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Gluten-free Texas Sheet Cake

Gluten-free Texas Sheet Cake

If you grew up with one version or another of Texas Sheet Cake, you’re way ahead of me, sister. I now know, and am teaching my children, that raising a child without this perfect gluten free chocolate cake that is not too rich and not too sweet but just the right amount of everything is nothing short of blasphemy.

A few weeks (a few days?) back, some of you were all, gluten-free Texas Sheet Cake gluten-free Texas Sheet Cake in the comments of a particular blog post (which I can’t remember).

So I researched lots and lots of recipes, and compiled what I thought were the best parts of what’s out there. Like my own little America’s Test Kitchen. I tweaked a few things, but not to make it fancy schmancy. Don’t worry. I realize that fancy schmancy is not the point of a Texas Sheet Cake. I tweaked to make sure that it held up as a gluten-free version. The proportions are a bit changed, but the basic technique is there.

A pourable batter.

That’s smoothed out in a rimmed baking sheet (I cut the recipe in half so it fits in a quarter sheet pan, because it’s easily doubled, and a half sheet pan of cake is, well, a lot of cake).

It’s baked it just until it springs back when pressed gently.

With hot icing poured quickly on the hot cake. In my virgin Texas Sheet Cake voyage, I learned that you must spread out the icing quickly, before it begins to set or it will wrinkle like a raisin in the sun. Like a baked apple. Like a Shar Pei.

Don’t worry if the icing has a few bubbles and lumps. They’ll even out as the cake cools.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 quarter sheet cake


1 cup (140g) all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

3 tablespoons (15g) unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-processed works best)

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (112g) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) brewed coffee

1/2 cup (112g) sour cream, at room temperature

1 egg (60 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups (230g) confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons (15g) unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-processed)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (112g) unsalted butter

3 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • First, make the cake. Preheat your oven to 325° F. Line a quarter sheet pan (9-inches x 13-inches) with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt, and whisk to combine well. Set the bowl aside. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and coffee on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is completely melted. Pour the melted butter and coffee mixture over the dry ingredients, and mix to combine. Add the sour cream, egg and vanilla, and mix to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan, and spread into an even layer with a wet spatula. Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake until the cake is uniform and springs back readily when pressed gently with a finger, about 20 minutes.

  • During the last 10 minutes of the cake’s baking, make the icing. In a large bowl, place the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and salt and whisk to combine well. Set the bowl aside. In a clean small saucepan, place the butter and the milk, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is completely melted. Remove the saucepan from the stove, add the vanilla and mix to combine. Pour the hot butter and milk mixture over the dry ingredients, and mix to combine.

  • Ice the cake. As soon as the cake is finished baking, remove the pan from the oven and pour the hot icing over the hot cake. Working quickly to ensure that the icing is spread before it sets, with an offset spatula or butter knife, spread the icing over the entire surface of the cake with a wet spatula. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan to room temperature. Lift the cake out of the pan by the parchment paper once it is cool. Slice into 12 to 16 pieces, and serve chilled or at room temperature. The cake is easiest to slice with a warm, sharp knife when the cake itself is cold.

  • Adapted from Southernfood.about.com.


P.S. For more gluten-free cake recipes, and my undying gratitude, pick up a copy of My Cookbook! Your support means so much to me.

Comments are closed.

  • Jan Andrews
    July 5, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    Nicole, I made this a few days ago for my in-laws, who are not gluten free, and they had no idea. This was better than any other Texas sheet cake I’ve ever made (and I’ve made a few), and I can’t wait to try the vanilla version. Thanks for making Gluten Free baking such a joy!!!

    • July 5, 2012 at 9:59 PM

      Wow, Jan. That’s high praise indeed! I hope you enjoy the vanilla version. I like it at least as much.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Mim
    July 5, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    This was soooo yummy. But the butter content has me a little nervous. I have a texas sheet cake from cooking light that I have always used. But now that I’m g-free I need to redo it. Any suggestions?

  • Missy
    July 4, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    When I lived at 3600 feet of sea level, I used to have to both increase baking temps and use extra flour. You might have to experiment a little to get the results you want. I totally agree that this is a great recipe even when more batter than cake : ) Thanks Nicole for giving us back our Texas Sheet Cake!!

    • July 4, 2012 at 8:35 PM

      Thanks so much for chiming in to help out, Missy. Karrie, unfortunately I don’t have any personal experience with baking at higher elevations. From what I have read, though, Missy’s advice sounds spot on!
      xoxo Nicole

    • Karrie
      July 4, 2012 at 11:23 PM

      That’s ok, I’ll just have to work on tweaking it a bit. Shouldn’t take much since you’ve provided a GREAT base recipe! Thanks again…as as Texas transplant, this is absolutely making my year to have this available:-)

    • Karrie
      July 4, 2012 at 11:20 PM

      Thanks, Missy! As you know, baking at altitude is ALWAYS an adventure! I’ll have to experiment with the extra flour and increase the temp to 350. If I figure it out, I’ll try to remember to get back on here and help out anyone else living up here in the thin air:-) And if I don’t figure it out, I’ll live on the batter! LOL!

