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This eye-catching rainbow layer cake is perfect for a special occasion, perhaps a birthday party, Pride celebrations or simply because you want to get creative in the kitchen and make something new. Nobody can fail to be impressed with this towering 12-inch high rainbow cake recipe featuring a rainbow of colors and a decadent creamy frosting.

A slice of colorful rainbow layer cake on a white plate.

If you’re looking for a show-stopping cake, you simply can’t go wrong with this rainbow layer cake. Boasting all the colors of the rainbow, this is just gorgeous!

Planning a party? You might like this Funfetti cheesecake, some cream cheese brownies, or even these adorable mini cone cupcakes. Chocolate peanut butter cupcakes are another popular choice, or perhaps you’d like to whip up some tangy lemon filled cupcakes or lemon ricotta cupcakes.

A colorful layered cake with a slice taken out of it.

Why You’ll Love This

Impressive: Easily impressive enough for any special occasion, this beautiful cake is 12 inches high and really eye-catching.
Not tricky to make: Although this isn’t the easiest cake to make, there is nothing overly complicated either and it’s well worth the time and effort.
Delicious: The rainbow cake layers are only one of the special parts of the recipe. Another has to be the beautiful flavor of the rainbow cake recipe. If you enjoy vanilla cake, you’re going to love this.

A slice of colorful layered cake with a fork in it.
A slice of rainbow cake on a plate with a fork.

Rainbow Layered Cake Recipe Ingredients

A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below

Cake flour: This finely milled, low-protein type of flour helps produce light and spongey cakes.
Vanilla extract: Gives the cake a delicate flavor and is also used to flavor the frosting on top.
Gel food coloring: The rainbow might have 7 colors but we are combining the indigo and violet for the bottom layer since they’re very similar. Gel food coloring offers a more vivid color than liquid food coloring, although that would also work.
Salt: A pinch of salt contrasts with the sweet ingredients, balancing out the flavor and ensuring it’s sweet but not overly so.
Sugar: To sweeten the cake batter. You can adjust the amount used if you want.
Heavy cream: This makes the frosting rich and decadent.
Rainbow sprinkles: To finish the rainbow layer cake off beautifully. You can find rainbow sprinkles on Amazon or your favorite baking supply store.

The ingredients for a colorful layered cake are laid out on a marble table.

How to Make a Rainbow Layers Cake

For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card

Start the cake batter: Whisk some of the milk with egg whites and vanilla.
Combine the dry ingredients: Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
Add more ingredients: Mix in the butter and then the rest of the egg whites.
Divide the cake batter: Divide batter evenly into 3 portions, adding purple food coloring to one, blue to the second and green to the third.
Bake the cake layers: Transfer each colored batter into a greased, parchment paper lined baking pan and bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes or until done, then cool completely.
Make the other cake layers: Repeat the above steps to make the red, yellow and orange layers of the rainbow cake.
Prepare the frosting recipe: Beat butter then mix in vanilla, salt and powdered sugar, followed by more powdered sugar and then the heavy cream.
Assemble the rainbow cake: Trim the cake tops if necessary (they need to be even and not domed) and add some frosting on a cake stand followed by the purple cake layer. Add more frosting and then the blue layer, then repeat with the rest of the frosting and cake layers, and frost the whole outside of the layer cake.
The finishing touches: Decorate the top of the rainbow layer cake with any remaining frosting and add some rainbow sprinkles too.

A colorful layered cake with frosting and icing on a plate.
A slice of rainbow cake on a white plate.

Substitutions and Variations

Change the colors: Feel free to use any colors you want to match the theme of whatever holiday or celebration you’re making it for.
Change the height: You can also use just a few layers if you don’t need a huge 12-inch high cake.
A shortcut suggestion: Instead of making your own cake batter, you can use a couple of boxes of white cake mix.

A rainbow cake with a slice taken out of it.

Serving Suggestions

This cake is a special occasion cake, so you’ll probably also be making other dishes to go with it. Here are a few ideas for you:

A slice of colorful rainbow layered cake on a plate with a fork.

Desserts: If you’re making more than one dessert, try some contrasting ones such as lemon posset brulee, Canadian butter tarts or chocolate pistachio eclairs.
Drinks: Anything goes with this, so perhaps you’d like to try something new like raspberry linzer cookie shots, Mexican candy shots or any of these TikTok viral cocktails.

A homemade layer cake with a slice taken out of it.

How to Store Rainbow Birthday Cake

Store: Keep leftovers in the refrigerator and eat within 4 days.
Freeze: You can freeze it before or after assembly, wrapping each layer in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil if freezing it before assembly. Use within 2 months. You can also freeze the rainbow cake frosting and thaw on the countertop.
Thaw: Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator.

