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Paula Deen’s Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

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Five ingredients are all it takes to make a clone of the famous Paula Deen’s Ooey Gooey Butter Cake that you will find served at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. Two delicious layers combine to make one fantastic dessert! The bottom layer is a delicious buttery yellow cake topped with a sweet gooey cream cheese layer.

Slice of ooey gooey butter cake on a white dessert plate.

You might know this cake by some of its other names, such as Chess Cake, Chess Squares, Texas Gold Bars, St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake, or Cream Cheese Squares. No matter what it’s called, it’s outright delicious!

Why You’ll Love This Butter Cake

  • The base of the cake is made with a box of store-bought cake mix and everyday kitchen staples and is easy to make.
  • Cheesecake lovers will love the delightful flavor of the sweet and creamy top layer.
  • It’s a delicious dessert to take to potlucks or work and it’s perfect for serving to company.

Ingredients

For this cream cheese cake recipe that is nearly identical to Paula Deen’s Ooey Gooey Butter Cake recipe, you need the following ingredients:

  • box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese softened
  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar (a 16 ounce box of confectioners’ sugar)

How To Make Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

To make it, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Place the cake mix, 1 egg, and the butter into the mixing bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment and beat for 1 minute at medium speed until it becomes a soft dough. Spread the cake mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Combine the remaining eggs, cream cheese, and powdered sugar in the mixer bowl and beat until smooth. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cake batter.

Baking Time

Bake on the center rack for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting.

Slice of chess cake.

Butter Cake Variations

With a simple change of cake mix, you can change the flavor profile of butter cake. To spice things up, feel free to swap out the box of yellow cake mix for one listed below:

FAQs

Does butter cake need to be refrigerated?

No. This cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. Be sure to store it in an airtight container or use aluminum foil or plastic wrap to help keep it from drying out.

How many calories are in a slice of cake?

Nutrition information will vary slightly depending on the brand of cake mix that you use, but a ballpark figure for calories is 340 calories per slice (assuming that you get 16 equally sized slices of cake per pan).

Homemade Butter Cake vs. Paula Deen’s Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

When I dined at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen in Pigeon Forge, I tried the Queen of Southern Cooking’s Ooey Gooey Butter Cake.

Before leaving the store, I purchased a box of the mix so that I could make a batch at home and see how it compared to the Cream Cheese Squares that my husband has been making for years.

Slice of Paula Deen's Ooey Gooey Butter Cake at her restaurant in Pigeon Forge.
Slice of Ooey Gooey Butter Cake at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Box of Paula Deen Butter Cake Mix.

The box indicates that it is 20 ounces, but I wanted to know how much each of the packets weighed so I placed them individually on my kitchen scale. The Gooey Filling Mix weighed 8 ounces and the Ooey Cake Mix was 12 ounces.

Contents of Paula Deen's Ooey Gooey Butter Cake mix box.

I made them following the directions on the box and this is how they turned out:

Baked Ooey Gooey Cake in a square baking dish.

They look pretty good, don’t they?

Paula Deen's Ooey Gooey Butter Cake (clone recipe) in a glass baking dish.

The funny thing, though, is that they didn’t look like the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake that I had at the restaurant. (See the 2nd picture above in this post.)

To me, the restaurant’s version was nearly identical to the recipe for Cream Cheese Squares. To prove my point, I made a batch – see below.

Ooey gooey butter cake in a metal baking pan.

I went one step further and decided to conduct a little taste test among friends. Granted, they did not dine with us at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen and had not tried either recipe before the taste test.

Plate of Cream Cheese Squares on a table.

While they enjoyed both, the winner of the taste test ended up being the boxed mix of Paula Deen’s Ooey Gooey Butter Cake. I admit to being a little disappointed, hoping that the Cream Cheese Square would be the winner.

I decided to figure out how to recreate the box mix version. Since I knew the weight of the ingredients in the box of Paula’s cake mix, I felt confident that it would be easy to make using a regular cake mix that one could pick up at most grocery stores.

Being a “butter cake,” I purchased a box of Duncan Hines Butter Golden cake mix. Since there were more than 12 ounces in the mix, I used my kitchen scale to figure out the unsifted volume to use. It came out to approximately 2.25 cups of cake mix.

The amount of powdered sugar in the original was 8 ounces. The weighted, unsifted volume on my scale came out to approximately 1 3/4 cups.

