Kentucky Butter Cake - The Southern Lady Cooks

This Kentucky Butter Cake recipe has been around for a long time because it is such a great cake!  Butter cake is very moist and the rum just makes it even better.  This recipe is a keeper.  Great to serve to family, friends and guests. Wonderful addition to any holiday gathering. It’s the perfect addition to any Christmas meal!

Ingredients for the Kentucky Butter Cake




Rum (If you don’t use alcohol, you can substitute vanilla extract or rum extract)


All-purpose flour


Baking powder

Baking soda

Rum Sauce Ingredients




Rum, can use more (If you don’t use alcohol, you can substitute vanilla extract or rum extract)

I have made this cake with rum and with rum extract and it is delicious either way. I honestly think the rum extract has more flavoring. Since there is salt in the recipe I use unsalted butter, you are welcome to use whatever you prefer.

Some people don’t keep buttermilk on hand, if you are one of those people you can always make a buttermilk substitute

Love this comment: “Just made this Rum Cake: so easy even a GUY can do it! Thank you: it’s delicious.” – Victor

Kentucky Butter Cake - The Southern Lady Cooks

Kentucky Butter Cake- The Southern Lady Cooks
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Kentucky Butter Cake

Judy Yeager
This Kentucky Butter Cake is a classic for a reason! It's an old fashioned cake recipe that never goes out of style. If you havent tried this one you need to add it to your recipe list!
4.84 from 37 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, southern
Servings 8 servings


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 sticks butter softened
  • 2 teaspoons rum can use more(If you don’t use alcohol, you can substitute vanilla extract or rum extract)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Rum Sauce Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons rum can use more (If you don’t use alcohol, you can substitute vanilla extract or rum extract)


  • n a large bowl cream sugar, eggs, butter, and buttermilk together with mixer. Add flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla or rum and mix. Pour batter into a well-sprayed bundt pan or pan of your choice.
  • Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes until done. Let cool in the pan at least 30 minutes before removing.

Rum Sauce Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until fully melted. Do not boil! Pour over cake.


I take a skewer and poke holes in the cake, then use a turkey baster to put sauce into holes but you can just pour it over the cake. The cake will soak up the sauce.
Keyword Kentucky Butter Cake
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Recipe Rating


  1. Susan in Texas says:

    What size bundt pan does it require? I have 9 cup and 10 cup pans.5 stars

    1. I’m pretty sure I have made it in both, but to be safe go with the 10 cup.

  2. Michelle Mcnulty says:

    I have done this recipe twice for two occasions and was rated ths best cake on both occasions.5 stars

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      This is wonderful!!!

  3. Delicious!! made it today, its a sugar/butter bomb but so yummy and easy! Thank you5 stars

  4. Sigrid donahoe says:

    I follow you all the time and love your recipes so I will make this butter rum cake. It looks absolutely delicious. Thank you for sharing Sigrid Donahoe.5 stars

  5. Chris D Klapproth says:

    Have you ever made this cake with Betty Crocker Super Moist Butter Recipe Yellow cake mix in a bundt pan? I just thought I might try it. Thank you for your response.

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      No, I haven’t made this cake with a cake mix. Good luck! Thanks!

  6. Betsy Kassman says:

    Does this require salted or unsalted butter?
    Thank you,
    Betsy K

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Since there is already salt in the recipe, I would use unsalted but you can use whichever you like.

  7. Inga Johnson says:

    I have been baking this marvelous cake for almost 50 years and it is a family tradition. Our 4 sons and their families rely on having it at least twice a year. I have very successfully shipped this to them as well. Wrap well in plastic cling wrap, then sturdy foil wrap, then into a good box, well supported by whatever you have. Our sons loved getting them mailed to them in college! Btw, I also think the pure vanilla and rum extracts are more flavorful than plain rum.

  8. Donna Reed says:

    I have baked this cake twice in 2 days. In the first one, I used rum extract. In the second one, I used spiced rum. When using the same amount of each In the cake batter, the rum extract was more flavorful. I used the amount of rum extract in the rum sauce with the first one and doubled the amount of spiced rum with the second one. The rum extract was definitely more flavorful. Both are really good. With the first cake, I poked holes in the cooled cake and spooned the rum sauce over the cake. A lot of it ran off and didn’t soak in the cake. With the second cake, while it was still very warm and in the pan, I poked holes in the bottom of the cake and poured half of the sauce over the cake. It soaked it right up! I then dumped the cake out of the pan and repeated on top. It soaked up all of the rum sauce.5 stars

    1. Thank you for this.I just took the cake out of the oven and was wondering if I should put the sauce on before I take it out of the pan.I used a tube pan. I think I will put on half then the rest when I take it out of the pan.

