The Best Wedding Cake Flavors for Your Big Day

From basic vanilla to decadent dark chocolate, here’s how to choose the best cake flavors for your reception.
Photo by Cake Studio

The cutting of the cake has long been a wedding reception staple.

But that doesn’t mean you have to have a traditional wedding cake. Brides and grooms are breaking out of the traditional wedding mold by choosing bright colors and designs for their wedding cakes. And accompanying this modern wedding cake trend are a whole host of new flavors and options.

Vanilla cake iced with vanilla buttercream may have been the cake of choice in the past, but no more. The sky really is the limit and modern brides and grooms are opting for more complex flavor combinations.

With hundreds of flavor combinations to choose from, how do you decide which cake is best for you? If you need a little bit of help narrowing down your choices, our comprehensive list of wedding cake flavors and pairings will help you make a short list before you start cake tasting.

Traditional Wedding Cake Flavors

You can never go wrong with traditional wedding cake flavors like vanilla or chocolate. The key to taking a classic wedding cake flavor from ho-hum to out of this world delicious is the right flavor combinations. So read on to learn how to make a classic wedding cake flavor really pop.

Vanilla Cake

Vanilla cake — also known as white cake — with vanilla buttercream will always be one of the most popular wedding flavors. Great for conservative celebrations, this wedding staple can be made special by choosing an unexpected filling and frosting. 

Vanilla pairs well with a lot of flavors, but you can’t go wrong with raspberry jam between the layers and raspberry cream cheese frosting. It can also be delicious with a tangy lemon curd and a swiss meringue buttercream. Another great option is a vanilla, fudge swirl cake with a fudgy ganache between the layers and vanilla frosting.

Chocolate Cake

Another classic flavor, there aren’t many people who don’t enjoy a piece of moist, chocolate cake. 

If you want to add a little pizzazz, these wedding cake flavor ideas are sure to make an impression: Chocolate pecan cake with mascarpone cream cheese frosting, milk chocolate cake with tart raspberry filling and peanut butter frosting, Irish chocolate cake with coconut cream filling and Bailey’s buttercream frosting or dark chocolate cake with cherry filling and vanilla buttercream.

Other flavor pairing options include: hazelnut, coffee, toffee or salted caramel. 

Yellow Cake

This buttery cake is another popular flavor for a traditional wedding cake. While not that different from it’s paler peer, the main difference between this cake and a vanilla cake is the addition of egg yolks in the batter. A vanilla cake uses only egg whites to keep the batter white.

One of the most popular flavor pairings with yellow cake is chocolate. A chocolate ganache filling with a chocolate buttercream is delicious as long as the icing is not too sweet. It also pairs well with a berry filling and cream cheese icing.

Popular Wedding Cake Flavors

While not quite as traditional, these wedding cake flavors have increased in popularity over the years as couples look for something different without being too extreme. 

Red Velvet Cake

It may be chocolate flavored, but red velvet offers beautiful, moist red-hued layers unlike traditional chocolate cake. It achieves its unique flavor thanks to the winning combination of cocoa powder, buttermilk and vinegar.

While red velvet is almost always paired with cream cheese frosting, it doesn’t have to be. This chocolatey cake also works well with Swiss meringue buttercream.

More creative flavor pairing options include: Strawberry red velvet cake with fresh strawberry jam between the layers and whipped cream, red velvet with raspberry jam filling and American buttercream or red velvet with chocolate ganache, fresh berries and mascarpone cream cheese frosting.

Champagne Cake

If you want a light, airy dessert, you can’t go wrong with this delicate cake. While your baker will likely have some suggestions on flavor pairings, we think this cake tastes best with a strawberry mousse filling and champagne buttercream.

Other winning flavor combinations include: pink champagne cake with either raspberry filling and white chocolate buttercream or lemon curd and lemon/champagne buttercream.

Almond Cake

The light, nutty flavor of almonds, not to mention the ability to pair a multitude of flavors with it is making this cake flavor a popular choice for many brides and grooms.

Pear and almond flavored cake with cinnamon, brown sugar buttercream will surprise and delight your guests as will almond cake with raspberry or blueberry filling and lemon cream cheese icing. Another winning combination is caramel apple and almond flavored cake with white chocolate frosting. Salted caramel and candied almonds can be sprinkled in between the layers for some added crunch.

If you want to keep your wedding cake flavors simple, an almond cake with almond cream and white chocolate buttercream is both tasty and elegant.

Coconut Cake

Coconut is another versatile cake flavor, making it an ideal choice for a wedding cake. It’s also ideal if you want to follow a white cake tradition, but don’t want a vanilla cake.

Coconut cake is divine with a tangy pineapple cream or chocolate ganache filling and swiss meringue buttercream. It can also be paired with a rich dulce de leche filling and chocolate fudge buttercream, just be sure your baker doesn’t make the frosting too sweet, or your coconut cake may be overpowering. A cherry compote with Swiss meringue buttercream is also a lovely combination.

Banana Cake

While not a traditional wedding cake flavor, these moist cakes are growing in popularity because they are popular with guests of every age.

