The best White Texas Sheet Cake just happens to be made with a doctored white or yellow cake mix! That's right! This easy vanilla sheet cake recipe is slathered with a homemade butter pecan icing, just 10 minutes prep time, and bakes in under 20 minutes. With plenty of shortcuts and variations, you'll be making this simple dessert for every occasion.
Thank you to my friends at Whaley Pecan Company for sponsoring this post.
You've probably had the traditional Texas Sheet Cake recipe, a thin chocolate cake topped with a pourable chocolate icing studded with chopped pecans. This is the shortcut vanilla version of that sheet cake.
This White Texas Pecan Cake recipe is a single layer cake, baked in a 10x15 sheet pan (also called jelly roll pan). You'll also find the baking time for a 9x13 cake pan in the printable recipe below.
I made this 3 times in one week and shared it with friends, family, and Scott's clients. One of those sheet cakes is sliced up and frozen until our next church potluck!
If you're planning a Sunday supper for a crowd or taking dessert to a potluck, this will be a crowd pleaser.
- Using a 16 ounce box of powdered sugar saves time measuring powdered sugar.
- Save a pan/dish to wash. Melt the butter for the cake in the same saucepan you will later melt the butter for the icing.
- Fix it Faster: Melt the butter for your icing in the microwave in a large bowl, then whisk in remaining ingredients. No stovetop needed.
- If you are measuring powdered sugar from a canister, try weighing out 16 ounces instead of measuring 4 cups as it is more accurate and faster. Always use a dry measuring cup for measuring powdered sugar.
These are large pieces when cut to serve 15 people, but you an also cut them into bars and serve 30 at a shower or as a party dessert.
What you will need to make this Vanilla Sheet Cake recipe:
Scroll down to printable recipe for exact ingredient quantities.
- Eggs - Use only the egg whites if using white cake mix. Add whole eggs if making the sheet cake with yellow cake mix.
- Cake Mix - I used Duncan Hines and Aldi brand, but any other brand of cake mix will work. Directions below are for white cake mix. If using a yellow cake mix use same directions except you'll use the whole eggs instead of egg whites.
- Butter - If using unsalted butter add a pinch of salt- or not.
- Milk - I used whole milk to bake the cake, but you can use any type of milk. Milk is also used in the icing, I used whole milk, but you could also use buttermilk if you like a bit of tang to your icing. Actually, anything from skim milk to almond milk will work in this versatile recipe.
- Pecans - Of course, I like to use Whaley's pecans because I know I'm going to get this year's crop pecans! You can use roasted pecan pieces or coarsely chopped roasted pecans.
How to make this recipe for White Texas Sheet Cake
Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe with detailed instructions.
- Preheat the oven. If roasting the pecans in the oven, toast them now before baking the cake.
- Ignore the directions on the cake mix box.
- Beat the egg whites until just frothy or foamy, do not whisk all the way to soft peaks.
- Add the cake mix, then the melted butter, milk and vanilla. Beat on medium/low for 30 seconds then 2 minutes on medium speed.
Pro Tip: Don’t skimp on this time. It will make a difference in the texture of the cake.
What size is a Texas Sheet Cake pan? The size can vary depending on the amount of batter. This recipe fits perfectly in a 10x15-inch rimmed sheet pan or cookie pan. You can also bake it in a 9x13 baking pan and just bake a few minutes longer.
- Dollop the cake batter onto a greased 10x15-inch rimmed sheet pan or cookie pan. This makes it easier to spread the batter without deflating it.
- Spread the batter to the edges of the pan.
- Bake according to printable recipe below. Do not overbake!
Pro Tip: Only spray the bottom of a baking pan with cooking spray when baking a cake made with a cake mix, especially if using a nonstick pan. This allows the cake to “climb” up the sides and therefore makes a taller cake.
Butter Pecan Icing
While the cake is baking is when I roast the pecans in my air fryer. See how to roast pecans in the air fryer, in my Roasted Pecans in Air Fryer post.
- Melt the butter for the icing in a medium size saucepan. Add milk and vanilla, then pecans, stirring well. Remove from the heat.
- After the cake has cooled 10 minutes, add the powdered sugar and stir vigorously until no lumps remain.
Pro Tip: If your icing starts to firm up before you are ready to pour on the cake, simply put it back on the stovetop on medium-low, stirring constantly. The butter will warm up and make it pourable again.
