Gluten-Free Texas Sheet Cake – This is the gluten-free Texas chocolate sheet cake recipe you’ve been waiting for! All the classic chocolate flavor & delicious texture you love–just made gluten-free!
This recipe was a request by a reader (I LOVE getting your recipe requests!), and I’ve been SO excited to share it since nailing down the recipe a few weeks ago. Because WOW IT IS SO GOOD.
If you’ve never had it before, Texas sheet cake is one of the easiest chocolate cake recipes out there. You don’t need any fancy piping bags or special decorating skills to make it. It’s famous at parties, get-togethers, reunions, and celebrations of all kinds–in part, because it’s so simple to make, in part because it can easily feed a crowd, and in part because HAVE I MENTIONED IT IS DELICIOUS?!
This rich chocolate cake is made in a sheet pan and covered with a simple chocolate fudge frosting that works its own magic on the flavor and texture of the cake. One bite in, and I think you’ll love it as much as we do!
Here’s what you need to make the best gluten-free Texas sheet cake…
Our Gluten-Free Texas Sheet Cake Recipe, At A Glance:
Here’s What You Need To Make Gluten-Free Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake:
- Gluten-Free Measure-For-Measure Flour. Part of what I love about this gluten-free chocolate cake recipe is that it’s SO easy. No mixing a bunch of different blends–we keep things simple with a measure-for-measure gluten-free flour blend. We recommend King Arthur Baking brand, but if you use another brand, be sure it contains xanthan gum for best results.
- Sugar. It seems like a LOT. but sugar keeps this cake super moist & gets divided between 24-36 servings!
- Baking Soda & Salt. This helps keep the cake’s texture light & level, and helps balance the flavor.
- Sour Cream (Or Buttermilk). Most texas sheet cake recipes use either buttermilk or sour cream. The acidity reacts with the baking soda to give the cake a light texture, and the tang balances the flavor. I recommend using sour cream first, buttermilk second, and only recommend a homemade buttermilk substitute (with milk + apple cider vinegar) as a last resort, since it doesn’t have the same thickness/richness.
- Eggs. Help bind the cake together. Pretty straightforward!
- Vanilla. I love vanilla extract + chocolate together. They bring out the best in each other!
- Butter. Again, it’ll seem like lots (and it is!), but this is how you get that classic flavor & texture. (And again, remember it’s divided between 24-36 servings!) I haven’t experimented with making this recipe dairy-free yet.
- Cocoa Powder. I like my Texas sheet cake to taste good and chocolatey, so my secret is adding a *tiny* bit more cocoa powder than some other recipes do in both the cake & frosting. It makes all the difference! Remember to use REGULAR unsweetened cocoa powder (like Ghiradelli or Hershey’s) here NOT Dutch-processed/dark cocoa powder (which won’t react properly with the baking soda).
- Water. You’ll heat the water to almost boiling, which will dissolve the chocolate and butter, but also help thin out the cake batter to a nice, pourable texture, which makes it easy to cover a whole sheet pan.
- Our Easy Fudge Frosting. Then, you’ll finish this gluten-free Texas sheet cake with the classic chocolate fudge frosting made from butter, milk, cocoa powder, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Easy!
Pecans Or No Pecans?
Everyone seems to have their own spin on whether or how to include chopped pecans in their Texas sheet cake. Some adamantly insist the nuts need to be mixed INTO the frosting, while others sprinkle theirs on at the end, and others leave them out all together. YOU DO YOU!
We are almost always serving a crowd with mixed opinions, so I like to toast & chop the pecans and either sprinkle them on half of the cake, or serve them in a bowl on the side so people can add them to their slice as desired.
How To Make Gluten-Free Texas Sheet Cake, Step By Step:
First, Make The Gluten-Free Texas Sheet Cake:
- Preheat The Oven & Prep Your Pans. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees and greasing a 13″ x 18″ x 1″ sheet pan with butter or spray oil (or line the pan neatly with parchment paper).
- Whisk Dry Ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk gluten-free flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
- Mix Eggs, Sour Cream & Vanilla. In a large liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine eggs, sour cream and vanilla. (There will be a second where this looks like a big mess–just keep whisking and it’ll come together smoothly.)
- Heat Butter, Cocoa Powder & Water. In a small saucepan, melt butter, cocoa powder, and water until almost simmering. You want it hot and smooth, so it can help thin out the batter.
