Cake Serving Sizes

serving utensils

Back in my bakery days, I would answer this question each and every day while taking orders for clients who were not sure how big of a cake they should purchase for their event.

As cake artists and salesmen, it is our responsibility to ensure that the client does not have too much or too little cake.
One thing I have learned in this process is that each persons perception of what a cake is……. is very different.

I find that in this day and age, when there are so many different stores selling cake, there is lots of room for misinterpretations.
I would always stress this pit fall to my staff upon training them in How To Take Cake Orders.

Many people think of a Sheet Cake as one of those supermarket or superstore discount cakes that is basically just one layer of cake with some icing smeared on top, a few flowers thrown on and some writing.

So when I told my customers that my Half Sheet Cake serves almost 50 people, they were so happy I warned them before they went home with this monsterous cake for their party of 15 people!

All of my specialty Sheet Cake orders were 2 layers of cake, a layer of filling and then the icing.

Once a cake of mine is built and iced, it measures over 5 inches tall!

My round cakes are even taller because I use 3 or 4 layers of cake in the 6″, 7″, 8″ and 10″ rounds.

As you can see already, due to the height of my cakes, the WIDTH of the slice is naturally going to be smaller which will ultimately yield more servings.

I use the “Two -Finger” rule in cake slicing. If you put your Index Finger and your Pointer Finger together, this is the guide in how wide to cut the slices.

Here is a guide based on my style of building cakes. (That would be the 5″ tall approximation cake height style!)

Feel free to modify your own chart as you wish.

This is simply the guideline I used at my bakery to ensure the client is not left with tons of extra cake. (although whoever said tons of leftover cake was a bad thing?)

But in business you do not want to come across as over selling.

You also want to be sure that everyone gets their slice and they do not run out, so it’s wise to have examples of what your particular cake style may be, so the customer can get a visual of what to expect, and then they can make their own decision for the size that best suits them and their guests.

Gretchen’s Bakery Guide to Cake Servings

6″ round 6-8 servings

7″ round 8-10 servings

8″ round 14-16 servings

10″ round 25-28 servings

Quarter sheet 12” X 9” 20-25 servings

Half Sheet 18” X 12” 45-50 servings

Full Sheet 18” X 24” 90-100 servings

**Remember also, that the cake board and box that you will deliver your cakes in, will add another couple inches to the dimensions of the cake.
It is wise to ask what type of refrigerator accommodations your client has (if their cake requires refrigeration).
I feel it is our duty as cake designers to make sure our customers cake experience is as hassle free as possible.
This can only mean repeat business for us!

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59 Comments

  1. Hi Gretchen,
    Reframing my question.if I use whole recipe of cakes for E.g. Vegan choc cake or Chocolate buttermilk cake, den how many ppl will it serve if I turn it into black forest cake.
    Thanks 🙂

  2. Hi Gretchen
    I have the same problem trying to make sheet cakes for a certain amount of people. Its hard..The pans I have are the Wilton 9″x13″, 11″x15″, 12″x18″, 2″ deep and that’s what I call a sheet cakes. I have a wedding on Oct 10th and instead of the typical stacked cake they would like sheet cakes enough for 300 people. I saw a picture on Pintrest of sheet cakes that are about 5″ high, very nice and would be what they were thinking. My question is should I use the 12×18 pans and stack them on top of each other or would you suggest torting them? How many layers should I do safely without everything sliding?
    Thank You Gretchen for your time and I can’t wait to hear form you!!
    Karen

    1. For me a HALF sheet pan is 12X18X1- this is the professional measurement for half sheets
      9X13 is never used in the bakery- it is more for home use. However it is closer in size to the quarter sheet which is 12X9X1 – but we would just bake in the 12X18X1 and cut it in half to get a quarter sheet.

      Anyway- I always use 12X18X1 for 1 layer of a half sheet cake, never torte a sheet cake

      I wouldnt go more than 3 layers because once you fill it and ice it it will be well over 6″ tall

      1. Hi Gretchen
        I do have the 12×18 1″ never used them for sheet cakes but that is great advice Thank You so Much!! My next question is how much batter would you use, and how long do you bake it? I’m so sorry for being so dah.. Sincerely Karen

  3. Dear Gretchen,

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge…I offen had confusion regarding the height of the cake…what will be the general height for one layer birthday cake? could you please give me the approximate size( Length× width ×height) of the square and round pans that serves 30 people . How much batter required. Thanks for helping…
    Veena.

