St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake gets a keto makeover! This easy cake recipe is rich and incredibly buttery, but still low carb enough to fit into your healthy keto diet. Sugar free and grain free.
I feel like I have been waiting forever to make a good keto gooey butter cake recipe. I’ve seen so many glorious conventional gooey butter cakes, which really are more like bars than cake, and I kept eyeing them, wondering if I should take a stab at making a healthier, low carb version.
What was stopping me, you ask? Simple. The lack of good low carb boxed vanilla cake mix. The original St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake takes boxed cake mix and when I re-make a recipe, I like to pay homage as much as I can to the original recipe.
But now, with the advent of not one but two really good keto cake mixes on the market, I decided it was time to give it a go. Both Good Dee’s and Swerve make really good vanilla cake mixes that are perfect for a low carb version of gooey butter cake.
What is Gooey Butter Cake?
You have to admit, it’s such a great name, it makes you want to run to your kitchen and make it straight away, doesn’t it? But what exactly IS gooey butter cake? Well I’ve been doing my research on that!
- It originated in St. Louis, Missouri, and like any traditional recipe, it seems to have many iterations. But generally it’s a flat, dense cake topped with a gooey sweet filling of cream cheese and butter.
- The cake portion is usually made with boxed cake mix, but you add a lot more butter, fewer eggs, and no additional liquids, so it doesn’t rise much but stays dense and buttery.
- The filling is made by beating cream cheese, butter, eggs, and powdered sugar (or sweetener) together and pouring it over top. Then it’s baked just enough so that the topping stays ooey and gooey.
- You then sprinkle it with a liberal amount of powdered sweetener/sugar.
- It’s also often baked in 9×13 pans and cut into squares, so you may see it referred to as gooey butter bars.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
How to Make Keto Gooey Butter Cake
I tried several different versions of this cake so I could give you some options.
The first time I made it, I used the Swerve Vanilla Cake mix for the crust, and simply followed the rest of the recipe I found on the Tidy Mom blog, swapping powdered Swerve for the sugar. Cheryl is actually from St. Louis and I figured she knew what she was talking about!
I took that version to the Oregon Coast when we went away with friends and it was a huge hit.
But knowing that not everyone wants to use, or can afford, the keto cake mixes, I decided to also make it with one of my own basic keto vanilla cake recipes. I did cut the amounts back by one third so it wasn’t too much cake and not enough filling.
I also tried adding some butter to the filling on the second go, to make it more gooey. I’d seen several variations with the added butter and given how much I love butter, I figured it couldn’t be a bad thing.
That version got taken to CrossFit, where it was also a huge hit. But they are hungry people, those crazy CrossFitters.
As I said, you have options here. You could make it with boxed cake mix or with my vanilla cake. But I highly recommend the added butter in the filling. Because low carb sweeteners aren’t like sugar, the filling is more firm when it’s just cream cheese and eggs. Sugar keeps things softer, so the additional butter really helps this keto version.
If you truly want a gooey butter cake, make sure to under-bake it. Don’t wait for that filling to firm up, take it out of the oven while the center is still quite jiggly.
That’s really it! It’s a remarkably easy cake, whether you use boxed cake mix or not. And with these low carb ingredients, how can you go wrong?
Want more gooey dessert recipes? Check out my Keto Desserts Page!
Keto Gooey Butter Cake
- 2 cups almond flour
- ½ cup Swerve Sweetener
- 2 tablespoon unflavored whey protein powder
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter melted
- 1 large egg
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- ½ cup butter softened
- ¾ cup powdered Swerve
- 2 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Powdered Swerve for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 325F and lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan.
- In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, sweetener, protein powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, egg, and vanilla extract and stir to combine well. Press into the bottom and partway up the sides of the prepared baking pan.
- In another large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Beat in the sweetener until well combined, then beat in the eggs and vanilla until smooth.
- Pour the filling over the crust. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, until the filling is mostly set, but the center still jiggles, and the edges are just golden brown.
- Remove and let cool, then dust with powdered Swerve and cut into bars.
Actually, the story in my family is that my grandfather was the inventor of the St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. I think it was back in the 30’s or 40’s. He owned 2 bakeries. And the gooey butter cake was an accident. Apparently he was trying a new recipe and it kept flopping, the butter all sunk to the center of the cake. Times being what they were,(no wasting) the flopped cakes were put out on a sale rack, and ended up being a hit. People would line up to get the cakes. Not sure what happened, but the story is he was approached by someone to sell the recipe. My grandpa was not a businessman, so he sold it to this guy who ended up selling it to Kroger for a fortune.
I remember those cakes when I was a kid, always leftover baked goods at my grandparents house. We would eat the gooey center and leave the crust, haha.
This sounds amazing! Can’t wait to try it!
Shannon Maurer says
A new favorite!!! Super yummy and not too sweet. Thank you
Could I use THM baking blend inplace of almond flour?
I honestly can’t guide you here, I don’t use it. When I tried it in the past, it was much much more dry than almond flour so it would not be a great sub here.
Carolyn – I got my grandmother’s Gooey Buttercake recipe out and yours is almost identical. Except for one small detail – the original recipe calls for a yellow cake mix that makes two 8in rounds. The swerve cake mixes only make one 8in round. So to duplicate the real McCoy, you will want to use 2 cake mixes. I only had a vanilla and a chocolate so I made both, split the filling into two bowls so I could add 4oz of melted Lily’s chocolate into one. Then I made a 1/2 and 1/2. I’ll post a pic on the facebook post when it is out of the oven.
Hi Jennifer… be that as it may, I worked from other “traditional” recipes and used exactly the same amount of cake mix as they did. I would definitely not try to do a larger cake mix, I think it would be too heavy on the cake.
