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Beach Cake

This easy Beach Cake is the perfect cake for your beach-themed birthday party. Your guests will admire the four shades of blue ombre cake layers that are wrapped in waves of blue buttercream and topped with a fun beach scene, complete with edible sand.

Beach Cake Tutorial

This Beach Cake was the perfect finale for our beach-themed birthday party.

The four-layer white cake served plenty of guests, and the beach decorations were just so adorable.

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You can’t beat a beach-themed birthday cake when you’re actually at the beach for your birthday.

It’s just a no-brainer to go with a beach theme and a beachy birthday cake.

Disclosure – I may get a small commission for purchases made through affiliate links in this post.

Beach cake with sand brown sugar

Key to Success #1 – Gel Food Coloring for Ombre Cake Layers

We want the inside of our beach cake to be as fabulous as the outside of the cake.

To do that, we’re coloring our four different cake layers in four different colors.

We’ll use graduated shades of blue to create an ombre effect, similar to the ocean.

To get bright colors in your cake layers, it’s important to use high-quality gel food coloring, such as Americolor.

When using gel food coloring, you only need a few drops of good coloring to get vivid color.

For the beach cake, I used two different colors of food coloring.

These are the exact shades that I used:

Follow the directions in the recipe below for exactly how to color the cake batter.

Starting at the bottom, each cake layer will get lighter and lighter as you go up the cake.

The darkest blue cake layer will be on the bottom and the white cake layer will be on the top.

This is similar to what you would see in the ocean.

Deep dark ocean depths will eventually lead to white-capped waves at the water’s surface.

How poetic, indeed.

Beach cake with colored cake layers

Key to Success #2 – Level the Layers

Since we’re making a four-tiered cake, it’s important to make sure the layers are level so that they will stack well.

A level cake will ensure that your cake doesn’t tip over once it’s decorated.

When you’re adding fun decorations to the top of the cake, it’s much easier to make the decorations stand up on a cake that is not leaning to once side.

Use a sharp, serrated knife to gently saw through cake horizontally so that each cake layer is a consistent height.

If you’re concerned about your cake sawing skills, you can get a cake leveling tool at many local craft stores that will make the job super easy.

The commercial cake levelers use a very thin wire to slice through the cake, and the wire is adjustable so that you can make your cake layers any height.

Place the “feet” of the cake leveler on your counter and gently saw side to side to make the wire slice through the cake layer at the perfect height.

Try to preserve as much of the cake as possible while still creating a level cake layer.

And remember, you can always cut more cake off if you need to but you can never put the cake back on.

In other words, cut off a little cake at a time. If you need to cut off more, you can.

beach cake with wave piping buttercream

Key to Success #3 – Let the Frosting Make Waves

The frosting for this pretty beach-themed cake is our classic vanilla buttercream.

We’re making a double batch of the frosting since we’ll be using it to frost a four-layer cake.

The buttercream frosting will be colored three different shades of blue.

Just like the cake layers, the darkest buttercream will go on the bottom of the cake and the lightest colored buttercream will go on the top.

We’ll also be using the lightest shade of buttercream between the cake layers and for the crumb coat so we’ll make more of this shade than the darker shades.

Color half of the buttercream the lightest blue, a quarter of it the medium blue, and a quarter of it the darkest blue.

Fit your piping bag with a large open star tip like the Wilton 1M tip then fill it with the darkest shade of frosting.

Starting at the bottom of your cake, pipe a wave by following the same motion you would to pipe a rosette but then extend the frosting out to the side instead of closing off the circle.

You’ll start the next wave right at the end of the first wave and continue all the way around the cake.

As you move up the cake, pipe the waves in between the two waves on the row directly below it.

You can fill in any empty spots by piping stars that will blend in with the surrounding waves without standing out.

Beach cake with buttercream frosting

Key to Success #4 – Add Edible Sand on Top to Complete Your Beach Theme

Edible sand sounds very intriguing, doesn’t it?

Would you believe me if I said that edible sand was just light brown sugar?

When added to the top of a cake, light brown sugar looks almost exactly like sand.

What can I use for edible sand on a cake?

Light brown sugar can be used as edible sand on a cake.

