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Gooey Butter Cake is an easy recipe using cake mix – they are soft and gooey and perfect for breakfast as a coffee cake or as a delicious dessert. They’re addicting!

This post is sponsored by Challenge Butter. I used their butter and cream cheese to make the bars – you’ll love them! All opinions are my own.

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stack of butter cake bars with bite missing
Table of Contents
  1. What is Gooey Butter Cake?
  2. How to make Ooey Gooey Butter Cake on Youtube
  3. What is Gooey Butter Cake made of?
  4. How to make Gooey Butter Cake
  5. Gooey Butter Cake Variations
  6. Expert Tips For Success
  7. Gooey Cake FAQ
  8. Other Favorite Challenge Recipes
  9. Gooey Butter Bars Recipe Recipe

What is Gooey Butter Cake?

Let’s talk gooey butter cake history! This cake originated in St. Louis and was supposedly created when a German baker inverted the amount of butter and eggs when creating a cake. The result is a coffee cake like pastry that’s also sweet enough to be dessert.

Traditional versions have a yeast dough on the bottom, but this is a semi-homemade recipe that starts with cake mix. It’s better than the Paula Deen Ooey Gooey Butter Cake that made it a household name when she made it on her show.

Here’s why you’ll love this recipe:

  • Cake mix crust – the bottom layer is thin but soft, like the bottom of a pastry.
  • Gooey filling – cream cheese, eggs, and sugar are mixed and baked on top and the mixture stays gooey!
  • Perfect with coffee as a breakfast or brunch treat, but good enough for dessert too!

How to make Ooey Gooey Butter Cake on Youtube

thumbnail for YouTube for gooey butter cake
photo of gooey cake bars with challenge butter box

What is Gooey Butter Cake made of?

Cake Mix: The classic recipe uses a standard yellow cake mix. You can also make other variations – see below for ideas!

Butter: I always use Challenge Butter for my baking. This uses unsalted butter, but you can substitute salted. Both the crust and filling use melted butter.

Eggs: Be sure to buy large eggs.

Cream Cheese: I absolutely love Challenge Cream Cheese – it’s super creamy!

Powdered Sugar: Confectioners’ Sugar is what sweetens the gooey cream cheese top.

Vanilla: Use pure vanilla extract – and you can also add almond extract if you like!

photo of gooey cake bars with challenge butter box

Best Butter for Baking

I love using Challenge Butter in all my recipes – it’s the only brand I buy. I’ve used it my entire life! Challenge is made in small batches at family owned dairies. Happy cows provide the milk – and there are no artificial additives or hormones. It’s farm to fridge in just 2 days! It’s also available nationally.

Challenge Cream Cheese is my favorite too – I find it’s creamier than other brands. The cream cheese is crafted with real milk, cream, and natural ingredients for superior flavor and an ultra smooth finish.

how to make gooey butter bars 6 grid collage

How to make Gooey Butter Cake

  1. Combine cake mix with melted butter and egg in a large bowl. You can use a hand mixer or add them to the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix at medium speed.
  2. Mix until the cake part is smooth and crumbly – this should happen quickly because of the melted butter.
  3. Pat mixture into the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan that’s been lined with parchment paper and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. The bottom layer will be thin.
  4. To make the filling, you’re going to beat cream cheese with eggs, vanilla, and melted butter.
  5. Then, add powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  6. Pour the cream cheese filling on top the cake mixture. Bake until light golden on top – the top of the batter forms a crust. Cooking time is about 40-50 minutes.
stack of gooey butter bars

Gooey Butter Cake Variations

I can’t wait to try all the different ways to make this easy dessert. Here are some ideas:

  • Use chocolate cake mix and add a cup of chocolate chips to the top layer.
  • Use red velvet cake mix and add a cup of white chocolate chips!
  • You can use lemon cake mix or even spice cake mix.
  • Add some mix-ins to the cream cheese mixture: chocolate chips, heath almond toffee bits, nuts or anything!

Expert Tips For Success

  • Be sure that your cream cheese and eggs are room temperature to avoid lumps in the top layer.
  • Normally I use foil to line my pans, but be sure to use parchment paper. Foil will cause your bars to brown too quickly.
  • Dust powdered sugar on top of the filling once they’re baked and cooled.
stack of gooey butter bars

Gooey Cake FAQ

How do you describe gooey butter cake?

This cake has a soft bottom layer and a gooey filling. They’re perfect cut into bars, like chess squares. The bars are sweet and remind me of a breakfast pastry.

Do you refrigerate gooey butter cake?

You don’t have to refrigerate the bars but you can, to make them last longer. Store them tightly covered with plastic wrap or in a large ziploc bag.

Can you freeze gooey butter bars?

You can freeze these in a single layer so they don’t stick to each other.

Other Favorite Challenge Recipes

Have you made this recipe?

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stack of butter cake bars with bite missing

Gooey Butter Bars Recipe

5 from 8 votes
This easy gooey bar recipe starts with a cake mix and has a gooey creamy filling – it's the perfect easy brunch coffee cake or delicious dessert.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Yield 24 bars
Serving Size 1 serving


Bottom Layer:

Top Layer:


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Place cake mix, melted butter, and 1 egg in a large bowl. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth and crumbly. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.
  • Wipe out the bowl. Add cream cheese, melted butter, eggs and vanilla and mix to break up the cream cheese. Add powdered sugar and mix until smooth and no lumps remain.
  • Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over the cake mixture in prepared pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until light golden on top and no longer glossy.
  • Cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and slice into bars for serving.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Freeze in a single layer for up to 3 months.

Recipe Video

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 152kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 41mg | Potassium: 24mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 308IU | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Dorothy Kern
Keyword brunch, butter, cake mix, cream cheese, dessert
photo of gooey cake bars with bite missing

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake is an easy recipe – it’s a great breakfast coffee cake or delicious dessert – made with cake mix. This is better than Paula Deen’s recipe!

Last Updated on June 29, 2022

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I put orange flavoring in the yellow cake part plus orange flavoring in the filling. Careful not to use too much. Also I put white chips in the cake part. I’ve had many demands for the recipe!

  2. Question if I use a Lemon Cake with lemon zest and maybe lemon extract do you think it would work? Thank you looking for quick lemon bars, I was thinking this could be my answer. Cathy

  3. I don’t have any yellow cake mix, but I do have Spice Cake Mix and Butter Pecan Cake Mix. Can I substitute? Your thoughts?