I’ll let you know how it turns out – the original recipe was never a 50/50 cake and filling. It was mostly cake with a layer of filling. At least that is the way my family has made it for 4 generations. In St. Louis… 😉
I hear ya! You do as it works for you. 🙂
Dawn A Gresham says
Just whipped this up and popped it into the oven. I licked the beaters clean! So yummy!! I can’t wait until after dinner to have some! Thanks!
Hope you love it!
Could you use peanut butter powder indstead of the protein powder? I have a large container of it and have been trying to find ways to use it.
You’re welcome to try but I think it might make the bake batter too thick.
Can you use vanilla protein powder? I don’t have unflavored.
Sure, that would be fine. Cut back on the additional vanilla.
My family loves gooey butter cake! So glad you developed this wonderful keto recipe!
Connie Gutierrez says
Absolutely brilliant! Running to the kitchen to make with Good Dee’s 🙂
Jennifer Blake says
Mmmm… so good! Love this treat while still staying on course.
This is such a great recipe! I’ve had the original gooey butter cake, and if you can have it while eating keto- that’s heaven!!
Wow. I’ve email you twice over the years about this cake! And as recently as last week asking you to help me out. I’m sure you didn’t see it, but it was well timed. It sounds like all I needed was two eggs to fix the recipe! Thanks!
Oh I am sure I have seen, you are definitely not the only one to ask for this cake. 🙂 Did I not respond? I try to respond to almost all of my emails and requests but it gets overwhelming. Often I just try to answer specific baking questions. But I had never made one before and needed to do my research so I may have been putting you off until I had done so. Sorry!
No worries! I was the crazy lady asking if I could mail you the real deal so you could taste it once and see why it’s so darn good! I know you are super busy and answering all that can take forever.I was not upset, sorry if my internet tone seemed so! I’ve made many a crystallized gooey butter cakes over the years lol. I’m so excited to bake this tonight and see. I’ve been so close so many times but that darn swerve would crystallize the next day or if it was put in the fridge. We always left real STL gooey cake on the counter for a few days…do you think this guy could do that too? I was about to try Bocha sweet next week in it but I’ll swerve it one more time! Thanks so much!
Ours was totally on the counter for a few days. Mine never recrystallized but again, we ate it within a few days (or some I took to CrossFit) so I can’t promise you it’s not going to happen. But using powdered Swerve in the filling should help. If you do get Bocha Sweet, try using half that and half powdered Swerve.
I had this same question but also, love the flavor of this, but it completely stuck to the glass 13×9 pan! There’s just no way I can keep a piece together. I know I’m not explaining well, but the crust is moist and just not set…but done around the edges and the filling done perfectly! Help!
Well that’s a bit odd because no one has had an issue with it sticking. What kind of 9×13 pan? If it was metal, that could be part of it. What did you use for the cake part…my recipe or the swerve mix?
OMG! I’ve been waiting 10 YEARS for this recipe! THANK YOU!
This coudn’t have come at a better time for me! I love gooey pumpkin butter cake at Halloween and now I don’t have to cheat!! You mentioned extra butter did you already include that in this recipe? If not, how much extra should I include. Thanks so much for all you do.
It’s already in the recipe! I did the filling two ways and liked it best the second way.
Jen Beck says
Athena, could you please share how much pumpkin you put in your cake? That sounds delish! Thank you
I’m going to make this today. I’m going to add an entire can of pumpkin, an extra egg along with some cinnamon,ginger, cloves and allspice. Of course, you can always substitute with pumpkin pie spice. I know this works as it’s the fluff from an old Paula Deen pumpkin gooey butter cake recipe.
And it worked like a charm. My son inhaled a slice and, even though it wasn’t as sweet as the original he said he’d be happy to eat this version from now on. I used a regular 15 oz can of pumpkin, 3 eggs instead of 2, a tsp of cinnamon and a tsp of nutmeg. I baked it at 350° for 40 minutes. My oven automatically sets at 350° and I forgot to set lower but it was perfect. Thank you, Carolyn! ????
So glad to hear it!
I just got on here to see if anyone had added pumpkin. Thanks for sharing!
Sunni Jeffers says
Looking for how to add pumpkin. Is it added to the cream cheese mixture? Just want to be sure. Thanks!
Susan Pelter says
Oh Carolyn, you have made me so happy! This is one of my favorite desserts and I have been wanting a keto sub for ages. Cannot wait to try! Thank you!
Kathy Silber says
Thank you for this recipe, Carolyn! After living away from St. Louis (and Gooey Butter Cake!) for thirty years,
I’ve happily returned to St. Louis. Now I’ve decided to go Keto and I can’t eat a Gooey Butter Cake! So this is
really a welcome recipe! I can’t wait to make it! Thanks for all of your delicious recipes! I’m quite sure this one will measure up!
So good! Thanks for sharing!
Dorothy Cuell says
Looks amazingly delicious! Can you freeze it?
I didn’t try but I can’t see why not.
Hi, Carolyn. My son loves this cake. I’m so happy to have a Keto version. Thank you. Do you use salted or unsalted butter?
Linnea Welker says
Unsalted is standard. However, I like salt so I often uses salted.
Recipe looks delicious! I was just curious as to how the whey protein powder affects the end product?
I always add whey to my cakes to mimic gluten, which is a protein. In this case, you could easily skip it since the cake is supposed to be dense.
Would collagen protein powder work you think?
I would like to know the same. I have to stay away from whey.
I’ve already provided subs and suggestions in other comments.
Can you use whey protein isolate in place of the whey protein?
Can whey protein isolate be used gear instead of whey protein powder?
Yes, that’s fine.