The Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe (From Scratch)

The Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe (Similar to Chess Squares and Philadelphia Style Cake) #holidays #christmasSay hello to The Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe (From Scratch) we’ve ever tried! This is the solution to all your holiday dessert needs.

The Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe From Scratch (Similar to Chess Squares and Philadelphia Style Cake) #holidays #christmas
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Sticky-sweet ooey gooey butter cake… Ever tried it?

If not, you have been missing out!

Gooey butter cake is a simple two-layered snack cake with a soft sumptuous top layer and a tender crumbly almost shortbread-like layer on the bottom. It originated in St. Louis, Missouri nearly a century ago, and is similar to other regional treats like southern Chess Squares and Philadelphia Style Cake.

I like gooey butter cake the most, if only for its name.

The Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe From Scratch (Similar to Chess Squares and Philadelphia Style Cake) #holidays #christmas

There are countless recipes on the web for semi-homemade and made-from-scratch Gooey Butter Cake, Chess Squares, and Philadelphia Style Cake.

I’ve tried many of them. So many of them.

In fact, when I decided to make my own Gooey Butter Cake Recipe, I tested the cake-mix version, the scratch-made yeast version, cream cheese and non cream cheese versions, and nut versions… All in the same week.

You could say I get a little obsessive at times.

Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe From Scratch (Similar to Chess Squares and Philadelphia Style Cake) #holidays #christmas

Honestly, they were all pretty good. However the cake-mix version was definitely missing something, while the scratch-made yeast versions were just too darn lengthy to make.

In the end, I took what I felt were the best elements of each recipe and created my own.

Making The Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe From Scratch (Similar to Chess Squares and Philadelphia Style Cake) #holidays #christmas

So here it is, The Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe (From Scratch) we’ve ever tried or made. I’m confident you will think so too.

Our Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe is the perfect dessert for holiday season. Decadent hand-held treats with massive homey appeal!

Our Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe From Scratch (Similar to Chess Squares and Philadelphia Style Cake) #holidays #christmas

Serve at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and/or Christmas Dinner. Take them to parties. Wrap and mail as holiday gifts. Mix things up your holiday cookie exchange. The possibilities are endless.

One thing is for sure, no one can resist the Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe.

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The Perfect Gooey Butter Cake Recipe From Scratch (Similar to Chess Squares and Philadelphia Style Cake) #holidays #christmas

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The Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe From Scratch (Similar to Chess Squares and Philadelphia Style Cake) #holidays #christmas
5 from 9 votes

The Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe (From Scratch)

Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
55 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
Absolutely The BEST Gooey Butter Cake Recipe (From Scratch) we've ever tested! Similar to Chess Squares and Philadelphia Style Cake.
Servings: 40 pieces
Nutrition Facts
The Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe (From Scratch)
Amount Per Serving (2 squares)
Calories 172 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 9%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 35mg 12%
Sodium 85mg 4%
Potassium 67mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Sugars 19g
Protein 2g 4%
Vitamin A 4.2%
Calcium 2.9%
Iron 3.2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


For the Bottom Layer:
For the Top Layer:


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 X 13 inch baking dish with parchment paper and set aside. Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to the food processor. Pulse to combine. Then add the eggs and butter. Turn the food processor on low and run until the mixture forms soft crumby dough.

  2. Dump the dough into the prepared pan. Lightly press the dough evenly over the surface of the pan. Don't pack it down too much. Set aside.
  3. For the top layer, wipe out the food processor bowl and add the cream cheese. Turn on high and whip to soften. Scrape the bowl with a spatula, then add the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Beat the mixture again until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Scrape the bowl again, and mix one more time to make sure there are no clumps.
  4. Pour the mixture over the bottom layer. Place on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes. The top should be golden and puffed up in the center when it's done. If the top starts to turn dark before it puffs up, lay a loose piece of foil over the top to stop the browning, and continue baking.
  5. Allow the gooey butter cake to cool completely at room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Recipe Notes

NOTE: For best cutting results, chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before cutting. If you are in a rush, but want pretty pieces, place the pan in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. Then lift the entire cake out of the pan by the edges of the parchment and cut.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Barn Light Electric. All porcelain-enameled loving opinions are my own. 

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37 comments on “The Best Gooey Butter Cake Recipe (From Scratch)

  1. Ari Gilposted April 12, 2019 at 2:25 pm Reply


    Is there a difference if i mix it in the mixer than in the food processor? Considering the almonds are already grounded of course.
    Thanks :)

  2. Taylorposted February 2, 2019 at 11:02 am Reply

    So rich and delicious! YUM!

  3. lauren kellyposted February 2, 2019 at 8:46 am Reply

    I am so excited to make this recipe! My mother used to make something similar growing up. Saving this one for sure!

  4. Julie Blannerposted February 1, 2019 at 9:50 pm Reply

    Being a St. Louis native, I always love comparing gooey butter cake recipes! This is great!

  5. Toniposted February 1, 2019 at 9:30 pm Reply

    I love making cookies from scratch! This was really amazing!

