If you have never eaten a gooey butter cake, I would describe it here. It’s a dense cake base, almost like a shortbread but softer. Then it has a lightly baked glaze on top. It’s really gooey in texture – sometimes this is actually referred to as ooey gooey butter cake.
It’s a rich dessert that’s usually cut into square bars, and I believe it originally came from St. Louis, Missouri (about three hours from where I live).
I admit it’s not the prettiest cake. But it’s SO delicious. It kind of reminds me of Milk Bar Pie, but no pie texture… more like pie bars.
And if you love gooey butter cake, then I would recommend trying Gooey Butter Cake Cookies or this Pineapple Sticky Butter Upside Down Cake.
Jump to the recipe
There are a number of gooey butter cake recipes on the internet and in cookbooks, but I think this is the super easy version since we’re using cake mix as the base and the entire recipe is only eight ingredients.
Why is it called gooey butter cake?
The texture of the top layer is very sticky, like thick pudding. I would compare it to a lightly baked frosting. It will have a kind of flaky appearance, but the texture itself will ooze a bit when cut.
Because of this, it’s really important to leave this cake in the fridge for at least two hours (after it has cooled) or overnight if possible. It’s probably a little stickier (runnier) than the texture of lemon bars.
What is a gooey butter cake made of?
There are two layers: the bottom cake and the top, which is like a baked icing. The base cake is made with yellow cake mix, an egg, melted butter, and some nutmeg (optional).
The top layer is cream cheese, eggs, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar.
How do I know when my gooey butter cake is ready?
This cake will (and should) appear underbaked. That’s okay! That’s what makes the “gooey” in a gooey butter cake.
The edges of the cake should be slightly puffed up and starting to appear golden brown, while the center will appear flaky but still wobble a lot.
The cake needs to cool and rest in the refrigerator for at least two hours before slicing. Otherwise, it may be too sticky and runny to serve easily.
If you need to transport this dessert, I would recommend waiting until you reach your destination before cutting the cake into bars. Happy baking! -Emma
Gooey Butter Cake – With a cake mix
Easy gooey butter cake bars with a yellow cake mix base
- 1 yellow cake mix
- 1 egg
- ½ Cup butter melted
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg Optional
- 8th ounces cream cheese softened
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 16 ounces powdered sugar
In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, egg, melted butter, and nutmeg (if using).
In a parchment-lined 7×9 baking pan, press the dough into an even layer.
In a large bowl, whisk together the softened cream cheese, eggs, and vanilla extract.
Stir in powdered sugar.
Pour this frosting over the top of the cake batter layer.
Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. The edges will puff up slightly and turn golden brown while the center remains very wobbly.
Remove from the oven and let the cake cool down.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (covered) or overnight before cutting into bars.
The 7×9 baking pan I use is the Staub brand, and while it’s not necessarily a standard size (9×13 is more common), it’s a common pan. However, you could use a 9×13 pan instead and reduce the baking time to 35-38 minutes.