St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Also known as the Ooey Gooey Cake, this is a recipe that dates from the 1930s. According to legend, it was created by a German-American baker who inadvertently switched the proportions of butter and flour, ending up with a cake that was very dense yet gooey.

Not wanting to be wasteful — this was during the Great Depression after all — his bakery decided to offer it for sale in order to see what would happen. People of course loved it and it quickly became a best-seller, giving us the legendary St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake.

And from what I’ve read, the original recipe actually had some yeast in it. It was like a yeasted crust with a gooey top, but most people nowadays make it using store-bought cake mix and cream cheese, so that’s what I’m going to use today.

Flat and dense with two distinct layers, it is typically served as a coffee cake rather than a dessert. Dusted with powdered sugar, you get a deliciously sweet and rich, somewhat firm but gooey cake that you can cut into squares similar to a brownie.

I adapted my recipe from Paula Deen’s Original Gooey Butter Cake.

Baked St. Louis Gooey Cake. The top layer browned. Looks much like a brownie.

St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

A gooey, buttered, layer cake from the St. Louis area, typically served as a coffee cake.
4.42 from 17 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Resting time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Coffee Break, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 people
Calories 522 kcal


  • 9" X 12" pan
  • Large mixing bowl
  • hand mixer
  • oven



  • 1 box yellow butter cake mix 15.25 oz
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick salted butter, melted 1/2 cup, or 8 tablespoons


  • 1 pkg cream cheese 8 oz, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick salter butter, melted 1/2 cup, or 8 tablespoons
  • 1 lb powdered sugar 16 oz bag
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract



  • Preheat oven to 350˚F
  • In a large bowl, add cake mix, egg, and butter. Mix with a hand mixer on low speed until well combined and a dough forms. 
    Box of Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Butter Cake Mix
  • Spray a 9” x 12” pan with baking spray. 
  • Add the dough to the pan, using your fingers to pat it out into an even layer. Press the dough up slightly around the edges to form a crust.
    Gooey Cake prepared for the oven in brownie pan.


  • In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, using a hand mixer to beat for one minute to lighten the cream cheese.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • Add the melted butter.
  • Add the powdered sugar in two batches, mixing on low speed to avoid spraying powdered sugar.
  • When the mixture is smooth, pour it over the crust and spread it out evenly.
    Gooey cake in the oven baking. Still yellow.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes. The batter will turn golden and puff up, deflating as it cools. Do not overbake.


This cake can be served warm out of the oven, but I found the flavor improved by waiting a day.


Calories: 522kcalCarbohydrates: 74gProtein: 4gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 102mgSodium: 525mgPotassium: 67mgFiber: 1gSugar: 56gVitamin A: 783IUCalcium: 120mgIron: 1mg
Keyword butter, coffee cake, cream cheese, layer cake, St. Louis
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

5 thoughts on “St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake”

  1. It was delicious! I had 2 portions despite it being so rich with butter. I followed the recipe except for lesser sugar. I put in 1& 1/2 c strained powdered sugar. Just enough sweetness for me. My bake time of 50 mins was too long. I started @ 325F x 40 mins. It looked so pale so I went up to350F x 10 mins. It got dry and too brown. I liked that the cake crust was crunchy but the filling was not as gooey as I would like. Horrifying that a serving =74g carbs. Ooof!

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks for sharing this amazing family loved it.will be sharing this recipe with my friends.they will like it.

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