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With a dense cake base, a crackly top, and a generous dusting of powdered sugar, this easy gooey butter cake is a Midwestern classic you’ll want to make again and again.

Slice of gooey butter cake on a white plate, garnished with fresh berries.

Do you ever make a recipe and know that it’s going to be an instant winner for anyone with a sweet tooth?

No? Just me?

Well, this is one of those recipes. This quirky cake is super famous in the Midwest and is perfect for anyone who loves a super sweet dessert.

I like to pair it with fresh berries to balance out the sweetness, but you could serve it plain, add a dollop of homemade whipped cream, or even add a scoop of ice cream on top.

This is a classic, simple recipe that you’ll definitely want to add to your recipe box!

Sliced gooey butter cake, with a cake server about to lift up a slice of the cake.


If you’ve never spent much time in the Midwest, you might not be familiar with gooey butter cake.

This cake is most famous in St. Louis, Missouri, but can often be found in homes around the Midwest.

While there’s a more complicated traditional recipe, most home bakers make their gooey butter cake with a layer of yellow cake batter, made with cake mix, topped with a cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar mixture that gets spread on top.

Easy gooey butter cake ingredients arranged on a gray countertop.

When it bakes up, the cake becomes a dense crust on the bottom with the gooey cream cheese “filling” on top. The very top of the cake gets nice and crackly and then it’s finished with a dusting of powdered sugar.

I’ve used gooey butter cake as the inspiration for other recipes before, such as my gooey butter cookies and cranberry gooey butter bars. You can also try lemon coconut gooey butter bars!

But it was about time I shared a more classic gooey butter cake recipe!

Gooey butter cake base batter in a white mixing bowl.


From-scratch recipes like my moist banana cake totally have their place, but it’s always good to have some doctored cake mix recipes up your sleeve. 

This recipe is super simple and takes only a few minutes to throw together, so it’s perfect for a last-minute gathering or a weeknight dessert!

Base for gooey butter cake pressed into the bottom of a cake pan.

Ingredients you’ll need

You’ll only need 6 ingredients to make this delicious and easy cake:

  • 1 (15.25 ounce) package butter golden or yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup salted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, divided use
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided use
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Definitely make sure you use salted butter in this recipe. It’s a very sweet cake, and the salted butter really helps balance that out.

Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature so that the topping gets nice and smooth. If you forgot to set it out, I’ve got a few tips for how to soften cream cheese quickly.

If you just realized you ran out of powdered sugar, don’t panic. Learn how to make powdered sugar and use that substitute in this cake.

Cream cheese topping for gooey butter cake mixed together in a metal mixing bowl.

Making this recipe

The ingredients in this cake make it really likely to stick to your cake pan, so start by lining a 13×9-inch pan with parchment or foil. Then spray that with nonstick spray. This will help the cake release better after it cools.

Using an electric mixer, beat together the cake mix, butter, 2 of the eggs, and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. Spread this mixture evenly across the bottom of your pan. It’ll be thick, so you may have to press it a bit.

Assembled gooey butter cake in a pan, ready to go in the oven.

Now you’ll make the gooey butter layer. Beat the cream cheese, the rest of the eggs, and the rest of the vanilla until it’s nice and smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar and then spread that over the cake layer.

Bake the cake for about 40 minutes, until it is golden brown. Let it cool before digging in.

To be the most authentic, give the cake a generous dusting of powdered sugar before serving – although that’s technically optional if you don’t want the added sweetness.

Overhead view of baked and sliced gooey butter cake on a piece of parchment paper.


Serve this cake warm or at room temperature. It’s best on the first day, but will keep covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.

If you want to warm a slice before enjoying it, pop it into the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Two pieces of stacked gooey butter cake with a bite taken from the top slice.
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Easy Gooey Butter Cake

By: Jamie
4.72 from 21 ratings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 15
With a dense cake base, a gooey topping, and a generous dusting of powdered sugar, this easy gooey butter cake is a Midwestern classic you’ll want to make again and again.


  • 1 package butter golden or yellow cake mix 15.25 ounces
  • ½ cup salted butter melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs divided use
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract divided use
  • 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat the cake mix, butter, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until well-combined. Evenly spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Beat cream cheese, remaining 2 eggs, and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until smooth. Slowly beat in powdered sugar and spread the mixture over the cake layer.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool before serving. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. 



Store at room temperature, covered, for up to 3 days.


Serving: 1slice, Calories: 346kcal, Carbohydrates: 53g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 75mg, Sodium: 364mg, Potassium: 55mg, Fiber: 0.4g, Sugar: 39g, Vitamin A: 456IU, Calcium: 96mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. sydnie says:

    hi!! i followed this recipe and LOVED it! do you by chance know the cooking time for a smaller pan?

    1. Jamie says:

      We haven’t tried baking this is a smaller pan, so not sure on the adjusted bake time. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  2. Evelyn says:

    We had a packaged butter cake on our Amtrak train trip this past summer that was served with our meals. We both liked them a lot and they don’t seem available to buy at stores. That’s when found your recipe. It’s so easy and we thought it was just as good two days later as the first day! And better than the packaged ones. So thank you for sharing this. I am making it again today for guests tomorrow.

    1. Jamie says:

      I am so happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback!

  3. Kala says:

    This recipe looks delicious! I love butter cake and can’t wait to try it!

    1. Jamie says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Kala! Happy baking!

  4. Charlie says:

    Dear Jamie
    A question – since I do not use any pre-mix, do you have any recipe for the butter golden or yellow cake mix ?

    Your reciepe reminds me very much of Butterkuchen (aka German Sugar Cake / Old Fashioned German Sugar Cake / Zuckerkuchen) which is heavenly but uses a yeast which is why I have not yet attempted to make it

    Many thanks

    1. Jamie says:

      Hi Charlie – I don’t personally have a go-to homemade mix, so I can’t necessarily recommend one to use in this recipe. Good luck and happy baking!