This old-fashioned Vanilla Wafer Cake is a classic. It’s full of crushed vanilla wafer cookies, coconuts and pecans, and it’s absolutely delicious!

You may also like our old-fashioned raisin bars and Mississippi mud cake!


This old fashioned cake holds many memories because Mom made it when we were kids. It’s so flavorful. It’s definitely in my top five of favorite cakes. The vanilla wafers add a wonderful texture and flavor; then, of course, add the coconuts and nuts and you just can’t go wrong. It’s dense, moist, and delicious! This dessert is perfect for any potluck, weeknight sweet or holiday.


  • Butter
  • White Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Evaporated milk-you can use regular milk
  • Box of vanilla wafers, crushed-the brand we use is the Nabisco Nilla Wafers.
  • Shredded sweetened coconut
  • Lemon extract
  • Chopped nuts of your choice


Instead of lemon extract, you can use vanilla.


Be prepared; once you make this cake, you’re going to want to make it over and over!


Step 1: Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and continue mixing. Add milk, crushed vanilla wafers, and coconut along with lemon extract using mixer until well blended. Fold in nuts.

Step 2: Pour into sprayed bundt pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes until the center is done. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes and remove from pan.


The key to getting this cake OUT of the bundt pan is to let it sit till it cools. It needs to be pulling away from the sides of the bundt pan before you try and get it out. The caramel glaze is delicious on this cake. However, it’s just as good without it.


I don’t like coconut; can I leave it out?

I’ve never made this cake without coconut. However, if you read the comments, you’ll see that people have left it out and had great success.

Can I make this cake in a 9X13?

I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t. Just be sure and watch it, as the baking time may differ.

What is a Vanilla Wafer?

Vanilla Wafers are very popular in the states. They are a wafer cookie that are a bit thin and flat. Nabisco is most famous for making them, and they come in a yellow box. NOTE: This cake is not made with the cream-filled vanilla wafers.

Vanilla Wafer Cake


This cake should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for 3-4 days.


Old Fashioned Water Pie

Also known as Depression Pie, this one is so easy and so good!

Southern Jam Cake

This cake is a holiday tradition in our family! It’s fantastic!

Old Fashioned Tomato Soup Cake

This cake was on the back of a Campbell Soup can years ago!

Vanilla Wafer Cake

This Vanilla Wafer Cake recipe has been around for years. This cake is wonderful with coffee.
4.92 from 46 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 1 Cake


  • 2 sticks butter or margarine or 1 cup
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk (can use regular milk)
  • 11 ounce box of vanilla wafers, crushed (Put in plastic bag and crush with rolling pin)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts of your choice

Caramel Sauce (this is optional, it’s good with our without it):

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk


  • Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and continue mixing. Add milk, vanilla wafers and coconut along with lemon extract using mixer until well blended. Fold in nuts.
  • Pour into sprayed bundt pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes until center is done. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes and remove from pan.

Caramel Sauce Instructions

  • Bring to boil on top of stove and let boil for one minute.
  • Remove from stove and add vanilla.
  • Let cool to the consistency you like. It will harden as it cools.



The brand of vanilla wafers that is primarily used in this cake is the Nabisco Nilla Wafers. 
Keyword Vanilla Wafer Cake
Love this recipe?Let us know by commenting below!
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This Vintage Cakes Digital Ebook is full of our most popular old fashioned cake recipes. Now in one ebook you can have all these recipes right at your fingertips! Any of these cakes are perfect for any gathering, from the holiday dessert table to any potluck! 

  • These cakes go back many generations are tried and true delicious!
  • Anyone can make these classics, from a beginner baker to someone who bakes all the time.
  • Great reviews on these cakes!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Have made this cake twice in the last month and my company thought it was delicious! Easy to make.It is a dense cake – very filling. Had never heard of this cake before seeing it on your site. Love trying out your recipes!5 stars

  2. I made this cake and it’s delicious! My husband isn’t a fan of coconut. Can I use bananas instead? Not sure if I should use 1 & 1/2 cups though. Please help!! TIA!!5 stars

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Hello Kim,

      I have never made it with bananas so I can’t really say.. it will change the moisture content. However, if you go through the comments you will see that people have left out the coconut and it was fine, so you may just try that. Glad you enjoy the cake!!

