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Texas Sheet Cake

The perfect potluck cake served on a baker’s pan
Texas Sheet Cake
Cynthia Davison/Shutterstock

Attend any church, funeral, potluck or barbecue charity event in the South and it’s likely you will find squares of Texas sheet cake (also known as “cowboy cake”) on the dessert table. The beauty of this cake is in its unpretentious ingredients that can be found in most kitchen pantries: flour, vanilla, butter, cocoa powder, sugar, buttermilk and eggs.

You’ll need a “baker’s pan” — a 13-by-18-inch pan. If you don’t have one, a jelly roll pan will do.


For the cake:

  • 2 sticks salted butter
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1/2 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 Cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 2 sticks of salted butter
  • 1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 Tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Cup pecans


For the cake:

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the cocoa.

Add the boiling water, allow the mixture to boil for half a minute.

Turn off heat.

Pour over the flour mixture and stir lightly.

Allow to cool for a bit.

Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl.

Stir in the buttermilk, baking soda, vanilla.

Add this mixture to the chocolate mixture.

Pour onto the sheet or jelly roll pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

For the frosting:

Chop the pecans into very small pieces.

Melt butter in a saucepan.

Stir in the cocoa and then turn off the heat.

Stir in milk, vanilla, powdered sugar and pecans.

Pour over the warm cake, spreading with a spatula.