Skinny Vanilla Buttermilk Cake Recipe

Skinny Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

Skinny Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

This skinny vanilla buttermilk cake is my new absolute favorite cake.

Even my mom, who can sometimes be a little hard to please when it comes to cakes, gave it a raving review!

I’ve been looking for a go-to lighter healthier from scratch vanilla cake recipe for quite some time and now I’ve finally got it. It’s the perfect size for us, making a single 8-inch round layer. And it’s super versatile – like the little basic black dress of desserts.

It’s the first recipe I’ve tried from one of my recent cookbook acquisitions: Enlightened Cakes: More Than 100 Decadently Light Layer Cakes, Bundt Cakes, Cupcakes, Cheesecakes, and More, All with Less Fat and Fewer Calories by Camilla Saulsbury.

Think of all the ways you can serve a simple wedge of light, yet moist, and delicious skinny vanilla buttermilk cake:

  • Plain or with a dusting of confectioners sugar
  • Iced with a thin layer of your favorite frosting
  • Sliced horizontally and filled with a layer of jam and few dollops of whipped cream or topping
  • Topped with fresh berries or other seasonal fresh fruit
  • Topped with a compote of plumped dried fruit
  • With a small scoop of frozen yogurt or ice cream
  • Drizzled with your favorite sauce
  • In a trifle
  • Spread with nutella and sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts
  • Topped with sliced strawberries alongside a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt…
Skinny Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

Light Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries and Ice Cream

With a simple fail-proof cake like this in your repertoire, you never have to worry about what to serve for dessert again!

The Skinny on Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

It’s made with basic ingredients I always have on hand,  stirs together in minutes, and uses just 1/2 a stick of butter and 1/3 cup sugar, so it’s relatively low in PointsPlus values (as desserts go).

To make this cake even easier, I changed the way you mix it together, using a technique for one-bowl cakes Camilla uses throughout her cookbook, Piece of Cake!: One-Bowl, No-Fuss, From-Scratch Cakes.


4.7 from 3 reviews
Skinny Vanilla Buttermilk Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
You can stir together this skinny vanilla buttermilk cake in minutes and then use it a multitude of ways. It's become my "go-to" cake since discovering it and I think it may become yours too.
Serves: 8
  • 1 cup flour (all-purpose or cake)
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar (optional)
For the Strawberries
  • 4 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  1. Position your oven rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray an 8-inch round baking pan with nonstick baking spray with flour. (Such as Bakers Joy or Pam with flour)
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well blended.
  3. Add the egg, butter, buttermilk and vanilla to the flour mixture. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat the mixture for 1 minute, until blended. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula and then beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, until everything is incorporated and well blended.
  4. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and place it on the rack (top side up) to cool completely.
  7. When completely cool, sprinkle with the confectioners sugar if desired and serve with strawberries
  8. For the strawberries, in a large bowl, toss together the strawberries and 1 tablespoon sugar until well combined. Let stand for at least 15 minutes, until the sugar melts and strawberries begin to release their juices.
Cook's Notes
Nutritional Estimates Per Serving (1/8th cake and ½ cup strawberries): 189 calories, 7.5 g fat, 28.1 g carbs, 1.4 g fiber 3.3 g protein and 5 WW PointsPlus value

I made it with cake flour the first time and plan on trying all-purpose the next time I make it.

This a very versatile cake. You can enjoy it plain, with fruit and/or whipped cream. Or ice it with a thin layer of your favorite frosting. It's also great with ice cream or frozen yogurt and a drizzle of your favorite sauce.

Next time I may split it and add a thin layer of jam and few dollops of whipped cream before serving it topped with berries.

I also want to experiment with using olive oil instead of butter and lemon juice/zest in place of vanilla.

Another variation would be to top with 1 cup of fresh fruit before baking.

*PointsPlus® for skinny vanilla buttermilk cake calculated by Simple Nourished Living; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc.

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  1. Beth says

    How is this cake recipe skinny? White flour and white sugar – two of the bodies biggest enemies. Eat this if you want to store it as body fat. Good healthy fats like coconut oil are not the enemy – sugar is (wheat flour = sugar too).

  2. says

    Somebody get Beth some dark chocolate! Sounds like she could use some cheering up :-)

    I made this little cake today, and it’s very nice. I made three changes in ingredients. I subbed Demerara sugar for the white sugar. It has a richer, more mellow flavor and gives the cake a nice caramel color. I used sprouted wheat flour rather than AP. I have a friend with some wheat issues, but she seems to tolerate the sprouted wheat flour so now I can share with her. Rather than butter milk I had some whole milk yogurt from a local dairy that was starting to look like maybe it wanted to become something else. Still yummy, but clearly in need of use. I often sub yogurt for buttermilk since I’ve generally got some on hand.

    All in all, this is a sweet little treat. Easy to whip up, quick to bake. Good plain with a cuppa, and great with vanilla ice cream. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  3. Faith says

    Just found this recipe and made it and it’s amazing! I doubled it and put it in 2 round cake pans then put a layer of cool whip in between and cool whip on top…. served with strawberries on the side. It’s like a taste of spring even though temps here are still in the 30s!! Loved this cake!

    • says

      Thanks, Faith. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. It’s definitely one of my all-time favorite from scratch cakes. Love how you served it with cool whip and strawberries! I must try that very very soon now that strawberries are back in season.

  4. Bella says

    Great recipe! I added blueberries and it turned out delicious! Very easy! My family loved it! Thank you!

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