everyone enjoyed it. Didn’t have cast iron but made it in a large pie plate and increased the baking time. Served with sliced strawberries. Shared the recipe with several family members.

  7. Just wondering if you could substitute butter for the crisco? I can’t eat shortening. Looks delicious!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Marian…I don’t know for sure but honestly, I don’t see why not. The texture may be a bit different but it should bake up well. If you try it, please let us know how it tastes!

  8. I love your posts on iton skillets! My nesting trio of vintage skillets is on my stovetop at all times: a 6”, 8”, & 10”, but not usually used for cake. This versatile cake is changing that. I’ve made it 3x so far, using coconut oil instead of shortening, and trying other flavorings such as almond and lemon. The best was beating the egg whites separately before adding, and using White Lily self-rising flour. Can’t wait to make a pineapple upside down cake.
    Thank you for all the ideas!

  9. Cake for Breakfast, a snack or dessert?!? What could be better?
    I’ve been thinking about Cast Iron Skillets recently. My Grandmothers made everything from scratch and with only a couple of Cast Iron Skillets. I’ll have to get one! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Jan Painter says:

    Just made this cake a few hours ago. I didn’t use a cast iron frying pan as I’m vacationing for the winter and only brought my 12” cast iron frying pan with me. I did use a 9” springform pan and the cake was delicious! I did not have vanilla sugar but hope to find it for next time. This truly is a fabulous, cake with simple ingredients that was easy to make.
    Thank you!


  11. Ann- This cake sounds absolutely delicious AND easy. Than you for the recipe!!! I love using my cast iron!

  12. Barbaraa Sullivan says:

    Do you pre-heat the skillet? Like for cornbread?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Barbara…no I did not. Enjoy!

  13. Looks yummy.Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

  14. I haven’t used my cast iron skillet in many years. This delicious sounding cake has inspired me to put it to use. Thanks!

  15. What a perfect cake !
    I am going to cut little hearts out of paper and dust the top with the Powdered Sugar !
    Happy Valentines Brunch !!!
    Thank you !

  16. Ann,
    My son loves cooking and baking in his cast iron skillet!
    Since he is the main chef at their house. . .
    and loves strawberry shortcake with half & half. . .
    I’m copying this recipe for him, too!
    I don’t use cast iron, but I’m sure I can adapt this recipe
    to one of my many other baking pans.
    Thank you for sharing.

  17. Hum, Mom has an old cast iron skillet…

  18. Dear Ann. I am a new subscriber and just want to tell you how much I enjoy your emails. Your decorating tips are wonderful and crafts. And your recipes are amazing. I have made so far your lemon bread and the blueberry coffee cake, both delicious. Couldn’t keep both in the kitchen long enough… My husband loved them. When I see your emails it brings a smile to my face,,, it makes my day. Thank you so much!!

  19. I can’t wait to try this, maybe tonight. ????

  20. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says:

    Ann, this recipe looks so yummy! I will be making this real soon! Thanks for all your great recipes!

    Have a great day!


  21. Hi Ann,
    Thank you for the delicious cake! I made it the day you posted and it is a winner.
    Please keep skillet recipes coming; I love cooking with my cast iron skillet.

  22. Hi, Ann – I’m a recent subscriber to your blog and just wanted to say how much I enjoy it. To me, your décor is refreshing, relaxed and classy . Love the printables you offer. I’ve been wanting something ‘springy’ without being cutesy and your watercolor tulips fit the bill. I printed them on vanilla cardstock and absolutely love the way they turned out. Can’t wait to get them framed and hung. I also printed the chalkboard spring quote. It was so fitting as our winter this year has been a long one with lots of snow. Right now we are getting a break with warmer temps and melting snow, but we’ve still got a couple of months to go before it’s really over. Oh, I also made the eggnog bread – delish!! Thanks so much for your time and sharing everything!
    Bonnie in Wyoming

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Bonnie…thank you so much for taking the time to write and say hello. It made my day…and I’m so happy you are following along!

  23. Oh these skillet cookies/cake looks amazing!! I have several cast iron skillets but have never tried a dessert in them. I will be making both the vanilla sugar cake and the chocolate cookie…very soon!! Thank you for the wonderful recipes you post!

  24. Oh Ann another great recipe… I must tell you that I made your cinnamon-chocolate heart shaped cookies and everyone loved them. They were gone so fast that two days later I had to make another (double) batch. Thank you so much for sharing your delicious recipes????????????

  25. Ann, Love cast iron pans, my Mother made some wonderful meals in them.
    I have 3 different sizes & use them all the time. Definitely will try this recipe. I’ve
    used vanilla sugar in other recipes & it’s great.

  26. That sounds wonderful. I got rid of my cast iron skillet a long time ago because I never used it. I’ve seen a lot of recipes recently that look yummy but call for a cast iron skillet. Maybe I’ll purchase another. Preseasoned this time.

