Texas Sheet Cake – Gluten and Refined Sugar-Free

Texas Sheet Cake…just like I remember it.

Have you ever heard of a Texas Sheet Cake? Yeah, me neither.  When I grew up we just called it Sheet Cake…of course we lived in Texas so maybe that’s why we didn’t need to include the “Texas” part.  I have very fond memories of this moist, intensely chocolatey (almost brownie like…but not) cake with a super sweet icing that looked almost crackle-y (is that even a word?) on top when you cut into it.   I remember this cake being a part of just about every family celebration we had and after much research on this heavenly cake so do a lot of other southerners!  No one really knows the origin of the “Texas Sheet Cake” that may date back as far as the 1900’s but almost every recipe I came across has a slightly different name (Aunt Velma’s Chocolate Cake, Texas Sheet Cake, Cocoa Sheath Cake, Mexican Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Cookie Sheet Cake…) but nearly identical ingredients.  The most information I found as to why it’s called “Texas Sheet Cake” can be found here, you can follow the links in the post for some fun information on this wonderful traditional southern dessert.

I had a hankering for this dessert today but I didn’t feel like messing around with the recipe to come up with a grain-free version…mostly because I really wanted it to taste, look and feel like the chocolate cake I remember having at my grandmother’s house.  I opted to make a gluten and refined sugar-free version using quinoa flour and coconut palm sugar, all the other ingredients are the same as the original recipe.  Now, one theory on the name “Texas Sheet Cake” is because it makes a cake the size of Texas since it is traditionally baked in an 12×18 half sheet pan, which is HUGE.  I cut the original recipe in half to make a 9×12 quarter sheet cake, which still yields 12 generous servings!

Gluten-Free Texas Sheet Cake


1 cup quinoa flour

1 cup palm sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. cocoa, heaping

1 stick butter

1/2 cup boiling water

1/4 cup buttermilk

 1 egg beaten

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. vanilla


1/4 cup pecans, chopped

7 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. cocoa, heaping

3 Tbsp. milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla

8 ounces coconut palm sugar, powdered**

**Powder the coconut palm sugar by placing it in a high-speed blender or food processor and blend on high until it reaches the consistency of finely powdered sugar.


In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together.
Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.

While cake is baking, make the icing. Chop pecans finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.

Cut into squares, eat and enjoy!

Just a few thoughts…

This cake turned out just as I remembered it.  I was completely thrilled with this recipe and how well the quinoa flour and coconut palm sugar didn’t change the texture or taste of the original recipe.  With that said…this cake was WAY too sweet for my taste now!!!! Did I love it? Yes.  Did it satisfy the craving I was having for a childhood memory? Yes.  Will I make it again? Yes.  Will I play around with the recipe to make it grain-free and less sweet? Probably not…This will be one of those recipes that is pulled out on a special occasion or when in need of a comfort food fix, anything different would defeat the purpose of this recipe!

Moist and dense…but not too much of either one…

the perfect combination.


The best way to eat it is warm with a scoop of homemade vanilla bean ice cream!

This post is shared at:

Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Fill Those Jars Friday, Fresh Bites Fridays, Tasty Tuesday, Fight Back Fridays, Allergy Free Wednesdays


  1. Holy Mother of Pearl…thank you. Thank you.

  2. Gorgeous! I have made a gluten-free version, but not grain free or refined sugar free yet–thanks!! Also, we call it Secret Cake in our family. 😉

    Just shared on my gfe FB page. Must Pin now. 🙂


  3. This looks amazing! I didn’t think a recipe like this existed. Unfortunately I need to sub for dairy free. Do you have any suggestions? For the butter I usually use Earth Balance and for buttermilk I usually use coconut milk mixed with a little lemon juice. I’m not sure though??

  4. From a prairie girl from Manitoba, Canada: Texas! Here I come! Merci!

  5. Looks fabulous !!! I will try this recipe soon. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Aha! You beat me to it! Thank you so much for saving me the trouble of modifying our old recipe. Cannot wait to try your version!!!

  7. Cindy Wilson says:

    Could I sub Almond flour for the quinoa flour? I am trying to stay away from all grains.

  8. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten or heard of this cake by any name. Weird, eh? Looks yummy, though.

  9. Oh my! I’ve never heard of a Texas Sheet Cake but this looks amazing! I was born in Austin but raised in the Northeast so maybe a trip to Texas is in order.

  10. Hi – I found your site via Pinterest yesterday and made this cake tonight to take to work tomorrow. All I can say is “wow”. My mom made this cake for special occasions and I would have never thought to try to make it GF, but boy am I glad you did! The batter was yummy and the cooling cake smells heavenly. Can’t wait to frost it and have a bite. Sometimes being GF sux, but not this time! Thanks 🙂

  11. Kelly Smith says:

    How strong is the quinoa taste in this batter? I would like to make it for a Friday night family gathering. THANK you!

    • I use quinoa flour all the time in baking as a 1:1 swap for whole wheat or even regular flour…I don’t detect a quinoa taste at all. Especially in this recipe with the chocolate and sugar it’s pretty sweet!

  12. What are the dimensions of the pan that you used to bake the cake?? Thanks!

  13. Hi There,

    So excited that I found this recipe. Would I be able to use 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce instead of the egg? Also – I was going to try and use Xylitol (comes in regular and powdered versions). Have you tried baking with it before? It has a 1:1 ratio with sugar. Thanks so much!

    • You could try the applesauce, I haven’t so I’m not sure how it would work…I usually will sub a flax egg if I do. I haven’t used xylitol but I have used Swerve which is granulated or powdered erythritol.

  14. AnnMarie says:

    I am not a chocolate cake lover by any means. I made this cake for my husband. So I was surprised at how much I loved this cake. My husband says this is the best cake he has ever had! I did use oat flour instead of the quinoa flour but that was the only substitution. Thank you so much for this incredibly delicious recipe! It is now my go to cake/ dessert recipe!


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