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Buttermilk Sheet Cake

This Buttermilk Sheet Cake is insanely moist, tender and buttery, topped with creamy vanilla frosting that literally melts into the cake. It’s the perfect dessert idea for parties! Plus, this sheet cake is a breeze to make – you don’t even need a mixer!

Moist Buttermilk Cake With Creamy Vanilla Frosting

Today I’m sharing a super simple Buttermilk sheet cake, and one of my go-to desserts for potlucks and parties. My buttermilk sheet cake is ridiculously moist, buttery, and tender. I can almost guarantee that there won’t be a slice left whenever you serve it! 

This sheet cake recipe is so easy, my kids can make it. The cake calls for simple ingredients, the batter comes together in minutes (no mixer!), and it bakes up perfectly every time. What more can you ask for in a cake, really?

The ingredients for buttermilk sheet cake.

What You’ll Need

I love this buttermilk sheet cake because I always seem to have everything I need already in the pantry! The simple ingredients make this a wonderful cake recipe to whip up at a moment’s notice. Here’s a summary of the ingredients, with the full amounts available in the recipe card:

  • Sugar: For consistent results, I stick with regular granulated sugar when baking.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour works perfectly here.
  • Baking Soda: For leavening.
  • Salt
  • Butter: Melted salted or unsalted butter, for the cake as well as the frosting.
  • Eggs: You’ll need a couple of lightly beaten eggs to give the cake richness and structure.
  • Vanilla: This recipe calls for a touch of vanilla in the cake and in the frosting. For the best flavor, I prefer to use pure, real vanilla extract.
  • Buttermilk: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, make your own substitution! See below for details.
  • Powdered Sugar: Also known as confectioner’s sugar. The fine texture leads to silky-smooth frosting!
  • Milk: Whole milk or 2% milk are both good options for thinning out the frosting. 

Don’t Have Buttermilk on Hand?

No buttermilk? No problem! Fun fact: you can make your own buttermilk substitute from scratch with just two common ingredients. 

Take 1 tablespoon of white vinegar (or lemon juice) and add it to a 1-cup measuring cup. Next, fill the rest of the cup with regular whole milk (or 2%). Give the mixture a stir and then let it sit for 5 minutes. Boom! Homemade “buttermilk.”

I go into even more detail in my post on How to Make Buttermilk.

How to Make Buttermilk Sheet Cake

Since this is a sheet cake, take out a large, 11×17-inch rimmed baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray. Set this aside, and get your oven preheating to 400ºF. Then, you can have the cake batter ready for the oven in just a few minutes: 

Combine the Ingredients: Whisk together the sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. Next, stir in the butter and some hot water, followed by the eggs, vanilla, and finally the buttermilk. Continue whisking to combine.

Bake: Pour the cake batter over the prepared pan. Carefully place the sheet pan into the oven to bake for 15-18 minutes. Check that your cake is done using the “toothpick test” – when the cake is ready, a toothpick stuck into the center of the cake should come out clean. After your cake is baked, take a moment to admire your handiwork. Just LOOK at that gorgeous golden color!

Alright, back to it.

Make the Frosting: While your cake is cooling, get started on the frosting right away. Whisk together the butter with powdered sugar, milk, and a bit of vanilla. Make sure to keep whisking until any lumps have dissolved. Finally, drizzle that buttery frosting all over the cake while it’s still warm. If you’d like, use an offset spatula to even things out, then leave the cake to cool fully. Or don’t. I won’t tell!

Top view of a frosted buttermilk sheet cake with a slice being served from the corner.

Tips for Success

This buttermilk sheet cake is virtually failproof! Here are my extra tips to ensure yours comes out to your liking, every time:

  • Can I Use a Smaller Pan?: If you would like to bake this buttermilk cake in a 9×13-inch pan, you’ll need to decrease the oven temperature to 350° and increase the bake time to about 20 minutes.
  • Don’t Overmix: For the fluffiest cake texture, be sure you’re only mixing the batter until the ingredients are just combined. Over-mixing can lead to a tough and dense cake.
A slice of buttermilk sheet cake is lifted from a pan, next to a slice of cake on a plate with a fork.

Variation Ideas 

This simple buttermilk sheet cake is so moist and flavorful on its own. And yet, who says no to spicing things up once in a while? There are countless options for add-ins and variations when it comes to such a deliciously basic recipe. I’ll share some here!

Try adding in any of the following:

  • Blueberries (it’s giving strong blueberry buttermilk pancake vibes)
  • Chocolate chips or white chocolate chips
  • Chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts)
  • Spices like cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Creamy peanut butter (or, try my Peanut Butter Sheet Cake recipe that’s also made with buttermilk!) 

