Classic Texas Sheet Cake

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Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that’s so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

The Best Texas Sheet Cake Recipe

Whether you’re a chocolate lover or simply enjoy an easy-to-make and extremely satisfying dessert, this easy Texas sheet cake is a must!

Both the cake batter and frosting are boiled rather than mixed in a mixing bowl. It’s a one pot rather than one bowl recipe! Bottom line, it’s an easy, no mixer dessert that’s ready in under 1 hour.

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

Texas sheet cake is a very soft, moist, chocolate cake with a tender crumb. Because it’s a sheet cake and baked in a jelly roll pan or sheet cake pan, so it’s a flatter cake. And it’s very soft so you’d never want to make it as a layer cake to try to make it thicker or taller.

Despite all the rich chocolate flavor in the cake, I appreciate that my easy chocolate Texas sheet cake recipe is not too sweet, which is a good because the chocolate icing is sweeter, like most frostings are.

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

The sweet and decadent boiled chocolate frosting just melts in your mouth! Walnuts add a bit of crunch to this otherwise soft cake.

It’s a classic and beloved dessert that has been around for decades and is still a welcome treat at potlucks, picnics, and family gatherings. Because it’s baked in a sheet pan (hence the name Texas sheet cake) or jelly roll pan, it feeds a crowd.

So it’s great to serve at birthday parties, graduations, for holiday entertaining, or anytime you need plenty of cake.

Recipe Variation: White Texas Sheet Cake!

Yes, it exists and I have the perfect recipe for it!

My White Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake is a fast, EASY, no-mixer cake that’s soft, fluffy, tender, and just melts in your mouth! It’s a white chocolate twist on a traditional Texas chocolate sheet cake and it’s a perfect PARTY cake, too!

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

Ingredients in Texas Sheet Cake

Every ingredient in this classic Texas sheet cake is common, easy to find, and a fridge or pantry staple.

For the Cake:

  • Unsalted butter or margarine 
  • Water
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • All-purpose flour 
  • Granulated sugar 
  • Baking soda 
  • Salt, optional
  • Large eggs 
  • Sour cream 
  • Vanilla extract
Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

For the Frosting:

  • Unsalted butter or margarine
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • Milk
  • Confectioners’ sugar 
  • Salt, optional
  • Walnuts
  • Vanilla extract

Margarine…Seriously?

Yes, you read it right! You can use margarine instead of butter. Remember that this recipe became popular in the 1950’s and 60’s (or before) when margarine was the thing to bake with.

I took my inspiration from these older recipes and margarine works well in this cake. Normally, I would never suggest baking with margarine, but it’s fine here.

Although if you’re not a margarine person, unsalted butter is just fine.

Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

What Kind of Cocoa Powder To Use?

For this vintage cake recipe and the icing, you need to use unsweetened natural cocoa powder. I use Hershey’s because it’s classic and it works.

There is no need for Dutch process cocoa powder.

Use: natural unsweetened cocoa powder.

Do NOT use: sweetened cocoa powder, hot cocoa mix, melted chocolate bars, melted chocolate chips.

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

How to Make Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake

The method for making this cake is similar to the way you make these Texas Sheet Cake Brownies and this Coca-Cola Cake. All you need is a pot and a wooden spoon. No electric mixer is required!

You can whip this entire cake up in under an hour with no extra bowls to clean and so little prep time!

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

Making the Cake

Step 1: Add the butter or margarine, cup water, and 4 tablespoons cocoa powder to a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat or medium-high heat. It only needs to boil for about 5 seconds before adding the flour mixture and remaining ingredients.

Step 2: Let the chocolate mixture cool for a couple of minutes, then add all the remaining wet and dry ingredients and mix.

Step 3: Pour the batter into a 10x15x2-inch well-sprayed (or greased and floured) jelly roll pan and bake.

What Else Can I Make in a Jelly Roll Pan?

I’ve got plenty of recipes that make use of a 10x15x2 inch jelly roll pan! Here are some ideas:

Classic Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Glazed Cherry Pie Bars

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

Making the Frosting

Step 4: After you remove the cake from the oven, prepare the Texas sheet cake frosting by bringing the butter or margarine, cocoa powder, and milk in a saucepan until boiling.

Step 5: Gradually stir in the powdered sugar, walnuts, and teaspoon vanilla extract.

Step 6: Immediately pour and spread the icing over the warm cake.

Step 7: Let it cool and set for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving!

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

Recipe Tips for the Best Texas Sheet Cake

Here are some helpful tips to ensure your Texas Sheet Cake turns out perfectly:

Spray the Pan Well – Either go nuts with nonstick cooking spray (what I do). Or grease the baking sheet with butter to prevent sticking, then add a light dusting of flour. It’s not normal to line the cake pan with parchment paper so make sure your jelly roll pan is a good one and then either spray it very well or grease and flour it.

