Texas Sheet Cake with Buttermilk is a rich and incredibly moist chocolate cake topped with gooey fudge frosting. It's quick to make and perfect for serving a crowd!
This is a true family recipe, passed down to me by my mom. It is the original recipe that she used when baking for church potlucks and family parties when I was a kid. And it is so good that I did not change a thing!
What is Texas Sheet Cake?
Traditional Texas Sheet Cake is a thin and tender chocolate cake topped with a decadent layer of fudgy icing. It is a classic Southern dessert that can be traced back to the early 1900s, but it's unclear who first invented the cake or why it is called a Texas Sheet Cake. Most people believe that it gets its name because it is such a large cake (like the size of Texas).
Some people stir chopped pecans in the frosting before they pour it over the warm cake. This makes sense as pecan trees are the state tree of Texas. However, my family requested no nuts for this one, so I left it out of my recipe.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Moist and tender cake - The combination of buttermilk, butter, and cocoa powder creates a soft and moist cake that melts in your mouth.
Quick and easy -This recipe comes together effortlessly, making it perfect for both experienced bakers and beginners. It can be ready to serve in under an hour from when you start to prepare, so great for last-minute guests.
Rich and chocolatey flavor - The deep chocolate flavor of the cake with fudgy buttermilk icing is a combination that is so good you are going to crave it when it's gone.
Great for feeding a crowd - You can get as many as 58 servings from this one cake (though I cut my pieces bigger than that).
This is the perfect recipe to serve for a Texas barbecue along with smoked brisket.
What's the difference between a sheet cake and a regular cake?
The main difference between a sheet cake and a regular cake lies in its size and thickness.
A sheet cake is typically a large rectangular cake, and thinner compared to a regular cake, which is often taller and baked in round or square pans. Sheet cakes are the perfect dessert when serving a large number of people, while regular cakes are more suitable for smaller gatherings or individual servings.
See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients, including measurements.
Butter: Adds richness and moisture to the cake. You can use salted or unsalted butter.
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Provides the intense chocolate flavor that is characteristic of Texas Sheet Cake. This recipe works best with natural cocoa powder (not Dutch).
Buttermilk: Tenderizes the cake and enhances its moistness. It is also used in the frosting for a little tanginess. If you don't have buttermilk, you can make your own buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk and letting it sit for 5 minutes. You can also replace the buttermilk in the cake with an equal amount of sour cream.
Eggs: Help bind the ingredients together and add structure to the cake.
All-Purpose Flour: Provides the structure and texture for the cake. You can use cake flour for a lighter texture if desired.
Granulated Sugar: Sweetens the cake and helps create a soft crumb.
Baking Soda: Baking soda interacts with the acid in the buttermilk and cocoa powder to make the cake rise.
How to Make Texas Sheet Cake with Buttermilk
1) Make Chocolate Sauce
- Combine butter, cocoa powder, and water in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat.
- Stir the mixture constantly.
- Once it starts to boil, remove the pan from the heat and cool while you mix the dry ingredients.
2) Mix Dry Ingredients
- In this sheet cake recipe, the sugar gets mixed in with the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Stir them together in a large mixing bowl.
3) Blend Chocolate
- Pour the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture.
- Whisk it well.
4) Add Wet Ingredients
- Add the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract to the bowl.
- You can add them all at once. No need to stir them individually.
- Whisk until they are fully incorporated into the cake batter.
- Pour batter into a sheet cake pan that is lined with parchment paper or sprayed with nonstick spray.
- If you are using a half-sheet pan then the cake will bake for about 20 minutes.
6) Make Fudge Frosting
- While the cake bakes, measure your frosting ingredients and clean the pan used to make the chocolate sauce.
- When there are about 5 minutes remaining on your cake's baking time, add the butter, cocoa powder, and buttermilk to the saucepan.
- Stir over medium heat until the butter is completely melted.
