Often called Texas Sheet Cake, this easy homemade chocolate cake will become your go-to treat for special occasions and everyday indulgences alike. Buttermilk keeps the cake moist and a creamy fudgy frosting adds the perfect finishing touch.
Why you will love this
- Rich and moist - This sheet cake has a wonderful chocolate flavor and is incredibly moist - thank you buttermilk! Easy homemade chocolate cake is the perfect indulgence for special occasions. But, honestly, it's just as perfect for those everyday chocolate cravings.
- Quick and easy - The cake batter and frosting come together quickly and easily. The cake bakes in less than 20 minutes. And there is nothing easier than frosting a cake baked in a sheet pan. If you're not a fan of fussy cake decorating... this cake is for you!
- Feeds a crowd - This recipe makes a half sheet pan - that's about 24 portions depending on how large you slice the pieces. So, this cake is perfect for potlucks, birthdays, large gatherings, and casual game-day spreads. For smaller groups, the recipe can easily be cut in half (see notes in the recipe card below). A half recipe fits a quarter sheet pan and yields 12 slices.
NOTE: All the photos in this post depict images using a half recipe.
This easy homemade chocolate cake starts with a batter made with basic pantry staples. Buttermilk, along with the combination of oil and butter, adds moisture to the cake. Cocoa powder provides a deep chocolate flavor. Be sure to use unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Hershey's.
The fudgy frosting whips up quickly with just five ingredients: powdered sugar, butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and buttermilk. The acidic tang of the buttermilk helps to balance out the sweetness of the powdered sugar.
PRO TIP: Gather and measure out the ingredients ahead of time. This cake comes together quickly so it's most helpful to have the ingredients ready and within easy reach.
Let's start with the cake batter!
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Sift the flour and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Add the oil, butter, cocoa powder, and water to a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to ensure the cocoa powder is smoothly incorporated. (1)
- Add butter and cocoa mixture to the flour and sugar and stir until incorporated. (2)
- Add buttermilk, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and eggs, and mix until fully combined. (3, 4)
- Pour the batter into an ungreased half-sheet pan (18 x 13 in) (5) and bake 15-18 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake bakes, prepare the icing.
- Add the powdered sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Set aside.
- Combine the butter and cocoa powder in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until smooth.
- Add the butter mixture to the powdered sugar, along with the vanilla extract. Using the whisk attachment, mix - slowly at first - to combine. Blend until well incorporated. The mixture will be very thick and dry.
- Add the buttermilk, starting with 6 tablespoons. Whisk until creamy and smooth. Add more buttermilk as needed until the desired consistency is reached. Frosting should be creamy, smooth, and easily spreadable.
- Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting on the cake when cool. (6)
- Store at room temperature covered with plastic wrap.
Cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans and does not contain sugar. The best substitute is unsweetened baking chocolate. Use one ounce of unsweetened chocolate for every three tablespoons of cocoa powder.
Half sheet pans - which measure 18x13x1 inches - are typically used for making sheet cakes. You will need a half sheet pan for this recipe. For small batch baking, cut the recipe in half and use a quarter sheet pan (13x9x1 inches). To make a half recipe, in the recipe card below, change the number of servings to 12. The ingredient amounts will recalculate. Prepare as directed, baking for 9-11 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
A sheet cake is baked in a large, flat pan while regular cake is typically baked in round pans. The cake rounds are then layered with frosting. Sheet cake is fuss-free and easy to frost. Layered cakes are usually covered with frosting on the top and the sides which requires a little more attention to detail.
Yes, you can use this batter for cupcakes (try these Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes). Line muffin pans with cupcake liners and fill ⅔ full with the batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Frost and enjoy!
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More chocolate to love
Easy Homemade Chocolate Cake (Texas sheet cake)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup oil (such as grapeseed or canola)
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 8 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 pounds powdered sugar
- 8 tablespoons buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Sift the flour and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, combine the oil, butter, cocoa powder, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until smooth.
- Add the butter mixture to the flour and sugar and stir until incorporated.
- Add buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, and salt and mix until fully combined.
- Pour into ungreased half-sheet pan (18 x 13 in) (Note 2) and bake 15-18 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Add the powdered sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
- In a saucepan, combine butter and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil, stirring until smooth.
- Add the butter mixture to the powdered sugar along with the vanilla extract. Whisk until well incorporated. The mixture will be thick and dry.
- Add 6 tablespoons of buttermilk and blend - starting slowly - until combined. Continue whisking until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining buttermilk as needed to create a spreadable consistency.
- Spread the frosting on the cooled cake using an offset spatula.
- Gather and measure out the ingredients ahead of time. This cake comes together quickly so it's most helpful to have the ingredients ready and within easy reach.
- The pan can be lined with parchment paper, but this is not necessary.
- For small batch baking, change the number of servings in the recipe card to 12. The ingredient amounts will recalculate. Prepare as noted above. Bake in a quarter sheet pan for 9-11 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Nutritional information is an estimate and will vary depending upon the exact amounts and specific ingredients used.
This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated.