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17 Best Cake Flavors, Ranked

Plan your next birthday cake with these favorite flavors.

Dessert is a celebratory course in any culinary tradition. Since the discovery of sugar, cultures worldwide have created countless baked goods, candies, and sweet drinks to celebrate special occasions.

Plate With Slice Of Tasty Homemade Chocolate Cake

Cake is one of the most beloved desserts on the planet, and they come in all shapes and flavors. If you’re a dessert lover, you probably have strong opinions on your favorite sweet treat.

You may request the same cake flavor for your birthday each year or delight in a slice from your favorite bakery on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to try new cakes when you seldom get to eat them. That said, there are so many fantastic cake flavors out there to savor.

Most Popular Cake Flavors 

Venturing out of your cake box to try new flavors could result in a new favorite. Check out the following list of the most popular cake flavors to inspire your next cake order or home baking endeavor.

Chocolate Cake

Both sugar and chocolate come from the Americas, but it was the Europeans who combined the two to create the sweet, sumptuous variations we know and love today.

Baking chocolate comes in solid and liquid forms, but both forms are bitter, requiring the addition of sugar. 

Chocolate Cake incorporates chocolate into a light, fluffy baked good usually smothered in more chocolate frosting.

Chocolate Cake consists of flour, sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, canola oil, milk, water, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, and espresso powder. The espresso powder enriches the chocolatey flavor. 

I like to use chocolate buttercream on my chocolate cake, topping it with fresh strawberries and blueberries for both aesthetic and a slight tang to offset the richness.


Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of the oldest forms of cake, originating in Ancient Greece centuries before the discovery of sugar.

Cheesecake as we know it today originated with the production of cream cheese in New York during the mid-19th century.

There are various forms of cheesecake, and each culture has its own unique version.

In the states, the most famous cheesecake is the New York cheesecake, made with cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla that’s combined and poured over a graham cracker and butter crust. I like it best with strawberries in strawberry syrup, but there are lots of toppings options.

Other cultures use cottage cheese or any other soft cheese and cream. Japanese cheesecakes, for example, use gelatin and are much fluffier and lighter than the dense New York Cheesecake. 


Red Velvet Cake

A truly American tradition, Red Velvet Cake is a form of chocolate cake that branched off from the chocolate devil’s food cake using cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate bars.

The red coloring of a red velvet cake comes from beetroot juice that bakers used to color their cakes in the early 20th century.

While Red Velvet Cake originated in the northeast, it’s become a more common dessert in the South.

Red Velvet Cake consists of flour, sugar, eggs, shortening, butter, vegetable oil, red food coloring, vinegar, cocoa powder, and buttermilk.

While red velvet cake traditionally uses flour buttercream icing, I prefer cream cheese icing.


White Cake / Vanilla

While vanilla may have a plain jane reputation, it is anything but plain.

Vanilla comes from a tropical Mexican orchid and is perhaps one of the most important ingredients for every kind of dessert.

If you check the ingredients on any cake, chocolate bar, pastry, or pie, you will undoubtedly find vanilla on the list.

A white cake or vanilla cake consists of flour, butter, vegetable shortening, sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt, whole milk, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. It’s like the sugar cookie of cakes.

If you can’t decide whether you like chocolate or vanilla more, you can always ice the white cake with chocolate buttercream. 


Ice Cream Cake

Instead of cake and ice cream, you can have them in one perfect dessert! Ice Cream Cake is a delicate combination of a thin baked cake layered between thicker layers of ice cream.

They come in all kinds of flavor combinations. 

In my opinion, Ice Cream Cakes are best left to the professionals because they’re tedious and challenging to make. However, most ice cream shops offer custom ice cream cakes. 

My favorite ice cream cake is a hot fudge and Oreo ice cream cake, featuring a chocolate cake with chocolate fudge icing over a thick layer of Oreo ice cream.

The chocolate cake and fudge then receive a layer of chocolate buttercream topped with chopped Oreo cookies.


