Lemon Texas Sheet Cake

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Make this easy recipe for a moist lemon Texas sheet cake with a cooked lemon frosting that's bursting to the brim with tart citrus flavor. There’s just something so light and refreshing about this lemony dessert that’s perfect for any party or large gathering!

Legend has it that the first Texas sheet cake recipe, originally a chocolate Texas sheet cake, showed up in a Texas newspaper many years ago. Because it's only one of the moistest, most delicious cakes known to man, it's not surprising that it remains incredibly popular today in many different flavors and variations, as in this easy lemon sheet cake recipe. As they say, the rest is history!

sliced square of lemon Texas sheet cake topped with a cooked lemon frosting and a fresh lemon slice with a bite taken out on a small white saucer

Just like lemon poke cake with Jello, I actually think this lemon Texas sheet cake is best served cold the next day. This gives the lemon frosting more time to soak into the cake in a way that it will quite literally melt in your mouth; serve it up with a piping hot cup of coffee or tea for the best breakfast treat ever!

If you're wondering about the difference between a sheet cake and a regular cake, it really just comes down to the size of the baking pan. A sheet cake is baked in a thin rectangular sheet cake pan or jelly roll pan, and a regular cake, like my homemade yellow cake mix, is usually baked in a deeper 9×13 or even a round cake pan.

Because they're not very thick, sheet cakes don't require as much time to bake, and this lemon sheet cake is super easy to make. You just mix up the batter, dump it in the pan and throw it in the oven, after which you'll cover it up with a tangy lemon frosting before it's ready to serve. YUM!!

lemon Texas sheet cake topped with cooked lemon frosting and fresh lemon slices in a large sheet cake pan

Why I Know You'll Love This Lemon Sheet Cake

  • This is one of the easiest cake recipes I know, and it doesn't take very long to make.
  • It uses simple, everyday ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.
  • It's a great make-ahead recipe that you can bake up in large batches that are perfect for a crowd. My favorite dessert recipe for church potlucks, family get-togethers or just any large gathering in general.
  • Lemon Texas sheet cake can be made at any time of the year. It's light and refreshing on a hot summer afternoon, and it's as equally bright and cheery on a gray winter day. The best of both worlds!
  • This is one of my family's favorite cake recipes of all time. It's moist, sweet and delicious with an unbeatable lemon frosting that it just wouldn't be the same without.
lemon Texas sheet cake ingredients lined out and labeled on a dark wooden countertop

Ingredients & Substitutions Notes

  • All-Purpose Flour – I highly recommend you use all-purpose flour for this recipe. If you're gluten-free, you can substitute 1:1 with a cup for cup gluten-free flour. In fact, actually make this recipe gluten-free all the time! If you go this route, I recommend adding 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum to the flour before mixing everything together. As always, check all of the other ingredients to ensure that they are truly gluten-free.
  • Unsalted Butter – Although I prefer unsalted butter for the cake itself, if all you have is salted butter, you can substitute salted butter for the unsalted butter and then reduce the salt in this recipe by 1/4 teaspoon for every 1/2 cup of salted butter used.
  • Lemon Juice – Fresh-squeezed lemon juice from fresh lemons is always better, but it's not necessary. If all you have is bottled lemon juice, that'll work just fine!
  • Lemon Zest – I make my own lemon zest by scraping off the outer peeling of a fresh lemon with a small cheese grater.
  • Buttermilk – If you don't have any buttermilk on hand, you can make your own with vinegar and regular milk. Simply whisk 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or white distilled vinegar into every cup of milk used. Then let this mixture set on the counter for a few minutes until it starts to curdle. This recipe calls for 1/2 cup of buttermilk, so whisk in about 1/2 tablespoon, or 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar, and let it set for a bit. Use it just as you would buttermilk. Works every time!
  • Vanilla Extract – Although you can use imitation vanilla, I highly recommend using a 100% real vanilla extract for its superior flavor.
  • Salted Butter – I prefer salted butter for the frosting, but if all you have is unsalted butter, that'll work too. Just be sure to add an additional 1/4 teaspoon of salt for every 1/2 cup of unsalted butter used.

How to Make Lemon Texas Sheet Cake

Before getting started, pre-heat your oven to 350ºF, and grease a 16x10x1 sheet cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Let's get started…

How to Mix Up and Bake the Cake

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, sugar and salt. Alternatively, you can mix everything together with a stand mixer instead of mixing everything up by hand.
  2. Next, melt the unsalted butter in a medium saucepan.
  3. Add the water and lemon juice to the melted butter, whisking together.
  4. Bring this mixture to a boil over low to medium heat.
step by step instructions on how to mix up lemon Texas sheet cake
  1. Once it reaches a boil, remove it from the heat and pour over your dry ingredients.
  2. Then add the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract and lemon zest, mixing well 'til combined.
  3. Finally, pour the batter evenly into your greased cake pan. You may have to spread it out a bit with a spatula, but don't overdo it. It'll be covered up with frosting after it's baked anyways.
  4. Bake at 350ºF for 25-30 minutes, or 'til the top is a light golden-brown and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. After it's done baking, allow it to cool for at least 10-15 minutes before spreading the frosting.
step by step instructions on how to mix up lemon Texas sheet cake

Whip Up the Frosting

  1. While the cake is baking, melt the salted butter in a medium saucepan.
  2. Next, whisk the lemon juice into the butter and bring it to a boil over low to medium heat.
  3. Once the butter mixture has reached a boil, remove it from the heat and whisk in lemon zest, powdered sugar and vanilla extract, mixing until smooth and creamy.
  4. Pour the finished lemon frosting over the warm cake, spreading it all over until the entire cake is covered. Again, you may want to smooth it out with a spatula.
step by step instructions on how to mix up cooked lemon frosting for lemon sheet cake

How to Serve Lemon Texas Sheet Cake

Once you cake is frosted, it's ready to serve. I like to slice it up into squares while it's still in the pan and top each slice off with a fresh lemon slice for extra citrus flavor.

