Kentucky Butter Cake

An ultra moist cake covered in a buttery vanilla flavored sauce! This Kentucky Butter Cake is a southern classic. You’ll love the butter flavor and the rich glaze that soaks into every bite of the sweet cake.

Love recipes with buttermilk? These rich and fudgy Buttermilk Brownies might just become your favorite dessert! Or take it a step further and add rainbow chips, like Cosmic Brownies.

Kentucky butter cake on a white cake plate.

What is a Butter Cake

If you’ve never tasted a butter cake before, I’m about to change your life. This staple of southern baking supposedly originated in Louisville (thus the name “Kentucky” label) but you don’t need to be southern to enjoy this dessert!

The cake itself is simple but absolutely delicious. With plenty of vanilla flavor, buttermilk and (of course) lots of butter, it’s one of the moistest cakes you’ll ever taste.

What really sets a gooey butter cake apart from the crowd though is the sauce.

A warm, syrupy glaze with even more butter, vanilla and sugar gets poured on top of the baked cake.

The sauce soaks into the cake so every bite almost over-the-top buttery sugary goodness! This is a rich cake that everyone needs to try at least once.

Another thing I love about the cake is that it requires no frosting bags, piping or decorating! You make it in a bundt pan and add the glaze while it’s still in the pan.

It doesn’t get any easier. You can even make it the day before and let it rest overnight–this Kentucky Butter Cake manages to taste even better on the second day!

The glaze is very similar to my favorite Buttermilk Syrup that we use for pancakes and wafflesenvision !

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed to make kentucky butter cake, including buttermilk.
  • Butter – If ever there were a time to use REAL butter, it’s here! I recommend unsalted butter for best flavor.
  • Buttermilk – Store bought is fine or you can make your own buttermilk substitute.
  • Vanilla – Learn how to make vanilla extract to give your cake the best ever vanilla flavor. Of course, store bought is just fine too!

Step by Step Instructions

Step by step photos showing how to make kentucky butter cake.

STEP 1. Prepare the pan

Grease and flour your bundt pan before making the cake batter. You can also try my Homemade Cake Release to make it even easier to remove the cake from the bundt pan.

STEP 2. Make the cake.

Beat together the butter and sugar, then add the vanilla extract. Slowly add the dry ingredients in batches along with the buttermilk. Once everything is added to the batter, beat with your mixer for a full 2 minutes to make sure the ingredients are blended.

Transfer the batter to the bundt pan and bake.

STEP 3. Make the glaze

The cake needs about an hour to bake. While it’s baking, you can get the glaze ready to go!

Combine the butter, sugar and water in a sauce pan and heat on the stove. Don’t let it boil, just cook until the sugar is fully dissolved. You might need to adjust the heat as you go to keep it from boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Butter sauce being poured over baked kentucky butter cake.

STEP 4. Pour

Remove the cake from the oven when a toothpick inserted into its center comes out clean. Leave the cake in the pan and, while it’s still warm,use a knife to poke holes all over. Pour the warm sauce over the cake.

Leave the cake in the pan to complete cooling. Then, invert the pan onto a cake platter and gently remove from the pan.

Tips and Tricks

Make the day before: I like the taste of Kentucky Butter Cake best the day after baking. This gives that delicious buttery glaze the chance to seep into every nook and cranny of the cake! If you just can’t wait, though, feel free to dig in as soon as the cake is cooled.

Use a cake release! Using a homemade cake release all but guarantees your butter cake will slide out of the pan easily. If you don’t want to make a cake release, be sure to thoroughly grease AND flour the pan. There’s nothing as disappointing as a bundt cake that falls apart when you try to take it out of the pan.

Store the cake in an airtight container. Cover the cake whenever you’re not eating it to help lock in all that good moisture that makes the cake so delicious.

Slice of kentucky butter cake on small white plate.

Recipe FAQs

What size bundt pan do I need for Kentucky Butter Cake?

We make Kentucky Butter Cake in a 12 cup bundt pan.

What’s the best way to remove the butter cake from the pan without breaking the cake?

First, make sure the cake is completely cooled before you attempt to take it out of the pan. Your patience will be rewarded! Invert the bundt pan onto a flat surface, then very gently wiggle it until the cake begins to slide out. Take your time and keep sliding the pan up until the cake comes all the way out.

How long does butter cake keep?

If kept covered in an airtight container, this butter cake should stay good for up to 3 or 4 days. It tastes even better the day after baking!

More Easy Cake Recipes

Yield: 16 slices

Kentucky Butter Cake

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

A moist vanilla flavored cake with the best buttery glaze in each and every bite is the perfect comfort food dessert. This Kentucky Butter Cake recipe is a must try!


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For the glaze

  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan (or use my homemade cake release). Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar. Blend until fully combined. Add in eggs and vanilla extract. Slowly add flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Alternate additions of dry ingredients with the buttermilk (about 2-3 additions). Beat for 2 full minutes.
  3. Pour cake batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 65-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. While the cake is finishing cooking, make the glaze. Combine butter, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat just until the sugar is dissolved, do not boil. Add in vanilla.
  5. When the cake is done baking, poke holes over the warm cake using a kabob skewer or knife. Pour glaze evenly on the cake while it is still IN THE PAN.
  6. Allow to cool completely in the pan.
  7. Once cooled, invert onto a flat cake platter. This cake is best made the day before. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 380Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 265mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 1gSugar: 35gProtein: 5g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

A moist vanilla flavored cake with the best buttery glaze in each and every bite is the perfect comfort food dessert. This Kentucky Butter Cake recipe is a must try!

About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on January 14, 2021

Comments & Reviews

  1. I dont have unsalted butter. Will it make any difference if I use butter with salt. Also I have a Nordicware bundt pan and my cake ALWAYS stick.Always.Any suggestions. Thank you

  2. I’ve made this cake for the first time last month and a couple of people love it and some say it was kind of dry and to me it was a little dry but it still was delicious so made it again this time use a little more butter and butter milk and it was way better we all loved it thanks

  3. I have been making this cake since I was 10, and it is still my favorite cake. But my recipe includes a couple of tablespoons of rum in the glaze for a Kentucky Butter Rum cake. Hmm, think I’ll have to make it for my birthday next month!! Thanks!

  4. Hi Aimee watched d Kentucky butter cake receipe gonna try it asap infact waiting to do it soon thanx dear for uploading such delicious receipes. Luv❤ from Israel.

  5. Hi, Aimee! You’re so right! I live just about 2 1/2 hours from Louisville, Kentucky. I’ve made this many times & everyone loves it! Soooo delicious! This is a keeper for sure! Thanks for posting! 🙂

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