10 Oil-Based Cakes That Practically Make Themselves

published Apr 15, 2020
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Under the best of circumstances, I jump for joy when I stumble upon an oil-based cake recipe (a cake made with oil in place of butter). But right now, when creating something sweet and delicious quickly — and without dirtying a ton of dishes — is top of mind, my love for these easy, reliable cakes is at an all-time high. That’s why I’ve rounded up 10 oil-based cakes that are the perfect soothing, tasty, and speedy antidote for these uncertain times.

But First, What Makes Oil-Based Cakes So Great

If you’re not already a convert to oil-based cakes, allow me to make my case. Below are what I consider to be the oil-based cake’s most impressive attributes.

Oil-based cakes are quick to assemble. Because there’s no need to soften butter or cream it in your mixer, oil-based cakes are faster to whip up than their butter-based counterparts. All of the recipes below are also one-bowl affairs (a common perk of oil-based cakes), so there’s less prep and less clean-up, too.

Oil-based cakes are incredibly moist. An oil-based cake is never dry and here’s why: oil is a liquid (or, for lack of a better word, “wet”) at room temperature, and so, thanks to that liquidity, cakes made with it taste moist. Butter, on the other hand, is solid at room temperature, which means cakes made with butter run the risk of tasting dry.

Oil-based cakes are extremely tender. Over-mixing a cake batter leads to too much gluten-development, and a tough cake. But because oil is a pure fat, and fat and gluten do not play well together, the likelihood of overdeveloping the gluten in the flour is exponentially decreased, leaving you with a tender and never tough cake.

Oil-based cakes get even better as they sit. Oil provides your cake with a staying-power that cannot be beat, allowing you to enjoy a slice up to a week post-bake. And whereas most cakes begin to lose a bit of their appeal a day or so after they are baked and frosted, oil-based cakes intensify in flavor as the days pass, making a chocolate cake even more chocolate-y on day two, and a lemon cake even more lemon-y.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Apple Yogurt Cake with a Cinnamon-Sugar Streak

It will take you about 15 minutes to make this moist cake with a crumb that’s almost creamy, swirled with cinnamon, and juicy with small bites of apple.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Easy One-Bowl Apple Bundt Cake

Studded with chunks of apple, scented with cinnamon, and finished with a sweet and tangy cream cheese glaze, this gorgeous Bundt cake uses a fuss-free, one-bowl method that makes it easy to throw together quickly.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. How To Make a One-Bowl Vanilla Cake

Honestly, this cake can come together faster than your oven will preheat.

Credit: Lauren Volo

4. One-Bowl Yogurt and Honey Olive Oil Cake

This humble cake comes together from a few pantry ingredients and bakes up to be far from a show-off. But it’s one of the most moist and tender cakes you’ve ever baked.

Credit: Yossy Arefi

5. Easy Lemon Bundt Cake with Fresh Lemon Glaze

Come spring (or, let’s be honest, any time really!), there’s no dessert more classic and universally loved than a lemon Bundt cake. This version is a foolproof dessert that looks downright fancy, yet is surprisingly easy to whip together.

6. One-Bowl Vanilla Sheet Cake with Sprinkles

Because they require just one simple pan and bake quickly, sheet cakes are considered extra-easy cakes, but this vanilla stunner only requires one bowl too, making it double extra-easy

7. Chocolate Sheet Cake with Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter Frosting

A big chocolate sheet cake is one of the friendliest desserts we know. What takes this particular one over the top though? Crowning it with a light-as-air honey-peanut butter frosting and a sprinkling of honey-roasted peanuts.

8. One-Bowl Bundt Cake with Chocolate Drizzle

This pairing of a simple vanilla cake and chocolate glaze looks and tastes a lot like a chocolate glazed donut.

Credit: Yossy Arefi

9. Easy Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

These cupcakes are as easy as can be, requiring just one bowl and a whisk to make the batter. Even the kids can help here! 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

10. Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

This one starts with a box of cake mix, making it the easiest of the bunch. If you can only get your hands of frozen rhubarb, thaw it overnight in the fridge, then drain any excess liquid before using it in the recipe.

Get the recipe: Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake