This post is sponsored by my friends at Minerva Dairy, but all opinions expressed are my own – just as always. Thanks for supporting the brands that support me and my family.
My primary goal with Southern Bite is to get folks back to the table. I do that by providing my readers with recipes that are quick and easy and recipes that I can improve upon and make even more delicious. This recipe for Better Gooey Butter Cake is both of those. It’s a cinch to make and I’ve worked to update the classic recipe to make it gooier and more buttery.
My mom has been making gooey butter cake for as long as I can remember. It was one of my favorite desserts as a kid.
Now while there are conflicting stories about exactly how the confection came into existence, it seems that St. Louis was the birthplace. My grandparents lived just outside of St. Louis and I’m guessing that’s where Mom got her recipe. The stories almost all involve a bakery claiming fame to the dessert, so I would imagine it didn’t call for a cake mix. But if the dish was as popular as it seems, I’m sure home cooks were eager to recreate it in their own kitchens. Cake mixes are affordable, readily available, and have all the ingredients already mixed together, so it makes sense that they reached for that as a shortcut.
I happen to be a huge fan of the flavor of a yellow cake mix, like in my Pineapple Juice Cake, so I think it contributes perfectly to the flavor of gooey butter cake.
My primary problem with this recipe in the past is that often the bottom cake layer seems dry. While admittedly my baking knowledge is limited, one thing that I do know from making countless cakes is that a combination of butter and vegetable oil in cake produces a more moist, flavorful, pleasantly textured cake. Butter adds tons of amazing flavor and vegetable oil keeps the cake moist. So I like using both.
With this, I opted to use some vegetable oil in the bottom layer and chose a great butter – I mean it is called Gooey BUTTER Cake, right? So it stands to reason you’d use some seriously delicious butter.
The Minerva Dairy butter I used in this recipe has a higher fat content than traditional butter, is made from pasture-raised cow’s milk from family farms, and is made in America’s oldest family-owned dairy. It’s better butter all around. I also chose to use salted butter – which is something I rarely do. But in this case, the salted butter helps to offset the sweetness of the dessert.
Can you use unsalted butter? Of course!
A few things to keep in mind:
A great butter makes a difference. Choose real butter, not margarine, for the best flavor.
Using room temperature ingredients allows everything to combine easily and more completely.
Starting by creaming the cream cheese ensures it’s going to mix more completely and won’t clump up.
Better Gooey Butter Cake
For the cake layer:
- 1 (15.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix
- 1/2 cup salted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
For the gooey layer:
- 1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup salted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- additonal powdered sugar for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, stir together the cake mix, butter, oil, and eggs until combined. The mixture will be thick. Spread it evenly into the bottom of the prepared dish.
- Next, place the cream cheese in a large bowl. Use a mixer to stir the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter, eggs, and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing well after each addition. Pour the mixture over the cake layer and spread evenly.
- Bake for about 40 minutes or until the edges are brown but the center is still jiggly. Allow to cool completely before slicing into squares. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar, if desired.
I’ve never had butter cake. I went to a restaurant yesterday and they had it on the desert menu. My mom wanted to share it and it was so yummy. I wanted my husband to try it and o found this recipe. I thought I had all the ingredients but i was short on powdered sugar. I didn’t have 4 cups of powdered sugar. I used 2.5 cups. It’s in the oven right now. We will see how it turns out. Fingers crossed.
Hope it turned out great for you!
Gooey butter cake enthusiast
My hubby is from St Louis and LOVES gooey butter cake. After searching for the Dierberg’s recipe (The Best of the Best according to him) and not finding it, then trying Paula Dean’s, I found this one. Let me tell you, there is no better gooey butter cake out there than this one! I finally found the Dierberg’s recipe recently and it isn’t as good as this one! (Thank you for not making me mess with lemon rind!). I am not much in the kitchen, but I can follow this and make a gooey butter cake that makes even the native St Louis folk think it’s the real deal!
Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed my version so much!!
Absolutely inauthentic. A real gooey butter cake has a yeasted pastry to offset the gooey butter topping.
Hey, Maud! I didn’t claim it to be authentic… just delicious!
