This easy Chocolate Sheet Cake recipe is covered with a thick layer of delicious chocolate icing. Watch the video showing you how to make this recipe, then scroll to the bottom of this post and print out the recipe so you can make it at home.
You know how sometimes you have a recipe that you’ve wanted to make for a very, very long time… a recipe you’ve seen a million other places but you’ve never tried it yourself? A simple Chocolate Sheet Cake is one of those recipes for me. Are sheet cakes a Southern thing? I’m wondering if that’s why they haven’t been on my radar.
I finally made my first sheet cake, and I’m totally and completely happy that I did. What a winner this cake is! It’s very chocolatey and moist and rich. It’s everything I hoped it would be.
There are plenty of recipes on the internet for Chocolate Sheet Cake, otherwise known as “Texas Sheet Cake.” I decided to go with the trustiest source I know for this sort of thing: Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman Cooks Cookbook. I was tasked with feeding a large crowd at a family BBQ last weekend, and I know that Ree feeds large crowds on a daily basis. No brainer. This is Ree’s recipe.
You need the right kind of pan for this if you truly want to make it a sheet cake. You’ll need a 12×18-inch rimmed baking sheet. If you don’t have one, go ahead and pick one up (they’re great for baking cookies too). But Ree does mention that you can use this recipe to make cupcakes too.
You should be able to find a 2-pack of these pans at Costco for a pretty good price. I used them for everything- sheet pan dinners, baking cookies or just for organizing ingredients in a recipe. For convenience, you can also order the pans on Amazon here: 2-piece Rimmed Baking Sheet Set.
The cake is big, but it’s thin. So you get a perfectly rich and chocolatey slice that is not overwhelmingly too much. The sprinkles, of course, are optional. Ree’s recipe calls for chopped pecans on top, but we’re more of a rainbow sprinkles kind of family than a nut family so we usually go with those.
An easy-to-make warm icing is poured over the just-out-of-the-oven cake. When it has cooled, the frosting turns itself into a fudgy top layer to the cake. See that thick layer of frosting?? Yeah, it’s really very good. To give you an idea of how good the cake is… my sister Susie doesn’t even like chocolate cake (and neither do I!), but we both LOVE IT. And everyone else always loves this cake too. Thank you, Ms. Pioneer Woman. Your chocolate sheet cake recipe really and truly rocks!
Bake this Chocolate Sheet Cake recipe for a special celebration or just because you want to feed some friends a sweet treat! It feeds a lot of people (24 servings), so it’s a nice one to be able to share with others.
Here area a few more sheet cake recipes you might be interested in trying:
- White Texas Sheet Cake
- Red Velvet Sheet Cake
- Cookies ‘n Cream Sheet Cake
- Blueberry- Zucchini Sheet Cake
- Banana- Chocolate Chip Sheet Cake with Maple Icing
- Peppermint Texas Sheet Cake
- Toasted Coconut- Carrot Sheet Cake
- Pumpkin Sheet Cake
Chocolate Sheet Cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
- 4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 cup boiling water (just get it really hot in the microwave)
- 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) salted butter
- 4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
- 6 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 16 ounces powdered sugar (sift it, if it's lumpy)
- rainbow sprinkles or pecans, if you're into either of those
MAKE THE CAKE:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and baking soda.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the cocoa; whisk to combine. Add the boiling water to the pan, mix and heat until bubbling, then turn off the heat. Pour the hot chocolate mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour in the egg mixture and stir together until smooth. Pour into an ungreased, nonstick 12x18-inch rimmed pan (jelly roll pan), and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cake is set and no longer gooey in the middle.
MAKE THE ICING:
- While the cake is baking, make the icing. Melt the butter in a medium-large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and stir until smooth. Pull the pan off the heat. Add the milk and vanilla, then stir in the powdered sugar. Use a whisk and stir vigorously to get all of the lumps out. Pour the warm icing over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Try and pour it over the cake evenly and spread it out quickly to cover the top, then don't mess with it. If you want sprinkles or nuts on top, sprinkle those on immediately. Let the cake sit at room temperature until ready to serve.
