Ranking 27 Popular Cake Flavors, From Worst To Best

Let them eat cake! According to Encyclopedia Britannica, this famous (albeit overused) line likely wasn't actually said by Queen Marie-Antoinette during the French Revolution, but it does reflect how much people around the world love their sweet slices of cake. The Nibble notes that the ancient Egyptians were the first population to bake proto-cakes and bread on hot stones. The first cakes were made with wild yeasts, and towards the 18th and 19th centuries, bakers started adding leavening agents like eggs and eventually baking soda and baking powder to encourage cakes to rise. In modern times, there are hundreds of different kinds of cakes that encompass immense diversity in flours, fruits, nuts, chocolate, and other flavorful additions. 

While we like to think that all cakes are good cakes, there are some strong opinions about what types "take the cake." And if you're going to spend time mixing, baking, and decorating your cake, why would you pick a type of cake that you don't enjoy eating in the first place? Here are some of our favorite (and in conjunction, bottom-tier) cake flavors. 

27. Ice cream cake

Ice cream cake is, by far, the most impractical kind of cake anyone can make. Although you would think that layering sheets of cake with tooth-achingly sweet ice cream would be a good idea, wait until you try to slice it on a hot summer day. 

Anyone who has experience baking an ice cream cake sponge knows that cooling the cake to ensure that the ice cream doesn't melt, as well as making sure the ice cream is soft enough to spread, is a flat-out nightmare. And if you skip the whole "DIY" deal, you're stuck with the plastic taste of Carvel icing. Plus, many ice cream cakes contain too much sugar, which can easily appease children under the age of 10 but doesn't always work for adult taste buds. As for redeeming qualities of this cake? We'll let you know when we find any. 

26. Icebox cake

Icebox cake is one of the easiest cakes you can make at home. You'll just need some wafer cookies, cream, sugar, and whatever textural elements you plan to add to the cake — like chocolate, pretzels, nuts, or syrups. Then, shove the cake in your freezer for a few hours, and voila! 

The ease of making icebox cake is one of its redeeming qualities. But, you won't get the subtle crumb of a sponge, and the entire dessert can easily become overwhelmed by the cream-to-cookie ratio. 

25. Funfetti cake

Funfetti cake is the equivalent of giving a child a unicorn on a plate. The inclusion of sprinkles within the sponge creates streaks of color that look super youthful and exciting to the eye but tastes mediocre when you take a bite. The sprinkles can easily become gritty and get stuck in your teeth, while the sheer sweetness of the icing (which can be made as a buttercream, whipped, or glaze) may result in you only taking two bites before walking away.

24. Orange cake

Anything with orange teeters on the edge of being too artificial and pleasant. Adding too much orange juice, zest, or extract to a cake can disrupt every flavor, while adding too little will leave your guests thinking it's just vanilla chiffon cake. Orange cakes fare better than other varieties on our list because they have the potential to amplify other flavors like chocolate or vanilla. But, proceed with caution when working with orange-flavored anything. 

23. Poke cake

Poke cake is a type of cake made by poking small holes in the top of a sponge cake and filling it with a layer of gelatin or pudding. While this is a way to infuse more flavor into what might be an otherwise flavorless sponge, there can be numerous textural issues created. Soggy sponge can occur if the gelatin doesn't set properly, which can easily turn your entire poke cake into a wobbly mess. 

22. Pineapple upside-down cake

A pineapple upside-down cake may be interesting to look at, but the mechanics of making one are anything but easy. This cake is made by adding a layer of caramel to a skillet, pouring in the cake batter, and baking it until golden brown. The trick then comes with inverting the cake so the pineapple layer is facing upwards without dislodging any of the pineapple or the cake. If you cut the pineapple rings too thick, they won't cook at the same rate as the sponge. And if the rings are too thin, your pineapple will disintegrate into the cake. There are just too many variables to have to control when you're making this cake. 

21. Pound cake

Pound cake can take on many different flavor profiles, including traditional vanilla, lemon, vanilla, and even chocolate. But what sets this cake apart from others is its density. If you're eating top-of-the-line pound cake, there is no frosting or embellishing garnishes. It's just you and a brick of cake that could probably shatter a window if you threw it hard enough. Pound cake, which gets its name from the fact that it originally required 1 pound each of sugar, flour, butter, and eggs, (per Britannica) can be overwhelmingly dense and doesn't resemble the spongy, soft, sweet birthday cake we love.

20. Coconut cake

What does coconut actually taste like? If you're thinking about a Southern coconut cake, the answer is sweet. While coconut has very little flavor in itself, it can provide a nostalgic texture when placed on the outside of a cake. To get a strong coconut flavor in a cake, you're going to have to use an entire coconut arsenal of coconut extract, coconut shavings, and coconut cream. Otherwise, your cake is just a subpar white or yellow cake with a little coconut garnish on the outside. If you love coconut-flavored things, this cake is for you. If you feel ambivalent about coconut as a flavor, stick to a plain chocolate cake instead. 

