This Texas Sheet Cake recipe is THE ONE, you guys! As in, the only one you will ever need. Sour cream in the cake and the glaze, brown sugar, and extra cocoa make this the BEST chocolate sheet cake of your life!! Originally posted July 3, 2018

texas sheet cake slice with fork in it.

Here’s how my summer is going so far:

Morning time: Poke around the house with the kids until they start strangling each other.

Lunchish: Get kids out of the house to run errands. Forget to feed them lunch. (??? Okay I’ll be honest I think I was in denial about preparing another meal and just fled the house instead)

Target time: Party Poppers! Firework Oreos! Water balloons! So much fun stuff for the 4th, but the food court in Target (what do you call it? You know, where they have the pizza and popcorn.) was CLOSED. The guy’s walking off and I’m like hold up! And he’s like, naw I’m on my lunch break. (???)

bite of texas chocolate sheet cake being lifted with a fork.

Pool time: I promised the kids we would go to the pool in the afternoon, but it’s already 3pm and still no lunch. So I head to McDonald’s and get in the 100-car-length drive through line. Then I realize that the pool closes at 4 and if we don’t leave immediately we won’t get to swim. So we leave and go swim. My kids at this point have had nothing to eat since a 10am muffin. (That we made together!! Fun in the kitchen! See, sometimes I feed them!!)

McDonald’s time: When the pool closes at 4pm, I feel so bad that the kids haven’t eaten that I give in when they ask me to go to the slightly-farther-away McDonald’s that has a Play Place.

Nope: Play Place is closed. We don’t get our food until 4:45. (Why is there so much traffic in Sacramento??)

After that I took the kids to Costco for some stuff we needed, because I like to torture myself on days when I skip the baby’s nap and drag it out even longer. But they loved the samples! Making up for missed lunch.

Are you guys ready for the 4th of July?? I’m so excited. We will be making Nana’s Fall-Off-the-Bone Ribs and “Barb”-ecue Sauce, My Favorite Coleslaw, and Mexican Street Corn Dip. And of course this Texas Sheet Cake.

Recipe for Texas Sheet Cake

big pieces of texas sheet cake on a baking sheet.

This Texas Sheet Cake recipe is perfect for big parties because it’s SUPER easy and makes a ton. I made this last week, and then immediately sent the leftovers to work with Eric.

Three days later I made it again because I was regretting sending it in to work. Had one piece and realized I had an entire cake to myself and that is bad news. I distributed between neighbors.

Then last week I was writing out the final recipe and was doing some serious Texas Sheet Cake pondering, and decided I wanted to add brown sugar and even more cocoa, so I started making it again. Eric heard me get the pan out and turn on the gas burner and said, “Again??” It was 10:30pm.

Texas chocolate sheet cake being cut into big slices with a butter knife.

It was worth it guys. The final batch of this cake was definitely the best. Traditional Texas chocolate sheet cake calls for all white sugar and about 1/4 cup of cocoa. In this cake, we’re using half brown sugar and half white sugar, and doubling the cocoa. It makes it extra rich and chocolatey! And it’s so moist!

What is considered a sheet cake?

A sheet cake is a single layer cake baked in a large, flat pan, usually rectangular. It’s usually 2 inches deep, but as you can see in this recipe, the height of the cake will vary by the length and width of the pan you use. 

What’s the difference between sheet cake and regular cake?

All sheet cakes are “regular” cakes, but not all “regular” cakes are sheet cakes. Sheet cakes have just one layer and are wide, thin, and rectangular. Think of a big rectangular grocery store birthday cake meant to serve a horde of hungry kids. When someone thinks of a “regular” cake, they might imagine a round cake with multiple layers, but technically that could be called a “layer” cake. Sheet cake, schmeet cake, I say – they’re all delicious!

Texas Sheet Cake Recipe Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need–simple ingredients you likely have in your pantry! (Ingredients listed again in the recipe below.)

  • Butter. I used salted butter but unsalted butter is also fine.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Sour cream. A lot of recipes call for buttermilk, which would work great too, but I never have buttermilk on hand. I always have sour cream though. Sour cream adds the same tanginess that you’re going for. It’s perfection!
  • Brown sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Flour. I used all-purpose flour.
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Large eggs
  • Water

Texas Sheet Cake Frosting Ingredients

  • Butter. Again, salted or unsalted butter is fine.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Sour cream. Buttermilk can be substituted for sour cream if you prefer.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar
  • Chopped pecans. (Optional.) Needs to be very chopped. Super chopped. You basically can’t over chop!
big piece of texas chocolate sheet cake.

How to make a Texas Sheet Cake

Before we dive into details, here’s a basic overview. (Full instructions are included in recipe below!)

