Popular since the 1930s, this ooey gooey butter cake is a classic dessert with its signature butter cake crust and gooey top layer. This sticky-sweet indulgence is easy to make and sure to please! A stack of gooey butter cake on a black slate serving board.

What is gooey butter cake?

Gooey butter cake is a flat, dense cake made with two distinct layers; a cake crust and a soft gooey layer on top. The crust was originally made with a yeasted cake dough, but modern-day versions are commonly made with yellow cake mix or a simple butter cake batter. The original top layer was made with corn syrup, sugar, and powdered eggs, but again, over time, most recipes shifted over to a topping made with cream cheese, eggs, and sugar. This version is also called ooey gooey butter cake, made popular by celebrity chef Paula Deen.

Gooey butter cake originated back in the 1930s in St. Louis, Missouri. The story is that a baker named John Hoffman accidentally reversed the proportions of butter and flour and didn’t realize his mistake until after the cake was baked. Instead of throwing it out, he cut it into squares and sold it as gooey butter cake. It was such a big hit that it became St. Louis’s signature dessert. (reference: NYT Cooking)

Why this gooey butter cake recipe is so great:

  • Easy to make – This recipe is made from scratch without a cake mix but is just as easy to prepare. It’s also made without yeast, so there is no proofing. Both the cake and gooey topping are each made in one bowl. You simply mix, layer, and bake.
  • Texture – What’s amazing about this cake is the contrast between the two layers. The bottom cake layer is firm with a crunchy golden crust, while the top layer is creamy and soft, so you get the best of both worlds in every bite.
  • Taste – The taste is rich and buttery. It’s like a combination of a sugar cookie bar topped with a cream cheese custard – absolutely heaven!
  • Feeds a crowd and can be made in advance – It’s made in a 9×13″ pan so it can be cut into 24 squares and made 3 days in advance.

Sliced gooey butter cake in a glass baking dish.

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking powder & salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Large eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cream cheese
  • Confectioner’s sugar

How to make gooey butter cake from scratch:

Picture collage of how to make gooey butter cake from scratch.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and granulated sugar. Then whisk in the egg and vanilla.
  2. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Spoon the batter into a greased 9×13″ pan and press evenly into the bottom of the pan.
  3. In another large bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and eggs together until combined. Mix in the powdered sugar until smooth.
  4. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top and bake at 325F for 45 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Let cool to room temperature before cutting into squares.

Expert tips:

  • Do not overbake – Once the edges are golden and the top is puffed up, it’s done. The center will still be wobbly and continue to cook while it cools. You don’t want the center to be completely set when it comes out of the oven or it won’t be gooey.
  • Chill in the fridge for one hour – For clean cuts, chill it in the fridge for one hour after it’s cooled.

A stack of ooey gooey butter cake on a white plate.

FAQ:

Do you refrigerate ooey gooey butter cake?

Yes, you should refrigerate gooey butter cake because it’s made with cream cheese.

How to store ooey gooey butter cake:

Cover and store in the fridge for up to one week.

Can you freeze gooey butter cake?

Yes, cut the completely cooled cake into squares and place them in a freezer-friendly container or ziplock bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and dust with powdered sugar before serving. A slice of gooey butter cake with a bite taken out of it.

You might also like:

Did you make this recipe? Please kindly leave a comment with your star rating below.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Gooey Butter Cake


  • Author: Lily Ernst
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 45 min
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 15-24 squares

Description

Popular since the 1930s, this ooey gooey butter cake is a classic dessert with its signature butter cake crust and gooey top layer.


Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup (227g) butter, melted
  • 1 & 1/2 (300g) cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 & 1/2 cups (315g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Topping

  • 1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (250g) confectioners’ sugar plus more for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F and grease a 9×13″ baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and granulated sugar. Then whisk in the egg and vanilla.
  3. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and press evenly onto the bottom.
  4. In another large bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and eggs together until combined. Mix in the powdered sugar until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the cake.
  5. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the top is puffed up. The center should still be wobbly. Let cool completely and dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Notes

Leftovers can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to one week.

Expert tips:

  • Do not overbake – Once the edges are golden and the top is puffed up, it’s done. The center will still be wobbly and continue to cook while it cools. You don’t want the center to be completely set or it won’t be gooey.
  • Chill in the fridge for one hour – For clean cuts, chill it in the fridge for one hour after it’s cooled.
  • Category: dessert
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: gooey butter cake recipe

  Recipe adapted from Taste of Home.

Share This: