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Neapolitan Cake

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close up shot of a Neapolitan Cake with a slice missing on a cake stand
This impressive Neapolitan cake is a colorful chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla layer cake that looks just like the classic ice cream flavor.
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Table of Contents
  1. Neapolitan Cake Ingredients
  2. How to Make This Neapolitan Cake Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

This Neapolitan cake is a triple threat that combines chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry flavors into a single delicious dessert topped with sweet vanilla frosting. Whether you’re looking for a special treat or something to bring to a party, this pretty cake is sure to impress.

Our marble cake and German chocolate cake are two more rich and decadent cakes that will delight everyone that you serve it to.

close up shot of a slice of Neapolitan Cake on a plate

Neapolitan Cake Ingredients

Neapolitan Cake raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need:

For the Chocolate Cake Layer

  • 1 package chocolate cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup sour cream

For the Vanilla Cake Layer

  • 1 package vanilla cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup sour cream

For the Strawberry Cake Layer

  • 1 package strawberry cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup sour cream

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ to ½ cup heavy cream

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

CAKE: If you prefer to make homemade cakes instead of using a box mix, you can substitute your own cake in this recipe. 

FROSTING: If you would like to use a different color of frosting that matches the cake, you can. Strawberry frosting or chocolate frosting would be just as delicious as the vanilla frosting. You could also use red food coloring to tint the white frosting into pink frosting if you’d like to add a bit of color.

How to Make This Neapolitan Cake Recipe

For the Cake

STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350°F (325°F for dark/non-stick pans). Line the bottom of three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray the sides with non-stick cooking spray. Set them aside.

STEP TWO: For each flavor of cake, in a large bowl combine cake mix, eggs, milk, oil, and sour cream. Beat with an electric mixer for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy and well combined.

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

Sour cream adds moisture to the box cake mix and really elevates the texture of the cakes.

cake mix and ingredients blended together in a bowl

STEP THREE: Transfer 2½ cups of the batter into one of the prepared cake pans. Use the remaining batter for another purpose.

PRO TIP:

Measuring 2½ cups of batter for each cake layer ensures that each of the three layers come out even. If you do not have three separate 8-inch pans, mix up one batter at a time, bake that layer, cool and remove it from the pan, mix up the next cake batter, and so on. Do not mix up the cake batters ahead of when you can bake them, as they will not rise as well.  

STEP FOUR: Repeat measuring and pouring into the pan for all three flavors of cake.

PRO TIP:

You could use the extra batter to make cupcakes. The 2½ cups of batter for each layer is a little more than half of the batter for each cake flavor. I had enough batter left to make six cupcakes in each flavor.

STEP FIVE: Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out with just a few crumbs.

cake after being baked in a cake pan

STEP SIX: Remove the pans and cool for 10 minutes. Gently remove the cakes from the pans to wire racks and cool completely.

STEP SEVEN: If time allows, wrap each layer in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer to firm up for two or more hours. This makes it easier to assemble and frost the cake.

PRO TIP:

I always freeze my cake layers so that they are less fragile and soft when I’m stacking and frosting them. 

For the Frosting

STEP ONE: In a medium bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.

PRO TIP:

Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature so that you don’t end up with lumps in your frosting.

cream cheese and butter blended together in a bowl

STEP TWO: Beat in 4 cups of powdered sugar.

STEP THREE: Beat in ¼ cup of heavy cream then continue adding the heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the frosting is light and fluffy and has a spreadable consistency.

heavy cream whisked into the frosting in a bowl

For the Assembly

STEP ONE: Trim the top of each cake layer with a serrated knife to form a flat, even surface.

strawberry and chocolate cake layers placed on a cooling rack

STEP TWO: Place the chocolate layer top-side up onto the serving platter.

STEP THREE: Mound about ½ cup of frosting onto the first layer and spread smooth to the edges of the cake.

chocolate cake layer topped with frosting

STEP FOUR: Place the second vanilla cake layer top-side down on top of the frosting. Press down gently to seal the layers together.

vanilla cake layer placed on top of the frosted chocolate cake layer

STEP FIVE: Spread another layer of frosting over the vanilla layer and then top with the strawberry layer, top side down.

STEP SIX: Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and down the sides of the cake to seal in all of the crumbs and smooth the sides between the layers. Freeze for 15 to 30 minutes.

thin layer of frosting spread on top of the strawberry cake layer

STEP SEVEN: Mound most of the remaining frosting on top of the cake and use an offset spatula to spread it across the top and down the sides until the cake is fully frosted. If desired, transfer some frosting to a piping bag and pipe a border around the top and bottom perimeter of the cake.

cake being frosted and decorated

STEP EIGHT: Refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to serve.

