Easy Gingerbread Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Gingerbread Sheet Cake

December 5th, 2022
5 from 8 votes
5 from 8 votes

Easy Gingerbread Sheet Cake features a Texas-style spiced molasses buttermilk cake topped with a creamy and rich cream cheese frosting. Simple recipe, perfect for a crowd!

Yield: 20 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Rich, warm, spicy, tangy, and sweet.
Texture: The cake is ultra moist, spongey, and soft while the frosting is lucious and creamy.
Ease: Super simple and easy to make and transport!
Pros: Fun and festive recipe for a holiday party.
Cons: None!
Would I make this again? Absolutely.

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This easy Gingerbread Sheet Cake is the perfect cake recipe to bring to a Christmas potluck or white elephant party.

the whole Gingerbread Sheet Cake in its pan, beside a bowl of cream cheese frosting, ready to ice.

The combination of gingerbread and cream cheese frosting is one I discovered a couple years ago.

I fell in love with how the tangy cream cheese complements the rich spiciness of the cake.

If you also love this flavor combination, check out my recipe for gingerbread cookie bars with cream cheese frosting. It’s basically the cookie version of this sheet cake!

Unsliced Gingerbread Sheet Cake topped with cream cheese frosting.

This recipe is simple enough to make on a weekday – OR, make the cake a day in advance and frost the day you plan to serve it.

I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do!

Gingerbread Sheet Cake topped with cream cheese frosting, with part of the cake sliced up to serve.

How to Make Easy Gingerbread Sheet Cake

What is Texas-Style Sheet Cake?

This is a super easy method of making sheet cake that will feel totally wrong if you’ve never done it before. You start by melting the butter with water on the stovetop, then add the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients. It feels so backwards compared to traditional methods, but it all comes together into an ultra-moist, spongey, and soft cake!

What Can I Use Instead of Molasses?

If you cannot get molasses where you live, you can try substituting honey or dark corn syrup – but the flavor and texture of your Gingerbread Sheet Cake will change. Be sure to use regular unsulphured molasses (like Grandma’s or Brer Rabbit brands). Don’t use blackstrap molasses, as it has a harsh and bitter flavor. 

The Spices in Gingerbread Sheet Cake

The spices in anything gingerbread or gingerbread-flavored are super important. Check your spices to ensure they’re not expired. Even if they’re not expired, give them a sniff and make sure they’re still very aromatic. Older spices carry less flavor; fresh spices will carry a LOT more flavor. So, just be aware of that and feel free to adjust accordingly.

What if I Don’t Have Buttermilk?

Buttermilk works best in this recipe to provide a rich and tender cake. You can learn more about the science of buttermilk in my Buttermilk 101 article here. I would not recommend using a buttermilk substitute. If you must, use whole milk instead – but note the cake’s final taste and texture will be different.

Gingerbread Sheet Cake topped with cream cheese frosting, still in its baking pan but sliced up and a few slices removed, so you can see the soft interior of the cake.

What Kind of Pan Should I Use for Sheet Cake?

This recipe was developed for a 10 by 15-inch jelly roll baking pan. I highly recommend a light-colored pan, as opposed to one with a dark nonstick coating, as that will dry out the edges more quickly.

Can I Use a 9 by 13-inch Pan Instead?

We haven’t tried making this Gingerbread Sheet Cake in a 9 by 13-inch pan. Feel free to experiment with this as you wish, but the bake time will be much longer, as your cake will be much thicker. 

If you do give this a try, be sure to use a light-colored pan, not a glass or ceramic pan. Learn more about that here

Can This Cake be Made in a Bundt Pan?

This was designed specifically as a sheet cake. Bundt cakes need to be much sturdier in consistency.

Tips For Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Make sure your cream cheese is completely softened to room temperature. This will allow you to make a soft and creamy frosting without any lumps.
  2. Be sure to use full-fat bricks of high-quality cream cheese. Some generic brands are filled with weird gums and stabilizers or are super watery.
  3. I love to use vanilla paste in my cream cheese icing for extra vanilla flavor but you can also use extract.
  4. The frosting doesn’t need to be super stiff since it’s just going on a flat sheet cake so we don’t need as much powdered sugar, which I personally prefer!

How Many People Does Gingerbread Sheet Cake Serve?

This Gingerbread Sheet Cake yields 20 servings – perfect for any Christmas or holiday gatherings!

How to Store Gingerbread Sheet Cake

Gingerbread Sheet Cake can be baked, cooled, covered, and stored at room temperature for 2 days. Once frosted, the cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for a few hours before it needs to be refrigerated. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

a slice of cake on a plate with a bite taken out.

More Sheet Cake Recipes:

P.S. Check out ALL my Christmas Dessert Recipes here!

5 from 8 votes

How to make
Gingerbread Sheet Cake

Yield: 20 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Easy Gingerbread Sheet Cake features a Texas-style spiced molasses buttermilk cake topped with a creamy and rich cream cheese frosting. Simple recipe, perfect for a crowd!


For the cake:

  • 2 cups (254 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (350 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 2 sticks (227 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the icing:

  • 12 ounces (340 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 sticks (170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla paste (or extract)
  • 2 1/2 cups (313 grams) powdered sugar, sifted


Make the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a 10-by-15-inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and brown sugar. Set aside.