  3. Good evening ladies . Even though I’m type 2 diabetic I crave something sweet. This vanilla wafer cake looks like this weekends cake of the month. I got this handled. Thank you for finding a recipe I’d want to eat. Have a great day, Dennis.

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Hi Dennis, we hope it’s a hit for you!

  4. Suzanne S says:

    It is so delicious! Very moist, dense, and flavorful- I will definitely make it again & again5 stars

  5. My mama made this cake when I was a kid. I was thrilled to find this recipe. I baked it yesterday and it’s gone already. It’s absolutely DELISH! A superb dessert!!5 stars

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Right? It’s one of our favorites! We’re thrilled you enjoy it too!

  6. This cake is too too SWEET .Even thou i cut down on the sugar.

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I have to say, in all my years of making this cake, I’ve never thought it was too sweet. I’m wondering if you used a different type of vanilla wafers that were overly sweet. Nilla Wafer cookies are not very sweet so that may have been your issue.

  7. Could this be made in a 13×9 pan successfully? If so, any guess on bake time?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      You can try it; I’ve never made it in a 9X13. Thanks!

  8. Diane Stewart says:

    I made the vanilla wafer cake and it didn’t last long at our house! Wonderful moist amd yummy! I left out the coconut and lemon and added vanilla. I just made it again with ginger snap cookies-added 1-T molasses amd vanilla amd it’s oh so good! It’s our family-me and my husbands-favorite of all time!5 stars

  9. I made this Nilla Wafer Cake for my neighbors. They told me it was a big hit and the family was fighting over it!5 stars

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      So glad it was a hit! We love this one too, such a classic.

      1. I am making it again!

  10. Marcia Arnold says:

    Question actually……boxes of vanilla wafers vary in weight….. how many ounces are in the box of wafers for this LUCIOUS sounding cake??

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      The recipe states to use an 11-ounce box of Vanilla wafers.

  11. Do you chopped the nuts?
    What kind of nuts do you use?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      Yes, I use chopped nuts. You can add whatever nuts you like. I’ve made it with walnuts and pecans.

  12. Stacey Sue Suane says:

    Would it be the same if I omit the coconut? My husband is allergic

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I’ve never omitted the coconut so I can’t advise. You’re welcome to give it a try!

  13. Tell me about the caramel sauce. Does it stay runny? Do you typically just ladle it on right when you’re serving, or put it on like frosting?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      When we use the caramel sauce we just drizzle it over a piece or the entire cake. Whichever you like!

  14. Char Harris says:

    I just made the cake. I had to leave out the nuts and the coconut. Per my daughter’s request. I am serving it tomorrow night. I will let you know!

  15. If you bake this cake until you see the sides pull away from the pan-I’ll assure you it will fall out Super easy! I take my plate and put on top of the the Bundt pan and flip it. To Be on the safe side I occasionally take a butter knife and run it along the edges. I make 3-4 Bundt cakes a month-So Don’t get discouraged…

  16. Tracy Parker says:

    Made this today for a family reunion. Moist and so good. My sisters want the recipe. Non to carry home.5 stars

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      So glad the family enjoyed this recipe. Thank you so much for letting me know Tracy. Have a wonderful week 🙂

  17. I just made this cake yesterday and was sharing the recipe with my mom and she said it sounded like an old recipe she had… Surely enough she went to her recipe box and it was her recipe for Oleo Cake!!!! I just received a history lesson on margarine, or the likes there of!!!5 stars

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      How neat! Thank you for sharing!

  18. Terrie Hicks says:

    Should this vanilla wafer cake be stored in an air tight container and/or should it be refridgerated?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      You could do either. I would keep it in a cool place even if it is out of the frig.

