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Grandma’s Texas Sheet Cake is a moist chocolate cake baked in a jelly roll pan and smothered with a rich, chocolate fudge frosting. The old-fashioned dessert is a crowd-pleasing treat for birthdays, potlucks, or just about any other special occasion!

Front shot of an easy Texas Sheet Cake recipe on a blue and white plate

Texas Sheet Cake Recipe

This Texas Sheet Cake was the first dish that my mother-in-law served to me when I met her almost 20 years ago. I had just started dating Keith when he invited me over for a family cookout to celebrate his birthday. We had grilled chicken on his parents’ deck for supper, but what I really remember is Carole’s Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake. I had never tasted anything quite like it before!

Why is it called a Texas Sheet Cake?

It’s not entirely clear where the name “Texas Sheet Cake” comes from. Some say that the cake gets its name simply because of it’s huge — i.e., the size of Texas. Others claim that it’s because the sheet cake is flamboyantly rich. Finally, another theory suggests that the cake is similar to a recipe submitted to the Dallas Morning News back in 1957, which instantly skyrocketed to fame. And since some Texas Sheet Cake recipes call for buttermilk and pecans, other folks claim that the “Texas-y” ingredients prompted the name.

No matter the origin, one thing is certain: this decadent chocolate cake is loaded with flavor, is big enough to feed a crowd, and is well-loved by both kids and adults.

Texas Sheet Cake Pan Size

This old-fashioned chocolate sheet cake bakes in a 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan. This is the pan that I use. Some recipes call for even larger pans (such as 18- by 13-inch rimmed baking sheets), so it’s important to make sure that you’re using the correct size pan for this recipe.

What is the difference between sheet cake and regular cake?

The main difference between a sheet cake and a regular cake is really just the size and shape of the pan that the cake is baked in. The term “sheet cake” generally refers to any cake that is baked in a large, shallow sheet pan. Regular cakes are often baked in 9-inch round cake pans and stacked in multiple layers, or in thicker 9 x 13-inch rectangular pans.

Texas Sheet Cake is a made-from-scratch chocolate cake with a unique dense-yet-tender crumb (thanks to the buttermilk in the batter). Unlike most cakes, Texas Sheet Cake is frosted while it’s still hot. The thick, warm chocolate frosting covers the cake like a blanket, keeping it moist and tender. Some recipes call for chopped pecans on top, but Grandma’s recipe does not. It’s a matter of personal preference, so feel free to add the nuts if you like!

Spatula lifting a slice of Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake

How to Make Texas Sheet Cake

When you want a really delicious homemade chocolate cake, it’s worth the time and effort to bake this decadent dessert from scratch. The process and the ingredients are simple. Plus, it’s a great make-ahead option that seems to get better as it sits!

Ingredients

  • Butter
  • Shortening (such as Crisco)
  • Water
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Granulated sugar
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Eggs
  • Buttermilk
  • Vanilla extract

Step 1: Boil Chocolate Mixture

Place shortening, butter, water and cocoa powder in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.

Boiling chocolate mixture for Texas Sheet Cake

Step 2: Combine Dry Ingredients

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Pour the hot chocolate mixture over top and use an electric mixer to beat on medium speed for 1 minute.

Dry ingredients with whisk for Texas Sheet Cake

Step 3: Add Wet Ingredients

Add the eggs, vanilla and buttermilk, then mix on medium speed for 1 more minute.

Mixing batter for Texas Sheet Cake in glass bowl

Step 4: Bake

Pour the batter into a greased jelly roll pan and bake in a 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes.

Cooling a Texas Sheet Cake in a jelly roll pan

Step 5: Make the Frosting

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, make the frosting. It’s important to add the frosting while the cake is still hot.

Ingredients for Texas Sheet Cake Frosting

  • Butter
  • Cocoa powder
  • Milk
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Vanilla extract

Boil the butter, cocoa powder and milk. Remove from the heat and stir in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Whisking Texas Sheet Cake frosting in a pot

Pour the frosting over the hot cake and spread evenly with an off-set spatula.

Cooling a Texas Sheet Cake

Step 6: Cool

Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before slicing and serving. The frosting will firm up and set — kind of like a fudgy ganache.

Square shot of Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake on a plate with fork

Storage

This is a great make-ahead dessert. Bake the Texas Sheet Cake the day before you plan to serve it. Allow the cake to cool, then cover and store at room temperature for up to 5 days. To extend the life of the cake, keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks!

If your house is particularly warm or humid, the cake is best when stored in the refrigerator.

Can you freeze Texas Sheet Cake?

Absolutely! Frost the cake, allow it to cool completely, then wrap tightly and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter for a few hours, then serve!

Overhead image of a table spread with original Texas Sheet Cake

Tips for the Best Texas Sheet Cake Recipe

  • White Texas Sheet Cake: My mother-in-law often tweaks this recipe to make a vanilla version instead (the grandchildren adore it). It includes almond extract and a buttercream frosting! For the full instructions, see this recipe.
  • Add Pecans: Sprinkle about ¾ cup of chopped, toasted pecans on the hot frosting.
  • Decorate the Cake: Add colored sprinkles on top of the hot frosting. This is great for a birthday cake, but you can also tailor the sprinkles for different holidays — orange and black for Halloween, red and green for Christmas, or pink and red for Valentine’s Day.
  • Buttermilk is an important ingredient for this cake, so do not substitute with regular milk. The acid in the buttermilk helps to keep the cake moist and tender.
  • Sift the confectioners’ sugar to avoid lumps in the frosting.
Front shot of Grandma's Texas Sheet Cake on a plate with a fork

More Old-Fashioned Cake Recipes

Square side shot of a slice of texas sheet cake on a plate

Grandma’s Texas Sheet Cake

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Cooling Time 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 40 minutes
Servings 24 people
Calories 263 kcal
This old-fashioned Texas Sheet Cake is a rich, decadent, and easy chocolate dessert!

Ingredients
  

FOR THE CAKE

FOR THE FROSTING

  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons whole or 2% milk
  • 16 oz confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

FOR THE CAKE

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan and set aside.
  • Place butter, shortening, water and cocoa powder in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Pour the hot butter mixture over the flour mixture. Use an electric mixer to beat on medium speed for 1 minute.
  • Add eggs, vanilla extract and buttermilk. Beat on medium speed for 1 more minute.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap on the counter a few times to release air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the cake pan on a wire rack and immediately prepare the frosting.
  • If your cake has a rounded top on it when it comes out of the oven, use your hands, oven mits, or a dish towel to gently press down on the top of the cake to create a flat surface. You need a relatively flat top so that the icing will not run off the sides.

FOR THE FROSTING

  • Place butter, cocoa powder and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla extract; beat until smooth.
  • Pour the hot frosting over the warm cake. Spread evenly, then set the cake on a wire rack to cool completely. The frosting will firm up as it cools. Slice into squares and serve!

Notes

Allow the cake to cool, then cover and store at room temperature for up to 5 days. To extend the life of the cake, keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks! If your house is particularly warm or humid, the cake is best stored in the refrigerator.
You can freeze the cooled, frosted cake for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 263kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 2gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 190mgPotassium: 56mgFiber: 1gSugar: 36gVitamin A: 150IUCalcium: 17mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: texas chocolate sheet cake, Texas Sheet Cake
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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