Texas Sheet Cake With Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting

Classic Texas-style sheet cake

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
318 Calories
16g Fat
42g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 318
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 21%
Saturated Fat 10g 49%
Cholesterol 56mg 19%
Sodium 219mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 42g 15%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 33g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 19mg 1%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 35mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A beloved recipe in the Lone Star State, Texas sheet cake is the ideal dessert to feed a crowd. It is traditionally made with buttermilk, so to complement the cake, this version includes a chocolate buttermilk frosting. Although optional, the chopped pecans are one reason this dessert is truly Texan, as the buttery nut is native to the state. They also add a wonderful texture and flavor and can either be mixed into the frosting or sprinkled on top.

Unlike most recipes, you want to add the frosting while the cake is still warm, so be sure to make the frosting while the cake is finishing in the oven.


For the Cake:

For the Chocolate Frosting: 

  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter

  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1/3 cup buttermilk, or as needed

  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, or as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Cake

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 10 x 15-inch rimmed baking sheet (jelly roll pan); set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

  3. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, cocoa powder, and water. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.

  4. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat chocolate mixture into dry mixture until thoroughly blended. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat for 1 minute (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pan.

  5. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

Make the Frosting

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, unsweetened cocoa powder, and buttermilk. Blend well and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

  3. Sift confectioners' sugar and add to cocoa and buttermilk mixture along with vanilla. Beat until smooth, adding more buttermilk or confectioners' sugar, as needed.

  4. If desired, stir coarsely chopped pecans into warm frosting.

Frost the Cake

  1. Pour warm chocolate frosting over warm cake, spreading evenly. Top frosted cake with chopped pecans, if desired. 

  2. Place cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly before cutting.

Buttermilk Substitutes

If you don't have buttermilk, there are several ways you can substitute for it. For 1 cup of buttermilk use:

  • Milk and an acid: Mix 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup.
  • Sour cream: Combine 3/4 cup of sour cream with 1/4 cup of water.
  • Yogurt: Combine 3/4 cup of plain yogurt with 1/4 cup of water. For this cake, you may use vanilla yogurt or plain yogurt.


The frosting should be almost thin enough to pour onto the cake. It will firm as it cools.