How To Serve

What a delightful treat this would be for a special occasion. It would be such a beautiful birthday cake idea when you can’t decide what flavor to make. Add a scoop of Neapolitan ice cream to the plate to make this dessert even more colorful.

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: Store this delicious cake in the refrigerator for up to 1 week covered in plastic wrap. 

IN THE FREEZER: You can also freeze the cake for up to 1 month. Cake layers can be frozen up to a week in advance before assembling the cake if you wish to prepare the cake ahead of time and also to reduce crumbling.

close up shot of a Neapolitan Cake with a slice missing on a cake stand

This classic dessert is made up of three different flavors, each one complimenting the other. The layers of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry make for a delicious and satisfying treat. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday or just looking for something sweet, this cake is so much fun and sure to satisfy.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I store this cake on the counter?

This easy Neapolitan cake is best stored in the fridge for up to one week.

Can I make my own cake instead of using boxed mix?

If you have a favorite chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla cake recipe, you can use that instead of using the boxed mix.

Can I make this cake ahead of time?

You can bake the cake layers about a week in advance and freeze them until you are ready to assemble and frost the cake.

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close up shot of a Neapolitan Cake with a slice missing on a cake stand

Neapolitan Cake

5 from 1 vote
This impressive Neapolitan cake is a colorful chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla layer cake that looks just like the classic ice cream flavor.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 5 hours
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

Chocolate Cake Layer

  • 1 chocolate cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • cup sour cream

Vanilla Cake Layer

  • 1 vanilla cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • cup sour cream

Strawberry Cake Layer

  • 1 strawberry cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • cup sour cream

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ to ½ cup heavy cream

Instructions
 

Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (325°F for dark/non-stick pans). Line the bottom of three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and spray the sides with non-stick cooking spray. Set them aside.
  • For each flavor of cake, in a mixing bowl combine cake mix, eggs, milk, oil, and sour cream. Beat with a hand mixer for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy and well combined.
  • Transfer 2½ cups of the batter into one of the prepared cake pans. Use the remaining batter for another purpose.
  • Repeat for all three flavors of cake.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out with just a few crumbs.
  • Remove pans and cool for 10 minutes. Gently remove cakes from pans to cooling racks and cool completely.
  • If time allows, wrap each layer in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer to firm up for 2 or more hours. This makes it easier to assemble and frost the cake.

Frosting

  • Beat together softened cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 4 cups of powdered sugar.
  • Beat in ¼ cup of heavy cream; then continue adding heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the frosting is light and fluffy and has a spreadable consistency.

Assembly

  • Trim the top of each cake layer to form a flat, even surface.
  • Place the chocolate cake layer top-side up onto the serving platter.
  • Mound about ½ cup of frosting onto the cake layer and spread smooth to the edges.
  • Place the second vanilla cake layer top-side down on top of the frosting. Press down gently to seal the layers together.
  • Spread another layer of frosting over the vanilla cake layer and then top with the strawberry layer, top side down.
  • Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and down the sides of the cake to seal in all of the crumbs and smooth the sides between the layers. Freeze for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Mound most of the remaining frosting on top of the cake and use an offset spatula to spread it across the top and down the sides until the cake is fully frosted. If desired, transfer some frosting to a piping bag and pipe a border around the top and bottom perimeter of the cake.
  • Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve.

Notes

  • Sour cream adds moisture to the box cake mix and really elevates the texture of the cakes.
  • Measuring 2½ cups of batter for each cake layer ensures that each of the three layers come out even. If you do not have three separate 8-inch pans, mix up one batter at a time, bake that layer, cool and remove it from the pan, mix up the next cake batter, and so on. Do not mix up the cake batters ahead of when you can bake them, as they will not rise as well. 
  • You could use the extra batter to make cupcakes. The 2½ cups of batter for each layer is a little more than half of the batter for each cake flavor. I had enough batter left to make six cupcakes in each flavor.
  • I always freeze my cake layers so that they are less fragile and soft when I’m stacking and frosting them.
  • Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature so that you don’t end up with lumps in your frosting.

Nutrition

Calories: 968kcal | Carbohydrates: 136g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 223mg | Sodium: 1104mg | Potassium: 348mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 93g | Vitamin A: 1221IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 357mg | Iron: 4mg
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