You can also dress up your sheet cake with more easy frosting flavors:

Making this cake for a party? Jazz it up with my Perfect Party Frosting! A sheet cake is great for pleasing a crowd.

A slice of buttermilk sheet cake on a brown plate next to a fork.

Storage Instructions

This buttermilk sheet cake will keep fresh when stored airtight, either on the counter for 3 days or in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

Does This Freeze Well?

Sheet cakes are the best to make ahead for parties. One of the main reasons is that they freeze so darn well! 

You can freeze this buttermilk cake before or after it’s been frosted. If you’re freezing it before frosting, simply wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap (with a layer of foil to protect against freezer burn) and then pop it into the freezer.

If you’re freezing the cake after frosting, I recommend placing the whole cake into the freezer, uncovered and while it’s still in the pan, to allow it to pre-freeze. This avoids messing up the icing! Once the cake is frozen solid, double wrap it and then place it back into the freezer to store. 

In both cases, your buttermilk sheet cake will keep for up to 3 months! Whenever you’re ready to enjoy it, simply thaw it in the fridge overnight beforehand.

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Top view of a frosted buttermilk sheet cake with a slice being served from the corner.

Buttermilk Sheet Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.6 from 10 reviews
  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 23 minutes
  • Yield: serves 12 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


This tender and buttery Buttermilk Sheet Cake is topped with creamy vanilla frosting that literally melts into the cake! A perfect easy dessert idea for parties!



For the Buttermilk Cake

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

For the Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Coat an 11×17 rimmed baking sheet with baking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the butter and water until combined. Next whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk until smooth.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Place the cake on a wire rack to begin cooling and immediately make the frosting.
  5. In another large bowl whisk together the butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until no lumps remain. Pour immediately onto the warm cake.
  6. Allow the cake to cool before serving.

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73 comments on “Buttermilk Sheet Cake”

  1. Do you think it would be possible to decorate this with fruit on top after icing? Or would the consistency of the icing prevent this?

  2. I have made the chocolate Texas sheet cake many times, but the event I am making it for required a white or yellow cake. Since I am familiar with this type of recipe I knew it would be thin. I upped the whole recipe by 1/2 and baked it in a deeper pan that was the same size 11×17. And I used some vegetable oil with the melted butter with out any problems.
    It did require longer baking to finish it. But its a perfect easy recipe.
    Love seeing the boy making the recipe in the photos. That is how I learned to bake too, as a kid many many years ago with my grandmother. Thanks for the recipe.

      1. I just wanted a really good yellow cake recipe for my little boy’s birthday but wanted it to be more like a birthday cake. This seems more like a dessert bar/denser cake and not so much fluff….am I right? Looks awesome! I just hope it works!

  3. I just read the frosting comments. Since I was trying to use up buttermilk, I made a glaze from an online recipe & it turned out great. It is super easy too make and easy to frost your cake: 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract & 1/4 cup buttermilk. Combine the ingredients & whisk until smooth. Pour glaze over slightly warm cake. Cool completely & allow glaze to set. I always add sprinkles.

    1. I enjoyed this cake but it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I was VERY excited to make it; easy, beautiful, sounded delicious! I made it for my daughter’s 1st birthday. I make many cakes and have a baking background so I know good stuff. The only change I made was to the frosting; I added about 1/4 c. strawberry jam and a bit less powdered sugar. It was amazing. The cake cut wonderfully. Beautiful little squares that held up nicely. A bit dense, moist and creamy, the cake shouldn’t be eaten with a fork. It’s so thin (expected) it should be picked up and eaten like a lemon bar. Once I did this (second piece) I fell in love with it. It’s pretty interesting to think that HOW you eat something can affect the overall enjoyment of it.
      There’s nothing wrong with this recipe. I like it a lot and thank you for it.

  4. This cake is yummy, we just ate some. I baked it at 350 degrees far. It still turned out great. Thank you.

  5. I have made this cake three times in a 9×13 pan and bake it 45 to 50 min toothpick comes out clean take it out let it cool. Cut it and RAW. Please help me it looks so delicious.

  6. I made this today in a 9×13 pan, baked at 350 for 43 min, and it was so perfect. No icing needed. Practically melted in my mouth with this amazing thin crust on top. So good, everyone loved! And best of all, batter came together in under 30 min! Thank you so much for this recipe! My new go-to vanilla cake! Merry Christmas!

  7. This cake is awesome! Even better the next day! Such a great recipe, it’s my go-to cake when I’m not craving a chocolate sheet cake 🙂

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