This cherry chip cake, smothered in a fluffy whipped vanilla buttercream, is a homemade version of a boxed cake mix favorite. It’s also the perfect birthday cake for yours truly!

Cherry Chip Cake with Whipped Vanilla Buttercream from

Growing up my mom let us choose what flavor of birthday cake we wanted. The bakery aisle at the grocery store had an endless selection of scrumptious looking cake mixes, and while many of my siblings chose the ever popular rainbow chip, I was always drawn to its less flashier shelf-mate, cherry chip.

Cherry Chip Cake with Whipped Vanilla Buttercream from

I probably haven’t had a slice of cherry chip cake in twenty years, and that first bite of this homemade version took me back. It’s like I was turning 10 again, and not 32.

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of eating cherry chip cake, it is a white cake filled with (and tinted pink by) bits of candied or maraschino cherries. It’s tender and light, with a subtle cherry flavor. Covered in whipped buttercream, it is the stuff of this birthday girl’s dreams.

I have to give a quick shout out to the versions of cherry chip cake that Taste and Tell and Sweetapolita have on their blogs, as both were helpful to me as I developed my own.

Cherry Chip Cake with Whipped Vanilla Buttercream from
Cherry Chip Cake with Whipped Vanilla Buttercream from

Alternating Wet and Dry Ingredients

In many cake recipes (including this one) there are instructions to alternate adding the wet and dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar. Believe it or not, this is for a good reason.

Adding the liquid all at once will saturate the creamed butter mixture and cause the batter to separate. Adding all of the dry ingredients will cause the batter to be thick and likely result in over mixing, which will yield a tougher cake. Instead, add them in two or three additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir ingredients after each addition, but only until just combined.

Cherry Chip Cake with Whipped Vanilla Buttercream from

Cherry Chip Cake with Whipped Vanilla Buttercream
A homemade version of a favorite cake box classic - light and fluffy cherry chip cake frosted with whipped vanilla buttercream.
Yield: One 8-inch layer cake
For the cake:
  • 1 10 ounce (283 grams, about 30 cherries) jar maraschino cherries
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups (226 grams) cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1⅓ cup (315 ml) buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
For the buttercream frosting:
  • 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups (900 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
To make the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. Drain the maraschino cherries, reserving the juice. In a food processor or with a sharp knife, finely chop the cherries. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the butter and sugar at high speed until light and fluffy. This will take about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg whites one at a time, mixing after each. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a smaller bowl, combine the buttermilk and maraschino cherry juice. Add the flour mixture to the mixer in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Mix after each addition and scrape down the bowl as necessary. Stir in the chopped maraschino cherries.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool in the pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting and assemble the cake:
  1. Place the butter, sifted powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract and almond extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (alternately you can use a hand-held mixer). Mix on low speed until moistened, then increase speed to high and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Place one cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Cover with ½ cup of the buttercream frosting. Place second cake layer on top and cover tops and sides with remaining buttercream. Let firm up for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before serving.
  3. Store cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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85 Responses to Cherry Chip Cake with Whipped Vanilla Buttercream

  1. Oh my gosh, now I can’t wait for my birthday to be here so that I’ll have a good excuse to bake this super delicious-looking cake! I’m a huge cherry-lover and this cake looks like heaven to me…so girly, fluffy, decadent and full of fresh cherry flavor…Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe with us 🙂

    xo, Elisa

  2. Ross Workman says:

    Happy birthday Annalise!

  3. Sinead says:

    I love how gorgeously girly this cake is! It looks absolutely delicious too.

  4. Oh man, that whip looks so crazy good!!

  5. Joanne says:

    Hi Annalise- Would this cake turn out well using a 13×9 pan? It looks so pretty!

    • Annalise says:

      I’ve not done it, but it’s possible! I wouldn’t fill the pan more than 2/3 full (you don’t want it overflowing), so if you have batter left over maybe make a few cupcakes? And I’m not sure about baking time, so I’d start checking it after 30 minutes. Good luck!

