Salted Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake

My mom always made Texas sheet cakes for us when we were kids.  It was one of our favorites although I didn’t find out until later in life that mom made this type of cake because it was so easy and she could satisfy her noisy children quickly and easily.

This recipe for a salted Texas chocolate sheet cake is different in some ways for the cake that my mom made.  It uses buttermilk, which I feel gives it a much richer flavor.  It also has roasted pistachios and sea salt in the frosting, two things my mother never even had in her kitchen.

Let’s Talk Nuts

roasted pistachios for the frosting

This recipe calls for pistachios to be sprinkled on top of the frosting.  It’s a nice touch to go with the salted finish.  You need about 1/2 cup of unsalted roasted pistachios that you have roughly chopped in your food processor.

The nuts will have a green tint to them.  Pistachios are not red, they are green.  They red pistachios that we all remember eating from the bag (and having red finger tips for a few days) have been dyed.  The thinking was red is more appealing than green, hence the red dye.



  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for baking dish
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for baking dish
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, brought to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped unsalted, roasted pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

salted texas chocolate sheet cake recipe



  • Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 13×9″ baking dish. Bring cocoa powder, 1 cup butter, and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat.

  • Meanwhile, whisk sugar, baking soda, salt, and 2 cups flour in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla to well. Blend with a fork, then gradually incorporate dry ingredients. Add butter mixture and whisk until smooth. I usually use my stand mixer, it seems so much easier.  Scrape batter into prepared baking dish and smooth top.

  • Bake until cake starts to pull away from edges of dish and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35–40 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack.


  • Just before cake has finished baking, heat butter, milk, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan over low heat, whisking occasionally, until butter is melted and mixture is smooth (do not let boil). Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla.

  • Pour warm frosting over warm cake and spread out and smooth with an offset spatula. Top with pistachios and sea salt.

You can substitute walnuts or pecans (or even peanuts) for the pistachios if you desire.  All work well with this frosting.  This is one of those rare recipes where you are supposed to frost the cake while it is slightly warm.