Gooey Brown Butter Cake Recipe

It's not always fair to judge a dish by its name, but it's hard to deny that gooey butter cake is both a great name and a great-tasting treat. Born in St. Louis, Missouri during the 1940s, the cake's origin is a bit unclear — some say a German baker mistakenly created gooey butter cake while trying to bake coffee cake, while others say it was purposefully developed by a master baker. Either way, the sticky-sweet treat is still a hit today. Here, Kara Barrett has created a recipe that places a scrumptious, mature twist on the St. Louis classic. "Brown butter and dark brown sugar bring a nuttier, richer taste to the gooey filling," she says.

If you're not a big baker, don't be intimidated by this recipe — it's relatively straightforward and relies on a convenient shortcut: boxed cake mix. "A lot of gooey cakes opt for the cake mix; I think it saves time for home bakers and still tastes delicious," Barrett explains. Here's how to whip up your very own gooey brown butter cake.

Gather your butter cake ingredients

Good news: For the most part, this recipe consists of pantry staples, specifically eggs, corn syrup, brown and white sugar, flour, vanilla extract, salt, yellow cake mix, and of course, butter. "I opted for dark corn syrup since it has molasses and I thought it would go well with the brown butter and dark brown sugar. But use what you have on hand. This is a very forgiving cake," Barrett notes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 F and grease your cake pan.

Brown the butter

Considering it's the star of the show, it's no surprise that this recipe starts with making brown butter. It may sound fancy, but it's not difficult: Simply melt the butter in a saucepan over medium, then let it cook until it browns. Don't forget to stir, and make sure you keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.

Make the batter

The cake base is sort of a combination of dough and batter. Make it by combining your boxed cake mix with eggs and more melted butter. Once you have a thick, uniform mixture, press it into your greased cake pan.

Add the filling

Now, it's time to get gooey. For the filling, stir together your browned butter, one egg, vanilla, and corn syrup, then mix in the salt and sugar. Finally, incorporate the flour a little at a time, then spread your finished filling over the cake base and pop it in the oven.

Bake and dig into this gooey brown butter cake

Once your gooey butter cake is baked (it'll look gooey, don't worry, you didn't underbake it), you must patiently wait until it's cooled. Then, cut it up, sprinkle it with powdered sugar, and enjoy. "I wouldn't make it more than a day ahead of time," Barrett notes. "It's best fresh from the oven." So, the next time you're entertaining a group and want to treat them to something sweet, nutty, and buttery, you can't go wrong with this gooey brown butter cake.

Gooey Brown Butter Cake Recipe
4 from 84 ratings
This gooey brown butter cake recipe is perfect if you want a nuttier, richer twist on the classic dessert from St. Louis.
Prep Time
Cook Time
gooey butter cake pieces
Total time: 45 minutes
  • 3 sticks of butter, one melted
  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs, one reserved
  • 3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  1. Make brown butter: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt two sticks of butter on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Butter will steam and foam. Watch closely, stirring as the butter turns brown. Remove to a cool bowl. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch cake pan. Set aside.
  3. Make the cake batter: In a medium mixing bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, and melted butter into a dough-like batter. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan and set aside. Set aside.
  4. Make the filling: Whisk together wet ingredients and the reserved egg. Add salt and sugar, whisking to combine. Then, add flour in increments and finish whisking until thoroughly combined. Spread the filling evenly over the crust in the pan, smoothing to the edges.
  5. Bake for approximately 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown but the center still wobbles.
  6. Cool completely and cut into squares. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.
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