      • Barbara F says:

        Just a note: all box cakes make either (2) 8″, (2) 9″, or (1) 9×13 cake, options are always given for the different times. You wouldn’t have enough batter for cupcakes too.

  6. Happy Birthday! This is definitely a great cake to have on your birthday!

  7. Happy Birthday girl! I hope your little man takes a long ole nap (you too!), you get your fair share of that cake, a huge piece of chocolate, dinner out (or at least your dishes done..), and a hot bath. Make it good!

    • Annalise says:

      Thanks Melissa! I did get a nap yesterday, but not the hot bath. Hmmmm, maybe I’ll have to do that tonight. Sounds fabulous! 🙂

  8. kate says:

    I can’t wait to try this. Cherry Chip was always my sister’s favorite, I think I’ll make it for her birthday next month. Happy Birthday to you!

  9. Happy, happy birthday girlie! Now why didn’t I deliver a cake to YOUR doorstep today? For shame…Have a fantastic one! 32 never looked better.

    • Annalise says:

      Oh I’m so glad you didn’t, I’m on cake overload right now. And I never thought that could be possible. 🙂 Thanks for the birthday wishes, Heidi!

  10. Love this story!! Hope you had a fabulous birthday!

  11. OOh, this is great. It’s hard to find cherry chip cake mix in my area. My mother-in-law LOVES cherry chip and her birthday is coming up, so I think I’m totally going to make this for her!!

    • Annalise says:

      It’s been years since I’ve seen the cake mix in stores, maybe they don’t make it anymore? Either way, now you can make it without the box! 🙂

  12. Erin R. says:

    What the what! I had no idea you could make this with maraschino cherries. I always just thought of it as a boxed mix with little red…things. Kind of like dust pans and sporks and stuff. Where do they come from? No one knows. They just appear, fully formed, on the grocery store shelf. Now I know I am within one jar of maraschino cherries of this cake, you’d better believe it’s going on my try pile. Thanks!

    • Annalise says:

      Haha! Your comment makes me laugh. I had the exact same reaction when I first saw a homemade cherry chip recipe. 🙂

  13. amber says:

    I made this for my sister’s birthday except for the frosting. I love this cake and so did my sister. It reminds me of the type of cake my grandma would make, not too sweet but sweet enough. At least for me the cake was very heavy but looking around, I see it’s my fault for it.

  14. kim howe says:

    you mention cake flour do you mean self raising or plain flour in recipe ?

    • Annalise says:

      No, cake flour is a flour make with softer wheat and lower protein content, and therefore produces a softer product. Look for it in the bakery aisle of any well-stocked grocery store. If you can’t find it, you can sub in all-purpose flour without any adverse effects. Hope this helps!

  15. Kayla says:

    How long would you cook this in cupcake form?

    • Annalise says:

      I haven’t tried this specific recipe, but I usually bake cupcakes for 15-20 minutes. Hope this helps!

  16. Jan says:

    Hi Annalise,

    My autistic brother’s favorite cake is cherry chip, and when I couldn’t find a mix at the store to make for his birthday, I checked online and found your recipe. It looked so good that I couldn’t wait to make it! I actually made two since there was a number of people at the party. I followed the recipe exactly and the cakes were gorgeous and delicious! Everyone loved them. I put a little red food coloring in the icing for one one them because my brother wanted a light pink icing. I left the other one white because I thought it was so pretty. Adding the whipping cream and mixing the icing for 5 minutes made it so much fluffier than any I had ever made before. Maybe sifting the powdered sugar helped too?Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipe and for such great instructions. I will make this cake for him every year! P.S. I loves your story and hope you had a great birthday too.

    • Annalise says:

      Hi Jan! Thank you so much for the comment! I’m happy to hear that your brother and family enjoyed this cake as much as I did. 🙂

    • Connie Q says:

      I have to chime in my “two cents” and say instead of red food color in the frosting, just a bit of the cherry juice will also tint the frosting pink. 🙂

  17. Carol says:

    i have to make a cake for my husband’s birthday this week. Was gong to make a confetti cake and then came across this recipe which I think he’ll like even more. I am preparing to make it now! Hope mine turns out so lovely as this picture!