Sand on a beach is irregular so your brown sugar sand can be irregular too to mimic a beachy shoreline.

Spoon the brown sugar sand onto the top of the cake in whatever shape that you like.

Use the back of the spoon to gently press the sand into place.

Since you’re putting the sand onto of the buttercream, it will adhere to the top of the cake and not easily fall off.

And YES, you can serve the cake with the brown sugar on the top.

The flavor and texture will be delightful.

Try it on your beach cake and let us know what you think in the comments.

Save this Beach Cake recipe to your favorite Beach Themed Birthday party board or your Birthday Cake Ideas board.

Beach Cake
Beach Cake Tutorial

Beach Cake

Yield: 24 slices
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 58 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 13 minutes


For the Cake

  • 2 boxes (15 oz each) white cake mix
  • 2 cups water (divided)
  • 6 eggs (divided)
  • 1 cup oil (divided)

For the Frosting

  • 2 recipes Vanilla Buttercream Frosting*
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • sky blue gel food coloring
  • royal blue gel food coloring


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and grease well. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 1 box of cake mix with 1 cup of water, 3 whole eggs, and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. Use a hand mixer to blend ingredients for 2 minutes. Divide batter evenly into two bowls. Tint one bowl of batter with 5-6 drops of royal blue gel food coloring to make a deep blue color. Tint the other bowl with 2-4 drops of royal blue gel food coloring to make a lighter blue color.
  3. Bake cake layers for 29-34 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. Allow cakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pan then remove to a sheet of waxed paper to cool completely.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for the additional box of cake mix but tint one bowl of cake batter using 2-4 drops of sky blue food coloring. Leave the other bowl of batter white. You should have a total of 4 cake layers when done. Allow the cake to cool completely.
  6. Level cake layers using a serrated knife.
  7. Make a double batch of vanilla buttercream frosting according to recipe directions. Divide frosting into three separate bowls - half of the frosting in one bowl, and 1/4 of the frosting in each of the other two bowls.
  8. Add several drops of sky blue food coloring to the largest bowl until you get to a light blue shade. This color will be used between the cake layers and for the crumb coat as well as the top waves on the cake.
  9. Take one of the smaller bowls of frosting and add 2-4 drops of royal blue food coloring until you get a medium shade of blue.
  10. Take the final bowl of frosting and add 5-8 drops of royal blue food coloring until you get a deeper shade of blue.
  11. Stack the darkest cake layer on the bottom and add the thin layer of light blue frosting. Stack the remaining cake layers from darkest to lightest, ending with the white cake layer. Add the light blue frosting in between each layer.
  12. Add a crumb coat (thin layer of frosting) all over the top and sides of the cake with the light blue frosting. Place the cake into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill.
  13. Add the darkest blue frosting to a piping bag that has been fitted with an open star tip, such as the Wilton 1M tip. Secure with a clip. Starting at the bottom of the cake, pipe waves all the way around. Pipe a second row of dark blue waves above the first row. Start the waves in between the waves so that they are staggered on each row.
  14. Add the medium blue frosting to a piping bag that has been fitted with an open star tip, such as the Wilton 1M tip. Pipe two rows of medium blue waves on top of the dark blue ones, continuing to stagger them above the waves on the row below.
  15. Add the remaining light blue frosting to a piping bag that has been fitted with an open star tip, such as the Wilton 1M tip. Pipe two or more rows of light blue waves on top of the medium blue ones, continuing to stagger them above the waves on the row below. Continue the light blue waves all the way to the top of the cake. It's okay if the waves extend past the top of the cake.
  16. Use an offset spatula to add a layer of the light blue frosting to the top of the cake. If you have light blue frosting left over, you can pipe stars all the way around the top edge of the cake to fill any gaps from the waves.
  17. Spoon brown sugar on half of the top of the cake to represent sand at the beach, The edges of the sand can be irregular like the shoreline of a beach. Press the brown sugar down with the back of the spoon.
  18. Decorate with beach-themed decorations, such as palm trees, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, starfish, etc.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 278Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 337mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 1gSugar: 22gProtein: 3g

Nutrition Information Provided For Educational and Informational Purposes Only.

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