How to Cut a Cake Like a Pro

Updated: Apr. 03, 2023

Here's how to cut a round cake properly, with even slices and no messy crumbs.

You’ve done it: you’ve baked a gorgeous multi-tiered cake and applied a smooth, dreamy layer of frosting. (Or, maybe you’ve gone to the bakery and picked up a professional-grade cake.) Now you’re facing the ultimate party trick: cutting the cake! It’s difficult to slice a cake without smearing frosting or scattering crumbs or serving up a mix of big and skinny slices. Here are some pro tips for cutting a round cake perfectly every single time.

Our dreamiest layer cake recipes turn any occasion into a party.

How to Cut a Round Cake Neatly

Several simple techniques will set you up for success:

Use a serrated knife

It seems like a straight blade would be cleaner, but actually, a serrated blade cuts through the cake more easily. A thin blade, like a tomato knife, is best, but a serrated bread knife also works. Use a gentle sawing motion to cut. Here’s how to keep your knives sharp.

Chill the cake for 10-15 minutes

Cooling the cake and frosting makes both sturdier and less likely to squish, tear or crumble. A quick stop in the fridge is enough since you don’t want the cake to get too cold before serving.

Are you making any of these common cake mistakes?

Use a hot, clean knife for every slice

Before your first cut, run the knife under hot water, and dry it thoroughly. After every slice, wipe the knife clean, and then run it under hot water and dry it again. It takes a little extra time, but a warm knife will cut through frosting more cleanly.

A Trick for Cutting Even Slices

When slicing a round cake, it’s really easy to end up with unevenly sized slices—not ideal!

Before you cut, take a piece of fishing line or dental floss and mark a line down the middle of the cake. Rotate 90º and mark the midway line again. Now you’ve got an X marking the center of the cake—each slice should end at this spot. The lines also lay out a template of four quarters of the cake, which makes it easy to calculate how large to cut slices to serve your guests. For example, if you’re serving 16, divide each quarter of the cake into four slices. In general, slices should be about 1″ or 1.5″ wide.

Taste of Home just launched its own line of bakeware! Try our 9-inch round cake pans.

How to Remove the First Piece

Even if your slice is pristine, it’s tricky to remove the first slice from the plate. It’s all too easy to leave the tip of the slice behind—or to take the frosting off the neighboring slice! Quickly run your knife down both sides of the slice to make sure it’s cut completely through. Then, insert a spatula under the slice, pressing against the plate. Lift smoothly. An offset spatula, which has an angled handle, makes it easier to get totally under the cake slice.

Or, Try Out This Hack to Remove the First Piece

For another approach, TikTok user and food blogger @LenasKitchenBlog offers an effortless hack to cut a cake that requires only a sharp knife and cutting board.

Simply hold a cutting board to one end of a cake—with an even slice already cut out of it in order to fit the shape of the cutting board—allowing the cake to be held smoothly against it. From there, take your knife and cut an even slice of cake at the same angle the cutting board is being held at. The freshly cut slice will then lean smoothly onto the cutting board. Thus, you can easily lower the cutting board, cut the new slice into pieces and move the smaller cut piece of sliced cake neatly onto a plate to serve.

If you don’t get it the first time around, don’t sweat it. The good news is, even if your cake is sliced unevenly or the frosting is smudged, it’s still cake—and cake is a good thing. Keep a can of whipped cream on hand for a quick cover-up of any flaw.

Try These Showstopping Layer Cakes
1 / 40