Yea it’s magically delicious 🤤
I’ve used this recipe for many years and it is definitely a keeper. I’ve also substituted strawberry and chocolate cake mixes for the yellow. Always turns out delicious 😋
So glad to hear you’ve enjoyed it!
I made these and they turned out perfect! Thank you
Awesome! Thanks for letting me know. Glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe!
My son in law asked for a gooey butter cake for his birthday this year. I honestly hadn’t made one in 10 years so when I saw this recipe (extra butter) I decided this was it! I also used the hint you gave about the crust and straw! Mike said it was the best he’d ever had and the rest of the family loved it as well! This will be a keeper for our family!
I’m so glad! Thank you!
I’m late to the party, but I’ll share my 30+ year secret with you on the crust. Once I’ve patted it into the pan, I take a drinking straw and twist so many holes in it that it looks like it was hit with buckshot! It still holds up perfectly, but the crust is PERFECTION! I’m always asked why mine is so much better, well now the secret is out, lol!
Look at you sharing secrets!! What does this do to the crust?
I baked mine in a ceramic rectangular pan, proper size. I followed the recipe to a tee. I baked it for 40 minutes, it browned around the edge and kind of poofed up slightly. I let it cool for an hour and it felt cool, however, when I cut it, it was still totally runny in the middle, the cake also came up around the edges. It was totally ruined unfortunately. I have no idea where I went wrong. Since the style cake it is with the kind of layer the top is, I’m assuming poking it with a toothpick is not going to tell you much. Any recommendations would be appreciated. Also, the 4 cups of powdered sugar is a 32oz. bag, correct? It seemed correct when I put it in the oven, but I failed miserably. I’m going to try it again tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
Sorry to hear you had trouble. Unfortunately, the toothpick trick will not work for this recipe. Also, if you used a 32 oz bag of powdered sugar that is actually approximately 8 cups.
This is in response to the white chocolate raspberry ooey gooey butter cake. If you use any flavor of extract such as raspberry, you can leave out the raspberry jam if you’re watching sugar intake or purée fresh raspberries along with a stabilizer and spread evenly over the top of the whole cake before baking. For more kudos, use a chopstick to make swirls. This can be done with peanut butter, chocolate and any preserves. I adore white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and loved that someone mentioned this!
That sounds great!. Thanks for sharing.
This butter cake recipe was easy enough & turned out amazing!! Everyone that was lucky enough to try it, said it was the best thing they ever tasted. I used the same mixing bowl for easy clean up. I added a little butter flavored vanilla & served it with fresh strawberries, vanilla bean ice cream & homemade whipped cream. I’m trying this recipe out with a box of lemon cake next served with a fresh blueberry mash. Thank you for sharing!
Hey Ashley! I’m so glad to hear that it turned out great for you! Love the lemon and blueberry idea! Can’t wait to hear how that version turns out!
I forgot to update you on the lemon, my apologies! I used a lemon cake mix, added fresh lemon zest & juice from the lemon & it turned out fantastic! Served it with a blueberry reduction😋
I’m actually baking 2 of your cakes as I type for a birthday tomorrow. Thank you for your response!
That sounds amazing!
No cake could ever compare to your mom’s butter cake! It is profoundly special in that your mother made it and shared that joy of life with you and others.
As a baker of 45 years and having working with hundreds of experienced bakers in the Philadelphia area I can share with you the popular item that I have not seen anywhere but the Philadelphia area. It is a sweet dough(cinnamon bun dough) bottom. The topping is made with butter, shortening, milk, a touch of flour top stabilize it, eggs and a small amount of water, creamed up lightly. It is a product produced by a small handful of old school German bakers.
That sounds amazing!!
Best cake I ever made & so easy. Everyone who has eaten it wants it again & again. Making my 3rd one this week. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.
That’s great! I love hearing that!
My “cake layer” flowed up around the edges as it baked – it looks fabulous and tastes great but not like your pictures. Definitely no longer a bar type presentation. What did I do weird? Thanks
Well, at least is tasted good. What kind of baking dish did you use? Metal? Glass? Ceramic?
I made this recipe, however, I used coconut oil instead of nonstick cooking spray and in place of vegetable oil. It turned out awesome!!
Glad you enjoyed this!!
Do you think that I can bake this in a bundt pan?
