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Italian Cream Cake

This glorious Italian Cream Cake is one of the greatest cakes ever invented! It’s a spectacular cake, any way you slice it. Pardon the pun. The rich thick pecan and coconut filled batter is only trumped by the decadent cream cheese frosting. It’s ideal for showcasing as the feature dessert for birthdays, holidays or any special gathering.

Italian Cream Cake

Easy Italian Cream Cake Recipe

What’s Italian About This Cream Cake? Nothing, actually. This vintage cake dubbed “Italian Cream Cake” is more Southern than Italian and no one really knows definitively why it was given this name. That said, Italian cream recipes are basically the same, and true to form as it is with all recipes, my take on it has evolved through the years in my kitchen. While it does take several steps to create this cake it’s a labor of love well worth the effort when you see the delight on the faces of your family and friends. It’s a very special cake for a special occasion. Ingredients to make Italian Cream Cake:

  • Flour – All purpose flour sifted with baking soda and baking powder.
  • Butter – Salted butter, softened.
  • Sugar – Granulated sugar and light brown sugar.
  • Flavorings – Vanilla extract and almond extract.
  • Eggs – Five large eggs.
  • Milk – Whole buttermilk (not fat free).
  • Mix-ins – Sweetened flaked coconut and chopped pecans.
  • Frosting – Plain cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract.
  • Garnishes – Reserved coconut and toasted pecans.
Italian Cream Cake

How to Make the Best Italian Cream Cake Recipe

My family members are die hard sweet or savory coconut fans. Coconut and pecans pair beautifully in this spectacular cake frosted with a dreamy cream cheese frosting. It’s such an amazing cake, it’s guaranteed to turn any occasion into something special. I always like to include a few tips to ensure your cake making success:

  • Kitchen tools you’ll need to make Italian Cream Cake: An electric mixer, either a stand mixer or a hand mixer whatever you have on hand. Large mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons and a whisk to sift together the dry ingredients, plus a large silicone spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl while mixing. A sheet pan and chopping tool to prep the nuts for roasting.
  • Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Italian Cream Cake: All purpose flour, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, salted butter, baking powder, baking soda, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, sweetened flaked coconuts and pecans. Softened cream cheese and powdered sugar along with vanilla and almond for the frosting.
  • If you only have unsalted butter on hand, add 1/2 tsp salt to the dry ingredients and proceed with the recipe.
  • Traditional Italian cream cake recipes often call for solid vegetable shortening in the batter. That said, after years of making this cake, I prefer using all butter in my cream cake batter.
  • Granulated sugar alone doesn’t give the depth of flavor you gain by adding brown sugar to the batter along with a touch of almond extract. Don’t skip it, it’s what sets this recipe apart from the rest.
  • It’s well worth the small amount of effort it takes to toast the coconut to use as a garnish for the sides of the cake. Not only does toasted coconut make it pretty, but it adds a spectacular flavor as well.
  • See how to toast coconut here for this cake recipe.
  • Store  this cake in an airtight container chilled for up to one week, if it lasts that long.
  • This Italian Cream Cake is one of those showpiece cakes that make a statement on the dessert table. It’s okay to feel proud once you serve it, I know I do.
  • You can make and bake the cake layers up to one month in advance for a timesaver. Let the cake rounds cool completely then wrap in freezer wrap and heavy duty foil.
  • Thaw frozen cake layers in the refrigerator and frost before serving.
Italian Cream Cake

More Southern Style Cake Recipes to Add to Make

Cakes just spell celebration no matter when they’re served. In my opinion, life is much too short to skip dessert or only have cake once a year on your birthday. Baking can be therapeutic, and sweets tend to bring happiness to those around you. Other cakes you may like to try:


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Helpful Kitchen Items:

Italian Cream Cake

Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Cooling Time (Layers)2 hours
Total Time55 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Italian-cream-cake
Servings: 12 pieces
Calories: 1216kcal
Author: Melissa Sperka


  • Cake:
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup salted butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 14 oz package sweetened flaked coconut divided
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan pieces toasted divided
  • Frosting:
  • 2 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 lb powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • reserved coconut toasted
  • 1/2 cup reserved toasted pecans


