December 7, 2023


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Sara Lee Butter Coffee Cake (Easy Recipe)

5 min read
Sara Lee Butter Coffee Cake (Easy Recipe)

The next time you’re craving something sweet for breakfast, try this Sara Lee butter coffee cake recipe.

It’s moist, fluffy, and absolutely divine.

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Sara Lee Butter Coffee Cake

This copycat Sara Lee cake is one of my go-to breakfast and brunch recipes. It’s tender, tasty, and impossibly easy.

How easy? Well, it’ll be in the oven in less than 10 minutes!

And while I admit this Sara Lee butter coffee cake doesn’t have the same bread-like texture as the OG, I will say it’s hella delicious.

Besides, who wants to knead and roll dough at 6 in the morning, amirite?

So what are you waiting for? Preheat your oven and let the baking commence.

Easy Sara Lee Butter Coffee Cake Recipe

If you’re unfamiliar with coffee cake, here’s the first thing you need to know: they don’t contain coffee. Like, at all.

They’re only called such because they’re best served with coffee!

And Sara Lee makes one of the best out there! With its layers of “hand-twisted Danish pastry,” buttery filling, and streusel topping, it’s heavenly.

Luckily, this version has all the same wonderful tastes and textures, from the moist cake and sweet-spiced cinnamon sugar to the delectable glaze on top.

The difference is, this one is a hundred times easier to make because you don’t need to create pastry dough from scratch! 

Instead, just tear open a box of yellow cake mix, and you’re all set.

Ready to try homemade Sara Lee butter coffee cake? Let’s get to it!

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Sara Lee Butter Coffee Cake Ingredients: yellow cake mix, instant vanilla pudding, oil, water, eggs, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, and powdered sugar


For the Cake:

  • Yellow Cake Mix – This recipe is simply a doctored yellow cake mix, and you can use any brand you prefer. My top choices are Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, and Pillsbury.
  • Instant Vanilla Pudding – The not-so-secret ingredient that makes boxed cake mixes ten times better, both in flavor and texture.
  • Vegetable Oil – Cakes require fat for richness and moisture. While this is technically a butter-flavored cake, it’s much better to use vegetable oil to ensure it’s super moist!
  • Water – What better way to saturate the dry ingredients than with the universal solvent?
  • Eggs – They bind the ingredients together and give structure to the cake.
  • Butter Flavor Extract – To fulfill the rich butter flavor.
  • Vanilla – To enhance the cake’s flavor.

For the Cinnamon Sugar:

  • Granulated Sugar and Cinnamon – No explanation needed.

For the Glaze:

  • Powdered Sugar – To sweeten the glaze. Don’t use granulated sugar here, or your glaze will be gritty.
  • Hot Milk – It has to be hot to help dissolve the powdered sugar.
  • Butter Flavor Extract – For that lovely buttery flavor.
  • Vanilla – To enhance the glaze’s flavor.
Butter Coffee Cake

How to Make Sara Lee Butter Coffee Cake

1. Make the batter.

This part is so easy you barely have to use your brain! Just mix the yellow cake mix, pudding, water, eggs, and oil – all at the same time. 

Beat them with an electric mixer over medium speed for 8 minutes. I find that this is the perfect duration to yield the best batter.

2. Make the Cinnamon Sugar.

Easy – just mix cinnamon and sugar. Then, boom, you’re done.

3. Assemble the cake batter.

Spread half of the batter into a greased 9×13-inch baking pan. The batter will be thick, so you’ll want to use a rubber spatula to spread it evenly.

Top the batter with half of the cinnamon sugar.

Repeat with the remaining batter and cinnamon sugar.

4. Bake the cake.

Bake the cake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175°C) for 30 to 35 minutes.

Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake to test for doneness. It’s ready when the toothpick comes out clean or with a few dry crumbs sticking to it.

5. Make the glaze.

While the cake is in the oven, whisk together the powdered sugar, hot milk, butter flavor extract, and vanilla until smooth.

6. Garnish the cake.

While the cake is still warm, pour the prepared glaze on top. Serve warm, and enjoy!

Sara Lee Butter Coffee Cake on a plate with fork

Tips for the Best Sara Lee Butter Coffee Cake

  • Use room temperature eggs as they incorporate more easily with other ingredients. If you forget to take them out of the fridge, submerge them in warm water for 1 minute to warm them up. 
  • This recipe yields a thick batter, so you’ll need to use a spatula to spread it evenly in the pan. Another option is to pipe it into the pan or use a large metal spoon. Either way, it will need guiding to the edges.
  • Test for doneness 5 minutes before the prescribed length of baking. All ovens vary, so it’s best to check it early to keep the cake from becoming dry.
  • Use a serrated knife to make clean slices. Using a Chef’s knife will squash the cake rather than cut neatly through it.
  • Pair a big slice with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or your favorite latte. It’ll go with pretty much anything.
  • Jazz the cake up with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Or go all out and serve it with warm, vanilla-infused custard/pastry cream. Yum!

Recipe Variations

  • Add some crunch by throwing chopped pecans or almonds into the batter. You can also sprinkle the nuts on top.
  • Make it extra special with mini chocolate chips. They’ll blend well into the batter and add a nice decadent taste.
  • Try making a simple streusel for the top. Just mix flour with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until it’s like crumbled cookie dough.
  • Go even bigger and add a layer of pie filling to the middle. Blueberry, cherry, apple – they all pair well with the spiced cake.
Sara Lee Butter Coffee Cake Close Up

Storage Instructions

Cover the cake with plastic wrap and store it at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to a week.

This coffee cake tastes good straight from the fridge, but it’s best enjoyed warm. So, microwave a slice on low power for 10-15 seconds.

For a longer shelf-life, double-wrap the cake (or individual slices) with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Then freeze for up to 3 months.

Thaw frozen slices on the counter for about 30 minutes or warm them in the microwave on low power for about 20-25 seconds.

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Sara Lee Butter Coffee Cake

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