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Texas Sheet Cake

By , from the Culinate Kitchen collection
Total Time 1 hour


There are many versions of this Southern classic, but all are essentially dump-and-stir cakes baked in a rectangular pan and served cut into squares. A potluck and birthday-party favorite, this cake is reliably moist and quite sweet.



2 cups sugar (see Note)
1 cup vegetable oil, such as canola
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract


6 oz. confectioners’ sugar, plus more if needed
¼ cup baking cocoa
cup (¼ stick) butter, melted
tsp. vanilla extract
cup buttermilk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, mix the sugar, oil, and eggs together. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking cocoa. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Add the buttermilk, water, and vanilla extract and mix well; the resulting batter will be thin.
  3. Pour the batter into a lightly greased 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with only a few light crumbs attached.
  4. While the cake is baking, prepare the icing. Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and the baking cocoa. Whisk in the melted butter, vanilla extract, and buttermilk; icing should be smooth and free of lumps. If the icing seems too thin, sift and whisk in more sugar.
  5. When the cake is done, pour the icing over the hot cake and let cool in the pan. Cut into squares to serve.


For a less-sweet cake, reduce the sugar to 1½ cups or even just 1 cup.

For cupcakes, divide the batter evenly among two muffin tins lined with paper cups, for a total of 24 cupcakes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the muffin tins halfway through the baking time.

For a two-layer cake, butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Divide the batter between the two pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time.

The runny icing used on the sheet cake is too liquid to use on cupcakes or a layer cake, so when these cakes are cool, make a thicker frosting, such as the classic Basic Butter Frosting, the marshmallowy White Fluffy Frosting, or half of the tangy frosting from Catherine’s Carrot Cake with Cream-Cheese Frosting. Or simply give the cupcakes a light dusting of powdered sugar and call it good.

Related post: Children’s cupcakes

This content is from the Culinate Kitchen collection.

There are 7 comments on this item
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Average Rating 5
57% recommend this recipe
1. by Ovrnite on Dec 16, 2007 at 3:00 PM PST

I also like to use sour cream in the batter recipe.

2. by Brave Sir Robin on Feb 6, 2009 at 11:05 AM PST

My mom’s recipe for this cake (she called it soft chocolate cake) includes cinnamon in the cake, and pecans in the frosting, but is otherwise very similar. It is wonderful!

3. by Caroline Cummins on Feb 10, 2009 at 5:35 PM PST

Brave Sir Robin: Your mom’s recipe sounds very similar to Anne Zimmerman’s recipe Mary’s Texas Sheet Cake. Check it out.

4. by Hilary Cable on Feb 17, 2009 at 5:11 PM PST

I made this cake for my office. I doubled the recipe and baked it in a gigantic pan, and frosted it with a browned-butter frosting. Delicious! And so easy. A forgiving cake for those of us who don’t need high art for the occasion, just satisfying.

5. by emyers on Mar 9, 2009 at 5:38 PM PDT

Wonderful cake for my son’s 4th birthday party --thanks!

6. by Caroline Cummins on Mar 10, 2009 at 8:05 PM PDT

emyers — That’s great. This was the cake I grew up eating for birthdays; it was always big with the juvenile set.

7. by miznic on Dec 22, 2009 at 5:27 PM PST
Rating: five

I made this cake today as directed... it didn’t take long for it to disappear. It’s taking all I have now to keep everyone from the other sheet cake I made for a gift!

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