A slice of rainbow birthday cake on a plate with a fork.

Top Tips

Keep it upright: Although it’s a tall type of cake, it should be sturdy. If it seems wobbly you can use straws to help it stay upright.
Freezing and thawing: If you are thawing the cake layers, it’s easier to add the frosting and stack the cake layers while still frozen, as they might become more delicate when thawed out.

A slice of a rainbow cake on a plate.

Rainbow Layer Cake FAQs

What are some other rainbow cake ideas to try?

You might like to decorate the cake with edible rainbow decorations, edible silver stars or another other cute decorations you want to use on this show-stopping confection.

How can you get colorful swirls in the frosting on top?

Wipe some of the gel food coloring inside the piping bag using a toothpick and it will be rainbow swirled when you pipe it out.

A colorful layered cake with a slice taken out of it.
A slice of rainbow layer cake on a plate.

Rainbow Layer Cake Recipe

5 from 36 votes

Rainbow Layer Cake Recipe

By: Bella Bucchiotti
Sure to be eye-catching, this colorful rainbow layer cake is a great centerpiece for any table, for any kind of fun celebration or party!
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings: 20


For the Cake Layers:

  • 2 Cups milk, at room temperature
  • 12 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 Cups cake flour
  • 3 1/2 Cups white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder, plus 2 Teaspoons
  • 2 Teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 Cups butter, softened
  • Gel food coloring, 6 tubes – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple

For the Frosting:

  • 2 Cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 8 Cups powdered sugar
  • Rainbow sprinkles, to decorate


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 3 x 8 inch cake pans with cooking spray and place some parchment in the bottom of the pan.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk 1 cup of the milk with 6 egg whites and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Set aside for now.
  • In the bowl to your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together 2 and 1/4 cups of the flour, 1 and 3/4 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt.
  • Stir on low speed and start to add 3/4 cups of softened butter approximately 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue stirring until the butter is about the size of a pea.
  • Add half of the egg white mixture and beat on medium speed until the batter is fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining egg white mixture and beat on medium until just combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly in thirds and place each third in its own mixing bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of purple food coloring to one of the bowls and mix it in. Add 1/2 teaspoon of blue food coloring to the second bowl and mix it in. Add 1/2 teaspoon of green food coloring to the final bowl and mix it in.
  • Transfer each bowl of batter to its own prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, rotating the three pans so that they bake evenly.
  • When they are done baking, an inserted toothpick or skewer should come out clean and the cake will bounce back when pressed slightly. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before flipping it out on to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Wash up your mixing bowl and repeat steps 3 to 8 with the remaining ingredients using red, yellow and orange food coloring.
  • Once the cakes are cooled, it is time to start the frosting. In the bowl to your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat 1 cup of butter until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 2 cups of powdered sugar. Start the mixer on low and increase the speed slowly as the powdered sugar is incorporated.
  • Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and 1/4 cup of the heavy cream. Beat until smooth.
  • Transfer the frosting to a mixing bowl and repeat the process (steps 10-12) with the remaining ingredients. You require approximately 10 cups of frosting and unless you are a commercial bakery, you probably don’t have a bowl big enough for your stand mixer to make the entire batch at once.
  • Now it is time to assemble the cake. You want the cake to be level so if you need to, use a sharp knife to trim the top so that it is even.
  • Place a dollop of frosting on your serving platter or cake stand. Secure the purple cake on the stand. Evenly spread frosting over the top of the cake approximately 1/4 inch thick.
  • Top with the blue cake and frost the top evenly. Continue stacking and frosting each layer with the green, yellow, orange and red, in that order.
  • Frost the entire outside and top of the cake. If you have any frosting leftover, transfer to a piping bag and have some fun with decorations on top.


Calories: 647kcal | Carbohydrates: 106g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 482mg | Potassium: 134mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 85g | Vitamin A: 725IU | Vitamin C: 0.04mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

This rainbow cake is a spectacular dessert with colorful cake layers and a gorgeous vanilla buttercream frosting. It’s not the quickest or easiest cake to make, but this is a recipe that is well worth taking the time and effort because it looks so impressive. A rainbow cake is ideal for all kinds of special occasions with its red orange yellow green blue and purple layers.

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti is a Canadian-based syndicated food, travel, and lifestyle writer, photographer, and creator at xoxoBella. She founded xoxoBella in 2015, where she shares her love for food, dogs, sustainability, fitness, crafts, outdoor adventures, travel, and philanthropy to encourage others to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places, and stand for a cause. Bella creates stress-free and family-friendly recipes for weeknight dinners and festive feasts.


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