  • Karrie
    July 4, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Ok, first let me say that the flavor of this cake is AWESOME! Made it this morning for my birthday and the chocolate had made me very happy:-) I do have a question that I’m hoping someone can help me with. I live outside of Denver at 5900 feet about sea level and the altitude pretty much always requires modification to baking times or temps. I baked it at 325 for 30 minutes and it’s still more batter than cake (mind you, that’s not slowing down the consumptions!). I’m thinking about raising the temp to 350 next time, but thought I’d ask if there’s anyone who has made this at altitude and figured out the exact trick? Thank you, thank you, thank you for the recipe…it’s made turning 40 a much sweeter experience!:-) And happy 4th of July!

    • July 4, 2012 at 8:35 PM

      Happy birthday, Karrie!
      xoxo Nicole

    • Karrie
      July 4, 2012 at 11:25 PM

      Thank you!:-)

  • July 3, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    I have to admit, we ate originally from Tx, and i have never had Tx sheet cake before. This looks so yummy. Now i just need a reason to make it :)

  • […] for now, I’m going with this vanilla version of chocolate gluten-free Texas Sheet Cake. And since it’s white, if you serve it with some blueberries and strawberries, you’ve […]

  • June
    July 3, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    Made this for a family reunion (ok, I really made it for me but used the event as an excuse). THIS IS TRULY THE BEST CAKE EVER!! I had family members who hate GF stuff (that’s ok, more for me) love this cake! They kept asking me if this cake was really GF. Did they think I wanted to cause myself pain eating gluten? Regardless of their doubt, it was a very good cake. Now it will become my go-to cake for all events!

    • July 3, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      Love a new go-to cake, June! So glad it worked out so well for you. It’s a new favorite of mine, too. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Lacey
    July 2, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    I too was one who begged for this awhile back! I cannot wait to try it out on my family, this is one of our traditional cakes that appears at every get together. The recipe is quite similar to mine except this one uses coffee and ours uses some cinnamon. Many thanks Nicole! Your recipes are the best and I’m anxiously awaiting the release of your new book!

    • July 3, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      Hi, Lacey,
      I remember your asking after this cake. I had seen some recipes that call for cinnamon. I haven’t tried it, but you could definitely add some to this recipe. A small amount of dried cinnamon won’t affect the chemistry of the cake at all.
      xoxo Nicole

  • megan
    July 1, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Thx Margaret…
    Well people liked it , my non gf friends, so that is a good sign;)
    I guess moist is the better word;) VERY very very very moist:) but it makes sense since there is only one cup of flour vs all the other ‘Wet’ ingredients.

  • megan
    June 30, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    I’ve never made Texas sheet cake and have a question on texture. I just made the cake and it tasted delish ( i even used boiling hot coffee;) but the texture is not very cake-like , more mushy’ish. Which seems right since there is only 1 cup of flour . Just want to make sure i did it right and the texture is RIGHT on;)???

    • Margaret
      July 1, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      Megan, I am not Nicole, but I have been eating and making Texas Sheet Cake since I was a little girl. And that is a few decades! It is definitely a moist cake, but not mushy. It isn’t dense like brownies and it should be light like a cake, but more moist than a layer cake. It is sitting in my kitchen right now–half gone since I made it yesterday. But it won’t last long. It is addictive!

  • June 28, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    I have a question :)
    I know you use parchment paper to bake with , which lead me to using reusable muffin liners , but what do you think about reusable “parchment” paper? I have seen it and want to try it but don’t know of anyone who uses it. Also, can you bake meat on parchment paper, like chicken or pork or say gf onion rings:)

    Thank you for humoring me

    • June 28, 2012 at 4:26 PM

      Hi, Dede,
      I’m not sure what you’re referring to. Do you mean silpats, which are reusable silicone baking pan liners? They work really well, but they do tend to take a beating over time with a lot of use. You can definitely bake anything you like on parchment paper, but I really prefer unbleached parchment paper (the more flexible, brown kind) to bleached parchment paper (the thicker, stark white kind). Bleached parchment paper is much more likely to burn in the oven, too.
      xoxo Nicole

    • June 28, 2012 at 5:44 PM

      Yes!,, that is exactly it. (Nursing just takes me brsin cells and turms them to mush :)
      I saw the silpats and have been considering buying one or two , but wanted an honest opionion of them first

  • Beth
    June 28, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Hi Nicole,

    I was one of those who begged in the original comment thread. Thanks so much for this! My husband swears he’s not going to try it so as not to ruin his memory of his mother’s cake (she’s not dead and will make it for him any time he asks, so I’m not really sure what he meant by this), but I bet when its done, he’s going to cave. Thanks again – you’re the best!

