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Rum Cake (From Scratch!)

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Rum Cake Recipe (From Scratch!) |

My good friend, Liisa, was the one who got me hooked years ago on rum cake.

Liisa was the one roommate I ever had who loved cooking just as much as I did. And I must say that our kitchen back then and my life ever since have both been all the more delicious thanks to her. (Case in point: she was the one who introduced me to my favorite red enchilada sauce, which I have made approximately five thousand times since.)  She cooked dinner almost every night and was a pro at using various spices and seasonings to make our simple budget meals taste tres gourmet. But one of my favorite things about Liisa was her insistence on baking her own birthday cake each year.

Rum cake.

Actually, it’s probably more accurately called butter rum cake, since the key ingredient to its decadence would make Paula Dean proud.

Liisa would always pull out her beautiful bundt pan, coat it with sugar, and then bake up a rum-laced yellow cake to golden perfection. And then we would watch her poke holes all over the cake and pour an extra butter-rum sauce to fill in the gaps. And then once the cake was inverted onto a pretty pedestal, the remaining sauce would be drizzled on top as a glaze.

It was the perfect birthday indulgence, and I loved it so much that I adopted for many future birthdays of my own. And when I later found out that rum cake is traditionally considered a Christmas dessert, well, all the merrier. More rum cake for all!!

This Christmas, though, I decided to finally see if I could figure out a rum cake from scratch that would rival the traditional recipe, which is usually made with a boxed cake mix. I have to admit — this proved no easy task. I don’t know what processed magic they throw in boxed cake mixes, but especially with yellow cakes, those flippin’ boxes are hard to beat. But three rum cakes (and many happy Christmas parties) later, I think I found a scratch recipe that at least rivals the boxed mix version. It takes a little more time and effort, but if you’re trying to move away from processed food, it’s definitely worth the try.

Rum Cake Recipe (From Scratch!) |

You might notice right off the bat that scratch yellow cakes are not quite as yellow as their boxed mix counterparts. Which I find to be great news. No yellow food coloring #4982, or whatever it is! The only thing coloring this cake is lots of buttah, egg yolks, and — yes — some golden rum. ;)

Rum Cake Recipe (From Scratch!) |

I ended up trying a handful of different yellow cake bases for this recipe. And I have to admit that all of the frustrations I read from other bakers about scratch yellow cakes are true. They’re just hard! Hard to make the perfect sweetness, hard to make light and fluffy, and hard to make moist. I almost gave up and reached for Betty Crocker, but then I finally decided to play with the base recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. And of course — I shouldn’t have been surprised — it was awesome.

The process isn’t hard, but it is slightly more involved and time consuming than an average cake. For example, you are required to separate the eggs and whip the whites into stiff peaks (similar to meringue), and then later fold them into the batter. But if you have an electric mixer, that should be a breeze. Rum Cake Recipe (From Scratch!) |

Once your batter is ready, spray your bundt pan liberally with cooking spray, and then coat every square inch of that surface with sugar. (Be especially sure that the inner cone of the bundt pan is completely coated so that the cake doesn’t stick!)

Then bake it up until it’s nice and golden.

Rum Cake Recipe (From Scratch!) |

Then comes the good part. Once the cake has cooled off a bit after baking, use a skewer or toothpick to poke holes all over the cake. Then pour a butter-rum sauce all over the cake so that it seeps into every delicious hole. Let it sit for awhile to soak it all up.
Rum Cake Recipe (From Scratch!) |

Then invert the cake onto a serving platter or pedestal. (If your cake was kind of puffy on the top/bottom, you might want to use a knife to level it out before inverting it.)

Rum Cake Recipe (From Scratch!) |

Then pour the remaining glaze on top of the cake, and watch it form a delicious rum-my shell all along the surface.

Rum Cake Recipe (From Scratch!) |

And when you’re ready, dive in.

I always said that my recipe for the traditional cake-mix rum cake is actually better the second day after it has sat out for a bit. But since the scratch version is slightly more finicky and prone to drying out, I recommend serving it the day of (and keeping it covered until serving). But hey, I may have had the leftovers for breakfast after a party, and then served them to friends who gobbled them up two days afterwards. So maybe nevermind. ;)

Cheers to going un-processed!

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Rum Cake (From Scratch!)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 101 reviews
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 75 minutes
  • Yield: 12 -16 servings 1x


This rum cake recipe is made from scratch, with rum baked into a delicious yellow bundt cake and drizzled with a butter-rum sauce.



Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (or see substitution below if you only have all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided (plus extra for sugar-ing the pan)
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • large egg yolks, room temperature
  • large egg whites, room temperature

Butter-Rum Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup rum


How To Make The Cake:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a bundt pan liberally with cooking spray.  Then add a few tablespoons of granulated sugar to the inside of the pan, and gently tap and turn it around until every square inch of the inside of the pan is coated in sugar.  (Be especially sure that the inner cone of the bundt pan is coated in sugar so that the cake does not stick.)  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour (*or see substitute below), baking powder, salt, baking soda, and 1 1/2 cups sugar until combined.  In a different medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, rum, oil, vanilla, and yolks until combined.  Set aside.
  4. In clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30-45 seconds.  With whisk still running, add in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar.  Continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, about 60-90 more seconds. Transfer the whipped egg whites to a separate bowl and set aside.
  5. Add the flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl. Using the whisk attachment again, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix on medium-low speed until it is just combined, about 15 seconds. (Don’t overmix!)  Stop the mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until the mixture is smooth and fully incorporated, about 10 to 15 more seconds.  Fold about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into batter until just combined, then add the remaining whites and gently fold in until no streaks remain.
  6. Pour the batter evenly into the sugared bundt pan.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  (Don’t overbake!)  Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool for at least 15 minutes.  (While the cake cools — or even better, while it’s in the oven — make the butter-rum sauce.  Instructions below.)
  7. Once the cake is slightly cool, use a toothpick or skewer to poke lots of holes all over the surface of the cake (while it is still in the pan.)  Pour about half of the butter rum sauce over the surface of the cake.  Let it rest for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is absorbed.  Then carefully invert the cake onto a serving platter or pedestal, and drizzle the remaining sauce evenly on top of the cake.
  8. Serve immediately, or cover until ready to serve.
  9. How To Make The Butter-Rum Sauce:
  10. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, butter and water until combined.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, and continue to boil for 5 minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and gradually stir in rum (carefully, as the rum will make the sauce boil up again).


If you don’t have cake flour on hand, you can instead mix together 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour + 5 tablespoons cornstarch.  Then (very important!) sift those together before adding to the cake.

The yellow cake base is slightly adapted from the Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake by America’s Test Kitchen.


Rum Cake Recipe (From Scratch!) |

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262 comments on “Rum Cake (From Scratch!)”

  1. thank you for sharing your recipe. It is very moist very yummy though I don’t taste or smell rum at all.
    I wonder why? what can I do to enhance the flavor of rum?

    Thank you

  2. Absolutely DELICIOUS! I have made several times and perfect. For sure, can’t overbake. Have you ever made in other pans? Any tips for making in different size rounds?

    • I just baked this today- 1.5 times the recipe gave me 3 6” rounds and a 1/2 dozen cupcakes! Foolproof!

  3. I love this recipe. I’ve made it several times and people love it. Was wondering if I could use the base batter recipe for a lemon Bundt cake? (No rum)


    • This recipe is amazing. My family loved it! Also would like to know if I can substitute lemon juice for the rum and get the same amazing pound cake.

  4. I used this recipe with the exact measurements mentioned but my cake batter was very runny. Also it says here that in like 90 seconds, I should get the meringue like consistency, well, I did it for more than 5 minutes and still didn’t get it. Honestly I didn’t like the recipe. So many ingredients and so much of effort and yet the result turned out to be a dense average tasting cake!

    • The cake batter will be runny if you add the wet ingredients in too fast. You have to add the wet ingredients in slowly. Hope that helps!

    • Baker try this recipe again. Sometimes you have to try something more than once to get it just right. Not sure why your batter was runny. Did you use room temperature water/milk/cream? Or cold? I added a lil’ applesauce to create another layer of moistness and it was AMAZING!!!! Honestly there so many lil’ things you can do to enhance this basic golden cake batter recipe. The rum is the special ingredient that takes it to another level.

    • If you have even the slightest, tiniest bit of fat on the bowl or beater when you beat egg whites, they will not stiffen. And if you don’t have stiff egg whites, your cake will not turn out right.

      I hope you try it again. I think if your egg whites come out right, you’ll have a much better experience.

  5. Taste just like the Rum cake my dad use to make when we were young. This is really good.

  6. Thank you for sharing such a moist delicious recipe! It came out perfect!

  7. WOW WOW WOW!!! This is the best Rum cake ever. I typically have someone make it for me, but the cost is outrageous. So I decided to make it for myself.
    I will no longer need anyone to bake me a Rum cake. Now I will be making them for other people!!
    Thanks for sharing!!

