Italian Cream Cake

My Italian Cream Cake Recipe is incredibly fluffy, perfectly sweet, loaded with pecans and shredded coconut and topped with a creamy whipped cream cheese frosting. This is a classic!!

If you like Italian Cream Cake make sure to try my Coconut Cake and Hummingbird Cake recipes too!

Italian Cream Cake Is Most Requested Cake Recipe!

My Italian Cream Cake is a delicious, classic cake recipe that only unfortunately seems to only make an appearance at the holidays! I’m not so sure why that is, but it really should be an all-year-long recipe! I use a combination of vegetable oil and butter to give great flavor, but also a lighter texture, as well as cake flour and buttermilk to lighten the crumb. All that paired with folding in whipped egg whites makes this the softest, moistest cake recipe ever.

What Is Italian Cream Cake?

Italian Cream cake is a vanilla cake with coconut and pecans baked in, topped with either a whipped cream frosting, or a cream cheese frosting. I prefer the cream cheese frosting, which is what I use in my recipe. In all the Italian Cream Cakes that I have ever had there has been a slight flavor of almond extract, or even in some cases an amaretto flavor added. I don’t prefer an overpowering almond flavor, just a subtle enhancement that pairs well with the pecans. You can add more or less as you prefer.

You can make variations to this cake recipe very easily, like leaving out the coconut, or using a different type of nut like a walnut. But note, it won’t necessarily be Italian Cream Cake anymore.

Slicing Italian Cream Cake

Italian Cream Cake Ingredients:

  • vegetable oil
  • butter
  • granulated sugar
  • eggs at room temperature: egg whites at room temperature will whip better than cold egg whites, and since you separate the eggs in this recipe and fold in the whipped egg whites for lightness this is important.
  • almond extract
  • vanilla extract
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • kosher salt
  • cake flour
  • buttermilk
  • sweetened flaked coconut
  • chopped pecans
  • cream of tartar ( to stabilize the egg whites)
Collage making Italian Cream Cake

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • cream cheese
  • butter
  • powdered sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • almond extract
  • chopped pecans

Do You Have To Use Cream Cheese Frosting?

Nope! If you just aren’t a cream cheese fan you can absolutely use another frosting. Here are a few options:

Don’t Like Coconut?

I am sure I will get questions about coconut in this recipe, as it seems to be an ingredient people love or hate. And the answer before you ask is yes, you can omit the coconut.

Is Almond Extract A Must?

No it isn’t a must, but try it! Just start with a tiny amount and add more. It adds a really nice element to this cake that pairs well with the pecans, and makes it not just another vanilla cake!

How To Decorate:

This is a 3 layer cake, and you can obviously frost it like I have done in the pictures, and do a simple garnish with chopped pecans at the base. But here are a few other ideas:

  • Leave the side of the cake unfrosted, as a “naked” cake. I think this is a super pretty and rustic way to frost a cake!
  • Pipe swirls onto the top or around the edges to give it more of a fancy look!
  • Decorate the tops and/or sides with pecan halves instead of chopped. You can make some pretty designs that way!

How To Store…

Since this cake has cream cheese frosting it is best to store this airtight in the refrigerator. I actually don’t like cold cake, though, so I like to allow it to come up to room temperature before serving. BUT I will say if you cut this cake while its cold you will get the prettiest slices.

Cake with cream cheese frosting and pecans on a plate with a fork

Italian Cream Cake

  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield Yield: serves 12 1x
  • Category Category: Cake
  • Method Method: Oven
  • Cuisine Cuisine: Dessert


Italian Cream Cake Recipe is a total special occasion cake! This is a classic that everyone loves!




  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temperature*, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


  • 2 (8- ounce) blocks cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, plus more for garnish, if desired


  1. Cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat 3, 9- inch round cake pans with baking spray. Cut 3 parchment rounds to fit in the bottoms of the pans. Place the parchment in the pan and coat again with baking spray. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the oil, butter, and sugar together on medium speed until well blended. Add egg yolks, one at a time until combined and smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in almond extract, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix for 30 more seconds or until combined.
  3. Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour and buttermilk in alternating additions, beginning and ending with flour. Mix until combined and smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Stir in the coconut and pecans. Set batter aside.
  4. In a clean mixing bowl combine the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Using the whisk attachment on your mixer beat the egg whites for 6-7 minutes on medium speed until stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter until evenly combined. Divide the batter between the 3 cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Frosting: In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until combined and smooth.
  8. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add in the powdered sugar until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in the vanilla extract, almond extract, and chopped pecans and turn the mixer up to medium and mix until smooth and creamy for 1 minute.
  9. Assembly: Place one cake on a cake plate and cover the top of the cake with a heaping cup of the frosting and spread evenly. Top with another cake and repeat. Top with the remaining cake layer and frost the cake with the remaining frosting, smoothing with an off-set spatula. Garnish with more chopped pecans if desired.


