Old Fashioned Chocolate Sheet Cake

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Old Fashioned Chocolate Sheet Cake is just like Grandma used to make! It's made with real butter, cocoa, buttermilk, powdered sugar and vanilla for a slice of heaven on a plate!

chocolate frosting being poured on top of a hot chocolate cake

Why You'll Love This Recipe

I never knew Miss Beryl, but she made the best chocolate sheet cake around. Her daughter, Joann, shared her vintage recipe with me. After I took one bite, I knew I had to share it with you. I know this Old Fashioned Chocolate Sheet Cake will be one of your favorite desserts too!

This chocolate cake is so rich and decadent you won't be able to stop eating it! Every bite will remind you of a cake your Grandma made back in the day. Plus, this cake is deliciously dense and luscious all at the same time.

If you're looking for another dessert that's easy and fun, try this 2-Ingredient Dr. Pepper Cake!

chocolate sheet cake with a server in a white dish

How to Make Chocolate Cake

STEP 1: In a large mixing bowl, add 2 cups sugar, 2 cups self-rising flour, and 4 Tbsp. cocoa. Mix together and set aside.

STEP 2: In a saucepan, add 1 stick of butter, 1 cup oil, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, then pour over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Beat dry and wet ingredients together for 1 minute on medium speed with a mixer.

STEP 3: In a separate bowl, whisk 2 eggs and ½ cup buttermilk. Pour into the mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients and beat for 1 minute on medium speed until everything is combined.

STEP 4: Pour batter into a greased and floured 13 X 9 inch sheet pan or dish. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

chocolate cake batter being poured into a white pan

How to Make Chocolate Icing

STEP 1: In a separate saucepan, mix 1 stick butter, 3 Tbsp. cocoa and 4 Tbsp. milk together. Boil for 1 minute. Mix well and remove from heat.

STEP 2: Add 1 lb. powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and blend with a mixer until smooth. If icing is too thick, add tiny teaspoons of milk until it is shiny. Taste the icing and if it's too grainy, blend it with a mixer until it becomes smooth and creamy.

STEP 3: Pour icing over cake starting at the edges and working towards the middle until it covers the top of cake. Allow icing to cool before serving.

slice of chocolate cake on a blue plate with a bite on a fork

What if I Can't Find Self-Rising Flour?

Self-rising flour is a staple in the south, but if you can't find it in your location, here's how you make it! Just substitute the following ingredients for self rising flour in this recipe.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
chocolate cake in a pan with a server on a blue napkin

More Chocolate Desserts

Do you love chocolate as much as I do? If so, try these other chocolate goodies from my recipe box...

Recipe Card

chocolate frosting being poured on top of a hot chocolate cake

Old Fashioned Chocolate Sheet Cake

Old Fashioned Chocolate Sheet Cake is the best you've ever tasted...straight from Beryl's kitchen! It's dense, luscious, and topped with decadent chocolate icing that will melt in your mouth.
5 from 12 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Calories: 540kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.



  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 4 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk


  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 4 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 pound box powdered sugar 4 cups
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a mixing bowl, add sugar, flour and cocoa.  Stir and set aside.
  • Boil butter, oil and water in a saucepan for 1 minute. Pour contents into dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Blend with a mixer on medium speed for 1 minute.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and buttermilk together.  Pour into contents in mixing bowl.
  • Mix batter for 1 minute on medium speed until combined.
  • Pour batter into a 13 X 9 inch greased and floured pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.


  • In a saucepan, mix melted butter, cocoa and milk together.  Boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.
  • Add powdered sugar and vanilla.  Blend with a mixer on medium speed until creamy and smooth.
  • If icing is too thick, add tiny amounts of milk until icing is shiny.
  • Taste icing.  If it is grainy, blend with a mixer on high speed until smooth.
  • Pour icing over hot cake, starting at edges and working towards middle until cake is completely covered. 
  • Cool for 30 minutes before serving. 


  • Use a mixer to make the icing or it will not set up properly. 
  • Special thanks to my friend, JoAnn, for sharing her mother's recipe with me! It's the best cake I've ever tasted!


Calories: 540kcal | Carbohydrates: 89g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 27mg | Potassium: 97mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 71g | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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  1. 5 stars
    Similar to a recipe I’ve used for many years. If you use coffee instead of the water~It makes the chocolate more “chocolaty.” You do not taste coffee at all. It doesn’t make taste like dark chocolate- still more a milk chocolate flavor with only the small amount of cocoa in the recipe - it just makes the chocolate flavor better. I sub coffee for any chocolate cake or brownie recipe that has water in it. Don’t substitute coffee for milk tho - your recipe won’t turn out right. If the recipe has no water in it, you can add a half teaspoon of instant coffee to make the chocolate flavor just that much better. People won’t be able to put their finger on it but, they’ll just think it’s the best ever and want to know your secret ingredient. 🤗

    If you want this cake to be a bit more dense but still extra moist use sour cream mixed with some milk to equal the amount of buttermilk. I’ve played with my recipe for years. Even doubling it and making it in a large 2 inch high baking/roasting pan. When I double it like that I need to use a baking cloth strips soaked in water and wrapped around the edge of the pan so it bakes evenly - otherwise the edges cook and the middle doesn’t.

    Happy baking!

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