I followed the directions on the box of Paula’s mix using Duncan Hines mix and they turned out very much like Paula Deen’s Ooey Gooey Butter Cake (from the box, not the restaurant).

Homemade Butter Cake in a glass baking dish.

While the clone version of the box of Ooey Gooey Butter Cake is good, I think the recipe for cream cheese squares is a near-perfect match of the same dessert served in Paula Deen’s restaurants.

Fork cutting into a slice of butter cake.

Warning:  These treats are loaded with sugar and are highly addictive.


Other delicious desserts you will want to sink your teeth into:

  • Easy Peach Cobbler – With a few simple ingredients, you can make this dessert that tastes like summer in a bowl.
  • Mini S’mores Pies – These little pies are not only adorable but also delicious! There’s no need for a campfire to make these cuties.
  • Kentucky Butter Cake – Moist and rich, this sweet cake is like a glazed donut and is great for serving at a brunch.
slice of butter cake

Paula Deen’s Ooey Gooey Butter Cake (Clone)

Lynda – Southern Kissed
A box of cake mix, powdered sugar, cream cheese, and butter are the star ingredients in this simple homemade version of Paula Deen's Ooey Gooey Butter Cake.  
4.62 from 121 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 340 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 stick butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 16 ounces powdered sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Place cake mix, 1 egg, and stick of butter (melted) into bowl of mixer and beat for 1 minute until it becomes a soft dough.
  •  Spread mixture evenly over bottom baking dish.
  • Combine remaining eggs, cream cheese, and powder sugar in mixer bowl and beat until smooth.
  • Spread cream cheese mixture over cake batter and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
  • Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Notes

If the batter is too stiff to spread with a spatula, lightly moisten your hands and spread the dough until the bottom of the pan is covered.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 340kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 3gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 293mgSugar: 42g
Tried this recipe?Mention @SouthernKissed or tag #SouthernKissed!

Be sure to come back and tell us how your Ooey Gooey Butter Cake turned out in the comment section below.

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53 Comments

  1. I made this and took it to a Red Hat potluck. I received rave reviews, even from people that did not usually eat sweets. Everyone wanted the recipe. I had tried a couple of different recipes but this is the best by far. This has become a family favorite.

  2. My sister-in-law makes this recipe, adding a 15 ounce can of pumpkin with the top layer for “ooey gooey pumpkin bars.” This is a delicious variation that we eat at family gatherings in the fall and winter.

  3. 5 stars
    Great recipe. I love lemon; has anyone tried flavoring one lemon? How would I make adjustments if I added lemon juice?

  4. I’ve made this a bunch of times and the top never gets that crackled look to it, what am I doing wrong? I’ve followed the recipe exactly

    1. Have you checked your oven to see if it is heating up to the correct temperature? If not, buy an oven thermometer and heat your oven to 350 degrees. Once it indicates that it is at that temperature, check the thermometer for accuracy.

  5. 3 stars
    I have tried this twice and after baking for 40-50 minutes, it’s still really wet. I can stick a fork in and it comes out wet kinda. Any advice?

  6. We got this recipe over 35 years ago from a sweet little lady in Virginia. Her name was Mrs prather. So our kids grew up calling this Mrs prather’s cheese bars. It is one of our family favorites. St Louis takes credit for this yummy bar but it is all over the South. So who knows where it originated. Doesn’t really matter it’s the best thing I ever put in my mouth!

  7. Hey Lynda I really would like to have the recipe for your cream cheese squares you were comparing the ooey gooey butter cake to I’ve had the ooey gooey butter cake from the bakery section in Wal-Mart and it is addictive oh so good but the cream cheese squares sounds good too thanks for sharing!!

    1. I am not sure. We have never had it last long enough to find out. Seriously, though, I would imagine that it should be okay unrefrigerated for a day or two at least.

      According to food.com, “…Cake may be stored, covered in aluminum foil, at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It may be frozen for up to 6 months.”

  8. I made this today and it came out perfect. It was Paula’s recipe and there was a stick of butter in the batter and in the topping. It is rich but oh so yummy! 🙂

  9. Just looked it up… These are Chess Bars, or Chess Squares, or Chess Cake. There’s a lot of names for them. They’re definitely good and a lot of people really like them.