- *Making this early in the day and serving at night is totally fine. We enjoy leftovers for a couple of days after serving and it's still totally moist and wonderful. Just keep it covered with plastic wrap at room temperature.
Can you use something else besides buttermilk. Maybe pumpkin to elimainate oil and eggs. I know on WW they do they. Also makes item very moist. Figuring it’s ok to use other flour like Almond flour. Coconut or Arrowroot
Changing a baking recipe in any way can produce some very different results than what the original recipe is able to produce. Any substitutions you make would be pure experimentation. Good luck!
In 1969, when i was still in college, a neighbor across the street gave me this exact recipe…..to be baked in a jelly roll pan (although the 9 x 13 inch pan is awesome, too.) Whichever way you bake it, it’s to die for. I usually add some instant espresso to the water just to enhance the chocolate flavor.
This looks so much like something I grew up making back home in Sweden. I haven’t compared the recipes side by side, but I do know that we use strong coffee in the frosting instead of milk. Sometimes we make just a yellow cake with the same chocolate frosting. Something that’s also good to add on top is unsweetened shredded coconut, my favorite.
I made this & it came out looking JUST like your picture! I really couldn’t believe it; serious, it was identical! I REALLY like how the frosting is made on the stove and it goes onto the cake warm and you get a flat & smooth frosting. The cake tasted wonderful & I am making it again tomorrow for an Easter luncheon I am going to. This was my first sheet cake as well. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.
I have made this for 35 years always a winner! HOWEVER…….I also like it in the NON chocolate version which is simple. Eliminate the cocoa of course and instead of buttermilk use 1/2 cup sour cream and instead of vanilla use almond extract! Bake 375 for 18 minutes!
I like that idea- thank you!
I have also been wanting to make a sheet cake lately! I’ve never had one like this, can you believe it? I’m going to have to remedy that soon!
It looks amazing! I too have wanted to make this cake for years. My aunt made this cake for me after my Dad went to Heaven…it’s time I made it for my family. I love that you used the sprinkles instead of pecans!
Oh yum 🙂 this cake looks so so wonderful! I bet it tastes perfect
Is there anything better than a classic chocolate sheet cake?! I think not 🙂 Can’t wait to try this, Lori!
this is a very simple and easy to cook chocolate cake, thanks for the recipe.
I feel the same way about this cake! I see it everywhere and have always wondered about it. Love that it has your stamp of approval. And I love the sprinkles!
Texas sheet cake is the perfect cake, if I do say so myself. I might be biased, since I’m Texan. Did you know that German Chocolate Cake is a Texan cake, too? We just make the best cakes, hehe! 🙂
I seriously LOVE chocolate sheet cake, and this one looks amazing, Lori! I may have to bake one up for my little brothers birthday later this month!
This looks wonderful! I am super picky about chocolate cakes (sometimes they are too sweet and/or too rich), but this one looks just right for me. Sometimes its just about using the right kind of chocolate or cocoa powder! 🙂
Love the sprinkles on top–too cute.
I made this for a labor day cookout and it was a big hit. It was such a quick and easy cake to bake also. Glad I tried this one out. Thank you Lori for sharing this on your blog.
Chocolate sheet cakes are the best! I’m not the BIGGEST chocolate fan but I’m sure I’ll keep this cake to myself – no sharing on this one!
I could eat chocolate cake every day, this looks double delicious!
I have never made a sheet cake either, but have been wanting to! I love the fudgy frosting!
This cake looks perfect for celebrations, Lori! Such a lovely recipe!
This really reminds me of elementary school! Love it. 🙂
Despite being from Texas, I’ve never made a sheet cake. I need to get on that!
Now I’m also inspired to finally make a sheet cake! I’ll eat cake only if it’s topped with tons of this delicious icing.
It truly was delicious!
Add 2 tsp. of cinnamon to the cake batter…IT IS AMAZING! I also discovered Hersey’s Special Dark Cocoa…….WOWZA. Both add so much to such a wonderful cake.
I love the sprinkly version. I don’t care for nuts, either. I am, on the other hand, a huge fan of chocolate cake, and I’d love the excuse to buy a half sheet pan. I need one for life, right?
