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No need to make a trip to the Lone Star State to learn how to make the best Texas Sheet Cake from scratch—this one is big, bold, and beautiful. If you haven’t made one before, get ready to flip over how easy it is to whip up, and how fast it’ll disappear.
Texas Sheet Cake has many names: buttermilk brownies, brownie sheet cake, chocolate brownie cake, chocolate sheet brownies, Mexican chocolate cake, Texas brownie cake, Texas cake, Texas sheath cake, and “plain old” chocolate sheet cake, but everyone who has tasted it can agree on the fact that it’s just plain delicious, no matter what it’s called.
Some people compare this cake to a German Chocolate Cake, adding nuts or shredded coconut to the frosting. Even though my recipe for German Chocolate Cake is not to be missed, it has a few more steps than this one does. When I want something quick and simple, I rely on Texas.
Often I’ll add toasted chopped pecans into the warm chocolate frosting—who could blame me?—and then get ready for the compliments.
What is Texas Sheet Cake?
Other than flamboyantly rich, Texas Sheet Cake is, technically, a giant chocolate sheet cake that eats just like a brownie. This recipe features a butter-cocoa frosting that’s slathered over a buttery chocolate cake that brings folks from miles around.
How to make Texas Sheet Cake
Thankfully, this cake doesn’t need any fussy equipment or mixers. All you need is a bowl, a saucepan, and a couple spoons you can lick clean when you’re finished. (Scroll down for the full recipe with ingredients in the recipe card!)
- Combine the butter, water, and cocoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- In a bowl, whisk together sugar and flour.
- Stir into the hot butter mixture.
- Next, mix in the eggs, vanilla, and sour cream.
- Pour the batter into a buttered or oiled jelly roll pan and pop it in the oven.
- Once the cake is our of the oven and cooling, it’s time to make the frosting. In small saucepan bring butter, milk and cocoa to boil.
- Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.
- Spread on cooled cake while frosting is hot to give it a glossy finish and an irresistible gooey layer between the cake and the frosting.
What is the best Texas Sheet Cake pan size?
I like to make a thinner cake for a greater frosting-to-cake ratio, so I bake this recipe in a 10-inch by 14-inch jelly roll pan.
You can use a smaller pan, however, like a 9”x11” pan, just make sure that you adjust the cooking time and take it out when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Texas Sheet Cake Variations:
You can really tell how loved a famous recipe is by how many different variations there are, and this one is definitely loved! I’d be doing Texans and dessert lovers everywhere a disservice if I didn’t include at least some of the variations that make this cake so popular.
Here are just a few:
- Texas Sheet Cake with buttermilk: I make my Texas Sheet Cake with sour cream, but if you’d like to use buttermilk, that’s fine, too! You need to add a little more butter, though. For every ½ cup sour cream, substitute ½ cup buttermilk and 1 tablespoon butter.
- Texas Sheet Cake with cinnamon: Ladybird Johnson made the cake famous by adding a 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the batter, for a Mexican chocolate flavor that people go crazy for.
- Texas Sheet Cake with coffee: Some cooks add black coffee instead of water in the batter to give the cake another layer of body. If you love mocha, this variation is for you.
- Texas Sheet Cake cupcakes: Pour the batter into paper shells and bake, then frost and everyone gets their own. This is a great compromise for nut lovers, and no-nut lovers.
- Almond Frosting for Texas Sheet Cake: Use ½ teaspoon almond extract and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract in the frosting. Add chopped toasted almonds, if you dare.
- Peanut Butter Frosting: Mix 1 cup of creamy peanut butter with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil until smooth. Then spread on the cake while warm, let cool in refrigerator before serving.
- White Texas Sheet Cake: To make Texas Sheet Cake white, you can simply omit the cocoa powder in this recipe and add 1 teaspoon almond extract in its place into the batter. If cakes were clouds, this one would be the fluffiest!
Can you freeze Texas Sheet Cake?
Sure you can! Make sure it’s covered and wrapped, but properly stored, it should last up to 2 weeks in the freezer.
If you do freeze the cake, remove it from the freezer about 1 hour before serving time and let it thaw with the lid removed to prevent condensation that makes the top soggy.
Texas Sheet Cake
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 10-inch by 14-inch jelly roll pan with nonstick spray.
- In a medium saucepan, combine butter, water, and cocoa. Bring to boil.
- Meanwhile, in large bowl whisk together sugar and flour. Stir in boiled mixture. Add eggs, baking soda, vanilla, and sour cream.
- Pour into prepared pan and bake 20 minutes. Cool completely.
- While cake is cooling, in small saucepan bring butter, milk and cocoa to boil. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer or by hand until smooth. Spread on cooled cake while frosting is hot. Cool and cut into 24 bars.
Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.