The best version of Texas sheet cake out there, this extremely moist cake is more chocolatey than other versions and so easy to make! No mixer needed!

If you haven’t experienced the absolute joy that is Texas sheet cake, you need to make amends immediately. This cake is so easy and uses pantry-friendly ingredients, which means it is the perfect cake to make anytime, anywhere!

Fork taking corner piece from serving of frosted chocolate cake on white plate.

Unique Texas Sheet Cake Batter

For the cake, butter, water and cocoa are brought to a simmer and poured over:

  • flour
  • granulated sugar
  • baking soda + salt

The batter is easily whisked together (no mixer needed!). Once the warm chocolate mixture is stirred into the dry ingredients, the following typical cake ingredients are added:

  • eggs
  • milk or buttermilk
  • vanilla

The batter is quite thin and may have tiny bubbles throughout. Totally normal!

The cake batter is poured into a half sheet pan (more on that in a minute!). Because it is a relatively thin cake, it bakes quickly! Don’t over bake. Don’t over bake. Don’t over bake.

While the cake bakes, the simple frosting is put together using a similar method to the cake batter.

  1. Butter, cocoa powder and milk are brought to a simmer.
  2. Off the heat, powdered sugar is whisked in until the frosting is smooth

The magic really occurs when the warm frosting is poured over the warm cake. This warm + warm frosting method is important!

After the cake cools and the frosting sets up a bit, the frosting forms a delightfully thin layer of chocolate frosting on top of the rich, chocolatey, indulgently soft cake.

In the pictures above, those small spots are bubbles, not lumps. If you sift the cocoa powder and sift the powdered sugar, there won’t be any lumps in the cake.

The bubbles smooth out easily when spreading the frosting over the cake.

This Texas sheet cake is incredibly delicious served warm, at room temperature, or chilled. It is one versatile cake.

Which means…you can add chopped pecans to the top of the cake, if you desire. Because I have some resident nuts-in-desserts haters around here (sometimes, that’s me 😬), I serve chopped pecans on the side so everyone can add them if they like.

Square of Texas sheet cake on spatula.

What size pan is best for Texas sheet cake? 

This recipe calls for the cake to be baked in a half sheet pan (i.e. the large, rimmed baking sheets about 11X17-inches in size).

FYI: even though the term “jelly roll pan” is thrown around a bit irresponsibly at times to encompass any large-ish, rimmed baking pan, it is NOT the same as a half sheet pan.

When it comes to Texas sheet cake, the batter really can be baked in any of the following pans. Each pan will produce a slightly different result. If using a jelly roll pan, make sure the sides are high enough so the batter doesn’t overflow.

Jelly Roll Pan = 15X10 inches (this is the one I have {aff. link} and I use it almost exclusively for cream cheese filled pumpkin rolls)

Half Sheet Pan = 11X17 inches or about 12X18 inches on outer edges and often just called a “sheet pan” (I have these pans {aff. link} – they last forever and I use them for all my cookie baking)

9X13-Inch Pan = I prefer using a metal 9X13-inch pan {aff. link} for baking cakes but a glass baking pan {aff. link} can also be used (it helps to reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees if using glass)

If you want to maintain the strict identity of the classically thin and loveable Texas sheet cake, I suggest baking it in a half sheet pan per the recipe.

Square of frosted chocolate Texas sheet cake with pecans on top on white plate.

This cake is a huge favorite for my family, Brian in particular. I’d like to think it’s because he grew up in Texas, but funny enough, he wasn’t introduced to this cake while living there.

I heard once that this cake is called Texas sheet cake simply because of the large sheet pan size rather than it actually originating in Texas.

Either way, it really is a classic. I’m partial to the recipe below because it has just a touch more cocoa powder in both the cake and the frosting. It’s a small tweak, but it makes a huge difference in making an already beloved cake even more delicious.

Piece removed from square of chocolate Texas sheet cake on white plate with pecans on top.
Square of frosted chocolate Texas sheet cake on white plate with pecans on top.

Texas Sheet Cake

4.77 stars (138 ratings)



  • 2 cups (424 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (284 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (227 g) salted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa
  • ½ cup (113 g) sour cream or buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • ½ cup (113 g) salted butter
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa
  • cup milk or buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 ½ cups (397 g) powdered sugar, sifted to avoid lumps
  • Chopped, toasted pecans (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a half sheet pan (a rimmed baking sheet measuring 11X17-inches). Set aside.
  • For the cake, in a large bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.
  • In a medium saucepan, add the butter and water. Sift in the cocoa to avoid lumps. Bring the mixture to a boil. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  • Add the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla and mix until well-combined.
  • Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake is evenly baked and springs back lightly to the touch (watch closely; it is a thin cake and bakes quickly).
  • While the cake bakes, make the frosting. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa, milk (or buttermilk), vanilla and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  • Immediately remove from the heat and add the sifted powdered sugar a cup at a time, whisking in between additions and mixing until the frosting is smooth. Keep the frosting warm if the cake is not finished baking.
  • Pour the warm frosting over the warm cake and spread evenly. Top with chopped pecans, if desired. Let the cake cool to room temperature. Serve at room temp or chilled.


Cocoa Powder: Natural, unsweetened cocoa powder (i.e. Hershey’s) works great for both the cake and the frosting. As a slight variation, I’ll often sub in 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa in both the cake and the frosting for a deeper, richer chocolate flavor.
Pan Size: while a half sheet pan (11X17-inches) is commonly used for Texas sheet cake, you can also bake the cake in a jelly roll pan (15X10-inches) or a 9X13-inch cake pan for thicker cake and frosting layers (increase baking time as needed). If using a jelly roll pan, make sure the sides are high enough so the batter doesn’t overflow. 
Serving: 1 Piece, Calories: 294kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 183mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 34g

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (from my old recipe binder put together by my Aunt Marilyn 20 years ago)

Recipe originally posted September 2018; updated Jan 2023 with new photos, recipe notes, etc.

Slice of Texas sheet cake on white plate with fork.