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Vintage-inspired Swirled Caramel Sheet Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting. We’re taking a page from our grandma’s cookbooks and I’m adding a few of my own twists. Let’s kick the weekend off right with this absolutely delicious caramel-like butter sheet cake. Buttery vanilla cake swirled with the most delectable, roll your eyes back good, brown sugar and maple “caramel”. Top the cake off with a generous layer of rich, fudgy, chocolate frosting. Sooo much to love here, and simple to make too! Sweet, gooey, with notes of vanilla and caramel, and of course, plenty of chocolate!

overhead photo of cake slices on sheet pan

In the past year or so I’ve rediscovered sheet cakes and become obsessed with them. I used to strictly make layer cakes. And while I still love a good layer cake, right now I’m embracing the simplicity of the classic sheet cake. 

To me, sheet cakes feel very “old school” or vintage, which is something I love. I swear, our grandmas really did know best. Back then simple really meant SIMPLE. 

No one thought twice about using a boxed cake mix, and frozen dinners were where it was at. I’m obviously not about frozen dinners, but I can definitely get behind an easy sheet cake recipe. 

cake batter in bowl

My Nonnie loved baking sheet cakes, so I’m channeling her today! No box mix though, this is all homemade.

And maybe just a little better than our grandmas used to make. 

photo of caramel butter sauce in pan

Here are the details, start with the cake

Start with the vanilla butter cake. This is pretty easy and straightforward, beat the wet ingredients together, add the dry, and then beat in some milk.

I always go heavy on the vanilla with my cakes. This is a vanilla cake after all, so the more vanilla the better, don’t skimp.

Swirled Caramel Sheet Cake before baking

The “caramel” swirl 

This isn’t really caramel, but I swear it’s better, and so much easier to make. Butter and brown sugar boiled together until thickened slightly. Then lots of vanilla and a little sea salt added in at the end. 

The brown sugar melts down adding hints of warm molasses. It really deepens the flavor to create a very gooey sauce that’s perfectly rich and caramel-like. And when you add that splash of vanilla and a sprinkle of sea salt? Well, it really is delectable. 

Swirled Caramel Sheet Cake in pan after baking

When the batter is made and the caramel is ready, layer the batter with the caramel, then use a butter knife to gently swirl the caramel throughout the cake. This doesn’t need to be perfect. 

As the cake bakes up, the caramel melts down to the bottom and caramelizes around the edges. It creates a cake that’s almost gooey throughout with caramelized edges. 

It’s different, but in a great way. 

photo of Fudgy Chocolate Frosting in bowl

The frosting

While the cake is cooling, you can start making the chocolate fudge frosting. It’s just simply three ingredients. Melted chocolate chips, sour cream, and I also added in some espresso powder, which really highlights the chocolate.

close up photo of cake slice

For having just three ingredients, this is one of the most magical frostings. Very creamy, rich, and fudgy. And I love that it’s not too sweet – but just sweet enough.

Swirled Caramel Sheet Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting close up photo on sheet pan

Frost the cooled cake, then top with chocolate curls. 

There are three “steps” here, but they’re all very easy, and so very good. Each bite is filled with sweet vanilla butter cake, gooey caramel, and fudgy chocolate frosting. It’s a cake that just about all will love…there’s a little something for everyone! 

Swirled Caramel Sheet Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting on a plate with a fork

Looking for other simple sheet cakes? Here are some favorites:

Retro-Style Chocolate Sheet Cake

Swirled Blackberry Lavender Sheet Cake

Easiest Coconut Banana Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

Lastly, if you make this Swirled Caramel Sheet Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Swirled Caramel Sheet Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories Per Serving: 424 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Caramel Swirl

Frosting

Instructions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
    2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla, beating until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stream in the milk, beating until just combined.
    3. To make the caramel. Melt together the butter, brown sugar, and maple in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook 4-5 minutes, until thickened slightly. Stir in the vanilla and salt. 
    4. Pour 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Drizzle half the caramel over the batter, then pour over the remaining batter (it will not cover the caramel fully). Then drizzle over the remaining caramel. Use a knife to lightly swirl the caramel around, don't over mix. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the center is just set. Let cool completely.
    5. To make the chocolate frosting. Microwave the chocolate chips and a pinch of salt, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. Stir in the sour cream and espresso, a dollop at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Swirl the frosting onto the top of the cake. If desired top with chocolate. Slice, eat, and enjoy!!

Notes

Storing: this cake keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days.
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photo of cake on sheet pan with frosting

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is a seriously delicious cake! Super fluffy, definitely gooey (in the best way) and sweet without being super sweet. My husband brought most of this into work with him, and said it was gone within 30 minutes! I think this cake is going to go into our regular rotation for special occasions!

    1. Hey Alison,
      Wonderful!! Thank you so much for making the recipe, I am so glad to hear that it was enjoyed!! Have the best week:) xxT

  2. 5 stars
    This cake was easy and delicious and a huge hit! My caramel seemed to sink to the bottom, however, and the cake essentially had a sticky caramel bottom layer rather than swirled within the cake. It was still great but is there a way to prevent that from happening?
    Thanks!!

