Italian Cream Cake

Italian Cream Cake is a classic! Three soft cake layers are loaded with pecans and coconut. Rich cream cheese frosting is the true hallmark of this cake.

Italian Cream Cake

This is my family’s recipe for Italian Cream Cake. Years ago my mom gave me a book of hand-written family recipes. It’s something I treasure, and it’s extremely useful, too! This recipe comes from those pages. You probably know by now that I love a good homestyle cake. This one is a classic, known and loved by many. I made it for our Father’s Day luncheon last Sunday because it’s my father-in-law’s favorite cake.

Italian Cream Cake

My mom included tips, tricks, and stories with each recipe in the book. Here is what was written alongside the cake entry.

“Our family discovered this recipe in the 1970’s. We loved it. My recipe card has spots all over it where I made it so much. I once made it for a co-worker. He paid me $20 for it. I thought that was outrageous.”


Haha! Who else thinks $20 sounds like a steal? You can almost spend that on a bag of good pecans.

The batter comes together quickly, even though there’s the task of dividing the eggs and whipping the whites separately. It’s an extra step but so worth it. The cream cheese frosting in this recipe is probably my favorite of all time. It’s so easy, so smooth, and pipes well. It tastes great and performs – what more can you ask for?

Italian Cream Cake

Let’s just take a moment to look at that interior. The cake layers stay moist because the smooth cream cheese frosting seals all that moisture in.

Italian Cream Cake

The rolled wafer cookies on top were my addition. They’re optional, but they make a quick and easy final flourish – and they’re tasty, too!

Italian Cream Cake

Heather Baird
Italian Cream Cake's beginnings are murky, but it is said to originate from an Italian baker that moved to the southern US. This is our family recipe, passed down to me from my mom. It's a delicious classic cake that everyone should try at least once. (I'm certain you'll be hooked!)
Make sure the cake layers are completely cool before frosting them. Cream cheese frosting is soft and easily meltable.
4.85 from 13 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 10


  • 8 inch cake pans, 3


Cake layers

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs yolks and whites divided
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened flake coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Cream cheese frosting and décors

  • 16 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 8 cups confectioners’ sugar 2 boxes, 1 lb. each
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup ground pecans
  • 8 pecan halves
  • 8 striped rolled wafer cookie I used Pirouettes


Cake layers

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Generously coat three 8-inch cake pans with flour-based baking spray (or grease and flour pans).
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, oil, and sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time, beat well after each addition.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Beat the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk; begin and end with the flour. Add vanilla, coconut, and pecans.
  • In a separate bowl, beat together egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Cream cheese frosting

  • Cream together the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the powdered sugar in two additions. Beat until smooth. Add vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again until combined. Cover frosting with a damp towel to keep it from drying out while you work.
  • Remove about 1 cup of the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip. Set aside.


  • Place a cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Top with a thin layer of frosting; stack another layer and frost. Top with the third cake layer. Apply a thin crumb coat of frosting to the outside of the cake. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. Cover the cake with the remaining frosting. Smooth top and sides using a cake smoother or bench scraper. Immediately press the ground pecans onto the lower edges of the cake.
  • Pipe eight large swirls of frosting on the top edge of the cake using the reserved piping bag of frosting. Immediately sprinkle swirls with leftover ground pecans. Place a pecan half between each swirl. Top each mound with a rolled wafer cookie.
  • Refrigerate cake. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Keyword chopped pecans, cream cheese frosting, sweetened flake coconut
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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2 years ago

This looks so yummy. I will be baking this. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

Jennifer S Scott
Jennifer S Scott
1 year ago

5 stars
I made this recipe for a Christmas party and it was a hit! Unfortunately I did not have buttermilk so instead I used a half cup of heavy whipping cream a half cup of milk and a tablespoon of orange juice and it still turned out awesome! This recipe is one for the books!

Heather Beaver
Heather Beaver
1 year ago

Hi! This cake looks AMAZING! On Instagram I saw that you said the cake layers come out more moist if you bake them in advance and freeze them (about a week)? How do I go about freezing the layers? Do you wrap them in clear plastic wrap first? I appreciate your time in advance!

Heather Beaver
Heather Beaver
1 year ago
Reply to  Heather Baird

Thank you so much! I’m pumped to make this over the weekend! Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes :o)

Diana Schuster
Diana Schuster
9 months ago

5 stars
I made this for my Husband’s Birthday.
Now EVERYONE wants it as their Birthday Cake !!
Lol thank you so much!

Brittany S.
Brittany S.
9 months ago

What tip did you use to make such perfect decorations on top of the Italian Cream Cake?

Tracy willis
Tracy willis
8 months ago

Can I use 2 nine inch pans ?