- Quickly pour the butter pecan cake frosting (or icing) onto the white sheet cake, spreading to the edges. It's best to pour in a sweeping fashion from top of the cake to the other end, so it's easier to spread with a knife after pouring.
- Allow the icing to firm up then serve the cake warm, room temperature or chilled.
Substitutions & Variations
- If you like a bit of a tang in your Texas Sheet Cake icing, use buttermilk.
- You can make your own buttermilk by mixing 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar in milk and let it stand 5 minutes.
- Milks vs. Water: This recipe will work using milk from skim milk to whole milk. It will even work with water, coconut milk and almond milk, but my preference is whole milk to get a more rich flavor and texture.
- If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt per 1/2 cup butter.
- Other toppings for a white sheet cake:
- sliced fresh fruit or berries
- a drizzle of melted chocolate, or caramel sauce
- a dusting of cocoa powder or ground cinnamon
White Texas Sheet Cake made with white and yellow cake mix
The cake on the left is made with white cake mix and egg whites with vanilla in the icing. The cake on the right is made with yellow cake mix, whole eggs and no vanilla in the icing. I used Duncan Hines white cake mix and Aldi brand (Bakers Corner) yellow cake mix.
There are various stories as to the origins of the name, some say it's due to a Texas newspaper printing a recipe which they called a Texas sheet cake. Whilst others, have suggested it's because the cake is the size of Texas. Whatever the reason the name came about, it sure is a popular bake.
Dry cake can be down to a number of factors. Perhaps the ingredients were not measured correctly, the cake batter was over-mixed, or the cake was baked too long so it dried out.
Sheet cakes are single layer cakes, usually about 2 inches tall, baked in a rectangular pan called a sheet pan, rimmed baking sheet, or jellyroll pan .
- To Store. As there is milk in the icing, this cake technically needs to be stored in the refrigerator. Cover with foil or place pieces in an air tight container.
- To Freeze. If you want to freeze the cake, you can do that too. Once baked and cooled, cut into portions and place into an airtight container. I like to lay a piece of baking paper between each layer, if stacking the pieces, to stop the cake slices from sticking together.
If you make this recipe I'd love to see it! Tag me on social media with #gritsandgouda or @gritsandgouda. Leave a comment below the printable recipe if you have questions or tell me how you liked the recipe. Don't forget to rate it 5 stars if you love it!
White Texas Sheet Cake (with Cake Mix)
- 3 egg whites
- 1 box white cake mix 15.25 oz box - I used Duncan Hines
- 1/2 cup salted butter melted
- 3/4 cup milk (from skim to whole milk, buttermilk)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk (from skim to whole milk)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup roasted pecan pieces or coarsely chopped roasted pecans
- 1 (16-ounce) box powdered (confectioners) sugar 4 cups
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom only of a 10x15 sheet pan or jelly roll pan.
- If you are roasting the pecans in the same oven as baking the cake, toast them now. Place them on a baking sheet for 7-8 minutes.
- Ignore directions on the cake mix box. Instead beat the egg whites with a hand mixer in a large bowl until just frothy or foamy, do not whisk to soft peaks.
- Add the cake mix, then the melted butter, milk and vanilla. Beat on medium-low for 30 seconds until well combined. Set a timer and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.
- Pro Tip: Don’t skimp on this time. It will make a difference in the texture of the cake.
- Dollop the cake batter into the prepared pan, then spread to the edges. Bake for 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Do not over bake.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire cooking rack. Let it stand for 10 minutes before pouring the icing over the warm cake.
- This is when I roast the pecans in my air fryer (see link in notes below to show you how to do this).
Butter Pecan Icing
- While cake is cooling for 10 minutes, make the icing. Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan over a medium heat, stirring often. You’re not looking for it to boil here.
- Stir in milk and vanilla extract. Stir in the roasted pecans, next, so they soak up some of the yummy butter flavor before adding powdered sugar.
- Add the powdered sugar all at once, then stir vigorously until the powdered sugar is smooth.
- When the cake has cooled 10 minutes in the pan, pour the icing all over the cake, then spread it evenly all over the cake and to the edges. Let the icing firm up about 15 minutes before serving the cake. The cake can also be served at room temperature or refrigerated.
Nutrition analysis on GritsAndGouda.com recipes are mostly calculated on an online nutrition calculator. I am not a dietitian and nutritional information is an estimate and can vary based on products used.