How to Make Kentucky Butter Cake

Visual leaner? Watch this cake get made from start to finish!

It’s that time again, people! Pound cake time!! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a pound cake recipe, right? Today we are making Kentucky Butter Cake, and baaaaby….. whoever invented this cake plays entirely too much!! It’s so simple yet so good and addictive!

My husband and I decided to do a high protein veggie diet this week. I made cake in advance for us to eat on our cheat day this weekend. Ummmm yeah…about that. We crashed and burned.

We devoured that poor cake the day it came out of the oven. I should have known better, but I thought I had stronger willpower than that. My husband suggested that we finish the cake off so that it won’t tempt us all week. Gosh, he has the best solutions, I tell ya!

I’m so tempted to say Kentucky Butter Cake is my new favorite, but we all know how that goes. But man, this cake is incredible.

kentucky butter cake

What is Kentucky Butter Cake?

Kentucky Butter Cake starts with a super whipped batter pound cake batter. It has notes of vanilla and Rum. After it’s baked, holes are poked into and then drenched in vanilla rum-flavored buttery syrup. Yeah, this cake is taking no prisoners! It’s coming for all waistlines and man, is it worth it!!

kentucky butter cake with rum

Why is it called Kentucky Butter Cake?

If you’re wondering how this cake got its name, then that makes two of us. Seriously, I’ve been researching like crazy, and even on google, I can’t find an authentic story of how this cake came about. I came across a story about it being a Pillsbury bake-off winner and then another story that debunked that one. My guess is that the cake was made in Kentucky, and since it has lots of butter and a butter sauce, it’s called a Kentucky Butter Cake. Boom! No, but seriously, if you find the real story behind this cake, do share!

kentucky butter cake

Kentucky Butter Cake With Rum or Brandy?

For me, Rum wins hands down! My preference is a bit of rum extract. It just gives the cake a nice hint of warm rum flavor that goes so great with the butter vanilla flavor. Some people opt to replace the water in the recipe with Rum for an even deeper rum flavor or brandy or brandy extract.

Kentucky butter cake is known for being super moist and tender, thanks to all that buttery syrup that oozes between the crumbs. It’s the perfect cake for shipping since it stays moist for so long.


Serve this cake the next day!

It’s true! To me, all pound cakes taste better the next day, but Kentucky Butter Cake is on a whole different level of fantastic the next day!  The Rum has settled into this balanced flavor, and the buttery syrup has absorbed and is no longer wet. It’s pure perfection!! Definitely worth the wait!!


kentucky butter cake

Get the Recipe: Kentucky Butter Cake

4.14 from 406 ratings
A vanilla rum flavored cake that is drenched in a warm vanilla rum butter syrup.
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 10



  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon rum extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum extract


  • Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl cream together butter and shortening on low speed, until combined.
  • Alternate adding the eggs and sugar, mixing after each addition, just until combined, until batter is fluffy.
  • Mix in vanilla extract and rum extract.
  • Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk until the batter is combined and fluffy.
  • Spoon batter into prepared pan and give the pan a few shakes to release any air bubbles and level the surface.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 15-20 minutes on the middle rack until cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean or with moist crumbs clinging to it.
  • Remove cake from oven and poke holes into the cake, being careful not to poke holes all the way through to the top. Set aside
  • To make the syrup, melt butter in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Add the sugar and water and stir until sugar has dissolved.
  • Keep stirring until butter mixture becomes foamy and thickens to the texture of a loose syrup (do not boil). Remove from heat. Add in vanilla and rum extract.
  • Spoon the butter mixture over that cake so that is goes down in the holes. (Reserve about 1/4-1/2 cup of the mixture for brushing the outside of the cake.)
  • Let sit for about 10 minutes or until the syrup is no longer sticky. (Don't let it sit for too long or the cake will become stuck in the pan)
  • Carefully remove cake from cake pan and allow the cake to cool and the syrup to absorb, for about an hour.
  • Reheat the leftover syrup and brush it all over the cake.
  • Serve. (See tip for serving the next day)



Note: If serving this cake the next day (highly recommended): Allow the cake to cool completely and then cover. The next day, reheat the leftover syrup and brush the cake right before serving and cutting.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
Cuisine: American, southern
Course: cake, Dessert
Tried this recipe?Mention @divascancook on Instagram or tag #divascancook.