  3. In a medium saucepan combine the butter, water, and molasses. Over medium-high heat, heat until the butter melts. Bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, remove from heat and add in the flour mixture. Let cool slightly. Add in the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.

  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through and the cake springs back when touched. Let cool.

  5. Cake can be made 2 days ahead of time. Cover and store at room temperature.

Make the icing:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium-high speed until completely smooth. On low speed, gradually add in the sugar and beat until creamy.

  2. Spread all over cooled cake. Cut into squares and serve.

Recipe Notes

Once frosted, the cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for a few hours before it needs to be refrigerated. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Course : Dessert
Cuisine : American
Keyword : christmas, christmas party, gingerbread, gingerbread sheet cake, sheet cake

This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated with additional baking tips. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Audrey — December 13, 2022 at 7:12 pm

    This was so easy and so good!! Everyone at worked loved it! My husband who “doesn’t really like cake” even love it too!

  2. #
    Vanessa — October 11, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing! Does it keep long?

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — October 12, 2022 at 10:37 am

      Hi Vanessa! As mentioned in the recipe instructions, this cake can be made up to two days in advance. Let us know what you think once you’ve given this cake a try! Happy baking! 🙂

  3. #
    Suzanne — October 11, 2022 at 7:29 pm

    This looks so good! What a great dessert to make for the holidays!

  4. #
    John — June 27, 2022 at 10:13 pm

    Very nice cake, good texture, and very easy to make, and nice flavour.

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — June 28, 2022 at 9:41 am

      So happy to hear that you enjoyed this cake, John!!

  5. #
    Gary Schmautz — January 2, 2022 at 12:07 pm

    Can leftovers be frozen?

    • #
      Emily — January 3, 2022 at 10:20 am

      Hi Gary! We haven’t tried that, but it should be fine! Cut your cake into slices and freeze the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 1 hour, or until solid, before transferring to an airtight container with parchment between each layer of slices. Defrost in the fridge overnight. I hope that helps!

  6. #
    Karla — December 30, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    Hi. First of all, thank you very much for sharing you wonderful recipes.
    I made this gingerbread sheetcake and it turned out very well, even though I made two little changes on your original.
    I used a little less light brown sugar (300g instead of 350g). I didn’t have buttermilk, so I tried with natural unsweetened yogurt.
    The frosting is excellent.

    Thank you very much.

    • #
      Emily — January 3, 2022 at 12:01 pm

      So happy you loved this recipe!

  7. #
    A.W.E. — December 26, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    I love this!! I used more of each spice, as well as adding a little bit of cardamom and just a pinch of black pepper. I didn’t have a jelly roll pan, but I cooked this in an 8 x 11 pyrex dish for 28 minutes at 375 and it was PERFECT! My family has been making gingerbread cake on Christmas for years and this is my new go to recipe. Great topped with some salted caramel too. Thanks for this beautiful cake!

    • #
      Emily — December 27, 2021 at 10:15 am

      Thanks for sharing the pan/timing you used! So glad you loved this recipe!

  8. #
    J — December 6, 2021 at 2:34 pm

    Can this be made into cupcakes??? If so how long should I cook it for? Thank you!

    • #
      Emily — December 9, 2021 at 9:39 am

      We haven’t tried that, so I can’t say for sure! Let us know how it goes if you give it a try 🙂

  9. #
    Lindi — December 25, 2020 at 7:24 am

    Oh, this is a keeper! The cake is so moist, spongy and full of holiday flavors! I replaced the buttermilk with sour cream because it’s what I had on hand. the frosting is just creamy and lovely, Thanks, Happy Holiday!

  10. #
    Melissa Speight — December 20, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    When making ahead of time, would I cover and store the cake without icing.. possibly waiting to make the icing until the day of? Thank you! The perfect cake to celebrate Jesus’ birthday! 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — December 22, 2020 at 1:16 pm

      Yes! You can follow the make ahead steps in the instructions of the recipe. Hope you love this cake!

  11. #
    Kelli — December 20, 2020 at 10:01 am

    Hello! I am looking forward to baking this cake for the holidays. I am curious; why does the cake bake at such a high temperature? I’ve never baked a cake this hot before, even other sheet cakes. Thanks so much for the insight!

  12. #
    Jenae Kluge — December 18, 2020 at 8:07 am

    Super simple and SUPER delicious. I have officially added this recipe to my list of holiday cooking.

    • #
      Tessa — December 18, 2020 at 11:09 am

      Yay! Thanks so much!

  13. #
    Itziar — November 22, 2020 at 8:08 pm

    Hi!!! Do you know if I try these recipe in a bunt tin or a small loaf, would it works? I do have to put it less time in the oven?

  14. #
    Michelle — December 8, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Honestly I was dubious looking at this recipe – I’ve never made a sheet cake before and also the only molasses available on this side of the pond is Blackstrap. BUT it came out sooo well, beautiful spongy cake with a delicate crumb, couldn’t believe I was able to achieve this texture without even using an electric mixer! I used a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses and the rest of the 1/4 cup maple-flavoured golden syrup. Seems to do the trick – gorgeous result with no hassle 🙂

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