  1. Prepare a jelly roll pan (see pan size options below) by lining the pan with parchment paper, or spray well with nonstick spray.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the butter, water, and cocoa to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla.
  4. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda and add dry ingredients to the saucepan. Stir until well combined.
  5. Stir in sour cream and eggs until lumps are gone.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly to the sides.
  7. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center with no wet batter on it. The sides of the cake should just be starting to pull away from the edge of the pan. Don’t over bake!

Pan Sizes: (Ovens vary! Be sure to check your cake with a toothpick!)

  • If you are baking this in a 9×13” pan, bake for 23-25 minutes.
  • If you do a 10×15” pan, bake for about 20 minutes.
  • If you bake it in a 12×18” pan, bake for about 18-20 minutes.

Next, the frosting. DON’T forget the frosting!

How to make Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake frosting

  1. Bring to a boil butter and cocoa over medium heat. Remove from heat.
  2. Add sour cream and vanilla extract.
  3. Use a whisk to stir in the powdered sugar.
  4. After cake has cooled for 15-20 minutes, pour glaze over the top.
pouring warm frosting onto chocolate cake in a jelly roll pan.

What pan do you use for sheetcake?

The size of your jelly roll pan is a matter of debate. Here are the typical options:

  • 9×13 inch pan. You probably call this a cake pan (results in thick cake),
  • 10×15 inch jelly roll pan. Thin-ish cake.
  • 12×18 inch half baking sheet. Thinnest cake.

The first time I made it, I did it in a 10×15, and found myself only wanting to eat the top half of my slice of cake so that there was a higher ratio of frosting. The 12×18 inch pan, also called a baker’s half sheet gives you the perfect ratio of cake to frosting in my opinion. There are baking times in the notes if you do want to make it in a smaller pan though. The photos on this page feature a cake that was baked in a 10×15 inch pan.

What makes Texas Sheet Cake different?

A regular chocolate cake is cocoa powder and other dry ingredients whisked together and then combined with wet ingredients like oil and egg.

Meanwhile, someone fancy in Germany melted real chocolate for a German chocolate cake, beating the egg white separately and creaming the butter. Delicious, yes. Easy, no.

Then . . . the Texas Sheet Cake fusion! It’s so easy, with its liquid ingredients being stirred together in one pot, but! It also dissolves the cocoa powder completely over heat, bringing out a rich flavor reminiscent of melted chocolate. I mean who can say no to that??

a big piece of Texas chocolate sheet cake.

Why is it called a Texas SheetCake?

This cake is so grassroots, there’s no answer for how it got its name. Maybe the original bakers of this jelly-roll-pan-sized cake saw how large it looked and thought, “Well, everything’s bigger in Texas.” Or maybe a group of Texans loved it so much, they called it after their home state. Do you have a theory?

Whatever it’s called, it’s a great dessert to bring to a Fourth of July celebration or backyard cookout!

Does Texas sheet cake need to be refrigerated?

You’re going to want to store this well-covered on your counter top at room temperature. If you don’t seal it, it’s going to dry out faster than a scone from Starbucks. Don’t put it in the fridge, it will just dry out faster that way. Plus, who wants cold cake? Are you a monster? Texas Sheet Cake is meant to be served warm or room temp, y’all.

If you don’t have a lid that covers the pan above the frosting line, just wait until the frosting has cooled completely before covering. You can cover it with plastic wrap as soon as that “shell” appears on top of the frosting. If you do it while the frosting is hot, you will have a sad sticky mess.

close up shot of chocolate texas sheet cake with dripping frosting

Does Texas Sheet Cake freeze well?

For leftovers, yes! Freeze your sheet cake. Just make sure the cake is completely cool, then use plastic wrap and foil to completely seal the cake. You could also transfer the cake to a tupperware and freeze the whole thing.

If you plan to make this recipe ahead for a party, I recommend freezing the cake by itself and making the frosting on the day of the party. You want that glaze to be shiny and new.

Speaking of parties, what else is on your menu? If you’re entertaining enough people to warrant a Texas sheet cake, you might need other ideas for a large crowd!

Great party dishes for large crowds

Update! I’ve become slightly obsessed with sheet cakes. Here’s a White Texas Sheet Cake that you are going to love!

More sheet cakes you won’t be able to resist!

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Texas Sheet Cake

4.75 from 39 votes
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 16 Servings
This Texas Sheet Cake recipe is THE ONE, you guys! As in, the only one you will ever need. Sour cream in the cake and the glaze, brown sugar, and extra cocoa make this the BEST chocolate sheet cake of your life!!