  6. Pamposted February 1, 2019 at 8:21 pm Reply

    I LOVE Butter Cake, but have never seen it done like this! So, I had to try it! IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT! Thank you!

  7. Debbieposted November 9, 2018 at 2:25 pm Reply

    Can you make with Almond flour or Coconut Flour instead of All-Purpose Flour?

    • Sommer Collierposted November 10, 2018 at 1:31 am Reply

      Hi Debbie,

      I have not tried this one with almond or coconut flour so I can’t say for sure. However, I have made this with gluten free 1-to-1 baking mix and it turns out wonderful. I hope this helps!

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  10. Kathleen Kingposted September 27, 2018 at 6:48 am Reply

    Hi – can I replace the ground almonds with Almond Flour? Can’t wait to try this recipe 😊

    • Sommer Collierposted September 30, 2018 at 4:09 pm Reply

      Hi Kathleen,

      Absolutely! Happy baking!! :)

  11. Nposted September 7, 2018 at 5:58 am Reply

    I’ve made this cake twice so far. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe, it tastes incredible! The only issue I’m having with it is the appearance. There are different sized bubbles and cracks on the surface. Any ideas how to make a smoother looking cake?

  12. Chrisposted August 11, 2018 at 12:43 pm Reply

    Hi Sommer,

    My friend’s birthday is coming soon, and she likes these Ooey Gooey Butter Cakes by Prairie City Bakery that are typically available in convenience stores. To surprise her I’d like to make one of these cakes from scratch, and your recipe is exactly what I was looking for! My question is, if I wanted to give the top layer a lemon flavor (her favorite), how much fresh squeezed lemon juice would I have to add? Also, if I wanted the top layer to have a peanut butter flavor (my favorite), how much peanut butter would I have to add in that case?
    Thank you so much for posting this recipe!

    • Sommer Collierposted August 15, 2018 at 9:18 pm Reply

      Hi Chris,

      Without testing the recipe with these ingredients, it’s hard to say. I might swap the almond extract for lemon extract, instead of juice, because it’s stronger. As for adding peanut butter, it will definitely change the texture of the top. I would start by swapping some of the cream cheese for creamy peanut butter. Maybe 1/3 to 1/2? Hope this helps!

  13. Concettaposted July 13, 2018 at 7:33 pm Reply

    Made this amazing cake many times but still don’t know how to test for doneness. Anybody know? It’s always a guessing game because it’s so gooey.

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  15. Concettaposted May 21, 2018 at 11:43 pm Reply

    This is by far the best version of the gooey butter cake I’ve tried. I think the almonds make a huge difference and NOT using a cake mix. Haven’t tried the yeast version but am curious.

  16. Ainsleyposted April 1, 2018 at 8:44 pm Reply

    I didn’t have almonds, but it still turned out so delicious!

  17. Pamposted November 18, 2017 at 11:17 am Reply

    Hi. I just saw your recipe. May I ask a substitution for the ground almonds for someone who has nut allergy. Thank you. 

    • NancySposted October 23, 2018 at 3:55 pm Reply

      How about heath bits?

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  21. Genevieveposted November 22, 2016 at 2:39 am Reply

    Hi Sommer
    Just wondering if six cups of powdered sugar would make the top layer too sweet

    • Sommerposted November 23, 2016 at 7:03 pm Reply

      HI Genevieve,

      These bars are definitely sweet, but we love them! You could add a little less sugar if you like, but may need to bake them a few minutes longer.

  22. Amy Lposted November 3, 2016 at 10:06 am Reply

    The pie in the picture above looks yummy! What kind is it, and is there a recipe link?

    • Sommerposted November 9, 2016 at 6:21 pm Reply

      Hi Amy,

      Sharp Eye… That is Cinnamon Pie and the recipe will be posted next week. :)

  23. Marla Meridithposted October 25, 2016 at 9:10 pm Reply

    OMG ~ can’t take how amazing this looks!!

  24. Rebecca {foodie with family}posted October 25, 2016 at 9:07 am Reply

    Oh WOW does this cake look decadent and amazing!

  25. Kevin @ Closet Cookingposted October 24, 2016 at 7:52 pm Reply

    This gooey butter cake looks soo good!

  26. Emily @ Life on Foodposted October 24, 2016 at 3:22 pm Reply

    Why oh why haven’t I tired this before? Drooling over here.

  27. nicolthepickleposted October 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm Reply

    Sad this this is US only not for Canada too, because it’s gorgeous. But oh, that butter cake……PERFECTION!

  28. Heather Christoposted October 24, 2016 at 9:58 am Reply

    Um, yesssss. this looks awesome.

  29. Maria Lichtyposted October 24, 2016 at 9:45 am Reply

    This looks gooey and delicious!

  30. Jenny Flakeposted October 24, 2016 at 9:09 am Reply

    Ahhhh, butter cake is the best!  So dangerous, lol!!