Whether you’re a fan of Duncan Hines or the boppy Rihanna hit, we can all agree that cake is number one. However, the eye candy of baked goods doesn’t come with an instruction manual, so you’ll need a cake serving guide.
This delicious confection is the centerpiece at any function you’ve ever Rented the Runway for. But are you round cake all the way or ride-or-die square? Do you prefer single-tier or tall, towering cakes? And how big of a cake do you need to serve all your guests, anyway?
Here’s what to do when you don’t know what to do: cake serving edition. Your ultimate cake serving guide to sizes, slices, and the secret to the *chef’s kiss* serving size. Just ignore Grandpa. He always wants the biggest piece.
What is a Serving of Cake?
If you were the kid who measured your cake slice against your sibling’s, this one’s for you. A “serving of cake” is like a haircut. It varies depending on style, length, and the person holding the cutting tool. The rule of thumb is to buy a cake that has one serving per guest, so gather those RSVPs.
Let’s start with the basic dimensions. The average party cake slice runs about 1 ½ x 2 inches, with the height varying depending on how tall the cake is. A party slice is usually four to five inches high. “Party Slice” was also our nickname in our early twenties, but that’s another story.
What is a Serving of Wedding Cake?
A standard wedding serving of cake is about 1 x 2 inches. You read that right: A slice of wedding cake is usually smaller than a slice of party cake. A wedding cake slice runs about four inches high, which is also approximately the height of cousin Tina’s updo.
While one serving per guest is a good place to start, you also need to take the dimensions into consideration. Not all servings are cut the same way. They change depending on the cake’s size, height, and shape. A tier-layered cake with buttercream frosting will account for a taller slice than a standard layer cake. And a party cake serving is going to look different on a round cake than a square one. It’s all in the geometry.
Keep in mind, these standard serving sizes are mere guidelines. A cake serving can be whatever size you want it to be. You do you, honey. And seconds, thirds, and fourths are always appreciated. There’s no judgment if you want to cut to the front of the dessert line. All’s fair in cake and war, as long as Tina doesn’t catch you.
Cake Serving Guide by Cake Size
Size matters—in the art of cake presentation. And in… other areas. We’re talking about paychecks. Get your head out of the gutter.
But shape matters too, and we’ll get to that. Below is a cake serving chart guide that takes common cake sizes and shapes into account.
It’s as easy as… cake. (Disclaimer: We cannot legally say “pie” due to our promotional contract with cake.)
1. Standard Layer Cake
The standard layer cake is an OG classic choice. Since it usually has two or three layers, it makes planning and cutting a cinch. This cake shape is ideal for smaller parties because of its quick and easy distribution. You can cut your cake, eat it too, then go back for seconds.
With the standard layer cake, the shape determines the serving. Round cakes are the most popular single layer shape, and are traditionally cut in triangular wedges, using a knife to cut the cake into halves, thirds, fourths, and so on. We know you protested in elementary school that you wouldn’t need fractions when you grew up. It hurts to be wrong.
Another strategy is to measure two inches from the outer edge of the cake and slice a circle. Then, cut 1 ½ inch pieces inside the circle. Repeat this strategy until the cake is completely sliced.
As far as tools go, a serrated knife is the best bet for cake slicing as it can cut the cake without squishing it.
These examples show how many party and wedding slices each round cake will serve.
- A 6” round yields about 12 party servings and 14 wedding servings
- An 8” round yields about 20 party servings and 24 wedding servings
- A 10” round yields about 28 party servings and 38 wedding servings
- A 12” round yields about 40 party servings and 56 wedding servings
- A 14” round yields about 63 party servings and 78 wedding servings
- A 16” round yields about 77 party servings and 100 wedding servings
Now that’s a lot of cake. Any way you slice it.
2. Tall Cakes
Tall cakes usually have three or more layers and are 7+ inches in height. Consider them the dinosaurs of the cake world—they’re tall and awkward and loudly announce their presence.
A cake’s height is a game changer in terms of the number of servings you will get out of it. It changes depending on the number of layers, the height of the layers, and the frosting stacked between each layer. It’s kinda like your foundation. Is that why makeup artists sometimes call it “cakey”?
Slicing a tall cake can feel like a tall order, since the cake’s height impacts how you slice it. A tried-and-true strategy is to slice rectangular pieces about one-inch wide. Then slice those pieces in half horizontally. There’s nothing quite like getting two for the price of one. Or two for the piece of one, in this case.
Tall cakes can come in more shapes than a LEGO set. In the example below, we’ll use tall round cakes as an example for serving sizes. Since tall cakes require a unique approach to slicing, it’s the same serving size for parties and weddings. Just don’t smush cake into anyone’s face at a party.
- A 6” tall cake yields about 24 servings
- An 8” tall cake yields about 40 servings
- A 10” tall cake yields about 56 servings
- A 12” tall cake yields about 80 servings
- A 14” tall cake yields about 126 servings
3. Tiered or Layered Cakes
Tiered or layered cakes are the Met Gala of cakes. They’re artistic, awe-inspiring, and Anna Wintour–approved.
Tiered cakes usually have at least two layers per tier. For aesthetic purposes, each tier is sized differently. The height of each layer usually increases from top to bottom. Tiers usually range from four inches (smallest) to 14 inches (largest). However, the number of tiers will change, depending on how many guests you serve and how many leftovers you want. (All the leftovers.)
Like tall cakes, tiered cakes are influenced by the number and height of the layers and how much frosting is ensconced between each layer. Tiered cakes also come in various shapes, with round and square being the most popular choices. When it comes to cake-slicing technique, the shape matters.
For example, a round tier will be cut the same way a standard layer cake is. You may need to use a spatula to separate tiers, depending on how closely they’re aligned. If your tiered cake has a dowel rod, you’ll want to remove that before cutting. Or you could leave it in, and pretend it’s like the baby in a King Cake.
Cut each tier separately. If you have tall tiers, use the tall cake cutting guide above. For square tiers, use the hexagon cutting guide. Oh wait, we got our shapes mixed up again. Our geometry teacher might have been right about us.
For this serving guide, we’ll use a round tiered cake with two layers in each tier as an example. Each tier will serve a different number of guests.
- 1st Tier (smallest) – 6 inches: 12 party servings or 14 wedding servings
- 2nd Tier – 8 inches: 20 party servings or 24 wedding servings
- 3rd Tier – 10 inches: 28 party servings or 38 wedding servings
- 4th Tier – 12 inches: 40 party servings or 56 wedding servings
- 5th Tier – 14 inches: 63 party servings or 78 wedding servings
- 6th Tier (largest) – 16 inches: 77 party servings or 100 wedding servings
4. Square Cakes
There’s something satisfying about the symmetry of a square cake. Not to mention, it’s just a little easier to slice, which we appreciate when we’re also focused on other party details—like did Gregg and Melissa disappear together again?
With your serrated knife, measure two inches from the top outer edge of the cake. Cut 1 ½ inch slices until the row is complete. Repeat these two steps until your cake is completely sliced.
The measurements below show how many party and wedding servings are in each square cake.
- A 6” square yields about 12 party servings and 18 wedding servings
- An 8” square yields about 20 party servings and 32 wedding servings
- A 10” square yields about 30 party servings and 50 wedding servings
- A 12” square yields about 48 party servings and 72 wedding servings
- A 14” square yields about 63 party servings and 98 wedding servings
- A 16” square yields about 80 party servings and 128 wedding servings
Side note: A square cake will save you money (cha-ching!) and give you more portions than a round cake of the same size. We have a winner: The square cake takes the cake. We will be there and be square.
Cake Serving Guide Chart
This chart is your ultimate cake serving guide for navigating a cake operation like Cake Boss Buddy Valastro. Step right in to see how to slice cake no matter what size, shape, and height you have.
Don’t worry, it’s a piece of cake. Sorry, we had to.
- 10 Simple Baking Tips for Beginners - November 21, 2023
- Pie Is So Basic, Try These 35 Incredible Thanksgiving Cake Ideas For Dessert Instead - November 10, 2023
- These Cool Tim Burton Cakes Will Make Every Day Feel Like Halloween - October 24, 2023