I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think it would work very well. Increasing the surface area of the pan will probably mean you won’t end up with that ooey, gooey texture. I also worry about it sticking.
I followed the recipe but as the cake cooled, it collapsed completely in the pan. Any suggestions?
It will collapse at it cools, so I think you did it perfectly.
It’s delicious, however mine bubbled up and spilled out of the glass pan all over my stove. What went wrong here lol?
I’m honestly not sure, Jarred. I’ve made this probably hundreds of times and never had that problem. What kind of baking dish/pan did you use?
I had this same issue! I used a glass pyrex 9×13 dish. It only went over a little bit, but I had to pull it out of the oven after 35 minutes. It created almost a solid crust layer and then it bubbled up and elevated that “crust”. The outside was brown but instead of the center being jiggly still, the entire “crust” layer was sliding around. One of the eggs I used I think was a bit old, but I don’t think it would necessarily cause this issue.
Do you happen to recall what brand of cake mix you used?
My appologies! I didn’t mean the “crust” as in the cake layer. That was fine. I meant the hardened crust that formed on the top of the top gooey layer. I ended up putting it back in the oven for an additional 7 minutes to try and get the estimated 40 (compensating for the cooling out of the oven) and since it had some time to settle a bit before I put it back in, it didn’t spill over again. The inside was still a bit runny, but I put it in the fridge and it firmed up enough to have defined “bars” when cut. I don’t know if it ended up as intended, but it got great accolades from my family and coworkers. The top layer as it was baking almost a foam. Is it possible to have overwhipped it?
Gotcha. No worries! I suppose that it could have been over-mixed being that there are eggs in it. That could have been the issue. Regardless, I’m glad everyone enjoyed it!
How do you store the cake
In refrigerator .?
Yes, you can store this in the fridge if you’re not going to eat it right away.
I have never made a butter cake before.. and this one was so incredibly easy and delicious! 10/10 crispy and gooey !
Love hearing that! So glad it turned out great for you!!
Hate to tell you, but this is not real gooey butter. Look up Lake Forest Bakery recipe. That’s the real deal. No cake mix, no cream cheese!
Do a comparison
No worries! You shouldn’t ever hate to tell me anything. The truth is, I never really said it was super authentic gooey butter cake. This is just my interpretation. I will certainly look up the Laforest Baker recipe, though!
Crust and cake turned out great! Thanks for sharing your recipe.
So glad to hear you enjoyed it!
Mine didn’t cook right I did it for 40 minutes let it cool completely and when I went to cut it it was still runny, also can less powered sugar be used
I’ve not made it with less sugar, so I can’t say for sure. Did you allow it to cool completely? What size pan did you use? Was it metal, glass, ceramic?
How are you able to spread crust layer evenly? I had issues with that. It’s in the oven now I’ll let you know how it turns out. ????
I typically use a rubber or silicone spatula to press it flat.
Stacy, have you ever tried making White Chocolate Raspberry Gooey Butter Cake…?? If you like those flavors, it is TO DIE FOR!!!!!! I made it up (although others may have done so, as well!) by adding 12oz of melted white chocolate (I love the flavor of Aldi’s brand of white chocolate chips the best!) to the cream cheese mixture, and then after pouring it over the cake crust, dollop Raspberry jam (or any flavor jam) all over it and swirl it in with a butter knife!! It’s the only flavor anyone wants me to make anymore…my guys (husband and sons) love it more than the chocolate peanut butter version, which is REALLY saying something…!!!
Thanks for the suggestion of the vegetable oil and special butter for the crust! 🙂
Holy Moly! That sounds outrageously delicious!!!
No, but it sounds AMAZING! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!!
Being a native of Chicago I had never had Gooey Butter Cake until I moved to the St. Louis suburbs.
Over the years, I have found this to be a very versatile dessert starting point and have perfected many versions –
red velvet gooey butter cake, lemon gooey butter cake, chocolate chip gooey butter cake and probably my most requested version in the fall – pumpkin gooey butter cake.
your version sounds great and I think i will make it tonight to bring to work tomorrow.
thanks for sharing and I love your website 🙂
All those variations sound amazing! Hope your lucky coworkers enjoyed it!