  8. Made it for my mother’s 82nd birthday and received RAVE reviews from all. Excellent directions made the cake turn out perfectly!

  9. How do you do this cake

  10. Great recipe! Made 2 changes… used all 6 egg whites and substituted coconut oil for vegetable oil.
    Turned out with a great firm texture… just enough buttered rum sauce… WISH we had some whipped cream to top it… dreamy. Thanks for sharing!

  11. This was absolutely delicious. My mother used to make a version with a pkg cake and instant pudding. This was more work but I really liked the taste better. Really delicious.

    • Thank you for this recipe! Made it for NYE 2021, stay at home celebration and it is absolutely worth all the effort. Perfect as is! Decadent goodness!

  12. So I started making this only to find out I only had lime flavored rum, not regular rum. I used it anyway and it turned out amazing! I would definitely recommend adding some lime flavor to this if you make it. I also made a (relatively thick) cream cheese glaze to pour on top to complement the lime and it was perfect.

    • Great idea! I’ll try a cream glaze next time I make this cake mainly because I thought my last cake look unfinished after baking. I may even through in a few raisins.

  13. Which rum is better for rum cake ? Captain Morgan spiced, dark, or gold rum ?

    • Any of these types of rum will work – I’d say it more depends on which flavor profile you prefer. I usually use gold rum, but dark would give you a more robust flavor. And spiced would add in some different spices, which vary from brand to brand.

  14. Hello, this sounds amazing and will be making it for Christmas. for the butter rum sauce is the white sugar granulated sugar or is it powder sugar? Thanks in advance!

  15. I’ve made this recipe twice now and my cake never looks golden, instead it comes out dark but not burned. I tried reducing the baking time the second time around and didn’t make much of a difference. Suggestions?

    • Hi Ana,

      You might want to try baking your cake at 325 degrees for about 50 to 60 minutes. Check on it at around 50 minutes to see if it is done. Remember to check doneness with a tooth pick or skewer. You should be good to go!

    • Mine did too! not a pretty golden.. and i was shocked. and disappointed.. would love to know how to fix it

    • Sometimes the cake is darker when you use a dark pan. That’s what I’ve noticed with mine. They are Golden with the lighter Bundt pans.

    • Hi Ana. Did you you use dark vanilla or clear? The clear might help it stay light as well.

  16. Hi. Sorry if i missed it, but what size was the bundt pan? Also, hopefully we can get metric measurements soon. I believe those give out more consistent results. Thanks!

  17. Going to make it

  18. Absolute perfection! Have made this twice in two weeks and everyone loves it!
    Thank you for finding the perfect “yellow cake” batter :)

  19. I’ve never made a rum cake before and I hate using boxed cake mixes. This recipe is not only simple – but it is delicious!

  20. Made this this weekend. First from scratch cake AND first rum cake ever! I used every single one of my mixing bowls and my hand mixer, and it came together beautifully. It was absolutely worth the work. I used La Cana Grande gold rum, and I loved that this wasn’t an overpowering, kick-you-in-the-teeth rum flavor. Instead it seems to come out beautifully and smoothly at the end of the bite, which we loved.
    I didn’t have a bundt pan, so I used a regular round layer cake pan, and a put a 1C glass pyrex container in the middle, filled with sugar to keep it in place. It worked out just fine. Baked for about 50 minutes total.

  21. This was the first time I made a cake from scratch. I followed the recipe, the cake was Amazing! I added rum flavoring with the vanilla extract to give it a little more kick. It work

  22. This cake is beautiful. It comes out of the pan just perfect. However something happened with the sauce and it crystalized when I put it on the top of the cake. I added a little more rum, a 1/4 of a cup didn’t sound like enough for a rum cake. It’s in the fridge till Friday. If I can resist. I can’t wait to make this cake without the rum. Maybe add more vanilla and lemon. I think this cake is super versatile.

  23. Just made my first ever rum cake and turned out great. But I put in a little different on the Butter-Rum Sauce I put the rum in place of the water and used fire ball in place of the rum. It tastes great.

  24. Hi
    I love this recipe! I was wondering how long this cake can be left out before serving? I usually serve on the day but I’m a bit tight for time and was wondering if it could be served a day or two after?

