Classic Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

yellow sheet cake with chocolate frosting

Classic Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting is for birthdays, special treats, family dinners, and that first cookout of the year. It’s a simple yellow butter cake with the ultimate chocolate frosting!

Classic yellow sheet cake with chocolate fudge buttercream

Nothing compares to a homemade cake and yes, of course, homemade frosting. It’s just a fact. Don’t go dragging out a pitiful boxed mix when you can whip this one up in no time at all.

And remember, baking can calm you during these crazy times, and hungry (or bored) kids would love a little homemade treat. Maybe you’ve got a family birthday coming up, or…why am I trying to rationalize this? Great cake needs no excuse, just make it!

cutting a piece of yellow cake with chocolate frosting

Given the choice, I’ll always choose cake. And when it comes to cake, a sheet cake is probably the easiest way to go. When it comes to frosting, I choose chocolate, and better make that a dense, fudgy frosting, none of that whipped light-as-air stuff for me. And don’t get me started on the flavor…cheap imitation chocolate is a crime!


a piece of yellow cake with chocolate frosting

I’m going to dispense with the chit-chat and get right to the point, this cake is easy to make, has a lovely texture, and a weighty chocolate frosting that is pretty much the gold standard for chocolate frostings. No schmancy ingredients, just the basics: butter, sugar, chocolate, vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, and a little milk. I bet you’ve got them all in the pantry.

yellow cake with chocolate frosting on a platter

The frosting is made with melted chocolate, and I think that’s what makes it so special. I used dark chocolate chips, but you can splurge with whatever chocolate you love. The original recipe comes from my mom’s recipe box and it’s seen us through countless birthdays, so it’s tried and true.

best chocolate frosting

How does homemade cake compare to a boxed mix?

First I’ll say right off the bat I’m not opposed to boxed mixes, they have a time and place, and they work fine. My brand choice is Duncan Hines and I always keep a mix or two in my cupboard for emergencies.

  • Homemade cake tends to have a denser crumb than boxed mixes. Boxed cake is very fluffy and airy, actually unnaturally so, due to all the chemicals in the mix. I now associate the richer texture with homemade cake, and prefer it.
  • Cake mix cakes tend to rise higher than homemade, again, due to the supercharged leaveners and other chemicals added to them.
  • Homemade cake has better flavor.  Good flavoring like vanilla extract or quality cocoa powder is expensive, and boxed mixes skimp on it.
  • Boxed cake will stay moist longer than homemade. I’m careful not to cut my cake until I’m ready to serve it, and try to keep it under foil or a dome for storage.
  • Box mix cakes are foolproof, they always come out the same. Homemade cake can be a crap shoot, let’s just get it out there. That’s why it’s so important to find a recipe you like and stick to it.
  • Homemade cake is more natural, and less processed than cake mix, which gives it the edge, in my book.

When it comes to frosting, always, always, ALWAYS! make it homemade. End of discussion.

my favorite yellow cake with fudge frosting




yellow sheet cake with chocolate frosting
5 from 18 votes

Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Classic Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting is a simple homemade butter cake with the ultimate chocolate frosting ~ for birthdays, or every day!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Author Sue Moran



  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted (measure before sifting)
  • 7-9 Tbsp milk, half and half, or cream


  • 1 1/2 cups (298 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk, milk, or half and half


  • Preheat oven to 350F Butter a 9x13 pan. ( I line with parchment paper so I can lift the cooled cake out for easier frosting, but that's optional)
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each one, and at the end to get it all smooth and silky. Scrape down that bowl as you go!
  • Blend in the extract, baking powder, and salt. Lower the mixer speed and blend in half the flour, then the milk, and then the rest of the flour. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and spread out evenly, if necessary.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly touched, or a toothpick comes out without wet batter on it. Let the cake cool on a rack for 15-20 minutes, and then, if you've used parchment paper, gently lift it out to cool completely.
  • While the cake cools, make the frosting. Melt the butter in the microwave. Add the chips and stir until completely smooth and glossy. If they don't melt completely, microwave for short 15 second bursts, stirring in between, but don't over heat. You can do this in a saucepan on the stove, too, but remember to melt the butter first.
  • Add the extract and salt, and then beat in the sugar and enough milk to make a thick, spreadable frosting. I like to do this in my stand mixer, but you can do it with hand held electric beaters if you like. If your frosting is too thick, add more milk, a little at a time.
  • Frost the cake only when completely cooled. Swoop it dramatically with your spreading knife, or the back of a spoon.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Feed them what they want ~ snack cake!

yellow cake with fudge frosting pin

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    September 22, 2021 at 6:02 pm

    5 stars
    I love a moist yellow cake that hangs right on the edge of a pound cake texture. When I was a kid my mother always made “Starlight Cake” from the original Betty Crocker cookbook. I compare every yellow cake to it for homemade flavor. Just reading this recipe’s ingredients, I know this is going to be a go to recipe.

  • Reply
    Annette Roussel
    February 19, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    5 stars
    I made this cake yesterday and really liked this recipe. I should have checked this cake at 40 minutes and taken it out or left it for about 3-5 minutes more because the recommended time left the cake a little less moist. I have a convection bake gas oven/stove. The cake tastes really good, a real homemade taste. And the Icing is really good, better than some others I’ve tried. This recipe will be kept in my regular go to pile! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    5 stars
    I made this cake for my daughter’s birthday today; made in two 9 inch layers for a more party style. It was excellent-moist and flavorful. The frosting was just what I was looking for, a nice fudge flavor. It was plenty to fill and frost the cake as a layer cake.

  • Reply
    Katy Keyes
    September 20, 2020 at 11:31 pm

    Super excited about this recipe-is it thick enough to be piped onto cupcakes do you think?

    • Reply
      September 21, 2020 at 5:28 am

      Yes, that should work, it’s a thick frosting.

  • Reply
    August 9, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    5 stars
    Sue, I loved making this simple goodness! The ultimate compliment came from my no cake eating nephew who said I was the best aunt ever and I shoukd sell my cake! He got two slices.

    • Reply
      August 10, 2020 at 5:18 am


  • Reply
    June 11, 2020 at 8:22 pm

    5 stars
    I made a birthday cake out of this and it was fantastic! My family cannot stop eating it and it’s the best cake recipe I’ve ever used. The cake itself is just so satisfying! Thank you so much?

  • Reply
    marilyn smith
    May 29, 2020 at 8:28 am

    Hi Sue, always love to see a Classic cake recipe! This is my daughter’s all time favorite birthday cake, I try and make it for her every year since she was a child, if location allows. (she is now 53) haha!! It is always a hit with the birthday crowd! Thanks always for your great recipes you post!!

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