Cooking in the Time of COVID: Gooey Butter Cake


Image by Jada Teague

Sydney Braddy, Contributing Writer


Gooey Butter Cake


Gooey Butter Cake, also called Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, originated in St. Louis, Missouri. There are two possible theories on how the cake came to be. The first story is that a German American baker in the 1930s randomly mixed up the proportions for butter and flour. The second story is that this same baker mixed up “butter smears,” gooey butter (Danish rolls) and deep butter (coffee cakes), resulting in the creation of Gooey Butter Cake. This dish was found during the Great Depression, so the cakes were sold to preserve leftovers and food. Both stories follow the idea that Gooey Butter Cake was made by accident, and this accident became so popular in St. Louis that it can be found in every grocery store and is even served in restaurants. It even comes in other flavors such as pumpkin and chocolate, but the original is the simple, buttery flavor.

Interesting Facts:

  • There are two variations of Gooey Butter Cake: the bakers’ variation and the cream cheese with yellow cake mix variation.
  • The cream cheese variation, while close to the original, is designed for at-home baking since it’s easier. 
  • Almost all bakeries in St. Louis use slightly different recipes, but there is no cream cheese cake mix used.
  • Bakers tried to take the cakes outside of St. Louis to show them to other bakers. While the cakes were liked, customers wouldn’t buy them because they looked like a “flat gooey mess.”
  • Gooey Butter Cake is often called Ooey Gooey Butter Cake because of celebrity chef Paula Deen.
Photo by Devyn Waits

Prep Time: 25 minutes                      Cook Time: 40-45 minutes                 Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 box (16-ounce) powdered sugar
  • Vanilla ice cream (optional)
  • Additional powdered sugar to sprinkle in top (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix the cake mix, melted butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2 eggs.
  3. Spray non-stick cooking spray on a 9×13-inch baking pan and pour cake mix into the baking pan.
  4. Mix the cream cheese, the remaining 2 eggs and the remaining teaspoon (1) of vanilla extract with an electric mixer. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar. Pour over the cake layer.
  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool. After cooling, vanilla ice cream can be put on top if wanted.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Get a yellow cake mix that has the word “moist” on the box. 
  • Spray the baking pan with some cooking spray so the cake doesn’t stick too much.
  • The cake is best to eat when warm.
  • The cake is a bit firm, so cut it into brownie-sized pieces.
  • It is best to use room temperature products for easier mixing.
  • If you don’t have a mixer, try doing it with a whisk. Using one won’t be as effective, but it’ll get the job done.