    Paula Deen’s version calls for another stick of butter in the batter. Try it out. I’ve had both and Paula’s Gooey Butter Cake is next level. Then you can write another blog post about it. 🙂 I apologize for my earlier comment. I read back over it and it seemed a bit mean. I didn’t intend it that way. Tone is hard to convey in text.

    I first encountered what Paula calls Gooey Butter Cake in a restaurant (they call them ooey gooey butter bars, which I like better because they’re more bar then cake when sliced) and then went looking for the recipe. I’ve been making the Paula Deen recipe ever since, which has been a pretty long time. I only make them if I’m taking the to an event or have company coming over because my husband can eat a whole tray of them and that just isn’t a good idea for anyone. lol But they’re a great special occasion dessert!

    If you haven’t already, I also highly recommend Paula Deen’s “Not Yo Mamma’s Banana Pudding”. I think that’s a silly name, but the recipe is undeniably delicious. I’m a big banana pudding fan and couldn’t pick a favorite, but that one is unlike any other banana pudding I’ve ever had. And, because it’s Paula, I’m sure you know it’s decadent and another one of those “take to a potluck” or “make when guests a coming over” or “for the love of all that’s good don’t make this at home except on very special occasions”. lol

  10. This is not the correct Paula Deen recipe. Sorry to be blunt. I just like to get to the point. There should be another melted stick of butter added to the filling. It makes them much better. Like a warm, gooey sugar cooking and a hug. Also, yours are slightly over cooked for my liking. They should be cooked until they have very little to no wobble in the center. If you cook them past that point they are no longer as ooey, gooey, and delicious, in my opinion.

    1. @Wendi, YES!!! TY! I was reading through the comments to see if anyone else mentioned this before I said it. Plus, the ones pictured are way overbaked and no longer, ‘gooey’. They should be barely browned and still jiggly in the middle when you remove them from the oven so that when they cool there’s a good layer of gooeyness

  11. I had some from her restaurant and I thought she used Graham cracker crust that was not packed. I don’t know the recipe for cream cheese squares but may have to find it and try it. I liked the one from her restaurant better with the crust versus using the cake mix.

    1. @Gail, Paula’s released recipe calls for the same crust as this recipe. I’ve never dined in her restaurant and it’s entirely possible she makes them differently there. But, this is the correct crust from what Paula Deen released in her cook book and on The Food Network. It’s also on her website.

      This recipe is incorrect in one way. There should be another stick of melted butter added to the filling, as per Paula’s original recipe. Perhaps that’s why the ones in her restaurant tasted better.

      My final issue with this recipe is that the ones pictured are over cooked. They certainly look pretty, and perhaps the person who runs this blog did this intentionally so they look nice. However, in my opinion, cooking them that done takes away from the ooey gooey deliciousness of the recipe. I have been making these for years and I prefer to cook them until they have very little wobble in the center. Trying to time it until there is no wobble in the center will usually result in them being over cooked. They still taste great over cooked, but they’re not quite as good.

    1. Unfortunately, no. That’s a very crucial component of the recipe. I recommend that you try it. You might be surprised at how it tastes once it is baked.

    1. That’s a great question! Honestly, I don’t think it makes a difference in this recipe. When I make it, I just measure it out (I don’t weigh it).

    2. @Kiersten, when baking, it’s always best to assume things are measured by weight if stated as such. It allows for a greater amount of control over ingredients. Baking recipes that measure ingredients by weight will have more consistent results (except breads and pastries can still be effected by humidity and other conditions and need may still need slight adjustments.) I use a small postal scale. I believe it cost less than $10 and it’s something I truly could not do without in my kitchen. This recipe is pretty forgiving, though.

      I usually buy a 32oz bag of powdered sugar because I have a large family and a 16oz box just seems like a waste to me. I literally just eye it and put what seems like half in the recipe. As I said, because it’s a filling, it’s pretty forgiving.

      If you’re interested in baking, I really do recommend purchasing a scale and using recipes that go by weight. Some recipes it isn’t required for (this recipe, dump cakes, better than sex cake, etc), but others (homemade red velvet cake, carrot cake, etc) in my opinion, a scale is an essential tool.

  12. I have been making these Newman Marcus Brownies for almost 40 years! I have tried different flavors but always went back to my original using butter pecan cake mix and real butter. These are very rich so small squares are best. I have never shared my recipe before except for family and it took years for them to get it out of me. 😂! I use 1 stick of Butter,cake mix and 1 egg in bottom layer. 2 eggs, 8 ozs cream cheese and 16 ozs powered sugar in top layer, sprinkle with chopped pecans and bake @ 300 50-60 mins making sure not to overbake. Cool and enjoy!

