Texas Sheet Cake is an iconic dessert, as famous for its size as it is for its rich, chocolaty goodness. This cake is aptly named; made in a large baking sheet, it serves a crowd, making it the perfect choice for gatherings, potlucks, and big family dinners. As they say, everything is bigger in Texas, and this cake certainly lives up to that adage.
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Chocolate Pecan Sheet Cake
The cake itself is a moist and tender chocolate cake, traditionally made with buttermilk to give it a slight tang and enhance its luscious texture. It’s generally a thinner cake, baked quickly and evenly in a large, flat baking sheet, ensuring each slice is just as delectable as the last.
However, it’s the icing where the Texas Sheet Cake truly shines. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, it’s smothered with a glossy, fudgy frosting made from butter, cocoa powder, milk, and powdered sugar, which seeps into the warm cake, creating an irresistible melding of flavors. The frosting sets up to a fudgy, almost candy-like consistency that is utterly addictive.
Some variations of the Texas Sheet Cake include the addition of cinnamon to the batter, or chopped pecans in the frosting, each introducing its own unique twist to the classic recipe. Whichever version you prefer, one thing is for certain – Texas Sheet Cake is a dessert that’s meant to be shared and savored, a symbol of Southern hospitality in the form of a decadently sweet treat.
How to Make Texas Sheet Cake
- Salted Butter: Used in both the cake and the icing. In the cake, it adds richness and moisture, and in the icing, it helps create a creamy, fudgy texture. Salted butter also subtly enhances the sweet flavors.
- White Granulated Sugar: Sweetens the cake and helps with browning and moisture retention.
- Eggs: Add structure and stability to the batter, contribute to leavening, and give the cake its rich taste.
- Whole Milk: Contributes to the moist, tender texture of the cake and enhances the flavor.
- Vanilla Extract: Adds depth of flavor and enhances the sweetness of the cake.
- All-Purpose Flour: Provides the structure for the cake. Gluten forms when it is mixed with wet ingredients, creating the texture of the cake.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda: Both are leavening agents that help the cake rise. Baking soda also reacts with the cocoa powder to deepen the color and flavor of the chocolate.
- Cocoa Powder: Gives the cake its chocolate flavor. Some is also used in the icing for a double dose of chocolate.
- Powdered Sugar: Used in the icing, it sweetens and thickens, helping to create a spreadable frosting that sets up nicely.
- Chopped Pecans: Added to the icing for a bit of crunch and a nutty flavor, providing a nice contrast to the sweet, fudgy frosting.
Once you’ve gathered ingredients, we will use this method:
- Prep. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine 1 cup of butter with the granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and homogeneous. Once the butter and sugar have been thoroughly creamed together, add the eggs. Mix again on a high speed until they are fully incorporated. Lower the speed and mix in the milk, and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and ¼ cup of cocoa powder to the mixing bowl. Keeping the hand mixer on a low speed, whisk in the dry ingredients until they are fully incorporated into the batter.
- Bake. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Pour the cake batter into the dish and bake for 45 minutes.
- Cool. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the fridge for 1 hour. When the cake has about 15 minutes of cooling time left, whisk together the remaining butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and chopped pecans until smooth and creamy.
- Ice. Use a spatula to spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cake.
- Serve! Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Tips and Tricks to Perfect Texas Sheet Cake
Proper Mixing: When combining the dry and wet ingredients, don’t overmix. This can overdevelop the gluten and make the cake tough. Mix just until the flour is incorporated.
Use High-Quality Cocoa: The chocolate flavor is central to a Texas Sheet Cake. Using a high-quality cocoa powder can really enhance the flavor of your cake.
Warm Frosting: Apply the frosting while it’s warm and the cake is still slightly warm. This allows the frosting to seep into the top of the cake and creates an almost fudge-like layer.
Even Baking: Because Texas Sheet Cake is a thinner cake, it can bake and brown quickly. Make sure to spread the batter evenly in the pan and start checking for doneness a few minutes before the recommended baking time.
Right Pan Size: Use the pan size recommended in the recipe. Using a smaller or larger pan can impact the baking time and the texture of the cake.
Room Temperature Ingredients: For the best results, have your butter, eggs, and milk at room temperature before you start. This will result in a smoother batter and a more evenly baked cake.
Adding Nuts: If you’re using pecans or other nuts in the frosting, consider toasting them lightly first. This will enhance their flavor and crunch.
Serving: Allow the frosted cake to sit for a little while before serving. This gives the frosting time to set up and makes the cake easier to slice.
Absolutely! While pecans are traditionally used in Texas Sheet Cake, they can be omitted without affecting the texture of the cake. You’ll simply miss out on the crunch and flavor the nuts provide.
Yes, you can use unsalted butter in Texas Sheet Cake. If you do so, you may want to add a pinch of salt to both the cake and the frosting to enhance the flavors.
Texas Sheet Cake is traditionally made in a large, rimmed baking sheet (a jelly roll pan) because it’s meant to serve a crowd. However, you can use a different pan if needed. Keep in mind that a different pan size will affect the thickness of the cake and the baking time. For example, if you use a 9×13 inch pan, the cake will be thicker and will likely need a longer baking time.
Texas Sheet Cake can be stored covered at room temperature for about 3-4 days. If your home is very warm, you may want to store it in the refrigerator to keep the frosting from getting too soft.
Yes, you can freeze Texas Sheet Cake. Allow the cake to cool completely and the frosting to set. Then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature before serving.
While some versions of Texas Sheet Cake do include melted chocolate in the batter, this particular version relies on cocoa powder for its chocolate flavor. This results in a cake with a lighter texture but still a deep chocolate flavor, especially when paired with the chocolate frosting.
If you don’t have whole milk on hand, you can use 2% milk. For a non-dairy version, almond milk or coconut milk can be used. Note that this may slightly change the texture and flavor of the cake.
What to Serve With Texas Sheet Cake
Ice Cream: A scoop of vanilla ice cream is a classic companion for most chocolate desserts, and Texas Sheet Cake is no exception. The cool, creamy ice cream provides a wonderful contrast to the rich, warm cake.
Fresh Berries: Fresh raspberries, strawberries, or a mix of berries add a tart, fresh flavor and beautiful color contrast to the plate. The acidity in the berries helps cut through the richness of the cake.
Whipped Cream: A dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream on the side or on top can complement the fudgy cake and adds a nice lightness.
Coffee or Tea: A cup of strong coffee or a pot of your favorite tea can balance the sweet, rich flavors of the cake.
Creamy Beverages: A cold glass of milk or a hot, frothy cappuccino both pair well with this chocolaty dessert.
Texas Sheet Cake Recipe
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Easy chocolate sheetcake iced with chocolate frosting and pecans
- 2 cups salted butter, softened and divided
- 2 cups white granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup cocoa powder, divided
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Combine 1 cup of butter with the granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and homogeneous.
- Once the butter and sugar have been thoroughly creamed together, add the eggs. Mix again on a high speed until they are fully incorporated. Lower the speed and mix in the milk, and vanilla.
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and ¼ cup of cocoa powder to the mixing bowl. Keeping the hand mixer on a low speed, whisk in the dry ingredients until they are fully incorporated into the batter.
- Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Pour the cake batter into the dish and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the fridge for 1 hour. When the cake has about 15 minutes of cooling time left, whisk together the remaining butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and chopped pecans until smooth and creamy.
- Use a spatula to spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cake.
- Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Amount Per Serving Calories 735Total Fat 40gSaturated Fat 21gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 145mgSodium 391mgCarbohydrates 89gFiber 2gSugar 62gProtein 8g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.