But as I've said before, I do think this cake is best served cold. Let it chill in the refrigerator overnight and serve with a piping hot cup of coffee or tea the next morning for an extra special breakfast treat!

closeup photo of a small silver spatula holding up a sliced square of lemon Texas sheet cake topped with a cooked lemon frosting and a fresh lemon slice over large lemon sheet cake in a jelly roll pan

Expert Tips and Recipe FAQ's

Why is my Texas sheet cake dry?

Most cakes turn out dry and crumbly because they were overcooked. Sheet cakes are thin, so they are especially prone to overcooking if left in the oven for even a few minutes too long.

Be sure to pull your cake out of the oven as soon as a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Keep an eye on it, as the baking time can vary depending on the oven.

As a side note, it is also important that you frost the cake while it is still warm, so that the frosting has time to seep down into the cake for extra moisture.

Why did my sheet cake fall in the middle?

A dense sheet cake that has fallen in the middle is most often an undercooked cake. The reason for which an undercooked cake will fall so soon after baking is because it lacks the structure that it requires to hold itself up.

Again, your cake is ready to pull out of the oven when the top of the cake has a reached a light golden-brown color, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Baking times may vary, so keep an eye on it!

How do I store Texas sheet cake?

Since this cake contains buttermilk and lots of butter, it is best stored in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days in the refrigerator.

Can you freeze lemon sheet cake?

Yes, you can freeze it, provided that you hold off on frosting the cake until after it comes out for consumption. Most frostings do not hold up well to freezing conditions over long periods of time. Stored in an airtight container or freezer bag, it should last for up to 3 months in the deep freeze. To thaw, simply leave it out on the counter for a couple hours before frosting. Once properly thawed and frosted, it's ready to eat!

sliced square of lemon Texas sheet cake topped with cooked lemon frosting and a fresh lemon slice and with a bite taken out on a small white saucer

More Citrusy Desserts

If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback. You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. And subscribe to my email list too!

sliced square of lemon Texas sheet cake topped with a cooked lemon frosting and a fresh lemon slice with a bite taken out on a small white saucer

Lemon Texas Sheet Cake

Easy recipe for a moist lemon Texas sheet cake with a cooked lemon frosting that's bursting with citrus flavor and sure to please a crowd.
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cakes, Dessert, Desserts, Fruit Desserts
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 20
Calories: 351kcal
Author: Mel Lockcuff

Ingredients

For the Sheet Cake

For the Lemon Frosting

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, sugar and salt.
  • Next, melt the unsalted butter in a medium saucepan.
  • Add the water and lemon juice to the melted butter, whisking together.
  • Bring this mixture to a boil over low to medium heat.
  • Once it reaches a boil, remove it from the heat and pour over your dry ingredients.
  • Then add the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract and lemon zest, mixing well 'til combined.
  • Finally, pour the batter evenly into your greased cake pan. You may have to spread it out a bit with a spatula, but don't overdo it. It'll be covered up with frosting after it's baked anyways.
  • Bake at 350ºF for 25-30 minutes, or 'til a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. After it's done baking, allow it to cool for at least 10-15 minutes before spreading the frosting.
  • While the cake is baking, melt the salted butter in a medium saucepan.
  • Next, whisk the lemon juice into the butter and bring it to a boil over low to medium heat.
  • Once the butter mixture has reached a boil, remove it from the heat and whisk in lemon zest, powdered sugar and vanilla extract, mixing until smooth and creamy.
  • Pour the finished lemon frosting over the warm cake, spreading it all over until the entire cake is covered. Again, you may want to smooth it out with a spatula.
  • Once your lemon sheet cake has cooled, it's ready to slice, serve and enjoy!

Notes

*You can make this recipe gluten-free by substituting 1:1 with a cup for cup gluten-free all-purpose flour. As always, be sure to check all of your ingredients over to ensure that they are truly gluten-free. Also, if you go this route, be sure to add 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum to the flour before mixing.
How do I store Texas sheet cake?
Seeing as that this cake contains buttermilk and lots of butter, it is best stored in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Can you freeze lemon sheet cake?
Yes, you can freeze it, provided that you hold off on frosting the cake until after it comes out for consumption. Most frostings do not hold up well to freezing conditions over long periods of time. Stored in an airtight container or freezer bag, it should last for up to 3 months in the deep freeze. To thaw, simply leave it out on the counter for a couple hours before frosting. Once properly thawed and frosted, it's ready to eat!
 

Nutrition

Calories: 351kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 192mg | Potassium: 47mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 43g | Vitamin A: 460IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg
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38 thoughts on “Lemon Texas Sheet Cake”

  1. i made this cake for the guys at work and it was such a hit that i usually make two at a time to bring to work about every other month they absolutely love it! it is by far the best lemon cake i have ever tasted thank you for sharing the recipe

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    This came out good! I use to pay to get this cake made. But now I can b paid to make it. I just wasn’t sure if I was to flour the pan. I did and it came out great!! Thank u so much for the recipe. ❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    I served this at a birthday dinner today. Everyone loved it. Several of them said I should be sure to keep the recipe. That doesn’t happen very often.

    Reply
  4. This cake is amazing and so easy! I made for the birthday of an octogenarian who has eaten and loved a lot of cake (!) and he said it was the best cake he’s ever eaten. I agree. Trying a cupcake variation today with added blueberries, will see how it goes. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

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