Wide Open Eats

The Guide to Half-Sheet Cakes

Sheet cakes, the cozy sweatpants of cakes, are secure in their humbleness. They know they aren't bedazzled, towering wedding cakes or precisely crafted layer cakes-but they know how to feed a crowd, happiness guaranteed. In fact, when Costco's enormously popular half sheet cakes went the way of the dodo in June 2020, its fans went bananas. (Today, an online petition is circulating to revive the 12" x 16" crowd-pleaser.)

Make Your Own Half-Sheet Cake

If you don't feel like picketing your local Costco, not to worry: you can make sheet cakes in your own home. Though it's likely Costco used two smaller-than-average half-sheet pans to make their creations-theirs were 12" x 16", but the typical half-sheet pan is 18" x 13"-there are three other popular ways to pull off these lookers for your next party.

Sheet cakes-let's call them that, as most online recipes do-are truly the ultimate party dessert: easy to bake, easy to serve, and universally loved. The simple 1:1 ratio of frosting to cake surface area is perfection. Sliced into modest squares, sheet cake is equally at home eaten out of hand on extra-thick paper towels or glimmering on your nicest party china.

Size It Up

A heaving sheet cake plonked on a table gives maximum happy childhood birthday party feels, and does a bang-up job feeding a crowd. From a workhorse 9-by-13-inch rectangular pan you can expect to get a whopping 12 to 20 pieces of cake (depending on how generously you slice, of course).

Second, you can also use half-sheet pans, like Costco (likely) did, and like this baker did! (A single half-sheet cake, she says, should serve around 18, whereas two, stacked, should feed about 36.)

In Texas, lastly, sheet cakes are often baked in a shallow jelly roll pan, which usually measures about 15.5" x 10.5" (in between a half-sheet pan and a quarter-sheet pan!). Hot frosting is poured onto the warm cake, making for an extra lucious melding between the two layers. These extra thin slabs can go from mixing bowl to your mouth in under an hour.

Serving and Storing Tips

For evenly sized and shaped slices when cutting a rectangular sheet cake, first cut across the width of the cake for two parallel slices. Then, cut down the length of the cake for beautiful results.

In the (unlikely) event that you have leftovers, just cover the cake with foil, plastic wrap, or wax paper. If you are fresh out of all the above, you can DIY a cake dome by using a plate and a large bowl flipped upside down. Although the USDA may quibble with us, we tend to leave cake at room temperature overnight-unless we're somewhere extra warm and humid or the cake has melty, touchy ingredients such as crème fraîche, sour cream or whipped egg whites. In either case, it's going into the fridge, tightly wrapped.

4 Recipes You Need

White Texas Sheet Cake

half sheet cake

Wide Open Eats

Classic Texas Sheet Cakes sport a rich chocolate cake base topped with chocolate frosting and chopped pecans. This quick-to-make vanilla variation swaps vanilla and almond extract in place of the classic cocoa powder. Make like a Texan and bring it to a potluck, party, or your brand-new neighbor down the street.

Coca-Cola Cake

half sheet cake

Wide Open Eats

This copycat Cracker Barrel Coca-cola cake is a flexible, versatile recipe; it bakes up as beautifully as cupcakes as it does as a sheet cake. Bonus: you are guaranteed a fudgy outcome thanks to the presence of both butter and vegetable oil. (See if your party guests can guess the secret ingredients.)

Yellow Sheet Cake With Chocolate Frosting

yellow sheet cake

New York Times

For a direct hit of childhood nostalgia, bake this cake-and don't skip the shower of rainbow sprinkles over the luscious chocolate-sour cream frosting. Buttery yellow cake topped with a chocolate-sour cream frosting gives boxed-cake-mix-but-better vibes.

Lemon Velvet Sheet Cake

lemon sheet cake


This extra moist cake with a tender crumb is the dose of lemony sunshine we all need. Freshly squeezed lemon juice and a generous ¼ cup of lemon zest ensure that a true lemon brightness shines through. The cake is crowned with a tangy confectioners' sugar and lemon juice glaze (a recipe courtesy of a grandma). The lack of a melt-prone buttercream frosting means this is a travel-friendly beauty.

READ: Baby I'm Burnin' for Dolly Parton's New Cake Mixes