  18. Lauren says:

    For some reason i followed the directions completely and for some reason its coming out really runny and dense and takes longer than 30 min. Wondering what happened…

  19. I can see why this was on your “best of” for this year! It’s gorgeous. Pinned twice- “Recipes to Try” and “Valentine’s Day”. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

    Happy New Year!

  20. Claudia says:

    trying to understand if it is necessary to butter and flour the pans “and” put parchment paper on them? You put the parchment paper over the butter and flour ?

    • Annalise says:

      Yes, I do both. I butter the pan, line it with parchment, butter the parchment, and dust it all with flour. Hope this helps!

  21. Marc says:

    Thanks for the awesome recipe. Just to be clear, does the cake recipe yield just one layer of the cake or both? In other words, do I have to double the amounts above to make both 8-inch layers?

  22. Marc says:

    Thank you for the clarification. Ended up making mini cupcakes instead. They were a huge hit at our party!

  23. Victoria says:

    Do you have to use cake flour or is it ok to use all purpose? I’ve read a lot of people do not like the aftertaste of cake flour in baked goods and I’ve never used it before. Cherry chip is my son and daughter’s favorite. I’ve been searching everywhere for a homemade version. Thank you.

    • Annalise says:

      You can substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour, and I have done so in the past when I opened my pantry only to find I was out of cake flour. However, do expect some subtle differences. The cake will be a little less tender and a little more dense. Not very noticeable, but still different. For best results, I try to use cake flour whenever it is called for.

  24. Nancy says:

    This looks amazing. I will try it soon.

  25. Suzy says:

    Hi there! I was looking for a recipe to make for Valentine’s day this weekend & found this post, which sounds amazing! I’d like to make a 3 tiered, heart-shaped cake. I have the heart-shaped pans which are 6×2 inches. Do you happen to know if the measurements you have listed would work? I know that technically 2 8-inch pans do not measure the same as 3 6-inch pans, but possibly the shape difference plays a part. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

    Happy early birthday!

    • Annalise says:

      Hi Suzy! You can definitely use your pans. However, you may not end up needing all of the batter. I would prepare the batter as directed, filling each pan only half way. If you have any batter left over, you can always make a few cupcakes. Hope this helps, sounds like a fun Valentine’s cake!

  26. Siobhan says:

    Hi Annalise,

    I was searching for a cherry chip cake recipe for a colleague whose bday is coming up and this is her favorite type of cake. She is allergic to gluten, so I will need to use gluten free flour… would you anticipate any adverse effects for this recipe? I know it may change the texture somewhat, but wondered if you have any gluten-free experience to share. Thank you for this recipe!!

    • Annalise says:

      Hi Siobhan! I have not tried this recipe with gluten free flour so I’m afraid I can’t offer any feedback on how the recipe will work using it. You can certainly give it a try!

  27. Joseph says:

    I have tried making this cake three times in the past few months. Once for my wife’s birthday and two other times just because I could. It is an excellent recipe.
    My only problem I’m having with it, is that the cherries keep sinking to the bottom of the pan while cooking. I’ve tried adding more flour, and I tried drying off the cherries with a paper towel before adding them. But they always end up in a single layer at the bottom of the cake. It tastes excellent, but still.
    What am I doing wrong?

    • Annalise says:

      Hi Joseph! I have had that problem with pieces of cherries that were too large. Try to get all of the cherries chopped as small as you can without pureeing them. You can also toss the cherries with some of the flour used in the recipe to see if that will help.

      • Veronica says:

        Why not purée it?

      • Annalise says:

        Well if you puree it, it wouldn’t be “cherry chip”. It would just be cherry. But it’s something worth trying if that’s what you want!

    • Samantha says:

      Whenever I add nuts, choc chips, or fruit in to a batter I toss them with a little bit of flour before I fold them in. I learned it from Ina Garten years ago. I hope this helps with your cherries sinking!