    1. typically cake recipes will rise to double (if you fill half way in a 2″ pan it will rise to 2″ top of the pan)
      Height of a finished cake depends on how many layers and how you fill it and ice it etc.
      a 12″x18″ sheet pan is called a half sheet cake and serves about 35-40 ppl
      I dont do batter in cups/volume so as long as you fill the pan half way you will have a perfect layer
      (a recipe that yields 2-8″ layers will also yield 1- 12X18 layer)

  4. Hi Gretchen,

    Just wanted to know if you could help me. I am a home baker and have been asked if I could make a cake that feeds 100 people. It will be like a tower block and be 6 inches wide and 12 inches high. X3 layers filled then covered in fondant. The Base of the cake will a 12 inch cake, 2 layers and filled and covered in fondant. Do you think that this will be enough to feed 100 people or should I go bigger?

    Would really appreciate your help

    Thank you

    1. I think you should make a half sheet cake for backup that stays in the kitchen for cutting purposes only- this will cover the amount of guests that your display cake will not, AND it is easier for slicing and serving that many people

  5. Hi Gretchen.
    If I were to bake a cake for 50 guests…it’s a 2 teir round cake …what size Pans should I use ?:

  6. HI Gretchen, I am new to tiered cakes. My client wants a two tier round cake to feed 100. Which size pans do you recommend?

    1. wow that would be a GIANT cake if you plan to use the display cake to cover all 100 servings? Im not that “into” giant display cakes, I think they look bulky & just oversized. I would do a smaller 2 tiered display cake (Like a 12″ + 8″ stacked which will serve about 50 ppl) and then have a sheet cake for backup slicing purposes only (same flavors of course)
      Because honestly I see you needing a 16″ base cake (huge) + a 14 or 13″ cake to go on top of that to cover 100 people

  7. Hi Gretchen,

    I loved the information you gave. I have been asked to make a sheet cake that serves 60, what size pan would you use?

    Thanks in advance

  8. Hi Gretchen
    I’ve been asked to create a cake to celebrate a schools 10th birthday. The brief is for a big cake so VIPs and 600 kids can have a piece (cube size). Could u pls give me an idea how to work out what i need and how much i need. Your posts confirm my thought to go with sheet cakes.. i’m lucky in that i have heaps of time to plan it. I would really appreciate your advice. Thanx

    1. Sure, typically any recipe that is for 2-8″ Layers can be baked into 1- 12″x18″x1″ pan for 1 layer of a sheet cake
      2X recipe for 2- layers etc etc….
      1- 2 layer sheet cake (filled and iced) is for about 50-60ppl
      You can take the math from there

  9. Hi Gretchen,
    I was wondering what you man by a sheet cake as I have been asked to make a cake for up to 50 people for a disabled lady,what size would you recommend and the volume of mixture I will be fully icing it.
    Kind regards Deby

    1. Sheet cake means the batter was baked in a Sheet Pan Click here for sheet pan
      But typically a HALF sheet that is 2 layers of cake with a filling & an icing will serve 50 ppl
      Most cake recipe yield 2-8″ cakes so if you are to pour all that batter into a 12″ X 18″ X 1″ pan you will get 1 layer of cake
      SO you have to 2X your cake recipe and the fillings & icings will vary depending on the recipe you choose, but I would estimate 4 cups for the filling and 4 cups for the icing

  10. Hello…. i have to make a cake for 15 people. Its a two tier cake. I am confused if 6″ and 4″ baking pans will serve 15 people or not.

  11. This was really informative. I have a question as a customer for a cake. I’m currently looking to buy a Dominican cake for about 220 people. Many Dominican bakery charges by the pound. I would like to know about how many pounds of cake do I need serves 220 people???

  12. I got a cake recipe that only feeds 8 to 12 people but I need it to feed 120 people how do I change the measurements so it can

    1. a 1X recipe of your recipe if poured into a 12″ x 18″ pan will give you 1 layer of a half sheet cake.
      If you do that 2X you will get 2 layers for a nice half sheet cake (then add filling and icing ) and that 1 cake will serve close to 50
      so…… if you make 3 half sheet cakes you will serve the amount of guests you need

  13. Hi Gretchen
    I wanted to thank you for all your amazing recipes and tips that you give us. I’ve tried a lot of them and they still wow everyone eats my cakes.
    I need to make a cake for 60 people, can be round or square, can you please tell me what dimension pan should I use. Thanks a lot.

    1. Hi Great thanks!
      I would do a Half sheet cake. a two layer half sheet cake.
      SO that means any recipe that yields 2-8″ cake layers you can pour all that better into a 12″ X 18″ pan for 1 layer.
      Do it again for the 2nd layer.
      Icing… filling…. that size cake will serve 50-60 people

  14. Hi Gretchen!
    Can you help me? I need to make a 3 teir cake to feed 30-40 people. Which size round pans should I use? Would I do 2 layers per teir? Or just 1?

