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. (???)

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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

4.86 from 69 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
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. The first time I made this awesome and I had no problems.  The second time the icing kept separating.  Any suggestions on how to prevent this?

    1. Hi Melissa! I’ve never had that happen to me! I’m wondering if the butter was overcooked? You only want to let it boil for a moment before removing from the heat. I’m sorry it didn’t work out this time!

    1. So happy to hear that Gemma! Glad we are in agreement, it’s really the best sheet cake! Thank you so much for recommending it!

    1. Hooray! So glad you enjoyed the Texas Sheet Cake Marilyn! Tender and moist is the perfect description :) Thanks for commenting!

  2. Hi there, could you please let me know if this is dark brown sugar or light brown sugar? I’m rooting for dark as I’m super low on light and present conditions have made it impossible to find more!! Thank you. Colleen

  3. Yes, I made this recipe and loved it. I made it because it called for sour cream instead of buttermilk. I usually have sour cream on hand but not buttermilk. Anyway it was delicious. I’m making it again today!

    1. Yes same, I always have sour cream on hand but don’t always have buttermilk! So glad you liked it Alice! Thanks for reviewing :)

  4. It tastes delicious, however the frosting was wayyyy too thick so it didn’t spread well at all. I noticed most other recipes call for milk in the frosting. Did I miss something?

    1. Hi Paige! Sounds like the frosting may have been cooked too long? I’m not sure since I wasn’t there with you. You can definitely thin it with a little milk if it is too thick!

  5. SO SO SO YUMMY! First time I have ever attempted making a Texas sheet cake, and this recipe knocked it out of the park!

  6. I’ve made my moms recipe before and the cake was very moist. I’ve since lost the recipe but came across yours and it looked similar however the cake came out very dry. You’re photos made it look moist, any thoughts on where I may have gone wrong? Great flavor but it was not the Texas sheet cake I fondly remembered.

    1. Hi Heather! I’m so sorry it was dry, it’s definitely a very moist cake. I’m guessing over baking was the issue? But I don’t know since I wasn’t in the kitchen with you!

  7. I have made this a few times for different functions. It is a hit. My oven is uneven so I only take the part that looks decent and my hubby and I eat the thin part. It is so yummy. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us.

    1. So happy you are loving the recipe Rose! And that’s kind of convenient that you get to try the “thin part” before taking to your party! Haha! Love it :)

      1. Can you sub all the sour cream in the cake for buttermilk?? I have buttermilk on hand but not sour cream 🤦‍♀️

  8. Delicious cake recipe. Had to use 9×13 which resulted in a thicker cake which my family prefers. Came out so good. Frosting was delicious and could taste it in every bite. Easy to make. Thank you for nice recipe. 

  9. My Mom always made us this cake, and I did the same for my daughters. Wanted to try your recipe for a change and truly loved it. This cake turned out perfectly. My new go-to for Texas Sheet Cake! 

    Your blog is really wonderful. I love the recipes: easy to make, foods we like to eat and a great variety of new foods to try. 

    1. Hi Julie! Thank you so much! I’m glad you are enjoying all the recipes! Texas Sheet cake is just a classic. pure comfort food. Thank you for reading!

  10. Hello- I’ve made this cake before- it’s delicious!

    Question: I am in a new house and my oven is very small (sigh!) My jelly roll pan won’t fit in it, so I’ve been baking w/quarter sheet pans. I’d like to make this as a gift for a friend- how full should I fill my quarter sheet pan with batter so it doesn’t spill over?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Stephanie! So sad about the smaller oven! we rented in a house that had a small oven, it’s very frustrating! I’ve never baked this cake in a quarter sheet pan, but since that’s half the size of the half size sheet pan, I would imagine that about half the batter would go in the quarter. Let me know how it goes!

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