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Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

A buttery crust topped with decadent cream cheese filling, this gooey butter cake recipe has been in our family for generations and it’s easy to see why it’s a favorite!

two gooey butter bars stack on top of each other, text overlay of recipe name

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Gooey Butter Cake, or “Ooey Gooey Butter Cake” as my family calls it, is a simple dessert that can be whipped up with just a handful of ingredients. It tastes like a mixture of yellow sheet cake and a cheesecake…it’s ooey-gooey, buttery, and totally earns its name!

Gooey Butter Cake is a recipe made famous by celebrity chef Paula Deen, however, this is actually a dessert that’s been around for almost 100 years! According to the Missouri Historical Society, a St. Louis baker created the treat all the way back in the 1930s…by mistake! Legend has it that this baker accidentally reversed the proportions of flour and butter, but the “mistake” was actually a hit.

Our own family recipe has been passed down for generations as well. My cousin’s relatives hail from St. Louis, so it totally makes sense why this dessert was a go-to recipe! I can remember it being such a treat when a pan of Ooey Gooey Butter Bars appeared on the table!

Interestingly, there are two variations to our family recipe that I’ve come across, so we kind of merged the two to make an updated version with ingredients that are easy to find at the grocery store. As with many old fashioned recipes, some of the ingredients and measurements used aren’t so common now.

The result is even better than I remember! The margarine (yes, margarine!) creates a buttery tasting crust that is delightfully flaky on the bottom, just like something you’d find at a real bakery. And the gooey butter filling is luscious, creamy, and melts in your mouth. You can see in the photos the perfect layering of the crust and cream cheese. Every bite is pure bliss…no exaggeration! I have to limit myself to just one bar at a time because they are so rich, but they taste so good I think I could eat the whole pan!

Paula Deen’s got nothing on this recipe! 😉

–Stacey

close up of two gooey butter cake slices stacked on parchment paper

Ingredients

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  • 1 box Yellow Cake Mix
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 Stick Margarine (1/2 cup)
  • 1 Block Cream Cheese (8oz)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Kitchen Tools Used

hand holding a gooey butter cake bar

Instructions

To Prep: Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13″ pan.

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment (or large bowl with an electric mixer) beat together the margarine, cake mix and 2 eggs on medium speed. When the cake batter starts to look more like a cookie dough, it’s ready.
  2. Press the dough into the bottom of your prepared baking dish.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl (or washed bowl of your stand mixer) beat together the powdered sugar, pre-softened cream cheese, and the other 2 eggs. Beat for 2-3 minutes MINIMUM (and up to 10-15 minutes if you have time), then pour the mixture on top of the cake dough in your pan. Spread if needed to ensure even coverage.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, until the middle of the cake sets up and isn’t liquid anymore.

4-step photo collage showing how to make ooey gooey butter cake

Prep Tips

  • When beating the cream cheese and sugar mixture, the more time you have to spend on this step the better. While 2-3 minutes is the minimum, extra whipping time makes the cream cheese layer extra light and fluffy, instead of heavy.
  • We always finish our cake with a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar.
  • For an extra flavorful crust, you can add a pinch of salt when mixing the cake mix, eggs, and butter. This way not in the original recipe, but it is a fun little tweak that makes this recipe pop even more.
  • Before cutting the cake, make sure that it’s cooled completely to room temperature. This will make it slice much easier.

gooey butter bars stacked on parchment paper

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Real Butter Instead Of Margarine?

Of course! The name of this recipe even has butter in the title!

In one of our family’s recipes for Gooey Butter Cake, unsalted butter is used instead of margarine. And generally I am a fan of using “real food” ingredients. However, we taste both versions and the margarine created a flaky crust that was even more perfect in flavor and texture. It was incredible!

That being said, you can absolutely use butter and still get a fantastic cake. It’s simply a matter of what you have on hand and your personal preference.

Does Gooey Butter Cake Need To Be Refrigerated?

Gooey Butter Cake does not require refrigeration, but you can keep it in the fridge if you like it chilled or want to extend its shelf life by a couple days. Store in an airtight container (or in the pan covered with plastic wrap) at room temperature for 3-4 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

If you need to stack the bars for storage, I recommend placing a sheet of parchment paper between layers to prevent them from sticking together.

Can Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Be Frozen?

Yes, you can freeze your cake for long-term storage. I like to cut into squares and place them in a gallon freezer bag. That way I can thaw them out one at a time as needed.

plate of gooey butter bars

 

Gooey Butter Cake Recipe (Printable Recipe Card)

If you tried this recipe and liked it, please rate it!

two gooey butter bars stacked

Old-Fasioned Gooey Butter Cake

A buttery crust topped with decadent cream cheese filling, this gooey butter cake recipe has been in our family for generations and it's easy to see why it's a favorite!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 236 kcal

Equipment

  • 9x13 inch baking pan
  • stand mixer

Ingredients
  

  • 1 box Yellow Cake Mix
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Margarine or butter
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese 1 typical block, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups Confectioners' sugar

Instructions
 

  • To Prep: Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13" pan.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment (or large bowl with an electric mixer) beat together the margarine, cake mix and 2 eggs on medium speed. When the cake batter starts to look more like a cookie dough, it's ready.
    4-step photo collage showing how to make ooey gooey butter cake
  • Press the dough into the bottom of your prepared baking dish.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl (or washed bowl of your stand mixer) beat together the powdered sugar, cream cheese, and the other 2 eggs. Beat for 2-3 minutes MINIMUM (and up to 10-15 minutes if you have time), then pour the mixture on top of the cake dough in your pan. Spread if needed to ensure even coverage.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, until the middle of the cake sets up and isn't liquid anymore.

Notes

Nutritional values are an estimate only and will vary based on your exact ingredients used and the serving size.

Nutrition

Calories: 236kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 4gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 55mgSodium: 362mgPotassium: 53mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 504IUVitamin C: 0.01mgCalcium: 90mgIron: 1mg
Keyword butter, cake, cream cheese
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

 

Pin our Gooey Butter Bars on Pinterest:

2 photo Pinterest collage of gooey butter cake, with text overlay of recipe name

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