Gooey Butter Cake is an easy make-ahead breakfast Danish or dessert recipe with decadent, luxurious texture.

This St. Louis classic is made in minutes with a cake mix to provide a foundation for an amazing gooey filling you’ll crave again and again!

Once you’ve had a slice this classic treat, you’ll be spoiled on all other desserts. Fair warning!

A white rectangular baking dish filled with a homemade gooey butter cake.
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St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake has been served for years both as a breakfast danish and as dessert. Sweet, rich and oh so good! It can be made from scratch or with a box of yellow cake mix as we’re doing today.

The best way to describe Gooey Butter Cake is to think of three amazing layers – a thick bottom layer made from cake batter. Next is a delightfully light cream cheese and sugar layer and a then a thin, flaky crunchy layer that forms on top when it’s baked. It’s heavenly!

A white rectangular baking dish filled with a homemade gooey butter cake.

Gooey Butter Cake

It’s perfectly buttery and sweet, balanced with a little tang from cream cheese. All you need is simple pantry ingredients!

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Make Ahead – This delicious treat is even better on the second day… maybe you can enjoy it for breakfast with a cup of coffee. Not that we’ve ever done that!
  • Pantry Ingredients – it even starts with a simple boxed cake mix.
  • Fresh, Vibrant Flavor – Decadent and sweet, it’s great for breakfast, brunch, parties and more!
A slice of gooey butter cake on a white plate.

The History Of The Gooey Butter Cake

  • Gooey Butter Cake may have been made famous by Paula Dean, but it originated in St. Louis. It was first made in the 1930’s in error by a baker who reversed the proportions of butter and flour.
  • Gooey butter, intended for danishes and stollens was smeared on top. It instantly became a hit!
  • You can find it at just about every bakery in St. Louis including Park Avenue Coffee (73 flavors), Russell’s, McArthur’s, Missouri Baking Company, Hartford Coffee Company, The Mudhouse, Yolklore, Boundary, and at all the grocery stores.
  • You’ll also find it on a lot of restaurant menus served warm for dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen custard. It’s a delicious combination you have to try!
a close up of a gooey butter cake topped with powdered sugar

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Yellow Cake Mix – Golden recipe yellow cake mix is the best for this recipe.
  • Butter – Salted butter is my preference to balance out the sweetness of this cake.
  • Eggs – Size large.
  • Cream Cheese – I use full fat, but you can use reduced if you’d prefer.
  • Powdered Sugar – Also known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar, this gives the cake its amazing consistency and is perfect for sprinkling on top! You can make powdered sugar if you don’t have any on hand!
a close up of a gooey butter cake topped with powdered sugar

Variations

  • chocolate chips
  • blueberries
  • blackberry
  • lemon juice and or lemon zest
  • espresso powder
  • toasted coconut
A slice of gooey butter cake on a white plate.

How To Make Gooey Butter Cake

  1. Prep – Preheat and grease a 9×13″ pan.
  2. Combine – Mix cake mix, butter and eggs until thick and smooth.
  3. Spread – Smooth the mixture in pan.
  4. Combine the remaining ingredients on low until smooth. Pour over cake mixture.
  5. Garnish – Sprinkle powdered sugar on top to garnish.
  6. Bake – as directed, leaving it slightly gooey.
  7. Enjoy!
A white rectangular baking dish filled with a homemade gooey butter cake.

Tips

  • Use an 8×8, 9×9, 9×11 or 9×13 pan. Just adjust baking time – the thicker your gooey butter cake is, the longer it will take to bake.
  • Grease your pan so that the cake doesn’t stick.
  • It’s done when a crust has formed on the top, yet the cake is slightly gooey and jiggles a bit when you shake the dish.
  • Make it ahead or bake and enjoy when it’s warm.

Make More (or Less!)

Scaling up, down or substituting? You’ll love this printable Measurement Conversion Chart!

A white rectangular baking dish filled with a homemade gooey butter cake. White plate with a serving to the side.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is gooey butter cake a Midwest thing?

Yes! Specifically, it’s a St. Louis thing! All cakes are sweet, and most are decadently moist, but this one takes it to a whole new level.

What is the difference between St. Louis and Philadelphia butter cake?

In a Philadelphia butter cake, there is no cream cheese. Furthermore, the base of the Philly butter cake uses yeast, unlike the St. Louis version!

How to Store

  • Room Temperature – Store covered in an air tight container for up to two days at room temp.
  • Refrigerate – The cake will last up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Freeze – You can also freeze the cake for up to a month by wrapping it in plastic wrap or in a large freezer bag.
A slice of gooey butter cake on a white plate.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve it for New Year’s brunch
  • Easter brunch
  • Mother’s Day Brunch
  • Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Dietary Considerations

  • Nut Free
  • Vegetarian
A white rectangular baking dish filled with a homemade gooey butter cake.

More Gooey Inspiration

A white rectangular baking dish filled with a homemade gooey butter cake.
4.97 from 28 votes

Gooey Butter Cake

The best gooey butter cake recipe (that starts with a boxed cake mix) from a St. Louis baker. It's a sweet and rich breakfast treat or dessert to savor anytime.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 15
Pin Rate Print

Ingredients  

Layer 1

  • 1 Golden Butter Recipe Yellow Cake Mix
  • ½ cup butter (salted, softened)
  • 2 eggs size large

Layer 2

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 325℉ and grease a 9×13" pan.
  • Mix cake mix, butter and eggs until thick and smooth.
  • Spread and press mixture in pan (with the back of a spatula or your hands).
  • Mix the remaining ingredients on low until smooth. Pour over cake mixture. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top to garnish.
  • Bake 45 minutes, leaving it slightly gooey. You'll notice a slight crust on top rather than a jelly texture.
  • Garnish with sprinkles of powdered sugar, cool and serve.

Tips

Optional Fold Ins

  • chocolate chips
  • blueberries
  • blackberry
  • lemon juice and or lemon zest
  • espresso powder
  • toasted coconut
Tips
  • Grease your pan so that the cake doesn’t stick. This is the best baking spray.
  • Bake in whatever dish you have on hand – 9×11, 9×13, 9×9 etc. Adjust bake time as needed.
  • It’s done when a crust has formed on the top, yet the cake is slightly gooey and jiggles a bit when you shake the dish.
  • Make it ahead or bake and enjoy.
To Store
  • Room Temperature – Store gooey butter cake covered in an air tight container for up to two days at room temp.
  • Refrigerate – The cake will last up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Freeze – You can also freeze the cake for up to a month by wrapping it in plastic wrap or in a large freezer bag.
Calories: 371kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 360mg | Potassium: 51mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 47g | Vitamin A: 440IU | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 1mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

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44 Comments

  1. This looks SO delicious!! Too bad it’s still bathing suit season! Still want to try it anyway! Thanks for the temptation!
    xo E + J

  2. Would you believe ive never had the pleasure of eating this cake? 🙂 although ive seen many a recipe and you may have given me the final push needed to just MAKE it finally! gorgeous photos too!