Sponge Cake

Sponge Cake is an inherently fat-free and delightfully light cake, using sugar, flour, and egg whites as the base ingredients.

Recipes today add milk, baking powder, and vinegar. As its name implies, sponge cake is porous and absorbs any flavored liquid you pair it with.

Sponge Cake is usually topped with whipped cream and layered with fresh fruit in a simple syrup.

If you’ve ever had a strawberry shortcake, the cake recipe most likely drew from a standard sponge cake.

I love Sponge Cake because it’s the only cake I always feel guilt-free after eating. It’s also light enough to warrant a second piece! 


Devil’s Food Cake

Ironically, a Devil’s Food Cake has more chocolate than a chocolate cake. Thus, if you’re a chocoholic, I recommend searching for a Devil’s Food Cake recipe.

Another American creation, Devil’s Food Cake, originated at the turn of the 20th century. It uses solid baking chocolate squares melted into the batter instead of cocoa powder.

That said, modern recipes have switched baking chocolate squares for cocoa powder, arguing that cocoa powder has a more robust chocolate flavor.

Devil’s Food Cake uses fewer eggs than a chocolate cake and contains flour, sugar, and baking soda. The addition of extra baking soda makes the Devil’s Food Cake a darker color.

In my opinion, a devil’s food cake is exceptionally moist and decadent. I like it with a simple frosting of semi-sweet chocolate and heavy cream. 


Pumpkin Spice Cake

Nothing screams fall like pumpkin spice! It may be in a latte, pie, and even scented candle form, but a pumpkin spice cake is always welcome at a holiday party.

It’s usually baked in a bundt pan and drizzled with frosting instead of completely covered with icing.

Pumpkin Spice Cake uses canned pumpkin puree, flour, butter, eggs, and vanilla as the wet foundation.

The dry ingredients consist of flour, cinnamon, allspice, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and crystallized ginger.

The drizzle is a simple mixture of heavy cream and powdered sugar. I love the dense texture and spicy taste of ginger, cinnamon, and allspice.  


Strawberry Cake

Strawberry Cake is a blanket term for any cake that uses strawberries as the main ingredient, which could mean putting sliced strawberries into the cake batter, topping the cake with fresh strawberries, infusing the frosting with strawberry syrup, or all three.

If you’re a strawberry fan, the more strawberries in a strawberry cake, the better.

A Strawberry Shortcake is technically a strawberry cake that uses a sponge cake to absorb fresh strawberry juice and cream with fresh-cut strawberry filling.

I recently found the ultimate strawberry cake recipe from Food Network celebrity chef Giada de Laurentis.

I added fresh whole strawberries drenched in simple syrup to the whipped cream and honey topping. 


Angel Food Cake

Angel Food Cake is Sponge Cake with the addition of one key ingredient: cream of tartar.

Angel Food Cake is a newer form of sponge cake that originated in the U.S. It consists of egg whites whipped until stiff and combined with cake flour, cream of tartar, sugar, and vanilla extract. 

Angel Food Cake is typically what you see in a bundt pan and has a large hole in its center.

There are various preparations and uses for Angel Food Cake in American culture ranging from wedding cakes to funeral cakes.

I enjoy angel food cake as a summer treat topped with fresh mixed berries and a lemon glaze.


Pound Cake

The exact opposite of Angel Food Cake, Pound Cake is the heaviest and densest of all flour-based cakes.

The name comes from the original recipe that called for 1 pound of the four basic cake ingredients: butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. 

Pound cake is the richest and most decadent cake and usually doesn’t have frosting. It’s also one of the only cakes that exclusively use a loaf pan and gets sliced into thick pieces.

You’ll always see some kind of pound cake at a coffee shop. 

The usual varieties include vanilla, marble, orange, walnut, and hazelnut. However, my personal favorite is lemon poppyseed with vanilla glaze. 


Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake has a special place in my heart and is always the cake I request for my birthday. It’s always moist, wonderfully spiced, and has a complex texture profile. 

There are many variations, but the basic carrot cake recipe contains shredded carrots, flour, eggs, sugar, canola oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It’s one of the rare cakes that usually doesn’t use butter.