- Assemble The Cake Batter. Add sour cream mixture to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. (It’ll be thick almost like dough and a bit dry at this point.) Pour the cocoa mixture into the batter a bit at a time, mixing to incorporate the chocolate mixture before adding the next bit. Whisk until it’s smooth and even in texture.
- Pour Into Prepared Pan. Pour the sheet cake batter onto your prepared baking sheet. Gently smooth out the surface so it’s even and goes all the way to the edges of the pan. (An offset spatula makes this easier)
- Bake The Cake. Pop the cake pan into the oven and bake 18-20 minutes, or JUST until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, with perhaps a few small moist crumbs. The cake is thin, so you don’t want to over-bake.)
Immediately Start The Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
- Right after you remove the cake from the oven, begin the frosting. (Unlike most cakes, you want to pour the frosting on while the cake is still warm.)
- Melt Butter + Milk + Cocoa. In a small saucepan, melt butter, milk and cocoa powder together over medium heat, whisking regularly until it’s almost simmering/bubbling. (Don’t boil it, just heat it till it’s about to bubble.)
- Mix In Powdered Sugar & Vanilla. Remove the frosting from the heat and stir in powdered sugar and vanilla, whisking until there are not clumps of powdered sugar. There may be a few small air bubbles–this is totally fine, you just don’t want powdered sugar lumps. If you want to mix the pecans INTO the frosting, do that now.
- Pour Frosting Over Warm Cake. Pour the fudge frosting over the still-warm sheet cake and quickly use an offset spatula to gently spread the frosting evenly over the surface. Be gentle, since the cake is pretty moist! If you want to sprinkle the cake with pecans, do that now.
- Cool At Least 20 Minutes. Let the sheet cake cool at least 20 minutes before slicing. I prefer to cool it about an hour to let the frosting set up, but some folks love when the frosting is still a bit soft and gooey.
- Slice & Serve! When you’re ready, slice the cake into 24-36 slices. (For 24 slices, cut the whole cake into quarters, then cut each quarter into 6 slices. For 36 slices, cut the whole cake into quarters, then cut each quarter into 9 slices.)
- Store Leftovers. If you have leftovers, cover the sheet pan with a lid or foil, and store at room temperature for 1-2 days, or the refrigerator for 2-3 days (my preference).
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The BEst Gluten-Free Texas Sheet Cake:
Why Is It Called Texas Sheet Cake? There are lots of fun stories about this! Some say it’s because it’s a huge “Texas-sized” cake because of its size, while the Library of Congress found it was first published in the Texas newspaper Galveston Daily News in 1936. Others say it got its nickname for always showing up at Texan funerals to feed a crowd, where it got the nickname “Texas Funeral Cake.” However it got its name, it’s definitely been a southern staple for decades!
What Size Sheet Pan Do You Use For Texas Sheet Cake? You’ll use what’s referred to as a “half sheet pan.” Half sheet pans are 13 x 18 x 1 inches, and they’re the kind of large sheet pans home bakers usually use to bake cookies.
Decorate Your Cake! The traditional way to present and decorate a Texas sheet cake is simply with chocolate frosting or chocolate icing and pecans, but you can absolutely break tradition and decorate your sheet cake with colorful or seasonal sprinkles for a birthday or special occasion. Learn all about the different kinds of sprinkles & when to use each kind here!
What Kind Of Cocoa Powder Do You Use For Texas Sheet Cake? Texas sheet cake was developed long before Dutch-processed/dark/alkalized cocoa was mainstream in the United States, so regular unsweetened cocoa powder is traditional for Texas sheet cake. Although Dutch-processed cocoa would add a darker color and deeper flavor, it’s NOT recommended for this recipe since we’re using baking soda, which reacts with the acid in regular cocoa powder + sour cream to help the cake rise. (Dutch-processed cocoa has already been neutralized, so it won’t have the same reaction here and will change the rise and texture of your cake).
Do You Add The Frosting To Texas Sheet Cake When It’s Hot? Yes and no! If you add the frosting *right* when the cake comes out of the oven, it will absorb into the cake quite a bit. You want it to absorb SOME, but not as much as with a piping hot cake. I recommend starting the frosting right after the cake comes out of the oven, then pouring the frosting on top while it’s still warm.
More Gluten-Free Cake Recipes to Try:
- Gluten-Free Rainbow Layer Cake – Flippin’ Delicious
- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cupcakes With Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Gluten-Free Apple Spice Bundt Cake
- Gluten-Free Blueberry Coffee Cake
- Gluten-Free Vanilla Sheet Cake – Gluten-Free On A Shoestring