  25. Easy recipe. The cake was moist and full of flavor.
    Unlike previous recipe were the cake was dry some being as dry as cornbread.
    I recommend this recipe
    The butter Rum glaze A+…

  26. I made this last night and it turned out perfectly!!! My husband and I couldn’t wait until tonight to try it. The perfect dessert for Christmas Eve 2020! Thanks for such a delicious recipe :)

  27. Awesome rum cake recipe. This is coming from an Islander in the Bahamas ??
    Love love love it!
    Thank you..

  28. I made the cake from your recipe. It was a huge hit. It was cut while it was warm. Thanks for sharing!

  29. I love this cake! I’ve made it several times- lots of ingredients and steps, but worth it to have it from scratch. The only complaint I’ve gotten is a couple of people said they couldn’t taste the rum. (I could, and I like the subtle taste.) I may take the suggestion of using spiced rum. I’ve also thought of doubling the sauce recipe, to keep it moist, since I often give these as gifts and they may not be eaten the day of.

  30. Made this cake for christmas. Mine didn’t as pretty as yours but it still tasted great. Thank you so much. I use your site so much that even my kids know your name :-)

  31. Love this recipe. Very easy to make. Next time I’m going to add a few rum smoked raisins!

  32. First time I made the cake it looked just like the picture and tasted great, the second time I made the cake, it came out darker and texture was thicker, don’t know what happened except maybe it cooked too fast? ?

  33. Made is last night for New Year’s Eve! Came out so delicious.. Thank you!

  34. thank you for sharing this recipe. I made it for new years of 2021 and it was amazing. all the flavors was there and the rum add a very noce touche to the cake. it was really amazing so thank you

  35. I made this today and it turned out superb. My husband loved it. The cake was moist. I was careful to follow your instructions especially not to overmix (hand-mix everything except the eggwhites, whisked) and not to overbake. Done this using a 9 ” tube pan. By the way, I have the same name as your friend Liisa. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

  36. This rum bundt cake was amazing! I used Meijer dark rum and you could definitely taste the rum. The cake was very moist, and dense like a pound cake. I followed the recipe exactly.
    I froze half of the cake and we ate the other half about 2 weeks later. It froze very well and was still very moist. The next time I make it I am going to use Malibu coconut rum and add sweetened coconut flakes to the top of the cake. Thanks very posting this amazing rum bundt cake!!!

  37. I would love to make this cake, it sounds yummy and I have a lot of rum.
    Can I substitute the flower with almond meal and use stevia instead of sugar?

  38. Oh my! This is great!!

  39. Flavor was excellent but we had to eat it out of the pan! I was surprised the recipe called for sugar to line the pan instead of flour. I’m sure that’s why it stuck and I should have known better. I’ll try it again now that I’m familiar with the recipe because it it rather time consuming with all the steps.

  40. What brand of Rum do you recommend?

  41. I used 92 proof spiced rum! This is the best rum cake I’ve ever eaten! The rum taste and texture is perfect, I did use 2/3 cup of rum opposed to 1/2 cup!

  42. Loved the rum recipe

  43. Cake stuck to the pan even with making sure that every inch of the pan was covered with sugar. Next time I will just grease and flour the pan first, like I normally would have. Still delicious though.

  44. I have never posted a comments about any recipe, but this is the best rum cake in the world. I just started baking during the pandemic, so I am not an expert baker. Still I got it right and it is my family’s favorite cake.

  45. Hello, I’m making this for my sons 21st. What size Bundt tin do I need please?

  46. Hi. Has anyone tried making them into cupcakes? If so, how many minutes in the oven? Thanks!

  47. Oh my goodness! Such a delicious cake, a little labor intensive, but so worth the effort. I used all 6 yolks and egg whites, and spiced rum for an extra flavor pop. When it came time to make the glaze, I got a little excited and didn’t read the directions through first and mixed the rum at the beginning. Oops, but I don’t think it made a difference. I brought this to a friends house for Easter and it was a very big hit. Looking forward to making it again. Too bad I can’t post pictures here-it was beautiful. ❤️

  48. the butter sauce is sooo nice. The cake itself, for me, is alright–sort of heavy, even with the meringue–but the taste is great. So, overall, I’m pretty happy. I’d make this again!

    Good job, good recipe :]

  49. I’m an avid baker, but this is my first rum cake. Honestly, I can’t imagine how you could improve on this recipe….it was outstanding! I splurged on high quality aged rum – b/c the hubs loves mai tai’s and it wouldn’t go to waste – and it totally made the flavor so smooth. As rum ages it takes on more vanilla notes and it paired perfectly!

  50. I made this cake today for my mother in law (who enjoyed my boxed rum cake before) birthday. I thought I would search and find how to make a cake from scratch and found this recipe after looking at a handful. This cake was sooooooo good. I know she will be thrilled to eat. No tips or suggestions for the recipe as everything panned out with no problem.