Fresh walnuts or chopped pecans, raisins, crushed pineapple, and/or shredded coconut are additional ingredients added to the batter before baking.

Carrot cake usually uses cream cheese frosting. I like to add chopped toasted pecans to the perimeter of the cream-cheese frosted cake. 


Butter Cake

A butter cake is a subset of pound cake that has branched out into many forms and flavors.

Like pound cake, butter cake usually has no icing and uses at least a full cup of butter along with flour, eggs, and sugar. 

However, unlike pound cake, butter cake takes on many forms, from bundt cake to gooey butter cake bars typical in the deep South.

The key technique with Butter Cake is creaming the butter and sugar until light and fluffy to ensure the best texture.

The gooey butter cake is pretty unique, but I like a lighter, fluffier butter cake with chocolate frosting.


Funfetti Cake

A festive and colorful cake, the Funfetti Cake is a more recent creation that entails adding rainbow sprinkles to a white cake batter.

Upon baking the cake, the sprinkles melt into vibrant polka dots.

Recently, there’s been a Funfetti Cake craze at high-end bakeries where bakers remove a cylinder of cake from the center and fill it with various sprinkles and rainbow candies.

Upon cutting into it, all the candy spills out along with your slice.

Funfetti Cake is sold pre-made in boxes. I like it with vanilla buttercream frosting and extra sprinkles on top. 


Marble Cake

As the name suggests, Marble Cake is a cake that involves adding a darker or different colored batter to a lighter batter to create a marbled appearance.

Marble Cake comes in different varieties like chocolate and vanilla marble cake or coffee and spice marble cake.

The original marble cake was a German creation known as Kugelhopf, a mix of white cake batter and molasses-spice cake batter.

The technique involved in marbling a cake is to add a lesser amount of darker batter to the lighter batter, swirling it around gently with a knife or fork.

I like marbled chocolate and vanilla pound cake from my local coffee shop.


Pistachio Cake

Pistachios are sweet, buttery, and nutty, making for a delicious flavoring agent for desserts.

You’ve probably seen it in Italian desserts like biscotti and gelato. And if you liked it in cookie or ice cream form, you’ll probably love it in a cake.

Pistachio Cake uses ground pistachios in the cake batter along with whole or chopped pistachios folded in.

The batter uses butter, eggs, flour, ground and whole pistachios, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and baking soda. The result is a beautiful subtly green cake.

I like to ice it with mascarpone frosting and add chopped pistachios and edible flowers for garnish.


Cookie Cake

I’d say that a cookie cake is less of a cake than it is a giant cookie with iced piping on top.

A cookie cake can be any flavor you’d like, from chocolate chip to snickerdoodle. To make a cookie cake, you simply increase the proportions and baking time of your favorite cookie dough.

You can use a rectangular or circular cake pan into which you evenly stuff the cookie dough, bake it, and ice the cookie using a piping tool.

If you’re not a cake fan or love the idea of a giant cookie, then the Cookie Cake is perfect for you.

I’ll never turn down a slice of chocolate chip cookie cake with chocolate and vanilla frosting.  


Most Popular Cake Flavors 

  1. Chocolate Cake
  2. Cheesecake
  3. Red Velvet Cake
  4. White Cake / Vanilla
  5. Ice Cream Cake
  6. Sponge Cake
  7. Devil’s Food Cake
  8. Pumpkin Spice Cake
  9. Strawberry Cake
  10. Angel Food Cake
  11. Pound Cake
  12. Carrot Cake 
  13. Butter Cake
  14. Funfetti Cake
  15. Marble Cake
  16. Pistachio Cake
  17. Cookie Cake

Final Thoughts

Cakes are joyful and delectable desserts that make any occasion a cause for celebration.

Whether you like to bake or peruse the case at your local bakery, you’ll find countless recipes and varieties of the most popular cake flavors I’ve listed above.

Get the best of both worlds with ice cream too – check out the most popular ice cream flavors while you’re here!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.