The Original Texas Sheet Cake is a huge dessert that will feed your whole family — and then some! This rich, dark chocolate cake is topped with an equally decadent chocolate frosting. Between the two is a moist, gooey layer of melted chocolate that you won’t find in any other dessert!
The original Texas sheet cake is a classic Southern dessert that is grounded in the tradition of sharing. Big enough to feed plenty, you can bring this chocolate treat to any party or gathering without having to worry that you won’t have enough.
While recipes can vary a bit, you absolutely have to make Texas sheet cake with buttermilk and pecans. The buttermilk gives the cake a tenderness and tanginess that others lack, while the pecans add both texture and a sweet nuttiness.
In my opinion, Southern recipes always have a certain hominess and comfort to them that is totally unmatched. Between Southern Fried Chicken, Buttermilk Biscuits, Chicken and Dumplings, and Creamy Cheese Grits, there’s no wonder why it’s called “soul food.”
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Cake Batter – A mostly simple, common batter consisting of flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and eggs. There are, however, a few additional ingredients in Texas chocolate sheet cake:
- Buttermilk – Buttermilk adds extra tanginess and makes the cake very tender. You can make your own by adding ½ a tablespoon of lemon juice (or vinegar) to a measuring cup, then adding enough milk to make ½ cup total liquid. Mix it up, let it sit for a few minutes, and you’re good to go.
- Cocoa Batter – We’ll separately whip up a cocoa batter made with water, butter, and unsweetened dark cocoa powder. You could use regular chocolate powder, if desired, or add a bit of espresso powder for an even richer taste.
- Frosting – The original Texas sheet cake is topped with icing made with butter, unsweetened dark cocoa powder, buttermilk, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt.
- Pecans – Sweet nuts chopped up and sprinkled all over the icing.
HOW TO MAKE ORIGINAL TEXAS SHEET CAKE
- Prepare the Wet and Dry Ingredients. Mix together the dry batter ingredients in one bowl, and the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Set aside while making the chocolate batter.
- Make the Cocoa Batter. Melt butter in a pan, pour in the water, and sprinkle in the cocoa powder while continuously whisking into the mixture. Once boiled, remove from the heat.
- Combine the Cake Batters. Pour the cocoa batter into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix together. Finally, pour this mixture into the bowl of wet ingredients and combine.
- Bake. Transfer the completed batter into a sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes at 350°F.
- Make the Frosting. While the batter bakes, make the icing. Mix together the butter, cocoa powder, and buttermilk and pour into a saucepan. Boil the mixture and then remove from the heat. Add the vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar and mix together.
- Frost. Pour the chocolate frosting over the Texas chocolate sheet cake as soon as it’s out of the oven. Smooth over the surface and cover with the pecans.
- Let Set & Serve. Once the icing and pecans are set, your dessert is ready to serve!
What makes Texas sheet cake different?
Well, first off, it’s huge! This Texas chocolate sheet cake is 13×18” and feeds over 20-24 people. You make Texas sheet cake with buttermilk, creating a somewhat tangy and tender dessert that’s a little bit dense.
Something else that’s a bit different is the frosting. You pour it all over the cake while both are still hot, making a melty, gooey layer between the two. It’s delicious!
How long will Texas sheet cake last in the fridge?
If stored properly in an airtight container, it should last for a couple of weeks. It will be at its prime freshness for 5 days or so.
You can leave at room temperature, if you wish, but it won’t last a full week.
When did the original Texas sheet cake originate?
It’s a bit up in the air! It likely came from a long standing Southern tradition of bringing a big, shareable dessert to funerals to share with loved ones. And so in Texas, chocolate sheet cake was commonly consumed during times of mourning.
However, it is not known quite when the tradition began! It likely started in Europe, and recipes for this particular iteration of the dessert can be found as far back as the 1930s.
This recipe post, originally published on Kevin Is Cooking July, 2019, has been updated with new content, photos and/or video in June, 2022.
Original Texas Sheet Cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (See Note 1)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
Cocoa Batter Mixture
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (See Note 2)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (See Note 2)
- 1/3 cup buttermilk (See Note 1)
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch salt
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Combine the dry ingredients like flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in one bowl and wet ones like buttermilk, eggs and vanilla in another.
- Next, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the water and whisk in the cocoa powder and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
- Add the cocoa mixture to the dry ingredients and stir or use electric beater to combine. Add the wet ingredients and mix to combine into a smooth batter.
- Pour the batter into a parchment paper lined 13×18 inch sheet pan (yes, this makes 24 servings). Bake in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes.
- Make the frosting by combining the butter, cocoa, and buttermilk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, salt and powdered sugar until smooth.
- After cake has baked, DON'T COOL, but pour warm frosting on top and spread evenly. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top. Allow to rest on wire rack until set.
- All you need to do is pour just under 1/2 cup regular milk (not low fat) into a measuring cup and add enough regular vinegar or lemon juice to the milk to bring the quantity up to 1/2 cup. It will work it’s magic in seconds after stirring and you’re good to go in a pinch.
- You can substitute regular cocoa, but the dark is richer. Also, you could add a teaspoon of espresso powder as well to make the chocolate richer in taste.
- This is key as it creates a super moist, gooey layer between the cake and the frosting.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.