My childhood birthdays were always finished with a big piece of sheet cake made by mom- this cake brings back lots of memories. And you are so right about the frosting- best chocolate frosting ever!
I’m with you on on the sprinkles. My hubby would never eat the nuts.
I’ve pinned this.
YUM, this looks so fun and delicious! Who needs a layer cake when you can have this? I’d take this any day.
Seriously? You don’t like chocolate cake, Lori? That’s amazing! My biggest weakness in the cake category is a moist chocolate layer cake decked out in ganache…both whipped for the filling and frosting, then iced with that gorgeous ganache pour. I. DIE. Maybe you just didn’t experience good chocolate cake? Like PW’s awesome Chocolate Sheet Cake? 😉 Thanks for sharing, girl! Pinning!
I’m a sheet cake virgin also! So sad. I just need a good occasion with lots of people to make one…because this looks so delicious i”d definitely be in danger of eating all of it by myself!
We love sheet cakes at our house! Perfect for feeding a crowd!
The layer of frosting looks to die for. Love this!!
So cheerful, moist, rich and inviting!!! There’s nothing like chocolate cake….Period!!! Love it!!!
when making the icing, do you keep the medium heat the entire time or do you turn off once you add the cocoa like was done with the cake mixture? I’m a little confused.
Hi Mary, you can pull the pan off the heat after you stir in the cocoa.
Chocolate sheet cake is one of my favorite cakes on the planet. This recipe is awesome!
this has been one of my all time favorite recipes. I’ve been making this for over 25 years. It is the cake my son asks for every year for his birthday. So easy to make, and as you mentioned, feeds a lot of hungry boys
I’ve tried Ree’s recipe and absolutely love it! Love the sprinkles, Lori!
This is the perfect recipe to have in your back pocket for entertaining! Would love a slice right now. Thanks for linking up my carrot cake,too !
The cake does look so moist. And sprinkles are so much better than nuts!! Can’t believe your not a chocolate cake fan!! This cake looks like it might turn you 😉
Yes! Texas Sheet Cakes are a go-to around here for more reasons than one: they’re a delicious, festive way to feed a crowd, the pieces are so thin that they stay nice and moist, and I frankly also like the portion control that comes from being able to serve up slices that are 1″ thick as opposed to like 8″ thick. A one-pan cake that feeds a crowd and doesn’t require massive amounts of penance on the treadmill tomorrow? I’m. All. In.
Looks lovely, Lori!
I’m a native Texan, and this is what we call a Texas Sheet Cake…there are also white and Peanut Butter variations as well. If I had a dollar for every one of these awesome cakes I’ve made, I’d be a rich woman! LOL…however, I’ve never made it in a cookie sheet; always use a 13×9 pan. Thanks for sharing this – everyone should make at least one of ’em!
What a decadent and fudgey looking cake! I love that you went with the rainbow sprinkles…the colors pop out so much better on the dark chocolate frosting. Plus sprinkles are just so much more fun than nuts 🙂
I don’t think I’ve ever made a sheet cake but this looks like a killer recipe!
I think chocolate sheet cakes should be made all the time… yours looks delicious!
Nothing beats a good chocolate cake! Your looks fabulous! 🙂
Nice looking cake! I’m also no longer a sheet cake novice anymore- just made my first a few months ago as well–here’s the link. It’s based off a Barefoot Contessa recipe, but will have to give yours a try.
I grew up with this cake. I do not remember a picnic in the summer time when someone did not make this cake. It’s perfect for a good ol’ corn roast on Labor Day.
Its big but that just means you can cut a bigger square. Love the sprinkles. What a great treat to make for a picnic or potluck!
I’ve made this one before…..it’s soo good….now it has to go on the labor day menu!
This cake certainly looks like it does the job. How rich and decadent! I love that you added rainbow sprinkles instead of pecans.
Not a cake person?! No way, I did not even now that was possible! We love a good cake around here and this sheet cake looks way to good to pass up! It is so fun and pretty!
How can you not really like chocolate cake? I’ll take your piece 🙂 But seriously, this looks so good and I’ve always wanted to try Ree’s recipe but I never have a crowd to feed. Your cake is beautiful! Pinned!