*Make sure your eggs are room temperature to ensure maximum volume when beating the egg whites.

Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 3 days

Keywords: cookies and cups, Italian Cream Cake, Cake Recipe, Cream Cheese Frosting

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Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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Jan 22, 2022 6:36 pm

My cakes shriveled when I took them out of the oven to cool

Steve R
Dec 25, 2021 9:50 am

I think this is the prettiest picture of a cake I’ve ever seen!
I’m gonna give it a try!

Kim W
Dec 20, 2021 6:24 pm

My husband asked me to bake this cake for a coworker and I had never heard of an Italian Cream Cake before. This recipe is all that!!!!!! I found a new cake to love!!!

Nov 25, 2021 5:42 pm

I experimented with three different Italian cake recipes for Thanksgiving, and this one beat all! I followed the instructions exactly with a few minor changes. I only have two 9″ pans, so I split the batter between the two. I had to increase baking time to nearly double with no issues in the final texture. I halved the icing recipe since I only have two layers instead of three; plus, I’m one of those weirdos that likes to go light on the icing. There was plenty with my half batch. I also added a little orange oil for a hint… Read more »

Jo C
Apr 13, 2022 12:05 am
Reply to  Aleshia

Hi. I liked your suggestions. I’m going to try this recipe. I was wondering how much sugar you used in your cake batter? I too don’t like overly sweet desserts.

Kelli Bossert
Nov 11, 2021 12:50 pm

Is it possible to sub out the oil for apple sauce and something different for buttermilk???

Oct 6, 2021 4:38 pm

How do I convert this recipe to fit a half sheet pan?

Sep 30, 2021 5:23 pm

Hi! Would you adjust the bake temp to convert this into cupcakes?
Thank you!

Sep 7, 2021 10:12 pm

Why do you add the leavening agents to the creamed butter, sugar and egg yolk-mixture instead of sitting the leavening agents with your cake flour, then adding the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk? Does it really make a difference if you add them to the butter and sugar mixture or sift them with flour? Or, could I dissolve the baking soda into the buttermilk and just add the baking powder and salt to the cake flour?
Thank you for your support. Leo H.

Last edited 8 months ago by Leo
Kurt Lannefeld
Jun 27, 2021 8:46 pm

Hi Shelly! I’m going to make your cake for the 4th of July. I wanted to make it in a 9 by 13 pan. What would you recommend for the temperature and baking time?

Apr 17, 2021 1:18 pm

Hi, My husband doesn’t like coconut flakes, can I leave it out?

Apr 7, 2021 4:27 pm

I have not tried this yet but will be making FOR SURE this weekend. I recently made a strawberry shortcake cake and the icing recipe was like no other. It was cream cheese, confectioners sugar (not a lot) and lots of heavy whipping cream and vanilla. I never thought that whipping cream would come to stiff peaks with cream cheese in it but it sure did. I think I might use this icing again for this cake since the cake sounds like it would take to it grandly. I’ll let you know how it works out. Thanks for the recipe.

Nov 10, 2021 9:39 am
Reply to  Gale

Gale , would you be able to share the icing recipe? Thanks

Feb 19, 2021 1:17 pm

Definitely one of my new favorite cakes! I was intimidated at first but it was so worth the effort. Unfortunately my icing always comes out gritty, but all my icing is gritty. But this cake is heavenly. Planning to make it again soon!!!

Jean Fleming
Feb 7, 2022 4:40 pm
Reply to  Mariam

Are you using powdered sugar (confectioners ) or granulated sugar? Your icing should not be gritty if using powered sugar. If using powdered sugar, you might want to sift.

Dec 23, 2020 12:44 pm

This looks delicious! Do you think I could alter the ingrefients to make a smaller version?

Dec 10, 2020 10:06 pm

Such a delicious recipe! Thanks for sharing! I cut back about 1/2 cup of sugar and substituded brown sugar, I also cut back sugar in the cream cheese frosting, I used 6 cups. It was so AMAZING!

Dec 2, 2020 8:59 am

Hi Shelly, is it possible to bake this cake using 8-inch pans instead? If so, how would you recommend to adjust the measurements of the ingredients and the baking temperature and duration? Looking forward to trying this recipe out!

Dec 31, 2020 8:13 pm
Reply to  Jia

I used 2 8 inch pans and my layers came out nice and thick and I sliced them in half. Turned out really good.

Shelly Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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