Gooey Butter Cake is a dessert that embodies indulgence, simplicity, and nostalgia. Originating from St. Louis, Missouri, this delectable treat features a dense, chewy crust topped with a rich, gooey filling. Its origins are rooted in a baking mishap, but its popularity has spread far beyond the Midwest. In this article, we’ll delve into the history of Gooey Butter Cake, provide a detailed recipe, suggest variations and serving ideas, and answer some frequently asked questions. By the end, you’ll be ready to make this delightful dessert and share it with friends and family.

The History of Gooey Butter Cake

Gooey Butter Cake: A Delightful Midwest Tradition

The story of Gooey Butter Cake begins in the 1930s in St. Louis, Missouri. According to local legend, a German-American baker accidentally added too much butter to a cake batter, resulting in a dense and gooey texture. Rather than discarding the mistake, the baker sold the cake, and it quickly became a hit with customers. Over time, this “mistake” evolved into a beloved regional specialty, with bakeries across St. Louis offering their own versions of the treat.

Gooey Butter Cake Recipe

Creating Gooey Butter Cake involves two main components: the crust and the gooey topping. The recipe below yields one 9×13-inch cake, perfect for sharing.


For the Crust:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg

For the Filling:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat the Oven:
  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish or line it with parchment paper.
  1. Prepare the Crust:
  • In a large bowl, combine the yellow cake mix, melted butter, and one egg. Mix until well combined. The mixture will be thick and slightly sticky.
  • Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish, forming an even layer.
  1. Make the Filling:
  • In a large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and melted butter, and continue to beat until the mixture is well combined and smooth.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition until the filling is smooth and creamy.
  1. Assemble the Cake:
  • Pour the filling over the crust in the baking dish, spreading it evenly with a spatula.
  1. Bake:
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the center is slightly set but still gooey. The edges should be firm, and the center will jiggle slightly when the dish is gently shaken.
  1. Cool and Serve:
  • Allow the Gooey Butter Cake to cool completely in the baking dish. Once cooled, cut into squares and serve. The cake can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature.

Variations on Gooey Butter Cake

Gooey Butter Cake: A Delightful Midwest Tradition

While the classic Gooey Butter Cake is delicious on its own, there are numerous ways to customize the dessert to suit different tastes and occasions.

Flavor Variations
  1. Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake:
  • Substitute the yellow cake mix with a chocolate cake mix and add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to the filling for a rich, chocolaty version.
  1. Lemon Gooey Butter Cake:
  • Use a lemon cake mix for the crust and add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon zest to the filling for a bright, citrusy flavor.
  1. Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake:
  • Add 1 cup of pumpkin puree and 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to the filling for a seasonal twist.
  1. Peanut Butter Gooey Butter Cake:
  • Swirl 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter into the filling before baking for a delightful peanut butter flavor.
Topping Variations
  1. Fruit Topping:
  • Top the cooled cake with fresh berries, sliced peaches, or a fruit compote for added freshness and flavor.
  1. Nut Topping:
  • Sprinkle chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts, over the filling before baking for a crunchy texture.
  1. Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
  • Mix 1/4 cup granulated sugar with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and sprinkle over the filling before baking for a warm, spiced flavor.

Serving Suggestions

Gooey Butter Cake is a versatile dessert that can be served in various ways to suit different occasions. Here are a few serving suggestions:

  1. Simple Dessert:
  • Serve Gooey Butter Cake squares on their own as a simple yet indulgent dessert.
  1. A La Mode:
  • Pair warm Gooey Butter Cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a delightful contrast of temperatures and textures.
  1. Coffee Companion:
  • Enjoy a slice of Gooey Butter Cake with a cup of coffee or tea for a sweet afternoon treat.
  1. Party Pleaser:
  • Bring Gooey Butter Cake to potlucks, family gatherings, or parties. It’s easy to transport and always a crowd-pleaser.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I make Gooey Butter Cake ahead of time?

Yes, Gooey Butter Cake can be made ahead of time. It can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. Allow it to come to room temperature before serving for the best texture.

2. Can I freeze Gooey Butter Cake?

Yes, Gooey Butter Cake can be frozen. Wrap the cooled cake tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature before serving.

3. Can I use a different type of cake mix?

Yes, you can experiment with different flavors of cake mix to create unique variations of Gooey Butter Cake. Chocolate, lemon, and spice cake mixes all work well.

4. How do I store leftovers?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. Bring to room temperature before serving.

5. Can I make a gluten-free version?

Yes, you can make a gluten-free Gooey Butter Cake by using a gluten-free cake mix and ensuring all other ingredients are gluten-free.

6. What can I use instead of cream cheese?

For a dairy-free version, use a dairy-free cream cheese substitute. The texture and flavor may vary slightly, but it will still be delicious.

7. How can I make the cake less sweet?

To reduce the sweetness, you can use less powdered sugar in the filling. Start with 3 cups instead of 4 and adjust to taste.

8. Can I add mix-ins to the filling?

Yes, you can add mix-ins such as chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or dried fruit to the filling for added texture and flavor.


Gooey Butter Cake is a delightful dessert that has captured the hearts of many since its accidental creation in St. Louis. With its dense, chewy crust and rich, gooey topping, it’s no wonder this treat has become a Midwest favorite. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or experiment with different flavors and toppings, Gooey Butter Cake is sure to be a hit at any gathering.

This versatile dessert can be enjoyed in various ways, from a simple treat with coffee to an impressive party dessert. With the detailed recipe and tips provided, you’re now equipped to make this indulgent cake at home. Enjoy the process of baking and sharing this delicious treat with friends and family, creating sweet memories along the way. Happy baking!

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