  9. mary bakalic says:

    i am anxious to try this recipe. i just have a small question, after you let the cake cool in the pan, do you pour the rum sauce over cake while still in the pan or do you remove cake onto a serving plate and pour sauce over it then?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Hi Mary, I pour the sauce over the cake after removing from the pan. I hope you enjoy this recipe.

    2. Thank you for this incredible recipe. I modified this recipe to be dairy free. I used vegan butter and for the buttermilk, I substituted oat milk with a tablespoon of vinegar. It came out absolutely amazing! My husband said it was one of the best cakes he’s ever had! I highly recommend ❤️5 stars

      1. The Southern Lady says:

        Wonderful! I am so glad it worked out and was such a hit!

  10. Thyme C Salemme says:

    Baking as we speak. Making the rum sauce…I turned my back and it was boiling! Your directions say do NOT boil… with an exclamation point! Should I throw this out right now? What is going to happen? I used my last tiniest bit of rum so would prefer to salvage it….what do you think?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      It will probably be okay, sounds like you caught it quickly.

  11. You always have the BEST recipes!!! Thank you….Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    Scarlett5 stars

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Thank you so much Scarlett. I am happy you enjoy the recipes. Merry Christmas to you and yours and Happy New Year, too.

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I don’t sift them, but I am sure you can.

  12. Emily Marchant says:

    This is a family favorite now. I don’t buy butter milk so I use milk with a splash of vinegar in it. It’s a go to substitute & comes out wonderful!5 stars

  13. Can I use milk instead buttermilk?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I always use buttermilk but I assume you could.

  14. Could you use bourbon instead of rum?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I don’t use bourbon in this recipe but see no reason why you couldn’t, Laurie.

  15. For those who asked about the metric weight of a cup of butter :
    1 cup of butter = 220 grams of butter.
    I usually replaced the 1 cup with the “local” 200gram block of butter with great success

  16. My mom passed this recipe to me, and I have been baking this cake for over 40 years. I always made in a tube pan, and used vanilla flavoring instead of rum (I am going to try with rum)! I poke holes in the cake and drizzle the icing on while the cake is still in the pan and still warm. This is a wonderful cake with fresh strawberries, or homemade ice cream. A wonderful coffee cake. There is never a crumb left!5 stars

  17. Robin Blizzard says:

    Have you tried freezing this cake? This cake sounds really good and it would be nice make it and take out of the freezer when you need it.

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      No, I have not tried freezing it, sorry. You might try freezing a little of it to see how it does. I don’t see why you couldn’t freeze it but I might not put the rum sauce on it if I did.

    2. I have had this recipe for years. It does well is the freezer! It is good to eat frozen as well with a warm cup of coffee.

  18. Just made this Rum Cake: so easy even a GUY can do it!
    Thank you: it’s delicious.5 stars

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Thank you so much, Victor. So happy you like the recipes and enjoy the cake. Happy to have you on the site. Have a great week ahead.

  19. kara cole says:

    I just took this out of the oven. This is so good. This is a keeper. Thank you for sharing.5 stars

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Thank you Kara!

  20. Nancy Tatch says:

    Great recipe, loved every bite

  21. I used vanilla in place for the rum. I didn’t have butter milk so I subed with milk & a little vinegar added to it. This is now Hubby’s favorite cake. I made one last week & last night he wanted to know when I was making it again!! Lol! Thank you for this easy & yummy recipe!5 stars

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Happy you all are enjoying this recipe, Emily! Thank you for letting me know and make that man another cake. lol

  22. Do you use dark or light rum

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I used light but I think you could use either, Carol.

  23. So making this today!!! Yummy

  24. Just saw the recipe, read it to my husband, so now he’s off to the liquor store! Guess what I’m baking tonight???

  25. Can I use lemon extract instead of vanilla .

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Yes, you can, Elma.

      1. Thank you ,going to make this cake now.

  26. Made it for Christmas, it was DELISH!!! It was a hit with the family:)5 stars

  27. Does this cake need to be refrigerated?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I would either put in a cool place or refrigerate.

