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+ servings
One cake slice of rainbow swirl cake on a platter.

Layered Rainbow Swirl Cake

This rainbow swirl cake is a three layer vanilla cake. The cake layers are swirled with food dye to give it a rainbow swirl. It is filled and topped with cream cheese frosting. The cake is decorated with rainbows.
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 20 mins
Decorating Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 slices
Calories 578 kcal


Vanilla Cake

  • 3 ½ cups All-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon Baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon Baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ¾ cup Unsalted butter room temperature
  • ¼ cup Oil canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups White granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup Sour cream room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon Clear imitation vanilla you can use pure vanilla extract
  • 4 Large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup Buttermilk room temperature
  • Food dye coloring red, orange, yellow, green, blue

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 cups Unsalted butter slightly cold
  • 10 oz Cream cheese room temperature
  • 8 ½ cups Powdered sugar sifted
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
  • cup Heavy cream
  • Food dye coloring to make rainbow frosting


Vanilla Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray three 8-inch cake pans with baking nonstick spray. Line the bottoms of the cake pans with 8-inch parchment paper circles. Spray again.
  • In a medium bowl, sift the flour. Add in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
    3 ½ cups All-purpose flour, 2 teaspoon Baking powder, 1 teaspoon Salt, ¾ teaspoon Baking soda
  • Using a mixer, beat the butter, oil, and sugar on high speed for 3 minutes. It will be very fluffy. Scrape the bowl. Add in vanilla and sour cream and beat on medium until combined.
    ¾ cup Unsalted butter, ¼ cup Oil, 1 ½ cups White granulated sugar, ¼ cup Sour cream, 1 tablespoon Clear imitation vanilla
  • Add in the eggs one at a time and beat on high for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl.
    4 Large eggs
  • Add in ⅓rd of the dry ingredients and half of the buttermilk. Mix on low. Add in another ⅓rd of the dry ingredients and the rest of the buttermilk. Finish with the rest of the dry ingredients.
    1 cup Buttermilk
  • Pour the cake batter into the three cake pans. Use all of your food dyes and spread 2 drops per dye around the cake evenly. Use a butter knife to swirl the colors together.
    Food dye coloring
  • Bake the cake for 18-23 minutes. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cakes sit in the hot pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cool the cakes completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Pull the butter out on the counter for 30 minutes to be slightly cold. While you wait, sift the powdered sugar.
    2 cups Unsalted butter, 8 ½ cups Powdered sugar
  • Using a mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on high for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and slowly add in the powdered sugar on low speed. It will be thick.
    10 oz Cream cheese
  • Add in vanilla, salt, and heavy cream. Beat on low until combined, then switch to high speed. Beat for 1-2 minutes until fluffy.
    1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract, ⅓ cup Heavy cream, ½ teaspoon Salt
  • Separate out 1 ½ cups of frosting. Divide it into 4-5 bowls and color them the colors of the rainbow. Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap. Spoon or spread each color onto the plastic in vertical lines. Roll up the plastic wrap into a long and cut off one of the ends. Set aside.
    Food dye coloring


  • Pipe a small amount of frosting on the board you are decorating on. Use a serrated knife to level off the cakes if they are domed.
  • Place the first layer of cake down. Spread 1 cup of frosting evenly. Repeat with the second and third layer.
  • Frost the cake in a very light layer of frosting. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes to set the crumbs. Frost the rest of the cake.
  • Use a large piping bag with Wilton 1M tip. Pipe large swirls or a border on the top of the cake.


Flour- Make sure flour is spooned and leveled or use a kitchen scale. Compacted flour can dry out the cake layers
High altitude baking- Add an extra 3 tablespoon of flour.
Pull out dairy ingredients 2 hours before baking.


Calories: 578kcalCarbohydrates: 108gProtein: 5gFat: 45gSaturated Fat: 26gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 353mgPotassium: 93mgFiber: 1gSugar: 20gVitamin A: 1333IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 85mgIron: 1mg
Keyword cream cheese frosting, layered cake, rainbow cake, rainbow swirl cake, vanilla cake
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