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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
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Slice of Italian Cream Cake on a plate

Italian Cream Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 13 reviews
  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: serves 12 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Oven
  • 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

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48 comments on “Italian Cream Cake”

  1. 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!!!


    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 of citrus and cut down on the sugar. Again, weirdo! I prefer less sweet icing. I will definitely be making this again. Maybe next time, I’ll try lemon instead of orange. I love citrus in just about any dessert!

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. you can sift them into the flour mixture if you prefer, i’s just a step that I skip after testing. I found that it really doesn’t seem to make a difference as long as you mix well. You add the milk/flour in alternating additions to mix the flour in without over-mixing the batter!

  4. Kurt Lannefeld

    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?

  5. 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.

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