  28. Kelsey says:

    So I made this cake for my daughters birthday and it turned out great. I did make a substitution though. I don’t like maraschino cherries. I found a 10 oz bag of frozen dark sweet cherries and used them instead. It made for a darker in color cake and maybe a little less sweet but everyone at the party loved it. I used my favorite butter cream recipe as well. I tried yours but it was sweeter than I like. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. The cake was great.

  29. Suzanna says:

    I love how light this cake is!!
    However I did find it sank in the center, what would have caused that?
    I was trying the cake out to see how it turned out for my daughters wedding shower. Would it be best for me to double up the cake batter and cut it in 1/2 to achieve my desired results. Wondering as the cake is very light, not sure how well it would cut without too much crumbling?
    I plan on a 2 teir cake. The bottom to be a carrot cake (4 layers)and the top to be cherry chip. The bottom when completed will be 8″ by 14″ and the top 8″by 8″ rounds(4 layers). Completed with fondant.

    • Annalise says:

      Hi Suzanna! Unfortunately, a lot of factors can influence the cake and cause it to sink, and without being with you in your kitchen while you baked it, I couldn’t say for sure what went wrong. A few things I’d try – 1) open the oven door as little as possible, in fact I wouldn’t open it at all for the first 20 minutes. 2) Make sure the cake is fully done when you take it out of the oven. 3) Measure ingredients by weight instead of volume to ensure exactness. 4) Make sure your leavening hasn’t expired. As for baking a double-thick layer and cutting vs baking 2 cakes, that’s up to you. I have a hard time splitting cakes evenly so I would bake them separate, but that’s just me. Good luck!

  30. Melissa says:

    What type of salt do you use?

  31. Lisa Jones says:

    For a special Valentines or Mother’s Day variation, try a butter cream fudge frosting. If your birthday target likes chocolare covered cherries, this is also a nice surprise for them, too.

  32. Peggy Kotkiewicz says:

    I made this as a test cake at a party to make sure my niece likes it for her wedding shower and it is amazing I have had multiple requests for it and yes my niece wants it for her shower ! The best recipe !! Thank you

  33. Christine Gabaree says:

    Made this for my daughter’s 13th birthday yesterday and everybody loved it, especially the icing. My daughter says it’s her new favorite cake. Thanks for the recipe.

  34. Shakira Ellis says:

    I attempted to make this cake tonight and it was a major fail. Somehow the flavor was not good. I did not use cake flour, used all purpose instead. The cake fell apart when I was trying to put it on a cooling rack. The buttercream frosting tasted like pure sugar! Maybe its just me but I was very disappointed. I had my hopes way up. The pictures were amazing but unfortunately the recipe failed me.

    • Vicki in MI says:

      I don’t think it’s anything to do with the type of flour used. Mine to was a ” major fail ” watery, rubbery and poor flavor in general. I can’t seem to find ” all comments” can someone direct me please?

      I’ve got a hunch, that it’s not just Shakira and I that had results?

      • Annalise says:

        Vicki, you can see all of the comments for this recipe here. As you can see a lot of readers have had success. So sorry to hear that the recipe gave you trouble! If you have any specific issues you’d like to troubleshoot, please let me know.

      • Ellie Anne says:

        My family is stationed in Hawaii and I found I had to adjust all my “tried and true” baking recipes I’d used successfully on the Mainland. Most baking recipes require much less water here. When I forget to decrease the water in a recipe, my cakes and baked goods turn out heavy and dense. (At times I’ve added a little more flour instead, but that can get dicy.) Try decreasing your milk to 1 cup (or even less) and make sure your cherries are well drained before chopping them. Make sure the batter texture is what you would normally find in a cake recipe you know works for you.

  35. Jennifer says:

    My mom’s favorite cake is cherry chip, but I can never find the mix in the small town I moved to. I made a half recipe of this for her birthday this spring when she came to visit, and everyone loved it! Mom even asked for the recipe. I’m making it again this weekend as cupcakes for a bake-sale. So much better than the mix used to be!!!!

    • Annalise says:

      I can never find the mixes either, and I’m so glad we don’t need to! 🙂 Happy to hear your family enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for the comment!