  27. Loved the idea of something to make for a desert with items that I usually always have on hand. Looks great too and many restaurants are now using and serving anything from breakfasts to dinners in skillets and people love it. It’s a cosy slam dunk home cooking feel. In our city we have a terrific lady named Jill with an amazing kitchen shop called Jills Table and superb cooking classes with guest chefs etc. they had a cooking class completely on cast iron how to cook with it and how to take good care of it. So I was excited to use your recipe with my new skillets. Thanks for giving me so much joy in my day, I get excited when I see the Sutton Place recipes and decor. :)

  28. This looks so yummy Ann! I’ll definitely be making this! I made chocolate cupcakes last week and they’re all gone so my husband has been looking for something else. This certainly fits the bill!!! Thanks for sharing.

  29. I have several old BSR skillets, and one Griswold skillet. The BSR are my favorites. Best non-stick pans I own. A well seasoned pan beats teflon any day. Thanks for the recipes.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      It’s similar to cinnamon sugar but made with the inside of vanilla beans. There’s a link in the post that goes to easy directions!

  30. Nan, Odessa, DE says:

    You will love this pan!!!!
    It is about the only skillet I use. I experienced one for the first time, making my first cake, pineapple upside down cake. I was about 8 yrs old. I liked this cake because it was beautiful, tasty, traveled well,, and DID NOT REQUIRE ME TO APPLY ICING. Back in those days, every organization had cake sales as fund raisers. I have made a few. I am over 70 now and this is still ONE of my favorite go to cakes!!!
    Thanks for this new recipe and taking me down memory lane!

  31. I LOVE my iron skillet! I’m 73 and my grandmother always fried chicken in hers and no one could make friend chicken like her! I make cornbread in mine and it comes out so good. I don’t fry things very often but when I do out comes this skillet and it makes things so much better than a regular skillet. Anyone who hasn’t tried one doesn’t know what they are missing. They just cook better.

  32. Thanks, sounds wonderful. Gonna give it a try.

  33. Kristine Puzel says:

    I am lucky to have not one, but two cast iron pans; one large (like the one you are using) and a smaller pan also! (Not sure if they came from my Mom or my Grandmother, who was an amazing baker!) I use them mostly to make cornbread, but will definitely be making this cake for my Bridge group dessert! Thank you so much for sharing!

  34. The skillet cakes look delicious. I have wanted to try cooking with an iron skillet, too, but have been a little intimidated by all of the ins and outs. To date, I’ve used the iron skillets my husband got from his grandparents as decorative items! Maybe I’ll venture out of my comfort zone and try your recipes. Thanks for sharing.

  35. Looks yummy, thank you so much

  36. Nana Diana says:

    My goodness! That sounds simple and good!!! Would you BELIEVE that SOMEONE (who shall remain nameless) packed my cast iron skillet up and donated it to GW? As in “well, you never used that old thing”….seriously? Anyway, a new skillet is on my ‘get’ list. I have never made a cake in one–but it sounds really like a fun thing to try.
    Have a great Sunday. xo Diana

    1. Ann Drake says:

      You crack me up Diana…get yourself a new skillet and tell SOMEONE not to touch it!

  37. Good morning Ann, Thank you for this wonderful post… Like you I have been in a dilemna over the cast iron skillet choice…thank you dear friend for making my decision easy ! Your cake recipe is perfect and looks so homey and comforting…perfect with a cup of coffee on a snowy day like today in New England! Again, a thousand thank yous for all you do for us……Smiles…….xo Anne

  38. What kind of shortening – butter, crisco, or oil?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I used Crisco…I just added it to the recipe. Thank you!

      1. Lillian graber says:

        Could I use whole eggs instead of just whites?

        1. Ann Drake says:

          Lillian you probably could…but it would look more like a yellow cake instead of a white cake. I can’t say for sure if the texture would be the same either. If you try it please let me know!

  39. Sounds delicious! Can’t wait to try it. I have my Mom’s cast iron skillet. It is over 60 years old. She use to make an amazing pineapple upside down cake in it! ????

  40. The ingredients do not mention eggs. Do you use the yolks?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thank you Diane! I had added the egg whites to the recipe grid but it didn’t save it properly. I figured out what I was doing wrong so now it’s added. No yolks, just 4 egg whites. Enjoy!

  41. Sandi Weiler says:

    Well now you’ve succeeded with the iron skillet. So proud of you Ann.
    Here in the south if you don’t have an iron skillet you might as well not have a kitchen.
    We use an iron skillet for everything.
    You need to try cornbread in the skillet. I know that’s a southern thing but oh so good.
    The secret to an iron skillet is to keep it seasoned.
    Also not to scrub wash everytime you use it. Sometimes you can take a damp paper towel and wipe it clean.that’s how it’s done after we bake cornbread.
    I’m anxious to have the biscuit recipe. I’ve never done biscuits in mine.
    If you can find used iron skillet you’re lucky. I have family skillet that have been passed down to me. Part of my decor in my kitchen is to always have a clean skillet on my stovetop. That must be a southern thing too. Check out an article written in Southern living magazine about that.

    Thanks again for sharing.
    Sandi from the south

  42. Colleen H says:

    This looks yummy, and I already have the big cast iron skillet. Thanks