Texas Sheet Cake

This cake. It is absolutely, without a doubt, the best chocolate sheet cake ever. God bless my mother-in-law, who shared the recipe with me when I got engaged to Ladd. I tweaked it slightly over time with sinful results. The icing is poured over the cake while it’s still warm, creating a thick fudgy effect, and the resulting homemade cake is moist beyond imagination, chocolaty and rich like no tomorrow, and 100% of the time, causes moans and groans from anyone who takes a bite. You can skip the nuts if you want, but they add delicious crunch and texture to the cake. Whether it’s birthday parties or holidays or any ol’ weeknight, every occasion deserves some of this decadence.

What makes sheet cake different?

Sheet cake is thinner than a traditional layer cake, which means it bakes much more quickly. I make mine in an 18-by-13-inch sheet pan, but a jelly roll pan works fine too. Either way, you end up with a high frosting-to-cake ratio!

Why is chocolate sheet cake sometimes called Texas sheet cake?

Some say that the first recipe for a thin chocolate sheet cake originated in a Texas newspaper sometime in the ’50s or ’60s… but no one really knows. Don’t worry about where it came from, just make one—you won’t regret it!

How much batter goes into a sheet cake?

Here’s a good rule of thumb with sheet cakes: It’s about the same amount of batter that goes into a regular 9-inch layer cake or a 9-by-13-inch cake—it just ends up much thinner because it’s in such a big pan.



For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  •  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter cut into tablespoons
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Icing:

  • 1 1/2 cup toasted pecan halves, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon + a pinch fine sea salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract



For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350° and have ready a greased jelly roll pan (10 1/2″ x 15 1/2″) lined with parchment paper to fit. If you do not have a jelly roll pan, use greased 9″x13″ casserole dish, and see notes below.


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside until ready to use.

Add butter, cocoa, and coffee to a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture reaches a boil, whisk for 30 seconds and pour over the flour mixture. Stir until evenly mixed.

In a small bowl or measuring pitcher, combine buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Add the buttermilk mixture to the bowl and stir to combine.

Pour the batter into the pan and smooth over the top. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the center springs back slightly when gently poked. Start on the icing as soon as the cake comes out of the oven.
For the Icing:
While the cake is baking, toast the pecans (if using). Add the pecan halves to a dry pan over medium-low heat and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat as soon as the pecans become fragrant. Do not allow to burn. Set aside until ready to use.

Once the cake is out of the oven, add the butter, cocoa, milk, and salt to a large saucepan over medium heat and stir. Allow butter to melt, then stir in the powdered sugar, until smooth and add the vanilla.


If using pecans, add about 2/3 of them now.

Pour the icing over the warm cake and spread to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the top, if using.

Set aside and allow the icing to set. Serve and enjoy.


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