Treebeards Butter Cake

Indulge in the luxurious richness of Treebeards Butter Cake. This decadent dessert with a buttery crust and gooey cheesecake layer is simply divine! It’s a special treat to brighten any day. Every slice of Butter Cake is a testament to the joy of homemade baking, offering a taste of nostalgic comfort.

Copycat Treebeards butter cake slice on a plate with the cake behind it.

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Treebeards buttercake

Those who’ve lived in or spent time around Houston are likely familiar with Treebeards, which has been serving up delicious down-home Southern-style meals and delicious desserts since the late 1970s. Over more than four decades, it’s expanded from a single restaurant in the Market Square neighborhood (which sadly closed in 2020) to four locations around Houston.

However, they all maintain one of the notable characteristics of the original — they’re closed on weekends. While hardworking staff likely appreciate the time off, it means that those craving one of the restaurant’s iconic Butter Cakes on Saturday or Sunday need to make their own, as do any former Houstonians who’ve moved elsewhere. 

What makes Treebeards butter cake so special? 

Whether you’re a Treebeards regular or are just learning about the restaurant, anyone who loves a delicious baked good will appreciate Treebeards butter cake. It’s hard to beat the ooey, gooey filling made from a sweetened, flavored cream cheese mixture.

Meanwhile, the comforting, familiar flavors of yellow cake provide the perfect crust to hold it all in. 

Why you’ll love this recipe

These rich, delicious flavors are easy to pull together with this simple take on Treebeards butter cake recipe. Using a boxed cake mix helps speed up the process significantly, while most other ingredients are affordable and long-lasting. They may already be waiting in your fridge or pantry! Plus, it’s ready to eat in under an hour, only ten minutes of which is active cooking and mixing. 


There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about the ingredients you’ll need. It’s how they work together that produces the most unique parts of Treebeards gooey butter cake recipe:

  • Yellow cake mix
  • Cream cheese
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
Copycat Treebeards butter cake ingredients on a tray.

Ingredient notes and substitutions

Those sensitive to dairy can replace the butter and cream cheese with non-dairy alternatives without significantly impacting the final result.

Even bakers with celiac disease or gluten intolerances can enjoy this recipe by swapping the regular cake mix for gluten-free varieties.

How to make Treebeards butter cake

The process of making this cake involves two main steps: making the crust and making the filling. Start by preheating the oven to 350°F.

To make the crust:

  1. Using an electric mixer, blend the cake mix, melted butter, and an egg on low speed until combined and you have a moist dough consistency, then on medium speed for an additional two minutes. 
  2. Spray a 15-inch jelly roll pan with non-stick spray until thoroughly coated.
  3. Press mixture into the pan.
Collage of making the bottom layer for copycat Treebeards butter cake.

Making the filling is also straightforward:

  1. Combine cream cheese, vanilla, some of the powdered sugar, and remaining eggs in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer.
  2. Cover the bowl and continue mixing for five minutes on high speed. 
  3. Switch it back to low speed, uncover the bowl, and add the final portion of the sugar. 
  4. Recover and mix on high speed for an additional five minutes. 
  5. Pour mixture over the crust and bake at 350°F until light brown, about 40 minutes. 
Collage of mixing wet and dry ingredients and baking copycat Treebeards butter cake.

Equipment notes

Though jelly roll pans are the best and most traditional way to make this cake, you’re not out of luck if you don’t own one. You can also use a regular 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Cooking time will likely be a bit longer, but keeping a close eye on the cake as it nears completion is your best bet. 

Copycat Treebeards butter cake in the pan.

What to serve with Treebeards butter cake

Another advantage of Treebeards butter cake is that it’s wonderfully versatile and pairs well with many different accompaniments.

For a fresh, healthier spin on dessert, add some fresh fruit. Tart, sweet berries work particularly well.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, make your cake even more decadent with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

Meanwhile, pair your slice with a delicious beverage, like a cold glass of milk or a steaming mug of coffee or tea. 

Copycat Treebeards butter cake slice and a fork on a plate.

How to store

Storing your gooey butter cake is even easier than making it. Due to the significant amount of cream cheese in the filling, it’s best to keep it in the refrigerator. Allow it to cool completely, then place in an airtight container in the fridge. It’s also possible to tightly cover the jelly roll pan or baking pan with foil or plastic wrap and store the entire cake in its original vessel, if space allows. For longer-term storage, this cake can also be frozen after being wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil. 

How long does Treebeards butter cake last?

When stored properly, Treebeards butter cake will last three to five days in the fridge. In the freezer, it’ll stay good for up to two to three months.

How to reheat

Both the oven and microwave can be used to reheat your butter cake, though the former method will provide the best results. Heating the cake in an oven set to 350°F for a few minutes will help preserve the texture as well as the structure of the crust.

If you’re in a rush, you can also pop a slice or two in the microwave. Heat it in short intervals to make sure the cake doesn’t turn too mushy.

Any frozen Treebeards Butter Cakes should be fully defrosted in the fridge before reheating. 

A piece of copycat Treebeards butter cake on a fork.

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Copycat Treebeards butter cake slice on a plate with the cake behind it.

Treebeards Butter Cake

You can make Treebeards butter cake because they aren't open on the weekends. 
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cake Mix Recipes, Cake Recipes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 485kcal


Bottom Layer

  • 15.25 ounces yellow cake mix please use Duncan Hines–they are still 15.25 ounces
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 1 egg

Cheesecake Layer

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 cups powdered sugar divided use


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously spray a jellyroll pan (15 x 10 inches) with nonstick spray.
  • To make the bottom layer, use an electric mixer on low speed to blend the dry cake mix, melted butter, and egg until moistened. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pat the mixture into the bottom and sides of the jellyroll pan. Set aside.
  • To make the cheesecake layer, use an electric mixer on low speed to blend the cream cheese, eggs, vanilla, and 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar until moistened. Carefully cover the mixer with a large, clean kitchen towel. Turn the mixer on high for 5 minutes. Return the mixer to low speed and remove the towel.
  • Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until well blended. Replace the towel, turn the mixer to high speed, and beat for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Spread the mixture evenly over the crust in the pan and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. When cool, slice into squares.


Calories: 485kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 414mg | Potassium: 61mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 65g | Vitamin A: 580IU | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Charli

    5 stars
    For the cheesecake layer, simply mix wet ingredients until smooth, add powdered sugar, mix on low until moistened, mix on high until well blended…no need for towel and all that jaz.

  2. Lorinda

    5 stars
    One of the things I’ve missed most about going gluten-free is Treebeard’s buttercake.
    With your excellent recipe and Betty Crocker’s gluten-free yellow cake mix I made it — yum!!!!!!

5 from 6 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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