Frost While Warm – Normally this goes against all baking rules which is to cool a cake before adding the frosting, so that a warm cake doesn’t melt the frosting. But because this is a boiled frosting, you need to add it while it’s still warm too, so it doesn’t set up in the pot. The warm cake allows the icing to seep in, both flavoring the cake and keeping it extra moist.

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

Sifting – If your confectioners’ sugar is very lumpy, you may considering sifting it before adding it to the pot. Otherwise, make sure to whisk nearly continuously to break up any lumps. This also ensurse a smooth and velvety texture.

Walnuts – Don’t add them until the frosting is smooth, silky, and lump-free in the pot.

Cool and Set Up – Let the icing on the cake cool and set up for about 15 minutes before cutting and serving. This will give you cleaner slices. You can also wait longer, but if you’re in a rush, 15 minutes or so should be fine.

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

Recipe Variations to Try

I think the basic recipe is perfect as is, but there is always room for experimentation! 

Here are some creative ideas you can try to put your own twist on this classic dessert:

  • Experiment with different extracts to add hints of flavor: Try substituting the vanilla extract with almond, coconut, or mint extract.
  • Swap the Milk: Instead of regular milk, try using chocolate, strawberry, or hazelnut milk to flavor the icing.
  • Change the Nuts: Switch out the walnuts for chopped pecans, almonds, or toasted hazelnuts.
Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!
  • Instant Espresso (My favorite twist): Add a couple of tablespoons of instant espresso powder to the cake batter to give it a subtle coffee flavor and deepen the chocolate taste. I do this with my most popular chocolate cake, my Best Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache recipe, as well as with many other chocolate dessert recipes from brownies to cake because cho
  • Peanut Butter Swirl: Peanut butter and chocolate are the perfect combination! Add a dollop of peanut butter on top of the cake batter before baking and swirl it in gently with a toothpick.
  • Salted Caramel Drizzle: Drizzle some salted caramel sauce over the icing for a tasty balance of sweet and salty.
Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

How to Serve Classic Texas Sheet Cake

You can serve it warm or at room temperature in generous squares or triangles.

Normally I serve it as-is because it doesn’t “need” anything else. But if I’m feeling extra decadent, we’ll enjoy it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of Salted Caramel Sauce or Hot Fudge Sauce.

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

How to Store Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake

Extra classic chocolate Texas sheet can will keep airtight at room temp for up to 5 days. Cover your sheet pan or jelly roll pan very tightly with foil or plastic wrap and it should be fine.

I don’t store this cake in the refrigerator, as refrigerators tend to dry out any type of cake, muffin, or quick bread so unless there’s good reason to (like a cream cheese frosting for example), I don’t.

I’ve never frozen a Texas sheet cake but I imagine you could if you wanted to, and it would keep airtight in the freezer for 3-4 months.

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

Recipe FAQs


Can I use butter instead of margarine (or vice versa) for the cake?

Yes, you can use either. As I mentioned above, margarine was commonly baked with in the 1950s and 60s when this cake likely came to be. So the recipe will work with either margarine or butter.
Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

Can I use a different type of milk for the icing?

The recipe calls for whole milk, but 2% milk will work, as will half-and-half. However, I wouldn’t use heavy cream (it’s too thick) and I haven’t experimented with a plant based milk and fear that many would be too thin and your icing won’t set up properly. For best results use whole (or 2%) milk.

You do not need to use buttermilk, nor should you based on this recipe.Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

Can I leave out the nuts?

Texas Sheet Cake traditionally includes walnuts for a delightful crunch, but for those avoiding nuts, feel free to omit them altogether – the cake will still be lovely.

Can I use a different kind of nut or mix-and-match?

If you love baking with nuts or have extra nuts in your pantry, chopped pecans, slivered almonds, or diced macadamia nuts would all work well.

Can I use a different size baking sheet?

The recipe calls for a 10x15x2-inch jelly roll pan which is the ideal size to achieve the perfect thickness for the cake.

If you don’t have this exact size, you can try using a larger sheet pan like a half sheet pan (13×18) but the cake will be thinner and will require less baking time. The caveat here is that the cake will be too thin IMO since it’s already a pretty thin cake. Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

can i bake this in a 9×13 inch pan?

As I mentioned above, for a traditional Texas sheet cake as this recipe was developed, I use a 10x15x2-inch pan. If you don’t have one, you can use a 9×13 inch pan.

However, the cake will be thicker and it will take longer to bake. I haven’t tested it and the baking time required, but my guess is that you will need to add at least 5 to 10 minutes, but you will need to keep an eye on it and be the judge.

How do I know when the cake is finished baking?

This Texas sheet cake is not only easy to make, but it bakes quickly! Just about 23 to 25 minutes of baking, but all ovens, climates, pans, etc. vary and so will cook time.

