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!

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.

Why You’ll Love It

Shortcut Recipe – Made with cake mix and pantry ingredients.

Make Ahead – It’s even better the second day!

Decadent – Rich and flavorful, for breakfast, brunch and dessert!

A slice of gooey butter cake on a white plate.

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. I can’t wait for you to try it!

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!

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.

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

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

Julie’s 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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4.97 from 28 votes (14 ratings without comment)

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49 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have made this before, I have this recipe and have had it a long time. It is absolutely delicious. You can’t eat just one piece. Thanks Julie for sharing the recipe. I love your recipes.

    1. It’s the best, isn’t it? You’ll have to try with brown butter next time. It’s incredible! Have a great weekend!

      1. I just updated it Anne! It was an older recipe before I started using recipe cards. Thanks for your patience & enjoy!