Take a bite of heaven with every forkful of this dreamy Italian cream cake. It’s rich and nutty, covered with the most amazing cream cheese frosting! It’s great for special occasions, but really, there’s no wrong time to make it!

Homemade cakes are the best anytime treat! It’s the perfect end to a delicious meal. Level up from boxed cake mix and try this butter pecan cake, Chantilly berry cake, or rainbow cake – just in time for St. Patrick’s Day!

A whole Italian cream cake on a stand topped with chopped pecans and coconut.

Italian Cream Cake Recipe

Italian cream cake is a mouthwatering dessert that’s sure to satisfy. It’s made with layers of rich, moist cake that are infused with a blend of cream cheese, coconut, and pecans. The cream cheese frosting is light and fluffy, with just a hint of tang! When you take a bite, you’ll experience a burst of creamy goodness that’s sure to leave you wanting more! It’s SO good.

Italian cream cake is perfect for any occasion, from birthday parties to family gatherings. Its elegant appearance and delicious flavor make it an ideal dessert for serving to guests! Whether you’re looking for a decadent dessert to impress your friends or just want to treat yourself to something special, Italian cream cake is the perfect option! If you love homemade cake as much as I do, you’ll have to check out my full list of recipes here!

Why is it Called Italian Cream Cake?

Some say this cake originated in renaissance Italy, others say it came from an Italian baker that moved to the US. Despite its name, it’s actually a very popular southern dessert, similar to butter pecan cake!

Ingredients You’ll Need

Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients, you’ll probably have most of them in your pantry! The combination of these ingredients creates the most rich and moist texture. Paired with the sweet and nutty flavor, you’ll absolutely love it! Note: all measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

  • Cake Flour: Gives the cake structure. You can also use all-purpose flour, but it will have a slightly different crumb.
  • Granulated Sugar: Makes the cake nice and tender and also adds sweetness!
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda: You need both of these to make sure your cake rises properly.
  • Salt: Just a pinch to boost all of the flavors.
  • Buttermilk: The key to an ultra-moist cake- the acidity in buttermilk helps to make it super soft and tender. Don’t skip it! If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you can make it from scratch using my recipe here!
  • Milk: Any type of milk will work fine, but I recommend using whole milk. The higher the fat percentage, the more moist your cake will be!
  • Vanilla: Adds extra flavor to the Italian cream cake. Use pure vanilla extract for best results!
  • Almond Extract: I love adding almond extract because of its deep nutty flavor!
  • Vegetable Oil: Adds moisture to the cake and gives it a tender crumb.
  • Large Egg Whites: Can’t forget these! They give the cake a light and airy texture.
  • Sweetened Coconut Flakes: Add a tasty texture and nutty flavor.
  • Chopped Pecans: You can also toast these for a deeper flavor.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Unsalted Butter: A rich, creamy base for the frosting.
  • Cream Cheese: You want this to be at room temperature so it mixes together with the other ingredients smoothly.
  • Vanilla and Almond Extract: Give the cream cheese frosting delicious flavor! You can adjust it to taste.
  • Powdered Sugar: Adds sweetness and gives the frosting a smooth texture.
  • Toasted Pecans and Coconut: For decorating your Italian cream cake with.

How to Make Italian Cream Cake

It’s super easy and super delicious! There’s a reason why this cake is a popular dessert in the south. It’s rich, creamy, and has the best nutty texture! Make this for your next get-together, and I promise your guests will love it.


  1. Preheat Oven, Prepare Pans: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Combine Wet Ingredients: Add the buttermilk, vanilla, almond extract and oil to the dry ingredients and then beat with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or a hand mixer just until fully combined.
  4. Whip Egg Whites: In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until medium stiff peaks form. Fold into the batter until most of the egg whites disappear.
  5. Fold in Pecans and Coconut: Add the chopped pecans and coconut flakes to the batter and fold in.
  6. Add to Pans and Bake: Separate the batter evenly into the two cake pans and then bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the center of the cake springs back when pressed on. Let cool completely. For easier frosting, wrap the cooled cake layers in plastic wrap and freeze for 4 hours or overnight before assembling.
  7. Frost and Decorate: Frost with the cream cheese frosting and then decorate with the reserved pecans and coconut. .

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Butter Mixture: Add the cream cheese and butter to the bowl of a mixer and beat until combined and smooth.
  2. Add Sugar and Flavor Extracts: Add the powdered sugar 2-3 cups at a time and mix on low until it is moistened enough to now spill out of the bowl once the speed is increased. Continue this until all the powdered sugar has been added. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the extracts and beat until smooth.
4-photo collage of the cake batter being prepared.

Tips and Tricks

Follow these simple tips and your Italian cream cake will turn out perfectly! Be warned, making homemade cakes is addictive! Not only does it make your kitchen smell amazing, but it tastes even better.

  • Use Room Temperature Ingredients: Using room temperature eggs, buttermilk and milk will help the cake batter come together more easily. This will also help achieve a smooth frosting when the butter and cream cheese are both room temperature.
  • Don’t Overmix: Mix the batter until just combined. Overmixing will make your cake turn out gummy and chewy.
  • Don’t Open The Oven Early: Opening the oven too soon will cause a rush of hot air to escape, drastically dropping the baking temperature around your cake. This will cause your cake to collapse. Try to wait until at least 35 minutes before opening the oven to check the cake.
  • Cake Flour: Using cake flour will yield a more tender cake because the protein content is lower. If you don’t have cake flour you can make it from scratch! For every 1 cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons of the flour and replace with cornstarch and sift together. Once fully sifted, measure out the needed amount for the recipe. 
  • Toasting: Toast the pecans and coconut by spreading evenly on a baking sheet and baking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-7 minutes. Stir every few minutes to avoid burning. Let cool completely before adding to the cake batter or using to decorate the cake. 

A slice of Italian cream cake being served with a cake spatula.

How Long Will My Italian Cream Cake Last?

If stored properly, you can enjoy it all week! I love having this on hand to enjoy whenever I get a sweet tooth.

  • In the Refrigerator: Store leftover cake in the fridge either in an airtight container or wrapped with plastic wrap for 4-5 days.

Closeup of a slice of cake. A bite is taken out of it with a fork.

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