19. Lemon poppyseed cake

Poppyseed is almost entirely absent of flavor, so the importance of a more flavorful accompaniment (in this case, lemon) is entirely necessary. Lemon poppyseed cake is in the middle of our ranking because it has a better balance of flavor than other cakes that are sickeningly sweet. You can add texture to a lemon poppyseed cake with the addition of a lemon curd layer, or curb some of the tartness with cream cheese icing.

18. Strawberry cake

Strawberry cake can take on many forms. Strawberry shortcake, which is a vanilla sponge or angel food cake topped with whipped cream and macerated strawberries, is one of the most popular strawberry-inspired cake options you can find in the United States. In Japan, the strawberry cake is served on street corners and features a genoise sponge with whipped cream and strawberries. Both of these cakes elevate the strawberry flavor beyond the florescent pink-colored boxed cake mix you can find at the grocery store (which, we should note, you should never consider buying if you have other flavors to choose from). 

17. Chocolate lava cake

Chocolate lava cake is a trend that should have died out a long time ago. To get the perfect chocolate lava cake, according to Gemma Stafford, you have to bake it just enough that the inside remains runny, but not underbake it to the point of collapse. These cakes are precarious to bake, and the molten core always sticks to your spoon when you're trying to eat it. Is it a novelty? Sure. But it's not practical enough for us to keep in our cake repertoire.

16. Cheesecake

We mean it when we say it — cheesecake is overrated. While you can make different types of cheesecake (the Cheesecake Factory alone offers 36, per its website) getting the perfect texture for a cheesecake is something that takes a lot of practice. When it comes to making different flavoring for cheesecake — we have to argue that adding a distracting layer of peanut butter or dulce de leche distracts from the fundamental mistakes in the traditional cheesecake itself. Stop adding crazy ingredients and just keep cheesecake, cheesecake. 

We should also add that cheesecake's classification as a cake is highly contested. Per the Collin Street Bakery, cheesecake is actually a tart because it is enclosed on three sides with a pastry shell, can have its top decorated, and does not require baking to be safe to eat. 

15. Honey cake

Honey cake is a common Jewish dessert eaten on Rosh Hashanah, but it can also be found with variations across Europe. The cake is sweetened with and decorated with honey but can also include ingredients like nuts, dulce de leche, and whipped cream frosting. Honey cake is versatile and can be made in a skillet or as a layer cake; the flavor is more floral than cakes sweetened with granulated sugar alone. Although the sponge is moist because of the honey, it can also easily upset the sweetness in the frosting (if you plan to make a layered cake). 

14. Marble cake

Marble cake is the perfect kind of cake for people who can't make decisions. Although the marble cake may look difficult to make, it involves simply swirling chocolate and vanilla cake batter together to make a unique new pattern. Although you get the best of both worlds, the flavor of the marble cake doesn't lean into the chocolate or vanilla territory. It's rather bland, and if you get enough of one flavor, it overpowers the other — thus defeating the purpose of having two flavors of cake in one.

13. Black Forest cake

Black Forest cake can be, in one word, overwhelming. You get copious layers of decadent chocolate cake, sweet buttercream, cherries, and chocolate ganache — along with the important addition of cherry kirsch that, by definition, makes a cake a Black Forest cake. There is a lot of harmony in this cake between the flavors of the cherries and the chocolate, although it can be overwhelming to get all of the flavors in one bite. If you're looking for a cake with all the bells and whistles, this is the one. But if you're seeking a more simple and more customizable cake flavor, you should seek otherwise. 

12. White cake

White cake is a very delicate type of vanilla cake used for weddings and special celebrations. The crumb texture is delicate because it is leavened using egg whites and baking powder. While the crumb structure on a white cake is something of beauty, the flavor is as exciting as its color. There is very little flavor in a white cake, and you'll find that the bland taste of the cake makes any failures you make in the buttercream more apparent.

11. Apple cake

Apple cake is a moist, flavorful cake made with autumnal spices, baking apples, and an optional crumb topping. It's like a hybrid of apple pie and a coffee cake. 

Apple cake is the perfect cake to enjoy with breakfast or after dinner because it is plush and soft without being too dense. The spices, which can include cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, feel like a warm hug on a cold day. The only major downside to this kind of cake is that it isn't really made to add frosting to, so it's not always the best type of cake to use for celebrations or ostentatious parties. Leave the apple cake on your kitchen table on a Sunday morning, though, and it will be gone by night.

