17 Easy Cake Recipes That Are Fancy Enough for Special Occasions

Pistachio-Honey Cake with Berries and Cream
Photo: Andy Lyons

Making a gorgeous dessert for your next get-together is, well, a piece of cake. We've picked some stunning easy cake recipes for you to try, including decadent chocolate cakes to fruit-filled delights. With shortcut ingredients, simple methods, and fast prep times, we have plenty of simple, yet seemingly fancy cakes to try.

01 of 17

Champagne Cake with Fresh Strawberries

Champagne Cake with Fresh Strawberries
Jason Donnelly

You'll want to raise a glass after accomplishing this easy and beautiful cake. We spike a boxed cake mix with champagne or sparkling wine in place of the called-for water. Top with canned frosting and fresh berries for a simple, yet fancy finish.

02 of 17

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Lemon Olive Oil Cake
Karla Conrad

Olive oil cakes already sound like a fancy cake in my opinion, so this lemon-infused seems delightful for any occasion. Since there's only a light (optional) dusting of powdered sugar, you don't have to worry about spending a lot of time frosting. Use whatever fruit is in season as a fresh topper.

03 of 17

Easy Orange-Carrot Cake

Easy Orange-Carrot Cake
David Loftus

Carrot cakes are delicious, but making them from scratch requires a time investment due to layers and frosting. Not this time. We kept this easy carrot cake recipe one layer with a simple tasty frosting made from sour cream and powdered sugar. A hint of orange zest on top gives the cake a pop of color and zesty flavor.

Buy It: Wilton Round Cake Pans ($11, Walmart)

04 of 17

Best-Ever Chocolate Cake

Best-Ever Chocolate Cake
Blaine Moats

Who doesn't love chocolate? This decadent cake is made with rich cocoa powder and a generous coating of fluffy chocolate-sour cream frosting. Decorate your cake with ease by using a flat knife to create sophisticated peaks and swirls.

05 of 17

Dulce de Leche Cake

Dulce de Leche Cake
Andy Lyons

This beautiful cake only looks like a lot of work. Packaged white cake mix cuts down on prep time, and you can make the cake ahead and frost right before serving. A quick caramelized-sugar drizzle hints at the classic dulce de leche dessert.

06 of 17

Triple-Citrus Pound Cake

Triple-Citrus Pound Cake
Andy Lyons

Three tangy citrus fruits (grapefruit, lime, and orange) team up for a brightly-flavored spin on traditional pound cake recipes. A simple powdered sugar frosting on this easy cake recipe adds sweetness and a gorgeous finish.

07 of 17

Pistachio-Honey Cake with Berries and Cream

Pistachio-Honey Cake with Berries and Cream
Andy Lyons

Warm honey lends subtle sweetness to this pistachio-cornmeal cake. Top it with juicy strawberries, crunchy pistachios, and a rich mascarpone-honey frosting for one seriously beautiful cake to serve at your next summer cookout.

08 of 17

One-Bowl Chocolate S'more Cake

One-Bowl Chocolate S'more Cake
Jason Donnelly

Channel your favorite campfire treat in this simple cute cake. The simple chocolate cake is elevated with an impressive sticky mountain of warm marshmallow creme as the icing and finished with graham cracker crumbs for the signature s'mores flavor. The fact the entire recipe is made in a single bowl makes it more appealing.

Buy It: Anchor Hocking Nested Mixing Bowls Set ($20, Target)

09 of 17

Caramelized Pear Skillet Cake

Caramelized Pear Skillet Cake
Carson Downing

Take a break from pineapple and make this easy upside-down cake instead. The elegant cake starts by roasting pears in melted butter and caramelized sugar to make the ultimate candy-sweet fruit topping. Warm spices such as ginger, nutmeg, and cloves make it a perfect cake recipe for fall.

Buy It: Lodge Cast Iron Skillet ($30, Target)

10 of 17

Classic Vanilla Cake

Classic Vanilla Cake
Andy Lyons

When classic white cake is this light and fluffy, you don't need any extra flair. Simplicity makes this cake recipe beautifully sophisticated. Though we won't judge if you want to layer on sprinkles, too.

11 of 17

Gooey Chocolate-Caramel Fantasy

gooey chocolate caramel cake
Blaine Moats

Calling all chocoholics! This easy cake recipe is nothing short of a chocolate lover's dream. Be sure to keep it chilled until it's time for the topping. Then go wild with the creamy caramel and mounds of crunchy pecans.

Buy It: Nordic Ware Spring Form Pan ($14, Target)

12 of 17

Banana-Clementine Wacky Cake with Pomegranate Sauce

Banana-Clementine Wacky Cake with Pomegranate Sauce
Jason Donnelly

Forget plain banana bread and upgrade to our zippy, citrus-infused pretty cake idea. We topped it off with a mouthwatering fruit sauce made with crunchy pomegranate seeds and tart jelly. The "wacky" part of this easy cake comes from using vinegar in the batter rather than eggs.

13 of 17

Chocolate Cake with Malt Topping

Chocolate Cake with Malt Topping
Jason Donnelly

Crispy malted milk balls and a simple malted-chocolate frosting add a little something special to our easy chocolate cake recipe. If you like planning ahead, make the beautiful cake and freeze it up to 3 months in advance. Just wait to assemble it when it's party time.

14 of 17

Molasses Spice Cake

Molasses Spice Cake
Con Poulos

Our special homemade berry compote takes an easy cake recipe from basic to standout. Prepare the compote up to two weeks in advance using fresh berries, a splash or two of orange juice, molasses, and brandy.

Buy It: Glass Domed Cake Plate ($60, Williams Sonoma)

15 of 17

Tres Leches Strawberry Shortcake

Tres Leches Strawberry Shortcake
Blaine Moats

It doesn't get much more delicious than a food mash-up involving strawberry shortcake and tres leches cake. This beautiful cake looks like a chore but really only needs 25 minutes of hands-on time. Once baked, the cake can chill overnight, making it a perfect make-ahead option for your next gathering.

16 of 17

Pumpkin-Spice Icebox Cake

slices of Pumpkin-Spice Icebox Cake on white plates
Brie Passano

Icebox cakes are an excellent way to present a pretty cake without much effort thanks to their make-ahead nature. This delicious recipe starring fall's favorite flavor features layers of gingersnap cookies and a sweet, fluffy cream cheese mixture. Take your plating skills to the next level with a generous drizzle of warmed dulce de leche.

17 of 17

Whole Wheat Chocolate-Blueberry Cake

Whole Wheat Chocolate-Blueberry Cake
Andy Lyons

Whole-wheat flour gives this rich, easy chocolate cake recipe a healthier spin. The simple small cake only takes 30 minutes to bake and goes perfectly with the easy blueberry topping. A decadent chocolate glaze and a few more fresh blueberries present a glamorous, glossy look.

Buy It: Wilton 8-Inch Cake Pan ($15, Walmart)

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