Ooey Gooey Butter Bars


I’m heading home to Missouri this weekend for the 4th, so I thought it appropriate to post a totally traditional Missouri recipe. Ooey gooey butter bars-does a name get better than that?

I feel like “bars” are a distinctly midwestern thing and ooey gooey butter bars are a distinctly Missourian thing. They remind me of being a kid and, sadly, I haven’t seen them since I left the state 12 years ago. They are the kind of recipe that makes me feel just a little bit bad about myself; it consists primarily of yellow cake mix and butter. That’s not real baking. Growing up, there were only a few reasons to have a boxed cake or brownie mix in the house-this was, of course, one of them-and to this day I have trouble shaking that cheating feeling when I use one. But you just cannot get around the fact that these are spectacular. So if you’re a from-scratch girl like myself, suck up your pride and grab a box of cake mix. I won’t tell.

I have no idea what recipe my mom used when I was a kid, so when I decided to make these, I turned directly to the queen of butter-Paula Deen. She did not disappoint and as far as I can tell, this is a totally traditional, fakey-awesome recipe. The crust, made up of yellow cake mix and butter, is just a semi-solid base for the real magic on top. Everytime I have these things I have a mental debate about what they might be. I always guess some sort of corn syrup–based concoction due to their distinctly sticky, pecan pie–like texture. But no, it’s so much simpler than that-and more real. Cream cheese, powdered sugar, and butter come together to make a soft, sticky, addictive pillow that’s ever so slightly crunchy on top. The cake and the goo layers meld together and, oh man, what you’re left with is something totally indulgent, totally bad for you and totally, totally, worth every inch of guilt (or shame) you may feel.

Ooey Gooey Butter Bars

From Paula Deen. Makes ~24 bars.

There are some “real” recipes floating around out there, but honestly, the whole point of this is that it’s a midwestern “church dinner” recipe, as my step-mom would put it: it takes 20 minutes to pull together, involves some sort of fake, is delicious, and that’s all that matters. 

Crust
1, 18.25 oz package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 T butter, melted

Filling
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
8 T butter, melted
1, 16 oz box powdered sugar

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13×9″ baking pan
  • In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, combine the cake mix, 1 egg, and 8 T butter and mix well
  • Pat the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan
  • In a large bowl, whip the cream cheese until smooth
  • Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter and beat together
  • Add the powdered sugar a mix very well
  • Spread the filling over the crust and bake for ~40 to 50 minutes Do not over bake; the center should be a bit gooey…They’re ooey gooey butter bars after all!
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18 thoughts on “Ooey Gooey Butter Bars

  1. I really can’t think of a better sounding bar out there. These looks so ooey gooey and divine! P.S. Just ate my friend’s Kahlua cake which is made with a cake mix and a few other things and I may just have to get over my snobby no cake mix ways.

  2. These were amazing. I also made a Red Velvet version. Using a box of red velvet cake mix, and adding a Tbsp of Coco and 2 Tbsp more powdered sugar. Once it’s spread on top of crust add 3/4 cup of chocolate chips. Delish!

  3. My ex-family used to make these for every get together there was…and they WERE good! I hadn’t made them for 20 years or so, and I got a wild hair to try to make them again. The 1st attempt, I got everything needed, and a yellow cake mix, made them and when they were cool, they just didn’t taste the same. Just at that instant, I remembered…my ex-sister in law insisted on a “pudding in the mix” cake. The next time I tried it w/a pudding cake, and VOILA!! The memories came flooding back to the Good ‘ole Days! Try it!

  4. FYI, I make this same recipe, but without the 8 tablespoons of butter in the cream cheese filling and they still turn out delicious. And that cuts out a teaspoon of butter per serving.

  5. We ate Paula’s Ooey Gooey Butter Bars at her restaurant in Cherokee, NC this week. Each square was served with a little drizzle of raspberry sauce and a tiny swirl of whipped cream. Fantastic! I can’t wait to make them for our upcoming big family dinner. Thanks for all the cooking tips!

  6. I also had these growing up in the south, only difference is we added pecans to the top layer. I think I’ll make these this weekend. Good to hear someone tried with a red velvet mix, I’ve often thought a chocolate version would be tasty.

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    • I agree! I still hold out hope for a come-back. Martha Stewart put her troubles behind her and is doing quite well. Paula’s brother won his case, but it wasn’t about winning or losing in court. It’s about public image. I still love Paula and use her recipes all the time!

  8. My mom has been getting this @ Walmart for several mths now but I never saw the package it came in, she just opened them & laid them on a dish. Only one problem, they are TOO SMALL…! I was so excited to find out what they were & then actually find a recipe ! I couldn’t believe that for not much more than what my mom was paying for 3 of them that I can make me a WHOLE PAN full ! I’ve been having a severe craving for them for the past 2 days & I’m fixing to make my first one. SO EXCITED, I CAN’T WAIT !!!!!! I’ll let everyone know how it turns out. :-)

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