You can’t go wrong with a banana cake with cream cheese frosting. If you want to mix things up a bit, though, banana also pairs well with caramel or coconut. Try it with caramel cream cheese frosting or a salted caramel icing if you like it sweet. If you want a more tropical taste, banana cake with coconut cream filling and almond buttercream should hit the spot.

Spice Cake

If you adore the taste and scent of fragrant cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, why not opt for a spice cake for your wedding day? While often considered a fall or winter dessert, spice cake can be served year-round depending on your flavor combinations.

The classic spice cake with cream cheese frosting can be made special with a comforting apple compote for fall or winter weddings. To change things up a bit, try a pear compote filling with maple buttercream.

For spring or summer, try a lemon curd filling with lemon mascarpone frosting or blackberry filling and a honey cream cheese icing.

German Chocolate Cake

German chocolate cake is made special by its delicious coconut frosting and pecans. While it’s not the best wedding cake flavor for your main cake, it makes a perfect groom’s cake and gives your guests a choice of two different flavors.

German chocolate cake with alternating layers of pecan praline cream and dark chocolate ganache fillings is absolutely heavenly, especially when it’s iced with a light coconut frosting.

Seasonal Wedding Cake Flavors

One way to narrow down your options is by matching your wedding cake flavor to the season in which you’ll exchange vows. Not only does it make wedding planning a bit easier, choosing season-appropriate wedding cake flavors can really tie-in to your wedding theme.

Spring Cake Flavors

Lemon Cake

With its bright layers and lucious taste, a lemon flavored cake is perfect for a spring wedding. If you enjoy the taste of lemon, why not go all out? A lemon cake with lemon curd and lemon buttercream is a sweet and tangy treat your guests will be sure to gobble up. 

If you’re looking for additional flavor options, why not try some of these? Lemon cake with raspberry jam and Swiss meringue buttercream is simply glorious as is a zesty lemon cake with lemon curd, mascarpone cream cheese frosting and fresh berries.

Vanilla Bean Cake

This variation on the traditional vanilla wedding cake flavor, vanilla bean offers a more intense and rich flavor due to whole eggs and a lot more vanilla flavoring being used in the batter. It’s also darker than a traditional white wedding cake.

To make your vanilla bean creation really pop, we suggest a strawberry filling and a white chocolate buttercream topped with fresh berries. Another delicious flavor profile with this cake is coconut. You could do a coconut cream filling and coconut buttercream or a berry filling with amaretto buttercream frosting.

Italian Cream Cake with Blueberries

With its lovely, moist layers of vanilla cake, this is an elegant treat to serve your guests.

This delectable dessert is traditionally topped with cream cheese icing and fresh blueberries, but you can mix things up a bit with a different frosting. It also works with a mascarpone cream cheese or white chocolate frostings and could be further enhanced with a blueberry filling between alternate layers.

Summer Cake Flavors

Strawberry Cake

Nothing says summer quite like plump, juicy strawberries, making this flavor a natural choice from summer nuptials. 

Strawberry cake with a strawberry jam filling and cream cheese frosting is a classic combination your guests will be sure to love. Other flavor combinations to consider are: strawberry cake with pistachio cream and white chocolate frosting or strawberry cake with a strawberry sparkling wine filling and sparkling wine buttercream.

Vanilla and Raspberry Swirl Cake

This cake is gorgeous to look at once cut into and is ideal for any bride who chose a shade of pink or purple for her wedding. It also tastes like summer with raspberry and vanilla batters swirled together before baking for a beautifully-colored cake.

A vanilla and raspberry swirl cake is divine with raspberry jam and a mascarpone cream cheese frosting. It also works well with a chocolate ganache filling and a white chocolate buttercream.

Pina Colada Cake

Based on the popular summer cocktail, this coconut rum cake is perfect for a casual or beach wedding. A pineapple filling and coconut buttercream makes this cake truly delectable, especially when topped off with some toasted coconut.

Other options include adding pineapple or lemon simple syrup to the layers before icing it with Swiss meringue buttercream.

Fall Cake Flavors

Carrot Cake

Carrot cake can be sweet or savory and is the perfect wedding cake for your autumn nuptials. A flavor loved by many, this moist cake is traditionally paired with cream cheese icing to break up the rich sweetness with a bit of tang.

Carrot is lovely with tropical or sweet accents. Pineapple compote and spiced eggnog buttercream is divine as is caramel filling and cream cheese molasses buttercream frosting. Both are excellent choices for this delectable cake.

Pumpkin Cake 

Nothing says fall quite like pumpkin-flavored baked goods. If you’re having a harvest-themed wedding, a pumpkin wedding cake is the perfect complement. While not one of the most popular wedding cake flavors for spring or fall, it is a go-to in the cooler months of the year.

Pumpkin cake with pecan filling and maple buttercream is sure to please your wedding guests as is spiced pumpkin cake with pumpkin pie filling and a mascarpone cream cheese icing. Pumpkin cake with a caramel cream between the layers and chai latte frosting is an unusual but delectable option. 