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 3 [9] inch round cake pans or spray with baking spray. Set aside.
  • Cake: In a medium bowl use a whisk to sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder together. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl use an electric mixer to cream together the softened butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pure vanilla and almond extracts. Beat until creamy and light beige in color, around 3-4 minutes
  • Add the eggs 1 at a time beating well after each addition.
  • To the bowl add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk beginning and ending with flour. After all has been added increase the mixer speed and beat until fully combined.
  • By hand mix in 1/2 of the 14 ounce package of flaked coconut and 1 cup of toasted pecans until evenly distributed in the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean. Cool completely in the pans on a cooling rack.
  • Frosting: In a large bowl use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to cream together the cream cheese and butter until light, fluffy and pale yellow in color. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Beat to combine. Lower the speed of the mixer and gradually add the powdered sugar beating until creamy and smooth.
  • Assemble: Line the edge of the cake plate or platter with wax paper strips. Center one cake layer on the pedastal.
  • Frost each layer sprinkling each with reserved toasted pecan pieces.  Add the final layer and frost the top and sides.
  • Press toasted coconut on sides. Decorate the top as desired with the remaining chopped pecans. (See in the Cook's note for how to toast coconut)
  • Store chilled until serving.


a) To toast the pecans: Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in a 350°F oven for 6-8 minutes. Cool completely before adding to the batter.
b) “How to” for toasting the coconut here
c) Alternative frosting technique: Mix the toasted pecans into the frosting by hand and spread onto the top and sides of the cake.


Serving: 1piece | Calories: 1216kcal | Carbohydrates: 149g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 68g | Saturated Fat: 38g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 201mg | Sodium: 505mg | Potassium: 315mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 123g | Vitamin A: 1101IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!



  1. My cakes didn’t rise as much as your pictures, and I’m trying to figure out the reason. My baking agents are brand new & all ingredients were at room temp. I also use a scale for measuring. I’m wondering if it was part of my mixing method. I beat each egg in for 15-20 seconds at medium speed (scraping bowl between). It looked a little curdled by the time all eggs were added-is that ok or does that mean I needed to beat longer? I divided flour into thirds alternating with buttermilk, mixing on low until just combined. I made sure everything was mixed in at end, but only increased speed for maybe 5-10 seconds. Is it necessary to beat longer once everything combined? The only other thing I can think of is that I rotated my pans about the 18 min mark because the back of my oven is hotter & that cake was getting brown early…any tips would be appreciated! The cake was still delicious!

    1. Hi Allyson, let’s see if we can figure out what went wrong. Firstly, did you sift the dry ingredients together? Beating the eggs for that amount of time isn’t necessary but likely wasn’t a problem. I am puzzled though, as to why it looked curdled to you? Was the butter fresh? Alternating the flour and buttermilk is what you should do however under-beating the batter can be an issue just as much as over-beating. Under beating typically affects rise and over-beating makes the cake dry. I don’t recommend opening the oven when baking a cake, this could have been an issue, too. Next time don’t repeat those things and you should have a better result.

      1. Thanks for your quick reply! Yes I sifted the dry ingredients and butter was fresh. Maybe I’ll try beating just a bit more after I get everything in. I don’t know how to avoid opening the oven since my back cake will get dark more quickly – I assume one pan shouldn’t sit out of the oven while other two are baking, right? As far as the curdled part, I’ve read when a lot of liquid is added at once (the 5eggs), it can cause the curdling – kind of like separation of ingredients? I know some people suggest adding a Tbsp or two of dry ingredients if that happens.

        I actually made this delicious cake a few years ago without any issues! It was a different oven though :/ I checked my oven temp though to make sure I was at 350 in center.

      2. Cakes can be finicky when opening the oven so if you must yes, wait to bake separately. I haven’t had the issue you describe with ingredients separating, I suppose you could try that but I’ve never found it necessary to do so. All butter isn’t created equal so use a good quality butter. If you’ve made this cake previously with great success (per your comment) you should be able to figure out what was different this time.

      3. Do you beat the dry ingredients & buttermilk in at low or medium/high speed? I feel like that might be the culprit, as well as opening oven. Sorry for all the questions, I’m just baking this for an event and I want to get it right!

    2. My cake is in the oven right now. Just a little bit of levity, as I was cracking one of the eggs into my mixer as it was running I managed to drop the whole egg in and before I could turn off the mixer it was nicely incorporated into the batter!! Spent half an hour digging out egg shells with my spaghetti spoon.🫢

  2. I couldn’t tell by what I read, sorry if I missed it. Is it only one block of cream cheese for the cake portion? I assume the other for the frosting? Thank you in advance. I’ve tried other recipes and they have been amazing. Can’t wait to see how this turns out.

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