Luscious Layer Cakes Perfect for Any Occasion
If there’s anything we love around here more than cake, we can’t think what it is, unless, of course, it’s a layer cake. Think about it: layers of cake, layers of filling or frosting, and that satisfying moment when you cut into something impressive like our Strawberry Dream Cake. While we love our pound cakes and our coffee cakes, there’s just something about a layer cake. Sometimes, you don’t need a layer cake for an occasion, a layer cake is an occasion. We tend to err on the side of more cake, rather than less. From luscious lemon layers to jam cakes to caramel cake recipes so rich you’ll need a nap after, we’ve collected some of our best and most impressive layer cake recipes here. You’ll find the legendary Hummingbird Cake, the iconic Lane Cake, and more unexpected surprises, like the bright and fruity triple decker strawberry cake recipe that just begged to be included.
Strawberry Dream Cake
Recipe: Strawberry Dream Cake
You'll fall in love with this too-good-to-be-true strawberry cake. Fluffy whipped frosting made with marscapone cheese, sugar, whipping cream, and vanilla and almond extracts is the perfect finishing touch. We love the presentation of cake slices with upright strawberries between the layers. When it comes down to the details, this sweet confection takes the cake.
Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
Recipe: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
Our Southern secret to a moist chocolate cake? Duke's Mayonnaise.
White Chocolate Poinsettia Cake
Recipe: White Chocolate Poinsettia Cake
Petal-shaped cookies are the perfect polishing touch for this elegant layered cake.
Mama's German Chocolate Cake
Recipe: Mama's German Chocolate Cake
Layers of fluffy, moist German chocolate cake and creamy Coconut-Pecan Frosting make this towering, triple-decker dessert an instant favorite.
The Coconut Chiffon Cake
Recipe: The Coconut Chiffon Cake
White as a Sunday glove, coconut is the doyenne of Southern layer cakes, a masterpiece of home cookery that has crowned dining room sideboards for more than a hundred years.
Sea Salt-Caramel Cake
Recipe: Sea Salt-Caramel Cake
Rich caramel frosting topped with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt makes for a fancy finish.
Coconut Cake with Rum Filling and Coconut Ermine Frosting
Layers of tender coconut cake and a luscious rum custard are the stars of this divine dessert, but the frosting is pretty spectacular, too.
The Red Velvet Cake
Pumpkin Layer Cake with Caramel-Cream Cheese Frosting
A must-try for pumpkin spice fans, these cake layers can be made up to three days before your event.
Luscious Lemon Cake
Recipe: Luscious Lemon Cake
Create an impressive stack of zesty lemon layers that's perfect for any casual gathering. Or frost the entire cake for a more elegant presentation.
Triple-Layer Chocolate-Caramel Cake
This creamy chocolate and caramel frosting is even better with a a splish of bourbon, but it can be left out without causing any problems.
Best Homemade White Cake
Recipe: Best Homemade White Cake
Whether you're a white cake pro or layering for this first time, this is the perfect cake to serve friends and family.
Recipe: Hummingbird Cake
Thanks to Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina, this pineapple-banana spice cake with cream cheese frosting became one of our most requested recipes. We still stand by Mrs. Wiggins' original, indulgent creation.
Heavenly Candy Bar Cake
Recipe: Heavenly Candy Bar Cake
Gooey chunks of candy bar really do take this cake recipe to higher realms. Melted candy bars are stirred into the batter, and more are coarsely chopped and sprinkled over the top.
Gingerbread Cake with Buttermilk Frosting
Tangy buttermilk frosting pairs beautifully with the spiced layers of gingerbread cake in this holiday dessert.
Butter Toffee-Pecan Layer Cake
Recipe: Butter Toffee-Pecan Layer Cake
Toffee bits and chopped pecans stud these rich cake layers, and browned butter lends a special touch to the frosting on the top.
The Lane Cake
Recipe: The Lane Cake
In March 1966, Southern Living featured a recipe for Lane Cake in its second issue. Our latest twist? Dried peaches (finely diced and ridiculously delicious) stand in for raisins, and the traditional meringue frosting gets a spirited makeover with a triple shot of peach schnapps.
Mama Dip’s Carrot Cake
Recipe: Mama Dip’s Carrot Cake
This recipe from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, restaurateur Mildred "Mama Dip" Council is one of the best carrot cakes we've tested. The cake layers can be made ahead and frozen up to one month.
Eggnog Spice Cake with Bourbon Custard Filling and Eggnog Buttercream
Slightly boozy and decorated with a festive, zigzag frosting, guests are sure to enjoy this layered take on Christmas eggnog.
The Lemon Cheese Layer Cake
Recipe: The Lemon Cheese Layer Cake
Expecting a twist on cheesecake? You're in for an even sweeter surprise. These layers are filled with a buttery rich lemon curd instead.
Peppermint Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting
Peppermint-vanilla cake and fluffy pink buttercream make a merry combination in this layer cake full of Christmas spirit.
The Jam Cake
Recipe: The Jam Cake
The origins of jam cake lie deep in Appalachia where store-bought sugar was once scarce. Cakes were often sweetened with homemade jams, filled with wild berries and mountain fruits. The payoff for the genius swap? Rich, dense cake layers with a depth of flavor sugar alone can't deliver.
