Gooey Butter Cake Recipe + 6 Variations

Close up of a piece of gooey butter cake, with more of the cake in background.

Gooey Butter Cake is a St. Louis tradition of a yellow cake crust topped with a gooey cream cheese filling. Here I share the classic recipe as well as some delicious Ooey Gooey Butter Cake variations!

One square of gooey butter cake on a plate with the remaining cake in the background,

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What makes this cake so good
How to make gooey butter cake
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The Invention of Gooey Butter Cake

Gooey Butter cake is said to have been an accidental invention. A baker in Missouri was attempting to make coffee cake, but he got his measurements mixed up, and ended up with this gooey cake. The new cake sold so well that it became a bakery staple.

We enjoyed this cake as the dessert for our Missouri state dinner, but many serve it for breakfast as a coffee cake! Whenever you enjoy it, the creaminess of the filling, and the vanilla flavor, do pair well with coffee.

What Makes This Cake So Good?

There are just 7 ingredients in this gooey butter cake! It is so simple!

The recipe begins with a cake mix as the foundation for the crust. Using a cake mix keeps the recipe easy!

Many recipes call for only butter in the cake. This is a butter cake recipe, after all! So having the flavor of butter is really important. However, in testing this recipe I discovered that adding a little bit of oil made the cake more rich and moist.

Traditional recipes for gooey butter cake range from 2-4 cups of powdered sugar in the filling. I found that right in the middle, at 3 cups is the perfect balance of being sweet, but not overly sweet. Plus, the cake gets dusted with additional powdered sugar, so starting a little lighter on the powdered sugar works well.

How to Make Gooey Butter Cake

Prepare the Cake Batter

  • Look at this! It couldn’t get any easier! Just mix cake mix, eggs, butter, oil, and vanilla in a bowl. This makes a thick batter that is in between the consistency of regular cake batter and cookie dough.
Pouring butter into cake mix.

Mix the Filling

  • The key for this step is to mix the cream cheese and vanilla extract together until they are smooth. Using room temperature cream cheese helps with this, but if you don’t have the time to let your cream cheese sit out, just beat the mixture a little bit longer.
  • Once all of the ingredients are mixed together, turn your mixer onto high and beat it for one minute. This step makes it fluffy and smooth.
Blending the filling with a red Kitchen Aid hand mixer.

The Butter Cake Layers

  • The two batters now get layered in the pan, starting with the cake batter. Pour it into a greased pan. Since it is thick you will need to use a spoon to press it into the pan.
  • Next, pour the cream cheese layer over the top and spread it evenly.
Diptych - on the left is cake batter in a 9x13 pan and on the right is the filling poured over the cake batter.

Don’t Overbake!

  • Bake until the edges are brown and puffy, but the middle is still a little gooey. If you overbake the cake you will just have a butter cake – there will be no gooeyness left.
Ooey gooey butter cake, brown edges but still gooey in the middle,

More Brunch Recipes

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Recipe Variations

  • Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake: Add 1 can of pumpkin puree, 8 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg to the filling.
  • Lemon Gooey Butter Cake: Use a lemon cake mix, and add 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon zest to the filling.
  • Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1/4 cup of cocoa to the filling.
  • Cinnamon Gooey Butter Cake: Mix together 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon together, and sprinkle over the topping before baking.
  • Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cake: Use a red velvet cake mix.
  • Strawberry Gooey Butter Cake: Use a strawberry cake mix. Top with sliced fresh strawberries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does gooey butter cake need to be refrigerated?

The cake can be stored at room temperature, covered, for up to 4 days, or in the refrigerator for one week. In the freezer, it will last for up to 4 months. Thaw before serving.

How do I know that the butter cake is done?

The trick to knowing whether or not your cake is done is to give it a little shake. The middle should jiggle, while the edges stay firm.

Slices of gooey butter cake on plates, with the pan of cake on the left.
3 pieces of gooey butter cake stacked on a plate.

Gooey Butter Cake

A St. Louis tradition, this recipe has a yellow cake crust with a gooey cream cheese filling. It is delicious served as a coffee cake for a breakfast, or as a simple dessert!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 18
Calories 202 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

Crust

  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, plus additional to dust over the cake

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with nonstick spray.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the cake mix, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. This batter will be thick. Press into the bottom of the baking pan.
  • Using a handheld or stand mixer, beat cream cheese, eggs, and vanilla extract for 1-2 minutes, until smooth. Add in powdered sugar and beat on low until mixed in, and then increase speed to high for an additional minute.
  • Pour the cream cheese filling over the cake batter.
  • Bake 28-35 minutes, or until filling is set. The edges should be brown but the center should still look gooey.
  • Remove from oven and cool completely before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 202kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 2gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 100mgPotassium: 31mgSugar: 20gVitamin A: 379IUCalcium: 19mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Cake, cake mix, cream cheese
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