- Beat in the powdered sugar until it is smooth, then stir in the vanilla extract.
- Immediately pour the warm chocolate frosting evenly over the top of the cake
What Size Pan Do You Use for Sheet Cake?
Texas Sheet Cake is usually prepared using a jelly roll pan or a half sheet pan, resulting in a large, thin cake. If you want a thicker cake you can also prepare it in a 9x13 pan. Here are the cook times for various sizes.
|Pan Size||Bake Time|
|9x13 inch quarter sheet pan||30-35 minutes|
|10x15 inch jelly roll pan||25-30 minutes|
|12x18 inch half baking sheet||20-25 minutes|
Test the cake's doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake. It is done when the toothpick comes out clean.
- If you are mixing the powdered sugar in by hand then I recommend sifting it into the frosting. An electric mixer helps break up the lumps, but whisking by hand needs this extra step to keep the frosting smooth.
- Time the frosting so that it is ready once the cake has cooled for about 5 minutes.
- The cake should still be warm when the frosting is poured over it. This allows the frosting to seep into the cake, making it extra moist.
Pecans - Add texture and flavor by stirring 1 cup of chopped pecans into the frosting before pouring it over the cake. Alternatively, sprinkle chopped pecans over the frosted cake before the frosting hardens.
Cinnamon - Add a subtle warm spice flavor and elevate the chocolate flavor by stirring 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon into the dry ingredients. Or just add ½ teaspoon for a hint of cinnamon.
Espresso powder - Add 1 teaspoon of espresso powder to the dry ingredients to deepen the chocolate flavor.
Rocky Road - Stir 2 cups of miniature marshmallows into the frosting then pour it over the cake. Top with 1 cup of chopped nuts.
Flash-freeze individual slices of cake until the frosting is hard. Then wrap each piece tightly with 2 layers of plastic wrap. Transfer the wrapped slices to a freezer bag or freezer-safe container and return to the freezer for up to 3 months.
This cake can be refrigerated but refrigeration tends to dry it out, so I recommend that you store it at room temperature. If you do choose to put it in the refrigerator, transfer the cake to an airtight container and enjoy it within 5 days.
Once the frosting has set to the point where it is dry to the touch, cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap. Store it at room temperature for up to 3 days.
The main cause of thick frosting is adding too much powdered sugar. If you choose not to weigh your sugar, measure it by scooping it with a spoon into your measuring cup and leveling it off with a knife. Be sure to also pour the frosting while it is warm, as it thickens as it cools.
Let me know how you like this recipe by leaving a review! And follow along on Instagram @stateofdinner for behind-the-scenes and to be among the first to know when new recipes post!
Texas Sheet Cake with ButtermilkRecipe by:
- 1 cup butter
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons buttermilk
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup cocoa
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Spray a half-sheet pan (12"x18") with nonstick baking spray.
- Combine the butter, cocoa powder, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once it starts to boil, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.1 cup butter, ¼ cup cocoa powder, 1 cup water
- Mix the flour, granulated sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pour the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
- Whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla into the chocolate mixture.1 cup buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan, then bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- When there are about 5 minutes left of the cake's bake time, begin preparing the icing by mixing the buttermilk, butter, and cocoa in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.6 tablespoons buttermilk, ½ cup butter, ¼ cup cocoa
- Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar. Whisk by hand or use an electric hand mixer to beat it until smooth.3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- Stir in the vanilla extract.1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Once the cake is done, allow it to cool for 5 minutes, then pour the icing over the cake, spreading it evenly across the surface.
- Let it sit for about 10 minutes for the icing to set, then serve.
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon - Stir in with dry ingredients.
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder - Stir in with dry ingredients.
- 1 cup chopped pecans - Stir into the frosting before pouring over the cake, or sprinkle on top of the frosted cake.
- If you whisk the powdered sugar into the frosting by hand then it is best to sift the powdered sugar first, so that you do not have lumps.
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