      • Barbara F says:

        I SOOOO prefer a homemade cake, but have made this in a pinch with a DH White cake mix, added chopped, drained maraschino cherries (and sometimes chopped nuts), a couple of tblsp of cherry juice for color, and occasionally a 1/2 tsp of almond extract. Bake as directed on the box. Again, homemade is better! 🙂

  36. Pandora says:

    I’m going to make this tomorrow. Wish me luck! About every 10 years or so, my brother wants Cherry Chip for his birthday cake. This is the year and this looks like THE recipe. I’m excited. Thank you.

  37. Mike says:

    We found this cake to be way to sweet. If we give it another try will probably follow Kelsey’s tip of using dark cherries and not the maraschino cherries. The cake baked well.

    • Sharon says:

      Hi! Making this cake right now and hoping you see this message! I am using cherries from a large Costco-sized container. Any idea about how many cups or parts of cups the 10 oz bottle made?

  38. FJo says:

    My favorite cake that my Grandma made me while I was growing up was cherry chip cake. Haven’t seen the mixes in stores for years. Last week I made this cake for my 15 year old son’s birthday (he likes cherries) and it was wonderful!! If you follow the instructions, it should turn out just fine. The only thing I deviated from was that instead of stirring the bits cherry into the whole batter, I gently stirred them into the batter once I had poured the batter into the pans. Had cherries throughout. I bake A LOT and have rather discriminating taste buds, and I thought it was delicious. Thanks for posting this recipe!

  39. Sharon says:

    Hi! Making this cake right now and hoping you see this message! I am using cherries from a large Costco-sized container. Any idea about how many cups or parts of cups the 10 oz bottle made?

    • Annalise says:

      Hi Sharon, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to respond sooner, but perhaps this will be helpful to others in the future. One 10-oz jar should hold about 30 cherries.

  40. Katherine says:

    Yum, made this cake yesterday and it is delicious. Very sweet and moist. Instead of a layer cake, I divided the batter between two 8×8 pans…one cake for now, and one for the freezer. They turned out perfectly

  41. Ashley says:

    I just made two of these cakes yesterday and I followed the recipe exactly how it was explained. My cakes tasted delicious but they did not rise. The color of the cake inside was not pink. I also had to bake mine for 40 minutes.

  42. Brianna says:

    Do you find the brand of maraschino cherries you use to be important? The cherries in mine turned purplish after baking, and the cake did not turn pink at all… and I did not skimp out on the juice.

    • Ashley says:

      The same happened with my cake. I used all natural maraschino cherries with no added dye. I am wondering if that is why it didn’t turn pink.

  43. Debbie says:

    Delicious and beautiful!!! I followed the cake recipe exactly (well, i may have thrown in a few more cherries). I only used 1/2 cup butter in the frosting, added a touch more almond extract and added a tiny bit of the cherry juice to make it pale pink. The cake was a big hit!

  44. jan says:

    My birthday is Sat. & I’m excited to try this recipe. Cherry Chip Cake was my all time favorite for my birthday growing up. Sadly, it is no longer a choice in the cake mix variety. Thanks for sharing! ;-D

  45. Sheila says:

    I don’t know if you’ll see this comment in time because I was asked to make this cake for a friends surprise birthday party for tonight. My question is, Why don’t you use the whole egg in this recipe?

    • Annalise says:

      Hi Sheila! This is a variation of a basic white cake recipe, and white cakes are typically made with just whites. It’s where their white color and light texture come from. Hope this helps!

  46. Jane says:

    Annalise, if this cake is made ahead of time (like the day before serving), does it not need to be stored in the refrigerator? I thought frostings made with whipping cream did need to be stored in the refrigerator. This cake is just beautiful!

    • Annalise says:

      Hi Jane! The frosting won’t go bad at room temperature because all of that sugar acts as sort of a preservative. That being said, I would probably store the cake in the fridge to keep it firm and fresh (and away from grabby hands) until you’re ready to slice and serve. Hope this helps. 🙂

  47. Jess says:

    The cake itself is good, although my cherry bits all sunk to the bottom, but the icing is WAY too sweet. It tasted like straight up powdered sugar… inedible.

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