  19. Years ago my Mom had a recipe for a fruit cake that used Vanilla Wafers for the cake portion. In her many moves she misplaced the recipe. Could this be modified to make a fruit cake?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I guess you could add fruit to it. I never have though.

  20. Arlene Malpasso says:

    I made this today. It is delicious! I used vanilla extract instead of the lemon. I could eat the whole cake! Yummy!5 stars

  21. Mary Kay Fogarty says:

    I just made two of these for a High School Reunion. They turned out wonderfully. I had many compliments. It’s delicious with or without the caramel sauce. One if the easiest cakes I’ve ever attempted.5 stars

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      So happy everyone liked the cake, Mary! Happy to have you on the site. Have a great week.

      1. Patricia Jones says:

        Can you use vanilla extract and also do you think it would be ok to make this in a 13×9 pan

      2. The Southern Lady says:

        Yes, that might work, Patricia.

      3. OMG just made this cake it is sooo good ,,,
        But I mixed powered sugar and milk for the frosting it is my new favorite cake …, thank you for sharing5 stars

      4. The Southern Lady says:

        So happy you like this cake recipe, Eulonda! Enjoy!

    2. I said this before, this “cake” is GOOD regardless of what criticisms are out there about it…5 stars

  22. I made this on Sunday…and it didn’t even last 24 hours. It is so good, as well as the Carmel Sauce to serve with it.5 stars

    1. I agree Barb. I made it for Thanksgiving and it was a big hit. I’ll definately make it again.

  23. Hi, I took everyone’s suggestions to heart but followed the directions as listed. The cake took longer than 20 minutes to unloosen itself but the end result is delicious. I didn’t flour the pan. I haven’t iced it yet but I will. Thank you for a luscious cake recipe that is oh so easy and delicious (I’ve been eating the crumbs). I thought that it would be interesting not to use flour, but it worked.5 stars

  24. The Southern Lady says:

    You don’t have to use nuts.

  25. marie wright says:

    Crushing the vanilla wafers should thdg be kinda chunky or really fine

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I do mine kind of like coarse crumbs, not powdery but not in chunks

  26. Merlyn Tu says:

    Desicated coconut or fresh grated coconut?

    1. The Southern Lady says:

      I use the bagged coconut from the grocery. I have never tried it with fresh.

  27. says:

    I have made this cake but have never put icing/frosting on it. It is a delicious cake, without either.5 stars

    1. Can you make the sauce ahead of time and reheat it in the microwave before serving the cake?

      1. The Southern Lady says:

        I see no reason why you couldnt.

  28. ps someone used bananas instead of coconut be we have someone allergic to bananas so am hoping something else works in place of coconut and bananas….

  29. Yes,actually I substituted bananas

  30. R Milliner says:

    A tube pan is better so you can slide your knife around the edges to make sure it does not stick. Cream cheese icing works well it also

  31. Also we moved to Germany a year ago and I still haven’t found my bundt pan so I put it in a 9×13

  32. Can this be made in a 9 x 13 pan?

  33. Should we use Nilla wafers or the actual wafers that are layered and flakey?

  34. Cant wait to try it! Sounds so YUMMY!!

  35. Lorrie Baldiwn says:

    Another wonderful recipe!! Made another sourdough pizza crust with your starter. You have made my life so much easier with your starter and wonderful crockpot recipes. Thank you, thank you!!5 stars

  36. Dottie Wyatt says:

    Judy, this cake is fantastic and so moist. I didn’t even have to lift a finger to make it. Shared your recipe with my sister and wha-la she did all the work. Thanks Judy this one is a keeper! And so is my sister…Lol5 stars

  37. Soon as I saw this I had to pin it. I love recipes like this.

  38. I’ve made this cake many times but I use vanilla extract. This cake is so moist & tastes great. The recipe I use doesn’t have the caramel sauce.5 stars

  39. Oh Judy! This looks divine. I have an old recipe for this cake in my files somewhere from years ago too, but mine didn’t have the sauce to top it off. Love that – pinning this!