    • June 28, 2012 at 3:22 PM

      I’m so glad you came back and found that your wish was granted, Beth! That is absolutely hysterical that he is trying to protect his still-alive-and-well mother’s memory. If he wants to stick to his cake, so be it. More for you. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Kristi
    June 28, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    I love Texas sheet cake. I have only had it a few times but it is delish. And now a new way to make coffee? Really? So the ice box cake will be made by Jordan and I this weekend to test it for a kids dessert contest on the 4th. She is going to decorate it with red and blue sprinkles. I am sure it will be fab. Then I plan to make Texas Sheet Cake and your lemon bars to take to Russ’ family gathering the following weekend. You are such an inspiration! Now we do need to talk about the tire going around my middle since I started baking. It is clearly your fault (it can’t be mine!). ;-)

    • June 28, 2012 at 3:23 PM

      I accept full responsibility, Kristi. And once you cold brew coffee, you won’t want to make it any other way. It’s so good!
      xoxo Nikki

  • Missy
    June 27, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    Oh yeah! My mom’s recipe for this is called Fudge Shortcake and I grew up loving it. Hers uses buttermilk instead of sour cream and no coffee. I am definitely trying your gluten free version. Thank you so much for your recipe, Nicole.

  • Mette
    June 27, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    I love your blog and writing style, so thank you for sharing. I want to teach you a trick: if you want to search a specific site for something go to google and write the following…
    site:https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com “texas sheet cake” then you are searching the exact thing, in this case Texas sheet cake on a specific site only

    • June 27, 2012 at 6:34 PM

      Hey, thanks, Mette. I have used that trick in the past, but I never thought to use it to search for something in the comments on my own site. So smart! Thank you. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Debbie T.
    June 26, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    I just pinned it. This was my favorite go-to recipe before going gluten free. Thanks for revising it so I can once again make & share this wonderful dessert with friends and family!

    • June 26, 2012 at 7:59 PM

      You bet, Debbie. Over the years of blogging, I have really come to understand the value of posting even a relatively simple GF recipe from time to time, just as a reminder that you really don’t have to give up anything, just because you’re gluten-free. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Darlene
    June 26, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    You MIND READER! Ok.. tell me… what am I thinking now?!

    • June 26, 2012 at 7:57 PM

      DarLENE. What you are thinking now is not for public consumption. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

    • Darlene
      June 27, 2012 at 6:44 PM

      Gaaah! You’re amazing!

  • Margaret
    June 26, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    I have been eating Texas Sheet Cake for six decades and I was really missing it until you posted your cake flour blend when I finally tried it GF. Since then I have made it a few times. It’s is addictive! I have seen recipes with coffee and even some with cinnamon. I saw one that included 1/3 cup of cinnamon. Ouch! I like cinnamon but I was not tempted to try that version. I am not a coffee drinker so when I have made it with coffee, I did taste it. Other than the coffee, my version uses buttermilk (i use the dry buttermilk you recommended in another post). But no matter what versiion you try, Better Batter flour makes it good! And once you’ve made it, you will want to share it with your non GF friends just to see if they can tell its GF.

    • June 26, 2012 at 8:00 PM

      Hi, Margaret,
      Your comment reminded me that I use cold-brewed coffee when I make this recipe. I think it makes all the difference, since cold brewing coffee takes all of the bitterness out of even the most inferior coffee grounds. Not a soul tasted the coffee in the cake when I served it to a large gathering on Father’s Day, kids included.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Jessica B
    June 26, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    I smiled ear to ear when I saw this today. I make the regular version for my family and hate that I can’t enjoy it. Is the coffee brewed coffee, instant coffee granules, what?


    • June 26, 2012 at 8:04 PM

      Hi, Jessica,
      It’s brewed coffee. Actually, it’s cold-brewed coffee (all you do is soak coffee grounds in cold water for 10-12 hours, then strain out the grounds – a french press makes quick work of it, but it’s far from a necessity), which removes all the bitterness and acidity out of even the most inferior coffee grounds. It’s how I drink my coffee all summer long, and it all but ruins me for drip coffee the rest of the year.
      Now quit making something you love for your family that you can’t enjoy, too! ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • June 26, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    I’m looking forward to making this! I haven’t had Texas sheet cake since I went GF. It’s a bit hot in TX today for baking (high of 105), so it’ll be a little while before I can report on it. Thank you a million!

    • June 26, 2012 at 8:04 PM

      Oh, no, Carol! We had a heat wave like that in NY last week, and it was brutal. I know that can last for a long, long time in Texas. I’m pulling for a cold snap for you!
      xoxo Nicole

  • GoGoGF
    June 26, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    I know I’m getting hung up on a silly detail, but I have a question about lining the pan with parchment paper. Do you lift the cake out before cutting? Do you leave it in the pan and just be really careful not to cut thru the paper? I don’t want to damage my precious USA pans . . . . .