    1. Hey Jessica,
      Awesome!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it!! For the caramel….did you swirl it into the batter? It might sink a little. Maybe it wasn’t thick enough? Have a great week:) xxT

  3. OK so the cake itself is amazing. The frosting not so much and it was just because I didn’t like the coffee added to it because the frosting tasted strongly like the espresso. Is it suppose to taste like that?

    1. Hi Christina,
      Thanks for giving the recipe a try, yes the frosting should have a coffee flavor. You can always omit that next time:) xTieghan

  4. 5 stars
    I made this for my moms birthday, and I am so happy with how this turned out! The frosting is an absolute must. It really added to the already delicious cake and made it even BETTER! It was so moist, and flavorful, and I will definitely make it again! Thanks for the amazing recipes.

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      Happy Friday!! I love to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks a bunch for making it! xxT

      1. Made this for Easter. Soooo good! We sampled some without the frosting first and we honestly all powdered it plain without frosting, though the frosting is still good and I am definitely saving the recipe for both.

        1. Hey Candace,
          Perfect!! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a go, I am thrilled to hear that it was a winner! Have the best week!🌸 xT

  5. Made this and it is soo good. I used Greek yogurt in the place of sour cream and it was delish. It actually tasted even more amazing the second day.

    1. Hi LeeAnn,
      Happy Friday!! I love to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks a bunch for making it! xxT

  6. 5 stars
    I made this cake last weekend (minus the frosting, because I just don’t like frosting) and oh my gosh, it was so good. I brought it to a party and not only did everybody go back for a second slice but my friends were texting the next morning saying they wished they had it for breakfast.

    1. Hey Alexa,
      Happy Friday!! I am thrilled that this recipe was a hit, thanks so much for trying it out!! xx

  7. Hello,
    This cake looks so good! Can I bake it the day before and frost the day of? Wasn’t sure with caramel in the cake.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hey Sarita,
      Yes, that will work well for you! Please let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xTieghan

  8. Made this for my son’s birthday with a whipped chocolate ganache icing. It was DELISH! And amazingly it’s still good three days later!!

    1. Hey Emma,
      Thanks so much for making this recipe and sharing your feedback, I love to hear that it was enjoyed!! xTieghan

  9. 5 stars
    A big hit at our house! I love making your recipes because 1) they’re delicious and 2) they make me look good! Thanks!

    1. Hey Kriss,
      Happy Sunday!! So glad to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it!! 🌺 xx

      1. My brother and I bake over FaceTime every month. I saw this cake recipe and suggested we make it. It was great! I made mine in two, 8-inch pans and my brother made his in a 9×13. Both came out really good. I used lightly beaten whipped cream, in place of the sour cream (I didn’t have sour cream) and my brother followed the recipe. Both were so good. I am very happy with the recipe and I’ll definitely make it again! I’ve been very impressed with your recipes and I just love the photos!

        1. Hi Josie,
          Happy Sunday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for giving it a try and sharing your feedback! xx

  10. My batter was curdy. Where did I go wrong. I love all of your recipes. I want to try again but would like to know where I went wrong. ☺️

    1. Hey Carmen,
      So sorry to hear you had issues with the batter. A little more info would be helpful, was there anything you may have adjusted in the recipe? Please let me know how I can help! xTieghan

  11. 4 stars
    I really liked the taste and texture of the cake! And the caramel was delicious. I didn’t end up using all of the caramel because it looked to be too much when I was swirling it in. I am glad I didn’t use it all because I ended up adding some to the frosting because, like many others, I also found the sour cream to be too tangy and a bad contrast to the cake. However, adding a bit of caramel and using half milk chocolate chips helped make the frosting perfect.
    Thanks for the easy sheet cake recipe! (Would you please consider posting the videos you post on Instagram here as well? It would be super helpful for figuring out the consistency of the caramel for example. Thanks!)

    1. Hey Madeleine,
      Awesome!! I am thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe, thanks so much for giving it a go! Yes, that is something we are looking into right now. Have a great weekend:) xTieghan

    1. Hey Loren,
      Yes, I would add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xT

    1. Hi Tonya,
      You can allow the caramel to cool slightly, but it does not have to cool all the way. I hope this recipe turns out amazing for you, let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

      1. The family loves it ! The kids say it tastes like pancakes and had it for breakfast this morning ! ( Did not need frosting 🙂

        1. Hey Tonya,
          Happy Wednesday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for giving it a go!! ☘️Tieghan

  12. 4 stars
    Cake portion is delicious! I don’t care for the sour cream frosting. When I make this again I will use a different frosting recipe.

    1. Hey Hayley,
      Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try, sorry to hear the frosting was not enjoyed!! xTieghan

  13. 5 stars
    Made this today for my little family after daycare. Amazing, kind of think it will be a little family favourite, bit naughty, but spectacular, perfect for a magical treat ✨Thank you!

    1. Hi Mia,
      Fantastic!! I love to hear that the recipe was enjoyed, thanks for giving it a try. Have the best week:)) xT