I’m another year older and another year deeper in love with desserts, y’all. This Sunday, I celebrated my 29th birthday with a bunch of friends, the premiere of Insecure’s third season, and this grown & sexy bourbon vanilla birthday cake! Last week, I put out this gift guide for all things whiskey and today I’m going to show you what to do with it.

top of bourbon vanilla birthday cake

I’ll share more details on the party soon but let’s get into this cake. I adapted this grown-up version of everybody’s favorite funfetti cake from ChelSweets’ four layer birthday cake recipe by tweaking the proportions a bit and, of course, adding bourbon. 🙂 I also decorated this bourbon vanilla birthday cake a bit differently and am in love with the result. The flavor is rich and buttery and the texture is soft and moist without being too spongy. And, because of alllll the sprinkles, there’s no mistaking this for anything other than a birthday cake. Since I went the birthday donuts route last year (a very delicious route, btw), I wanted to try my hand at something more traditional. Of course, I had to put a twist on it. Enter the bourbon buttercream frosting. It’s delicious and the perfect match for this cake.

sprinkles of bourbon vanilla birthday cake

rainbow nonpareil sprinkles on cake

I’m a sucker for frosting. Since childhood, I’ve schemed on how to get the corner pieces at any birthday party I’d attend–you know the ones with the big frosting roses on them? As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve realized that not all frosting is…good. Not all cake is either. I like a good grocery store sheet cake as much as the next girl but have become more choosy with what I’ll put in my body and if it’s not all that, I’ll pass! Life’s too short to eat bad cake, y’all. Back to this bourbon vanilla birthday cake, though. I’m not the best with frosting cakes in a fancy way and don’t really practice much at it (this brown butter and salted caramel stunner was lazily frosted but tasted amazing) so I was a little nervous about how pretty this cake would turn out.

frosting swirls on top of cake

decorated birthday cake with topper

This recipe makes enough frosting for a naked cake look, which is basically filling between each layer and a crumb coat all over. I then added a bit more frosting around the base, stuck a bunch of sprinkles over that layer (easy hack for that step here), and added some simple frosting swirls to the top. I think it turned out pretty cool. It tastes as good as it looks so I was happy to present it to my birthday party guests and am proud to share it with y’all today. If you don’t have frosting tips on hand (I usually don’t, here’s how to make one easily with a piping bag or ziploc bag and a pair of scissors! I shared some peeks at the process on Instagram, in case you’re interested.

happy birthday topper on bourbon vanilla birthday cake

slices of bourbon vanilla birthday cake

I’ve linked some of the tools I used and recommend to create this bourbon vanilla birthday cake below. If you plan on making it, I’d go with buying the rainbow sprinkles in bulk because they are so pricey in stores (or maybe I’m just cheap). 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Signature Dash of Jazz

P.S. more bourbon desserts:

5 from 7 votes
Bourbon Vanilla Birthday Cake

A grown-up funfetti birthday layer cake made with bourbon whiskey and extra vanilla in both the batter and buttercream frosting then adorned with two kinds of rainbow sprinkles

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: adult birthday cake, birthday layer cake, funfetti cake, layer cake
Author: Jazzmine from Dash of Jazz
  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup milk room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons bourbon
  • 1 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies)
  • 2 1/2 cups unsalted butter softened
  • 10 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon bourbon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • rainbow sprinkles I used nonpareils (the round balls) to decorate this cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour four round, 8-inch cake pans. Whisk together flour, sea salt, baking powder, and sprinkles. Set aside.

  2. In another bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and brown sugar then add in eggs, vanilla, bourbon, and milk.

  3. Add about two cups of the dry mixture to your wet ingredients at a time, mixing well between each addition. Stir until uniform and no dry pockets exist.

  4. Divide cake batter between four pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Wait a few minutes before removing cakes from pans then cool on a wire rack.

  5. While cakes bake and cool, mix the frosting ingredients. First, beat the butter until it lightens in color (30 seconds to one minute) then add powdered sugar, a cup or so at a time, alternating each addition with bourbon, vanilla or milk. Add sea salt with last addition then beat until all ingredients are incorporated and frosting is uniform. It may be necessary to scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula periodically. This recipe makes enough frosting for a naked cake look, which is basically filling between each layer and a crumb coat all over.

  6. Frost and assemble cake once fully cooled: Spread about 1/2 cup of frosting on top of your first cake layer, spreading to about 1 1/2 inch from the edge before adding the next layer. Repeat until assembled. Frost the top and side of cake with a crumb coat.

  7. Use the remaining frosting to make a few swirls on the top of the cake as pictured and to spread a one-inch layer around the base of the cake. Cover this layer with nonpareil sprinkles. Add additional sprinkles to top of cake. Chill finished cake if not serving immediately.

Recipe Notes

Nonpareils (the little round rainbow sprinkles) will bleed their colors into cake batter so I only used them to decorate the finished cake. The jimmies are folded into the batter to create the funfetti effect.

If your frosting becomes to0 soft as you're working with it, chill the cake and frosting for a bit then resume. I recommend chilling the cake once you have finished the crumb coat if you plan to do another full layer of frosting and/or more elaborate decorations.