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1 cup salted butter, 2 sticks
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs

For the glaze

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, 1 stick
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a jelly roll pan* with parchment paper, or spray well with nonstick spray.
  • In a medium or large saucepan, add 1 cup butter, 1 cup water, and 1/2 cup cocoa. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once it boils, take it off the heat.
  • Let it cool for a minute or two, then stir in brown sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
  • Meanwhile in a medium bowl combine 2 cups flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the saucepan. (Then wipe out the bowl and put it back in your cupboard.)
  • Stir well, then add 1/2 cup sour cream and eggs. Blend well until all the lumps are gone.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly to the sides.
  • Bake at 350 for about 18-20 minutes* (check times below), until a toothpick comes out of the center with no wet batter on it. The sides of the cake should just be starting to pull away from the edge of the pan. Don’t over bake!
  • Meanwhile, make the frosting. Clean out the saucepan you used for the batter** and add 1 stick of butter and 1/4 cup cocoa. Stir together over medium heat until it comes to a boil, then remove from the heat.
  • Add 6 tablespoons sour cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • Use a whisk to stir in the powdered sugar. If your cake is not done baking when you finish the glaze, stir it every now and then to break up the hardened shell on top.
  • When the cake is done, take it out of the oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Spread the glaze over the cake.
  • Serve this with milk. No, seriously.

Notes

*The size of your jelly roll pan is a matter of debate. You can make this cake in a 9×13 inch cake pan (thick cake), a 10×15 inch jelly roll pan (thinnish cake) or an 12×18 inch half baking sheet (thinnest cake). I prefer the 12×18. The first time I made it, I did it in a 10×15, and found myself only wanting to eat the top half of my slice of cake so that there was a higher ratio of frosting. (The photos of this cake is of one that was baked in a 10×15.) The 12×18 gives you the perfect ratio of cake to frosting in my opinion.
If you are baking this in a 9×13 bake for 23-25 minutes.
If you do a 10×15, bake for about 20 minutes.
If you bake it in a 12×18, bake for about 18-20 minutes.
All of these times are going to vary because everyone’s oven is different.
** I actually never do this. I just start making the frosting in the same pan without washing or even wiping it out. The danger is that the remaining batter up the sides of the pan that you couldn’t scrape out all the way could scorch. I use the butter to rub the sides of the pan occasionally to avoid this. I can’t even believe I added this note, probably washing the pan is easier! These are the kind of risks that make me feel like I’m living a dangerous life.

Nutrition

Calories: 455kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 318mg | Potassium: 129mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 52g | Vitamin A: 638IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 455
Keyword: chocolate cake, Sheet Cake, texas
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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Comments

  1. I’ve been making a version of this cake since 1977. I use whipping cream that has soured in my fridge. Your frosting recipe is different from mine. I’m going to make it just so I can try it. Sounds delicious. P.S. If it’s too thick to pour just eat it with a spoon.

  2. 5 stars
    Fantastic cake! I made it for a going away party for for an employee and it was a huge hit. Moist, rich, delicious. Thank you. :)

  3. Texas sheet cake review: cake was sort of dry. I followed directions completely. Frosting was not a glaze, too thick to spread without lifting up the cake into frosting. Every other sheet cake I have ever made, I poured the glaze on. Then when we tasted it, it wasn’t anything special. Sort of blah, hardly a chocolate flavor. Crazy bc there was enough cocoa powder. Odd.

    1. Hi Dianne! I think you may have cooked the frosting a bit too long. You can see in the photos that it is poured on, not spread like buttercream. Next time cook a shorter time!

  4. I love this! I have been looking for this recipe, it is the one that is closest to the one I remember my mom using. It is so easy and a crowd pleaser. Also, we add toasted pecans to the icing before it is poured over the sheet cake. Delicious!

    1. Love the idea of adding toasted pecans to the icing Lisa! Thanks for sharing! So glad you’re enjoying the recipe.

  5. I’ve tried other Texas Sheet Cake recipes, because it is definitely my favorite cake. But there are several that leave the cake dry and the frosting not very fudge-y.
    Then in my hunt to find yet another recipe for my favorite cake to make for my sister for her birthday yesterday, I came across your’s.
    I made it, and I absolutely love it!!!!
    The cake was not only delicious, but moist, and the frosting was the perfect fudge-ness. ❤️

    I will never use, need, or look for, another recipe for Texas Sheet Cake.
    THIS IS DEFINITELY THE ONE!!!!!

    Thank you so very much for this amazing recipe, for my favorite cake!!!

    1. I’m so glad you are backing me up in my claims for this being the ONLY Texas Sheet Cake you will ever need!! Haha! So glad it was a hit Melissa, you are an awesome sister I bet she was so happy. Thanks for taking the time to review!!

  6. I’ve made this cake many, many times. I add one teaspoon of cinnamon to the cake. It adds a little ‘punch’ to the cake.

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