    • June 26, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      Hi, Peggy!
      Not a silly detail at all. I have modified the instructions to make it more clear, and have limited the first step to lining the pan (not simply greasing it as an option). Then lift the cooled cake out of the pan before slicing it. I agree! You don’t want to risk ruining those pans. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Angela
    June 26, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    This recipe is EXACTLY like mine with the only difference being the gf flour! So YAY!!

    • June 26, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      That’s so interesting, Angela, since none of the other recipes I found were exactly like this. Similar or same ingredients in some, but different proportions. I hope it turns out well for you!
      xoxo Nicole

  • June 26, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    YEAH!!! I used to make Texas Sheet Cake all the time but haven’t since being gluten free. Thank you!

    • June 26, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      I’m so glad, Autumn. This cake is too good to have to do without!
      xoxo Nicole

  • June 26, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Oh my! I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this recipe. My (Texan) mother would make the non gf version of this for special occasions and holidays growing up, but now that I’m gluten free I haven’t had it for years. Can’t wait to try this out. Thanks!

    • June 26, 2012 at 12:50 PM

      I hope it lives up to your memories, Cocina!
      xoxo Nicole

  • June 26, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    I’m out of butter so in a moment of desperacy, because I must make this cake, have you ever subbed coconut oil for the butter in baking and had a positive result?

    • June 26, 2012 at 12:51 PM

      Hi, Michelle,
      I would really consider going to pick up some butter! This cake is so butter heavy, and coconut oil is great but it really does taste like coconut.
      xoxo Nicole

    • Joan Myers
      June 26, 2012 at 1:53 PM

      you can buy the coconut oil that doesn’t not have an order nor flavor at Toprical Traditions. It is called Expeller pressed. then it wouldn’t change the taste of the cake. I use the same kind of oil for my massages oil blends as it doesn’t interrupt the essential oil fragrance blends I use.

    • June 26, 2012 at 8:06 PM

      Hi, Joan,
      I’m glad you have found something that works for you. In my experience, however, even expeller-pressed virgin coconut oil (the kind I use as well) tastes at least faintly of coconut, especially when it is used in the quantities that are called for in this cake and icing.

  • June 26, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    Oh thank you!!! I was dreading making this cake at Christmas this year for family with being able to lick the spoon!

    • June 26, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      Oh my goodness, Kristi, I’m so glad you won’t have to endure that! Nothing that can be made with gluten cannot be made without it, one way or another. I shall endeavor each day to prove that. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Patti
    June 26, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    O Nicole, please never stop. You are my lifeline for sharing food with family & friends.

    First cookbook is dog-eared. Anxiously awaiting your second!

    • June 26, 2012 at 12:53 PM

      Thanks, Patti! I don’t have any plans to stop. For the first time in my professional life, I know I’m in it for the long haul.
      Thank you so much for your support of my cookbooks! It means so much to me. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Jackie Fretwell
    June 26, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    Hello Nicole,
    Hey all the talk on the Texas sheet cake was on the Corn cake muffins blog. It was all Margret’s idea, lol. and what a great idea it was too. It looks very yummy and I cannot wait to try it myself. And I bet you don’t have to be a Texan to enjoy it. ;-D


    Jackie ♥♥

    • June 26, 2012 at 12:53 PM

      You’re right, Jackie. It was the cake flour cornmuffins. Anneke nailed it! It was a great idea. I’m not a Texan, and I love this cake. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Anneke
    June 26, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    Here is the original post, Nicole:

    which I found by going through my sent emails. I had sent the link to my mom because she is a huge Texas Sheet Cake fan. Do you know how long it takes to go through all your sent emails? I had no idea!

    So happy to know you are in love with this cake! I will be using your recipe now, instead of tweaking my own, cause I know yours will be awesome. I’ll need it in a couple months for my husband’s birthday, but I might be making it today, too!

    I agree that a half-sheet cake is a lot of cake, but it seems pretty easy to consume this one in a day or two . . . all by myself if necessary!

    Hope it isn’t too hot for you.

    • June 26, 2012 at 12:56 PM

      That’s it, Anneke!! Thank you so much! I looked back through about 2 weeks’ worth of posts, and then gave up. My search feature doesn’t crawl through comments, it seems, so it was useless.
      You can definitely get away with making this every so often, Anneke. It’s so easy, and a quarter sheet pan isn’t too much at all. I could power through a half sheet pan, no doubt, but I’d prefer not to, especially in this weather where it’s harder to cover up!
      We had a crazy heat wave last week in NY, but this week is much cooler so far. Hope you’re not suffering!
      xoxo Nicole

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