  28. Marijac Whatley says:

    Planning to try this cake. Wondering if anyone out there has determined if it needs more rum than the 2 teaspoons in the recipe. I have used another recipe that uses a cake mix that calls for 1/2 cup of rum in the cake and the glaze! Quite a difference ! I prefer to use this one from scratch. Thanks

  29. How to make it with more rum? How to sub the liquid?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Just add some more. I would not add more than a few tablespoons and that should not make a difference.

  30. When I “shared” this cake recipe on my Facebook page, one of my friends had seen it and asked me to make it for her birthday cake. I just finished writing down all the ingredients & directions. Her birthday is in December. After she has a chance to eat some of this cake, I’ll get her response on how she liked it and post her comments.

  31. I tried the Butter Cake this weekend, and had great reviews…Loved it…even though it was a little more golden than yours. Thanks for this wonderful recipe 🙂5 stars


  33. Edith Zwernemann says:

    do you have a Easy Pumpkin Pound Cake Recipe using a Cake Mix.? If so please Post it.

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      There is a pumpkin cake listed under cakes but it is not a pound cake. All cakes are listed under Cakes, Candy and Cookies on the right hand side of any page on the site.

  34. Jill Moore says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes. I have always said “there’s nothing better than a Southern Lady or Church Lady cookbook. You know going in ALL recipes are amazing!5 stars

  35. Joe in KY says:

    Q: Have you ever tried it with Brandy instead of Rum for the sauce? I’ve got some Brandy sitting here from an Amish Friendship Cake Starter recipe & not sure what to do with it (other than what most might do & drink it – LOL!), so wondered if this might be a good substitute…

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I have never tried it with Brandy, Joe.

  36. I recently switched to using organic flour in cakes and cookies and have used half a cup of sugar then half a cup of splenda was wondering if when using organic flour in your cake would that alter the taste and also the splenda?

  37. Close to the Rum Cake I make…….but I pour about l cup of chopped pecans in the bottom of pan….then I pour in batter……Yum

  38. smokeybehr says:

    I’ve done a cake like this before, and I use either a regular dark rum, or a spiced dark rum, and either way, it turns out great.

  39. Carolyn Terrones says:

    My grandma in Somerset, KY made a butter cake when I was a little girl and I loved it. I’m going to make this and hope for all those wonderful memories.

  40. The rum cake is out of this world! I would love that lemon rum spice cake recipe….please 🙂5 stars

  41. how much is a stick of butter – 1/2 cup or what?

      1. Lorsonline says:

        You probably didn’t notice-the wrapper has the measurements on it as well.

      2. could you please tell me a weight measurement for the butter, we don’t work in sticks or cup measures for butter here in NZ! thanks in advance 🙂

      3. The Southern Lady says:

        I stick of butter is 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup Megan.

  42. Wonderful cake used your recipe many times and love it , close to my aunts lemon rum spice cake and yes it can be altered to be low cholesterol but sometimes ya just don’t want to! Lol thanks again for the post!5 stars

  43. hi, this cake looks amazing! when do you add the rum sauce?

      1. Sorry, I just saw this comment. I hope your cake turned out o.k. Yes, you let it cool, then pour the sauce over the cake.

  44. So nice all your recipies But i don’t know how much is the weight of the blocks of butter…or sticks…sorry here in Greece maybe we have diferent measurments Thank you so much for your nice recipies..<3

  45. I made the cake today. I used Coconut Rum (because I had just enough to do the cake and wanted to finish the bottle before buying a new one). It is excellent!!!5 stars

  46. Is tha rum flavoring or the alcoholic rum?

    1. It is alcohol. I changed the recipe to reflect that. Thanks for bringing to my attention. You could use vanilla extract or rum extract in place of the alcohol.

  47. Perhaps I’m just a stickler for the Oxford comma, but are you saying to use rum, but may use vanilla extract if no rum? Or are we to use rum extract?

    1. You can use either, Sheryl. It says in the list of ingredients rum or vanilla. The rum is better though.

  48. Wanda Kopta says:

    I do this recipe but using a cake mix and a few other ingredients added. I use the same rum sauce with it.

  49. Just finished my rum cake!!! It’s delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU!5 stars

  50. Peggy Castro says:

    Looks Yummy I will make it. Anything that gets a little liquor before it comes to the table sounds wonderful to me !!!! Thanks

  51. My youngest daughter used to make this cake when she was learning to cook. It really is a wonderfully delicious cake!