    1. @Rita O’Saile, that sounds delicious. I’ll give them a try. I may add a stick of butter to the filling, though. If I do, I’ll try to remember to report my results back to you. 🙂

  13. It’s impossible to follow the directions. The last line says to “Allow to cool completely before cutting.” Nope. Won’t happen in this house! We also didn’t have time to take any photos. Getting ready to make it again. Still don’t think any of cooling or photos will happen.

    1. Girl – you scared me with that first sentence and then had me rolling through the rest. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Glad you enjoyed the recipe. 🙂

    2. @Carol M Turnbull, complete cooling isn’t necessary, as you’ve already discovered. lol I like them a little warm. They just need to cool until they’re not hot enough to burn anyone (that filling could leave a very bad burn) and until they won’t completely fall apart while cutting. As I only make them to take to pot lucks or when company is coming, they don’t usually get to the cooling down phase. 😀

  14. Sorry to say.. but Paula Deen copied this recipe. In the South where Im from it is called the Neimann-Marcus cake, and the recipe has been around for decades. So darn Shameful that she claims it to be her original.

    1. @Cindy, this recipe is also very similar to Chess Bars. Or Chess Cake. I don’t remember exactly what it’s called because it’s not as good as the recipe I discovered through a local restaurant (they did not claim them as an original recipe) and then went recipe searching and found that scoundrel, Paula Deen’s recipe. I’m not exactly a fan of hers since it came out that she has made very racist comments in the past. Hopefully she has learned and grown since that time.

      I call them ooey gooey butter bars because that’s what the restaurant I first had them at called them. Also, they’re bars… not a cake. Anyway, the filling should have an extra stick of butter in it. Otherwise, I believe they’re Chess Bars. Maybe that was Paula’s addition to the recipe and why she claims it as hers? Anyway, the extra butter takes these bars over the top. I’ve been making them for years.

      I’m also from the South, by the way, but didn’t encounter these until I was in my twenties. I’ve been making them ever since, which has been… awhile. I’m not questioning your assertion that these were around long before Paula, I definitely believe that. Just mentioning I hadn’t seen them. Maybe they’re a regional Southern thing. Another commenter mention Neiman-Marcus brownies, which seems like a different name for the same thing.

    2. I’m from Savannah and when I was little (1960’s), I can remember these being made at our house. It was called Gooey cake. Everyone loved them as they still do. We had pecan pieces sprinkled on top–otherwise they were the same.

  15. i have a friend that has a sandwich shop and she has ooey gooey bars with different flavors – lemon, chocolate chip, and several others. My question is: What do you do to the batter to make these flavored ooey gooey bars?

    1. I would recommend using flavored cake mixes for the different flavors. For the chocolate chip, I would use vanilla cake mix and add about two cups of chocolate chips.

    2. @louise w. dunn, pumpking ooey gooey bars use pumpkin cake mix and, I believe, the addition of pumpkin pie filling to the batter. Lemon ones use a lemon cake base and the addition of lemon juice and/or zest to the filling. I know if you search for the specific types you can find the recipes. I’ve made a few different flavors, but I like the original best. They’re simple, but so much more than the sum of their parts. To me, they taste like a richer, warm, gooey sugar cookie. Sugar cookies just happen to be one of my favorite cookies. What can I say, I like butter flavored things? 😀

  16. 4 stars
    CONFUSSED:
    IN STEP 4 WHERE DOES THE BUTTER COME FROM? I USED THE STICK OF BUTTER IN STEP 2.
    MADE IT ANYWAYS CAME OUT TASTY.

    1. Thank you so much for leaving a comment and pointing that out.

      After previously updating the post, I missed that error. You were correct in using the butter in Step 2. (It is not used in Step 4). I have corrected the recipe. I am so glad it worked out for you.

    2. @Lynda, As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, you’re supposed to use another stick of butter in step four. Maybe you forgot to include it in the ingredients section and that’s where the confusion came from. Sorry, not trying to be a pest. Just trying to help spread the love of gooey butter.

      1. Hi Wendi,

        I love that you are adding your “two cents worth.” I love that you love gooey butter cake and appreciate your opinion.

        Feel free to let me know what you think about other recipes on the site.

        Take care!
        Lynda

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