10. Spice cake

Spice cake often contains a bold mix of cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, but some recipes may also call for a bit of dried ginger for heat or cardamom for zest. From a flavor perspective, the spice cake gets our approval. But, this cake can get very dense and stodgy because there are few ingredients to keep it light and fluffy. You can also add cream cheese icing to provide a sweet relief from the spice and include chopped nuts for texture. 

9. Pumpkin cake

If you're a pumpkin spice lover, we can guarantee that pumpkin cake is on your list of favorite cake flavors. Canned pumpkin puree is an ingredient you should always have on hand for baking because it adds a ton of moisture to your cakes, cupcakes, and everything in between. And if you're not crazy about pumpkin-everything during the fall, you can rest assured that pumpkin cake isn't that flavorful on its own. You can amplify the flavor of your pumpkin cake by adding more spices and a higher ratio of canned pumpkin, or just use the ingredient to take your spice cake up a notch. 

8. Carrot cake

Carrot is a versatile cake flavor that includes an important ingredient to help break up the monotony of the spiced sponge. Depending on your carrot cake recipe, you can incorporate chopped nuts or dried fruits into the batter for a bit more texture as well. Therefore, carrot cake is a bit more flexible of a cake flavor than other types. Plus, although the most common frosting for carrot cake is homemade cream cheese icing, you can also keep your cake naked and know you'll still have enough reprieve from the flavor of the sponge. 

7. Coffee cake

At first glance, you might think coffee cake is an inflexible variety of cake, but in reality, you can enhance the flavor of coffee cake with the addition of fruit, chocolate ganache (like in a chocolate Turkish coffee cake), or chopped nuts. The crumb strudel topping acts as its own "icing" for the cake, so you don't have to worry about adding a layer of cream cheese or buttercream anytime soon. But, if you wanted to add a bit more decadence, add a twist on the traditional coffee cake recipe with some sprinkles.

6. Hummingbird cake

Hummingbird cake is a classic Southern cake made from a moist mixture of mashed banana and crushed pineapples with the accent of toasted pecans. There are a ton of tropical flavors in this cake, and you can even add a bit of a rum to take your Southern dessert to a new level. While hummingbird cake is often served as a layered cake with cream cheese frosting, you could also stick to a traditional American buttercream or opt for a light vanilla glaze. This cake is Southern hospitality served on a plate. 

5. German chocolate cake

Old-fashioned German chocolate cake isn't the stodgy, overtly chocolatey cake you may be dreaming of — but we can argue it's even better. The cake is made with a dark chocolate sponge and decorated with a twist on buttercream frosting. The buttercream is made with evaporated milk, chopped pecans, vanilla extract, and coconut shavings. There is an opportunity for a reprieve from the chocolate sponge (which doesn't happen with other varieties of chocolate cake), but you truly have to pair the pecans, coconut, and chocolate together for a true German chocolate cake — which creates some inflexibility. 

4. Yellow cake

Yellow cake is truly the Swiss Army knife of the cake world. We have a lot of nostalgia from eating yellow cake with chocolate frosting at birthday parties and celebrations — and even more fond memories of baking it in the kitchen from a Duncan Hines box. Although the yellow cake isn't as flavorful as our other top contenders, it does have versatility in both frosting and flavoring. You can use a buttercream frosting (chocolate or vanilla) to ice your cake and decorate it with chopped fruits, nuts, or candies — all without upsetting the vanilla undertone of the cake. 

3. Chocolate cake

When we say "chocolate cake," we're referring to the stick-to-your-ribs, significant-other-just-broke-up-with-you, dense cake that everyone dreams of. You can make it into a nostalgic chocolate layer cake with a fudge frosting or bake it into a sheet cake for a crowd. You could also break tradition and pair the dense chocolate sponge with vanilla or cream cheese buttercream. It's more flavorful than yellow cake but has the same versatility that allows you to get creative with the recipe.

2. Red velvet cake

What does red velvet cake taste like? That's not an easy question to answer. Red velvet cake has some of the same depth as a chocolate cake, but with the subtle tang of buttermilk and a sweet cream cheese frosting. The complexity of flavor and sensations in a red velvet cake (along with its astonishing color, which was originally attributed to the use of certain types of cocoa powder used in the sponge, per Southern Living), is what makes red velvet cake one of our timeless favorites. 

1. Devil's food cake

The top-tier cake flavor is unequivocally devil's food cake. Since the devil's food cake is widely recognized as the predecessor to the red velvet cake, you will see some of the same complexities in flavor and texture between the two. Devil's food cake outranks chocolate cake because of how fluffy, yet moist, it is. Plus, the devil's food cake has a more pungent chocolate flavor without becoming too stodgy; this is because the devil's food cake contains a bit more baking soda than other types of cake.

Although the devil's food cake is commonly associated with chocolate buttercream, you can also add other flavors to the mix that complement the chocolate. One of our favorite ingredients to add to devil's food cake is a hit of orange zest.