Apple Cake 

From apple cider to apple picking, you can’t help but think of apples as part of fall. There are a lot of flavors that pair well with apple, making this a great choice for your wedding cake.

You can keep it basic with a cinnamon-infused apple compote and Swiss meringue buttercream or you can up the ante with other flavors. An apple-pear cake with apple pie filling and whipped cream frosting is lovely as is apple cake with a pecan filling and maple buttercream.

Winter Cake Flavors

Chocolate Mint Cake

Peppermint is a classic winter flavor that can easily be incorporated into your chocolate wedding cake and is ideal for a refreshing and tasty dessert. 

Dark chocolatey cake layers can be made special with white chocolate peppermint buttercream. Another option for incorporating peppermint is to have a mint whipped cream filling between the chocolate layers with a classic chocolate frosting. Either cake can be decorated with crushed candy canes for some extra crunch.

Gingerbread Cake

Nothing says Christmas quite like gingerbread so, if you’re getting married around the holidays, this could be the perfect cake for your wedding day.

This heavily spiced cake pairs well with a sweet pear compote between alternate layers and vanilla buttercream or an apricot jam filling and cream cheese frosting. Gingerbread also pairs well with an eggnog custard filling and cinnamon molasses frosting. Dark chocolate and coffee are also nice flavor pairings.

Snickerdoodle Cake

Snickerdoodle cake works perfectly for any winter wedding thanks to its sweet and spicy flavor profile. While it doesn’t incorporate a lot of spices, if you love cinnamon, this is the wedding cake for you.

The cake boasts the cinnamon sweet flavor of snickerdoodle cookies and tastes wonderful with a warm cinnamon apple compote filling and a cinnamon infused cream cheese icing. Other flavor pairings include snickerdoodle cake with a brown sugar, cinnamon filling and toffee crunch buttercream or a cream cheese filling and coffee buttercream.

Non-Traditional Wedding Cake Flavors

These up-and-coming wedding cake flavors are far from traditional, but they are scrumptious, not to mention original. If you want to serve a dessert that will get your guests talking, these wedding cake flavors could be right up your alley.

Orange Liqueur Cake

Orange cake on its own may seem kind of basic but, when paired with tangy raspberry frosting and fresh berries, this flavor really pops. Orange cakes also work well with a dark chocolate ganache and buttercream.

Want another tasty option? Orange liqueur cake with cream cheese frosting is delicious, especially when enhanced with rum syrup. If you want a lighter cake, an orange citrus cake with a citrus mousse and Swiss buttercream fills the bill.

Funfetti Cake

Funfetti cake isn’t just for kids. In fact, your adult guests are sure to enjoy this colorful creation as much as any children in attendance. With a white batter used as a base, your baker will then add a variety of sprinkles to bring color to your wedding cake.

Funfetti is probably the most playful of all wedding cakes, so keep that in mind when matching flavors. It’s perfect paired with a strawberry or multi-berry jam between the layers and a vanilla frosting or cream cheese icing, fresh fruit and, of course, more sprinkles.

Cookies and Cream Cake

Another young at heart wedding cake, this confection has become quite popular with brides and grooms in recent years. 

A devil’s food or fudge cake with an oreo cheesecake filling and crushed Oreo buttercream is sure to please your guests as is a chocolate and vanilla swirl cake with a creamy Oreo mousse center and Swiss buttercream infused with Oreo chunks.

Peanut Butter Cup Cake

If your love for chocolate is nearly surpassed by your love for peanut butter, then why not marry the two together in your wedding cake?

Combining salty and sweet, this popular peanut butter confection can come alive in your wedding cake. You can alternate layers of fudge and peanut butter cake or choose just one flavor. If you opt for fudgy cake layers, a peanut butter mousse sprinkled with chopped up peanut butter cups is divine between them accompanied by a peanut butter buttercream.

If you go with a peanut butter cake, then a chocolate mousse laced with pieces of the confection is a perfect accompaniment. It can be topped with a milk chocolate or dark fudge buttercream.

Cookie Dough Cake

Have you noticed a theme with many of these non-traditional wedding cakes? They are all fun and youthful flavors — and this confection is no exception.

Devil’s food or fudge make up the layers of this chocolatey wedding cake. The cookie dough component is found in the mousse between the cake’s layers and is reminiscent of a chocolate chip cookie. The cake is finished off with cookie dough buttercream full of mini chocolate chips.

Rather than frosting, you could also do a fudge glaze, although this would be a far less classic look. Black mirror glazes have also become popular and would make your wedding cake shine.

Final Thoughts

If you’re in the midst of wedding planning, then our list of wedding cake flavor ideas is sure to give you lots of inspiration for a delicious dessert for your guests.

Whether you opt for two wedding cakes — a bride’s cake and a groom’s cake — or a classic multi-tier creation, the flavors and combination listed in our helpful wedding cakes guide are just a jumping off point. Wedding cakes can come in a wide variety of flavors and you may be surprised at what your baker can create for you.

Jot down the flavor combinations you’re most enamoured with and then talk to your baker about your wedding cake vision. Once you’ve done some cake taste tests, you’ll be well on your way to choosing a delicious cake for your wedding day.

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