Incredible Butterscotch Cake

LAST UPDATED: Feb 19, 2021 | PUBLISHED: Sep 30, 2019 | By:

This is a moist and decadent Easy Butterscotch Cake Recipe that your family will clamor over. Inspired by vintage recipes and covered in Butterscotch Frosting, it’s baked in a half sheet pan or 9×13 and couldn’t be easier! 

A piece of Butterscotch cake on a white plate, with crumbs surrounding it.

An Easy Butterscotch Cake Recipe

Well, I’ve been on a bit of a cake kick lately. I can’t get enough of them, and my hips don’t lie! Developing recipes is one of the best parts of my job and this is especially true when it comes to fall baking. While my family is thrilled when I put my stretchy baking pants on, I do have to think in terms of moderation. However, when it comes to this easy butterscotch cake recipe, it’s hard to stop at just one slice!

Before there was a trend towards salted caramel sauce, butterscotch was the ultimate dessert indulgence. Don’t get me wrong – I love salted caramel (passionately, I might add). But the simplicity and buttery richness of a butterscotch dessert is unforgettable! Don’t skip this moist, easy brown sugar butterscotch cake recipe.

A piece of Butterscotch cake on a white plate, with crumbs surrounding it.

What is Butterscotch?

What’s the difference between caramel, toffee and butterscotch? There are subtle but significant differences that can cater to a variety of tastes.

While each of these three sweet candies or sauces is created with a delicious concoction of sugar and butter, caramel generally includes white granulated sugar, cream and vanilla flavorings for a creamy, delicate balance.

Butterscotch is a little deeper in flavor because it’s created with brown sugar (which contains molasses). A butterscotch dessert is richer and more flavor-focused for that reason!

A piece of frosted Butterscotch cake on a white plate.

While butterscotch and caramel are often used interchangeably, butterscotch is probably best differentiated by the absence of milk or cream. Toffee is generally considered to be butterscotch that is cooked for longer. It can create a sticky, rich sweet sauce that pairs beautifully with many old-fashioned butterscotch desserts.

About This Recipe

  • Sweet, but subtle
  • Tender and moist
  • Quick and easy
Gold jelly roll pan on a metal cooling rack, filled with a sheet cake.

Butterscotch Cake Recipe Ingredients

Many of the old-fashioned butterscotch cake recipes call for butterscotch pudding. Personally, I find that packaged pudding flavor to be a little inauthentic and wanted a cake with a richer, deeper flavor.

With that said, this cake focuses on the true ingredients of homemade butterscotch: butter and lots of dark brown sugar.

  • All-Purpose Flour – No need to sift. Don’t get me wrong- you can definitely add this extra step, but I rarely do.
  • Baking Powder – Helps this cake rise to fluffy perfection.
  • Salt – A little salt balances the sweetness of rich brown sugar.
  • Butter – Salted or unsalted at room temperature.
  • Dark Brown Sugar – Dark brown sugar to create that rich, moist flavor of butterscotch!
  • Vegetable Oil or Canola Oil – Canola oil has less flavor, but either will work.
  • Vanilla – Vanilla extract for a hint of flavor.
  • Eggs – Eggs bind the ingredients, add to cake rise and moisture content.
  • Milk – Milk adds a creamy density to this butterscotch cake recipe! I used whole milk but you can use whatever you have on hand.
Gold jelly roll pan filled with cake and frosting slathered on top.

The Best Butterscotch Frosting

You really can have your cake and eat it too. In fact, you can have your butterscotch cake and top it with as much butterscotch frosting as you want- that’s the joy of being a grown up! This easy butterscotch frosting is decadent, creamy and perfectly balanced.

Butterscotch frosting on a metal mixer attachment, edge of metal bowl showing at bottom.

Butterscotch Frosting Ingredients

  • Butterscotch Chips – They give rich, buttery flavor of this frosting. Use name brand for best results. They’re more natural in color, flavor and consistency.
  • Butter – This is not a full buttercream frosting, just a little butter for added creamy flavor!
  • Powdered Sugar – This finely powdered confectioner’s sugar keeps frosting silky smooth and lump-free.
  • Milk – I used full fat milk in this butterscotch frosting recipe. You can do less or more milk depending on the thickness you’d like to see in your butterscotch frosting!

How to Make Butterscotch Frosting

  1. Melt Butterscotch – Melt butterscotch chips and butter together in a microwave safe bowl. Start with one minute and then melt in 10 second increments, so you don’t burn/overcook.
  2. Combine – In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, combine melted butterscotch butter mixture, and alternate gradually adding powdered sugar and milk until combined.
A piece of frosted Butterscotch cake on a white plate.