To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it, it is done.

Be careful not to overbake it, as this can make it dry. Thinner cakes baked in jelly roll pans bake quicker than you’d imagine so always stay near to your kitchen and check on it earlier than the indicated time. Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

Can I make the cake ahead of time and frost it later?

It’s best to add the icing while the cake is still warm for the best results.

Is texas sheet cake a make-ahead dessert?

All desserts are best when they are the freshest. However, if you need to make this cake up to 24-48 hours before you plan to serve it at an event, you can get away it.

As I mentioned already, the cake keeps quite well at room temp for up to 5 days, provided you wrap the pan tightly with foil.

can i reduce the sugar?

While there are there are 2 cups sugar in the cake and more in the icing, you’re using unsweetened cocoa powder which is bitter and so you need the sugar to balance it out. So no, you really can’t.

Apart from the flavor, sugar in cake batter lends to the structure of the cake so if you start messing around with it, you could wind up with a cake which doesn’t hold together well.
Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

Texas Sheet Cake –  An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!

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4.84 from 6 votes

Texas Sheet Cake

By Averie Sunshine
An EASY no-mixer recipe for classic Texas sheet cake that's so rich in chocolate flavor thanks to the moist chocolate cake itself and to the chocolate frosting with walnuts for a bit of crunch in every bite! Ready in less than 1 hour, and it feeds a crowd, making this a perfect party or celebration cake any time of year!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 18
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Ingredients  

Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter or margarine
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, like Hershey’s
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or as desired
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting

  • ½ cup unsalted butter or margarine
  • ¼ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, like Hershey’s
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk, 2% may be substituted
  • 3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted if very lumpy
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Instructions 

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 375F and spray a 10x15x2-inch nonstick jelly roll pan very well with cooking spray or grease and flour the pan. Tip – The recipe is intended for this size pan. Read the FAQ section of the blog post if you have questions regarding using other sized pans.
  • To a large stockpot, add the butter or margarine, water, cocoa powder, turn the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil for about 5 seconds. Whisk nearly constantly until the butter has melted and the cocoa powder has incorporated. After the mixture boils for a couple seconds, take it off the heat.
  • Off the heat, add the flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, salt, and whisk well to combine. Tip – If you're using margarine rather than butter, it's already salted so you may consider omitting the salt.
  • Add the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and whisk to combine. Tip – Make sure the batter has cooled a bit before adding the eggs so they don't scramble inside the batter and so that the sour cream doesn't curdle. If you stick your finger in the batter, it shouldn't be so hot that you're practically burning yourself which shouldn't be the case after you whisked in other dry ingredients in the previous step, but it's worth mentioning.
  • Evenly pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake on the center oven rack for about 23 to 25 minutes, or until done. Rotate pan once midway through baking for optimal results. Cake is done with the top is set, lightly springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs. Set the cake aside while you make the icing. Tip – You want to add the frosting when the cake is still warm, so hustle along and get it made – you can't make it too soon such as when the cake is baking because it will start to set up in the pot.

Frosting

  • To the same large stockpot (cleaned and dried), add the butter or margarine, cocoa powder, milk, turn the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture until just boiling. Whisk nearly constantly until it boils. Remove the pot from the heat.
  • Slowly add the confectioners' sugar, whisking constantly as you add it to help encourage it to dissolve and incorporate. Make sure it's smooth and silky before moving on.
  • Add the vanilla and whisk to combine.
  • If you want to cut the overall sweetness of the frosting a bit, you can add the salt, although it's optional, but I add it.
  • Add the nuts and stir to combine.
  • Turn the icing out over the cake while both the cake and icing are still warm. Use a spatula to smooth it as necessary.
  • Allow the icing to set up for about 15 minutes (longer is fine), or as necessary before slicing and serving.

Notes

Cake will keep airtight at room temp for up to 5 days provided the pan is tightly wrapped with foil. I don't store the cake in the fridge because it will dry out faster and isn't necessary. I have never tried freezing it, although it would likely be fine stored airtight in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 427kcal, Carbohydrates: 57g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 66mg, Sodium: 293mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 44g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve made this cake for years. The recipe is slightly different. For example, I use buttermilk, delete the nuts, and use imported dutch chocolate. It is everyone’s favorite. One of my younger grandsons now requests ‘the cake’ for his birthday.
    Because EVERYONE is so particular I’ll stick with my tried and true BUT this is so close I’ll give it 5 stars.

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made this cake for years. The recipe is slightly different. For example, I use buttermilk, delete the nuts, and use imported dutch chocolate. It is everyone’s favorite. One of my younger grandsons now requests ‘the cake’ for his birthday.
    Because EVERYONE is so particular I’ll stick with my tried and true BUT this is so close I’ll give it 5 stars.