Praline Layer Cake
Recipe: Praline Layer Cake
The praline is one of the South's most beloved sweets, and, in this show-stopping layer cake, it certainly does not disappoint. Candied pecans add a toasty crunch to the top of the cake, while the soft layers are held together with a dark, nutty filling and a silky buttercream frosting. Pecans are great all year long, but there is something about the Fall season that makes you want to bake and bake a lot. This cake will truly satisfy your sweet tooth.
The 50th Anniversary Cake
Recipe: The 50th Anniversary Cake
As we planned the dessert for the Southern Living 50th anniversary party, sweet memories of generously frosted layer cakes from childhood birthdays or Grandmother's kitchen danced in our heads. Inspiration can come from anywhere, as long as the results taste delicious. Our most popular birthday cake recipe made the final party cut: six moist layers of vanilla-almond cake smothered in grand buttercream icing and embellished with glistening sugar sprinkles.
Recipe: Lane Cake
Pecans, raisins, flaked coconut, and of course, a little bourbon, top this classic Southern layer cake.
Recipe: Caramel Cake
This old-fashioned cake will seal your reputation as a baker.
Italian Cream Cake
Recipe: Italian Cream Cake
This cake will surely win rave reviews in your home with its sweet coconut flavors and Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting.
Chocolate Layer Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
This "choco-licious" dessert temptation is impossible to resist. The addition of hot tap water at the end makes for an exceptionally moist cake.
Toasted Almond-Butter Cake
Recipe: Toasted Almond-Butter Cake
This buttery, moist cake has the perfect hint of almonds and coconut. A sweet Cream Cheese Frosting makes it an even more outstanding way to end the meal.
Recipe: Chocolate-Praline Cake
This chocolate cake is off-the-charts rich. If you like pralines, you'll love this candy-like frosting.
Triple-Decker Strawberry Cake
Recipe: Triple-Decker Strawberry Cake
Layers of moist strawberry cake and Strawberry Buttercream Frosting make this three-layer cake a must for strawberry lovers.
Chocolate Cake IV
Recipe: Chocolate Cake IV
Coffee and chocolate lovers everywhere will find this cake to die for! Between each layer of chocolate cake is a delicious Mocha-Chocolate Cream Filling, and it's topped with Coffee Liqueur Ganache Icing.
Gingerbread Cake with Stout Buttercream
The bold flavor of a stout complements the spices in the German-inspired gingerbread cake. Spread a simple buttercream icing over the cake and garnish with toasted pecans.
Lightened Hummingbird Cake
Recipe: Lightened Hummingbird Cake
We lowered the fat and calories by substituting applesauce for some of the oil, using less butter and sugar, fewer eggs, and substituting light for regular cream cheese.
Blackberry-Raspberry Truffle Cake
Lavish amounts of semisweet chocolate and sour cream give rise to these luscious cake layers. No one will ever guess the recipe begins with a mix. A simple coating of coarsely chopped pecans and a handful of colorful berries will send this towering treat to the table in high style.
Four-Layer Coconut Cake
Recipe: Four-Layer Coconut Cake
Layer upon layer of tropical coconut and soft whipped cream topping make this a year-round favorite indulgence.
Coconut-Almond Cream Layer Cake
Recipe: Coconut-Almond Cream Cake
This decadent layer cake is deliciously rich as well as moist. For a colorful presentation, garnish with kumquats, currants, and fresh mint sprigs.
White Chocolate-Almond Cake
Recipe: White Chocolate Almond Cake
Using square rather than round cake pans gives this layer cake a wonderfully unique presentation. The combination of sour cream, light brown sugar and hot water make this cake extra delightful and moist.
Chocolate Italian Cake
Recipe: Chocolate Italian Cake
Finely chopped pecans and a hint of cinnamon in the Chocolate-Cream Cheese frosting gives this chocolate spin-off the classic Italian Cream Cake that something extra. Garnish with pecan halves for a pretty presentation.
Bourbon-Chocolate Cake With Praline Frosting
Best Carrot Cake
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Mousse Cake
Starting with a boxed cake mix makes this cake both easy and delicious. Kids and adults alike will love the creamy peanut butter mousse between layers of chocolate cake. Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts and serve with a scoop of ice cream.
Decadent Banana Cake with Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting
Bananas and coconut pair perfectly in this delicious dessert. Top with toasted coconut and banana slices for an impressive presentation.
Recipe: Fig Cake
A delicious twist on our favorite Hummingbird Cake, this recipe is so simple to make you won't believe you started from scratch. This recipe can be made with fresh figs or with good quality preserves. Sweet cream cheese frosting covers the cake and is a nice balance to the spicy fall flavors.
Lemon-and-Chocolate Doberge Cake
Recipe: Lemon-and-Chocolate Doberge Cake
Fresh Orange Italian Cream Cake
Recipe: Fresh Orange Italian Creme Cake
Reviewers have touted this one of the best cakes they’ve ever tasted. Our recipe takes ordinary Italian Cream Cake up a notch by spreading flavorful Fresh Orange Curd between each layer. Be sure to chill the Fresh Orange Curd for 8 hours; it helps keep the layers together which makes it easier to frost.