How to Make Butterscotch Cake

  1. Prep – Prepare your sheet pan with baking spray to grease the bottom and sides. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine Dry Ingredients – Set aside.Close-up of flour mixture in a mixing bowl.
  3. Cream Butter, Oil and Sugar – Beat until light and fluffy in texture and light in color. This process takes about 3-4 minutes and is essential to give this cake a beautiful rise and texture.
  4. Add Eggs and Vanilla – Mix until combined.Mixing bowl filled with butterscotch cake mixture.
  5. Add Milk
  6. Combine – Gradually add dry ingredients to wet until smooth, but just combined.
  7. Bake – Bake times vary based on pan size, type and altitude. Use the toothpick test. When a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, it is done. Gold jelly roll pan, filled with a sheet cake.
  8. Cool – After removing cake from the oven, place on a wire cooling rack for up to 5 minutes. Make your frosting and smooth onto cake after it has cooled completely.
  9. Ice – Combine icing ingredients and spread onto cake when it’s cool to the touch.

Bake Options

  • Half Baking Sheet – For a thinner sheet cake, bake in a large jelly roll style pan for approximately 20 minutes.
  • 9×13 – For a thicker cake, bake approximately 30 minutes.
A piece of frosted Butterscotch cake on a white plate, crumbs surrounding it.

To Store

  • Room Temperature – Store in an airtight container or covered for up to 3 days. 
  • Freeze – Cake layers can be stored up to 3 months in an airtight container without icing. Bring to room temperature to enjoy.
What does butterscotch cake taste like?

Delightfully light and moist rich caramel toffee.

More Cake Recipes

Like I said, I’ve been really into vintage-inspired cakes lately. Here’s a few more delicious cakes you should try next!

Gold jelly roll pan filled with cake and frosting slathered on top.
A piece of frosted Butterscotch cake on a white plate, crumbs surrounding it.

Join the club! You can find daily updates on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and see my latest YouTube videos here!

What do you think? Are you nostalgic for vintage-inspired desserts like I am? If you make this butterscotch cake recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Be sure to come back and leave a comment and review!

More Dessert Recipes

Love the sweet, buttery flavor of butterscotch and caramel? Check out these ideas for more desserts to love!

slice of butterscotch cake on white plate

Incredible Butterscotch Cake

Author: Julie Blanner
This is a moist and decadent Easy Butterscotch Cake Recipe that your family will clamor over. Inspired by vintage recipes and covered in Butterscotch Frosting, it's baked in a jelly roll or 9×13 and couldn't be easier! 
5 from 26 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 people
Calories 282 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder total 1 tablespoon + ½ teaspoon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup butter
  • cups dark brown sugar packed
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs large
  • cups milk

Butterscotch Frosting

  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 tablespoons milk

Instructions
 

  • Prepare your sheet pan with baking spray to grease the bottom and sides. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, add butter, dark brown sugar and canola oil. Beat until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  • Add milk and blend to combine.
  • Gradually add dry mixture to wet until just combined and smooth. Don't overmix.
  • Bake in a jelly roll pan for a thinner sheet cake 15 minutes. In a 9×13 baking dish, bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove cake and place on a wire cooling rack to cool.

Butterscotch Frosting

  • Melt butterscotch chips and butter together in a microwave safe bowl. Start with one minute and then melt in 10 second increments, so you don't burn or overcook.
  • Add melted butterscotch and butter mixture to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. 
  • Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk until fully combined.
  • Spread onto cooled cake.

Notes

Tips

  • Properly Measure Flour – Spoon flour into measuring cup rather than scoop it, which will result in too much flour and make the cake dry. 
  • Don’t Overbake  – Use the toothpick test to prevent over or under baking. When a toothpick inserted in the center f the cake comes out clean, the cake is done.
  • Avoid using dark color pans. They tend to dry the edges of the cake. 
  • Use high quality butterscotch chips for the best result.

To Store

  • Room Temperature – Store in an airtight container or covered for up to 3 days. 
  • Freeze – Cake layers can be stored up to 3 months in an airtight container without icing. Bring to room temperature to enjoy.

Nutrition

Calories:282kcalCarbohydrates:46gProtein:3gFat:10gSaturated Fat:5gCholesterol:47mgSodium:158mgPotassium:139mgFiber:1gSugar:35gVitamin A:279IUCalcium:69mgIron:1mg
5 from 26 votes
Did you Make This Recipe?Mention @JulieBlanner
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