This delicious Kentucky butter cake takes a simple poke cake to a whole new level with its buttery cream cheese topping that gets soaked into the cake. It’s a cake topped with a sweet butter sauce to create a moist cake with amazing butter flavor.
After I made Kentucky butter cake cookies, I knew it was about time to make a Kentucky butter cake recipe as well. I tried a couple of different things but decided to go with a Kentucky butter cake poke cake because poke cakes are a great way to get a super moist cake full of amazing flavor.
Poke cakes are kind of my favorite, and for good reason. Once you try this butter cake one, next I recommend this old fashioned jello poke cake, this Kool-Aid poke cake, and of course this Snickers poke cake. Mind-blowing good if you like chocolate.
Anyway, back to this original recipe. I don’t always use a cake mix when I’m making cakes but when I do it’s because I’ve found that you can get the perfect cake with the combination of a cake mix (in place of regular dry ingredients) and a few mix-ins.
Traditional Kentucky butter cake uses buttermilk so in the case of this cake, we’re mixing that cake mix with good old fashioned buttermilk (and softened cream cheese) for a super soft and moist cake, before we even add the topping!
This would be perfect for a Kentucky Derby party or really any occasion – bridal shower, baby shower, even a birthday party! I know my husband would love a delicious butter cake for his birthday!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Sweet butter glaze – this cake gets topped with a buttery sugar glaze that’s mixed with some cream cheese to give it an even creamier texture.
- Simple ingredients – like I mentioned before, this recipe starts with a cake mix, which means the cake itself only has four ingredients you’ll need. And they’re all simple ones – nothing complicated about it!
- Rich buttery flavor – the combination of the cake itself with the buttery glaze gives this cake a nice moist crumb with incredible butter flavor.
- Butter – you’ll want to use unsalted butter that’s been softened to room temperature so it’ll mix up nicely with the softened cream cheese. If you aren’t using room temperature butter, you’ll end up with little chunks of butter in the glaze, not what you want at all.
- Buttermilk – if you don’t have actual buttermilk, you can make your own buttermilk by combining one cup milk with one tablespoon of either lemon juice or white vinegar. Let it sit for ten minutes to allow the mixture to sour and you’ll have buttermilk substitute. Regular buttermilk is still best but this works in a pinch.
- Cake mix – I’ve written this recipe using yellow cake mix but if you have butter cake mix (like I used in these Kentucky butter cake cookies), you can use that as well.
- Cream cheese – make sure your cream cheese is softened to room temperature so it’ll combine easily with the butter. Honestly, it’s better if you use all room temperature ingredients, but it won’t make that much difference if other things aren’t – just the butter and cream cheese.
- Eggs – make sure to use large eggs. I think most of the time people buy large eggs but just in case you somehow get medium ones or extra large. This recipe is written for large eggs.
- Pecans – you can use chopped pecans on this (we did chopped pecans because Kentucky is known for pecans) or any other chopped nuts to add a little crunch. These are totally optional!
How to Make kentucky butter cake
This may be my favorite dessert I’ve made in a long time with all of its buttery flavor! And the fact that it’s so easy to make, I can whip it up for pretty much any occasion!
Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with non-stick cooking spray so the bottom of the cake doesn’t stick to the pan.
In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), combine dry cake mix, buttermilk, four ounces of cream cheese, and eggs. Beat the cake ingredients until all ingredients are well combined. You can either use a stand or a hand mixer – either one works just fine!
Also, I typically start out at a low speed then increase speed as I beat to let the dry ingredients get mixed in a little bit before I speed it up.
Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it out gently with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 28 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. As long as the center is cooked, the sides of the cake will be done as well!
Allow the cake to cool completely before topping it with glaze. I personally like to put it on a cooling rack but it’s not essential.
2 – Make the Butter Glaze
For the glaze, melt the butter and 8 ounces of cream cheese in the microwave then whisk together until smooth.
Add vanilla extract and milk to the melted cream cheese mixture and mix well.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, stirring frequently, until all powdered sugar is incorporated and mixture is smooth.
Now for the fun part! Take the end of a wooden spoon or a large straw and poke small holes all over the cake just like with any other poke cake. Poke holes all over the place but not too close together so you don’t end up with huge holes!
Pour the glaze on top of the cake and spread it evenly over the top, making sure it gets into all the holes. If you have any remaining sauce, just pour it all on top!
Sprinkle the top with toasted, chopped pecans (if desired) then refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours.
Once chilled, slice cake into slices and serve chilled.
Use the cake mix just as dry cake mix, don’t make the cake mix as written.
Try it with toasted coconut as well! You can add 1/2 cup of shredded coconut to the glaze if you want a little more tropical flavor.
Store leftover cake in the fridge for up to three days and always serve chilled. You can either chill or top with plastic wrap.
This is called butter cake because it’s made with a butter based cake and topped with a buttery glaze!
Since this is a Kentucky butter poke cake, I do not recommend freezing it. If you freeze the cake, the moist and gooey buttery glaze won’t be the same once thawed.
More Easy Cake Recipes
If you like this Kentucky butter cake recipe, make sure to check out these other delicious cake recipes!
- Oreo ice cream cake – a delicious layered ice cream cake that starts with ice cream sandwiches!
- Chocolate chip bundt cake – an amazing vanilla bundt cake combined with chocolate chips for a delicious chocolate flavor!
- Dr Pepper cake – a chocolate sheet cake combined with Dr Pepper makes for a deliciously moist cake!
- Brownie lava cake – old-fashioned chocolate cake brownies that are perfect for any occasion!
- Eggnog pound cake – one of the most amazing pound cake recipes, made with eggnog for a super moist cake!
The Best Kentucky Butter Cake Recipe
- 1 box yellow cake mix (15.2 ounces)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 4 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 2 eggs
- 8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- ½ cup butter (softened)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 cup chopped pecans toasted, optional
- ½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 9" x 13" baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine dry cake mix, buttermilk, 4 ounce cream cheese, and eggs. Beat until all ingredients are well combined.1 box yellow cake mix, 1 cup buttermilk, 4 ounces cream cheese, 8 ounces cream cheese, 2 eggs
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 28 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean..
- Allow the cake to cool completely before topping it with glaze.
- Melt the butter and 8 ounces of cream cheese in the microwave then whisk together until smooth.1/2 cup butter
- Add vanilla and milk to the melted cream cheese mixture and mix well.1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 cup milk
- Slowly add the powdered sugar, stirring frequently, until all powdered sugar is incorporated and mixture is smooth. (Stir in coconut if desired)1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Using the end of a wooden spoon or a large straw, poke holes all over the cake, then pour the glaze on top of the cake and spread it evenly over the top, making sure it gets into all the holes.
- Sprinkle the top with toasted, chopped pecans then refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours. Serve and enjoy!1 cup chopped pecans
- Store leftover cake, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.1/2 cup shredded coconut