Gooey Butter Cake – With a Cake Mix

If you have never had gooey butter cake before, here is how I would describe it. It’s a dense cake base, almost like a shortbread, but softer. Then, it has a lightly baked frosting on top. It truly is gooey in texture—in fact, sometimes this is called ooey gooey butter cake.

It’s a rich dessert that is usually cut into square bars, and I believe it’s originally from St. Louis, Missouri (about three hours from where I live).

I will admit, it’s not the most beautiful cake. But it’s SO delicious. It kind of reminds me of Milk Bar Pie, but not a pie texture … more like cake bars.

And if you love gooey butter cake, then I’d recommend trying gooey butter cake cookies or this pineapple upside down gooey butter cake.

Jump to Recipe

There are a number of gooey butter cake recipes available on the internet and cookbooks, but I consider this the super easy version, as we will use a cake mix for the base and the entire recipe only has eight ingredients.

Why is it called gooey butter cake?

The texture of the top layer is very gooey, like thick pudding. I would compare it to a lightly baked frosting. It will have a kind of flaky appearance, but the texture itself will ooze a little when cut.

This is why it’s really important to allow this cake to refrigerate for at least two hours (after it cools) or overnight, if possible. It’s probably a little more gooey (runny) than the texture of lemon bars.

What is gooey butter cake made of?

There are two layers: the base cake and the top which is like a baked frosting. The base cake is made of yellow cake mix, one egg, melted butter, and a little nutmeg (optional).

The top layer is made of cream cheese, eggs, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar.

How do I know when my gooey butter cake is done?

This cake will (and should) seem underbaked. That’s OK! That’s exactly what puts the “gooey” in gooey butter cake.

The edges of the cake should puff slightly and begin to appear golden brown, while the center will appear flaky but still have a lot of jiggle to it.

The cake needs to cool and refrigerate for at least two hours before cutting. Otherwise, it may be too gooey and runny to easily serve.

If you need to transport this dessert, I would recommend waiting to cut the cake into bars until you are at your destination. Happy baking! -Emma

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5 from 3 votes

Gooey Butter Cake – With a Cake Mix

easy gooey butter cake bars made with a yellow cake mix base
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cake, cake bars
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Refrigerate Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 55 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Emma Chapman


  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup butter melted
  • teaspoon nutmeg optional

Top Layer:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 16 ounces powdered sugar


  • In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, egg, melted butter, and nutmeg (if using).
  • In a 7×9 baking pan lined with parchment paper, press the batter in an even layer.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the softened cream cheese, eggs, and vanilla extract.
  • Stir in the powdered sugar.
  • Pour this frosting batter over the top of the cake batter layer.
  • Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. The edges will puff slightly and turn golden brown, while the center will remain very jiggly.
  • Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool.
  • Refrigerate for at least two hours (covered) or overnight before cutting into bars.


The 7×9 baking pan I used is Staub brand, and although not necessarily a standard size (9×13 being more common), it is a common pan. However, you could use a 9×13 pan instead and reduce the baking time to 35-38 minutes. 
  • 5 stars
    I made this last weekend & passed it out before i even tried it & everyone was coming back for more & the recipe! It did bake much faster than the 45 mins suggested, mine was done in 30 mins (but its a new oven). & i only used 1/2 the powedered sugar to make less sweet. So tonight im making 2 batches but im using white cake for one & strawberry funfetti for the other (only cake i have on hand). Ill let you know how they turn out! Im sure theyll be hits!!

  • One of my good friends makes gooey butter cake for parties, and it is AMAZING! She’s from St. Louis 🙂

    • We have made these since I was a girl in Charleston but we call then “Cheesecake Squares” . SO yummy!

  • This recipe sounds delicious I’m going to make it today thanks for sharing it.

  • I live in Maryland and have never heard of this before…but it looks delicious! I’m going to attempt a gf/df version. Thanks for sharing!

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