        1. I never use 3″ tall pans . I use 2″ tall pans, the batter bakes to the top of the pan and then I tore them giving me 1″ layers after it is all said and done. 3″ pans (in my opinion just confuse people, most recipes are worked out for 2-8″ pans which are typically 2″ tall pans, so I find that people add too much batter with 3″ pans, it doesn’t bake properly) CLICK HERE for more about weddings

  15. Hi Gretchen,Iam planning to make a 3D number ‘8’ birthday cake for a customer. Thinking of making it with two round pans. The number of servings they need is 30. Can u pls suggest what size of pans are required for a serving size of 30 . Iam making your vanilla butter cake.
    Thanks in advance

    1. I would make an extra 8″ just for cutting (stays in the kitchen it is just to cover the amount of servings needed)

      1. Hi Gretchen, sorry I forgot to mention that iam thinking to use two 8″ size round pans ( two layers each) & join them to number ‘8’. That is, two layers of two 8 inch circles joined. Will it be enough for 30? Or should I bake another 8 inch as well.? Please advise.
        Thanks

        1. Yes I understood the plan with the 2-8″ rounds to make the #8
          Yes, I would bake another cake just to be safe to serve 30

  16. Hi Gretchen,
    Thank you so much for explaining what you had in this column, the portion sizes of pans to use etc.
    I’m wondering if you can help me please. I love to bake i’m a beginner and I have been asked by a place I volunteer to bake a normal sponge cake to cater for a 100 people.
    I was thinking a sheet cake because I feel it would be easier to cook. I have had a lot of trouble with the cake baking around the sides but not quite in the middle.
    I have a roasting tray that has these measurements 400mmx335mmx50mm, but I’m not sure what measurements that is in inches or cm,
    I was wondering if you knew if it was equivalent to the size pan you recommended to feed a 100 people?
    And what will be a full proof sponge recipe to fil this pan in grams? and size cake board? Please.
    Thank you so much in advance.
    Please could s

    1. Sure! You can easily Google conversion from inches to cm or mm for any pan size you have in question. But a HALF sheet pan (12″ X18″) serves about 50 people (that is a double layer filled and iced cake) so you would need 2 of those full finished cakes to serve 100. I would say go for a FULL sheet to just take care of the 100 servings with one cake, but most home ovens will not fit that size pan.
      That being said if you go for the HALF sheet size- you will need 1 recipe that yields 2-8″ cakes to fit all the batter into 1- 12″ x18″pan
      of course you will have to bake 4 of those to get the 4 layers you need to fill and ice.
      If you’re not sure what I mane by fill and ice a 2 layer sheet cake, here is a guide CLICK HERE

  17. what is chocholate liquor ?
    why explain chocolate butter but mention chocolate liquor in the types of choc ?
    and then say white choc with choc butter is not choc ?

  18. Hi Gretchen,

    I think I remember reading in comments somewhere that to bake a 10″ cake you make 1 1/2 times the cake recipe. If I need to bake an 8″ cake and a 6″ cake do I also make 1 1/2 times the recipe or do I need to double the recipe?

    Thanks!

  19. Hello, I’m trying to make a 3 layered ice cream cake, bur I don’t know which exact pan to use. A round pan would be desirable and I’m trying to get one on the lowest price available (I’m only 12). I’m going to feed 26 people and I need a pan good enough to feed said people. Any advice on where to get the pan and what price? Thank you!

  20. Hi Gretchen
    I’m trying to bake a cake for 50 people. Please suggest if I use 8” pan and do 4 layers will it be enough to feed 50 – 60 or do I use 10” pan with four layers?

    1. 10″ with 4 layers would be better however, when I owned my bakery I would always recommend a half sheet cake for 60 people

  21. I have been asked to make 300 small bite sized desserts for an event. I was thinking of making and I think I will need to make 6 half sheet pan cakes to do the following:
    Cut out using a 1 1/2″ round cookie cutter individual rounds. My intention is to
    make them into 3 three tiered naked cakes filling the layers with Italian
    Buttercream and decorate the top. I probably would make two different flavored
    cakes. Could I get away with just two layers or should I stick with 3 layers. The
    person catering this event wants 3 desserts per person. There will be 100 people
    at this event. Feeling overwhelmed.

  22. Thank you Gretchen for all your explanations, I do watch a lot of your videos /tutorials . I was asked to bake a cake for about 70 persons , Do you think that 12,10, 8 will be enough? and because the wedding will be outside at a farm in the month of September ; as filling what is better to use ganache or buttercream ? Thank you very much Diana

    1. Thanks! Ive used both ganache and buttercream as fillings, and they are both pretty good choices for outside weddings
      If you are including the 8″ top tier in the servings then yes it will be enough

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