Large parties or huge servings would be impossible without sheet cakes. What confuses beginners the most, however, is the sizing: as sheet cakes are available in half, quarter, and full sheet sizes, many are puzzled about how many people each of these options could exactly feed.
Let me delve further into the sheet cake sizes and servings to lift your confusion. Keep scrolling.
In This Article
What Is The Difference Between Sheet Cakes and Cakes?
Sheet cakes are usually baked in square or rectangular pans, resulting in their flat and larger shapes. But regular cakes are recognizable thanks to the round forms and multiple cake layers piled atop each other (the ones you often see at birthday parties).
With such vastly different cooking formulas and utensils, their serving purposes and styles also differ as a result.
Sheet cakes have mainly been tailored for huge company events and gatherings, cut into square or rectangular slices served straight from the cooking pan. They work best in extremely huge, formal gatherings.
Meanwhile, regular cakes often accompany decorative fondants and frostings at weddings, birthdays, or other special occasions – and are served in separate, individual slices.
Also, on most occasions, sheet cakes are pre-divided into even, uniform pieces. Regular cakes are more flexible in this regard, as people can cut them into larger or smaller slices depending on personal preferences.
How Big Is A Half, A Quarter, and A Full Sheet Cake?
The full-sheet cakes are the largest option at 18×26 inches, serving 119 people at max. Half-sheet cakes measure 18×13 inches and can feed 58 people. And the quarter-sheet is the smallest, whose 18×9 dimensions are suited for 29-people gatherings.
Here is the sum-up chart:
|Size||Surface Area (square inch)||Dimensions (inch)||Serving Count (2×3 slices)||Serving Count (2×2 slices)|
|Full||468||18 × 26||78||117|
|Full||432||18 × 24||72||108|
|Full||384||16 × 24||64||96|
|Half (1/2)||234||13 × 18||39||58|
|Half (1/2)||216||12 × 18||36||54|
|Half (1/2)||192||16 × 12||32||48|
|Quarter (1/4)||117||9 × 13||19||29|
|Quarter (1/4)||104||8 × 13||17||26|
Half-sheet Cake Sizes and Servings
Half-sheet cakes are large, rectangular, long, and often decorated in yellow, white, marble, or chocolate.
They are processed in half-sheet pans with 18 x 13 measurements (half of the full-sheet pans) and sides of one inch in height. Other variations – like 12 x18, 15 x11, or 15.5 x 10.5 – are also available on the market, though the latter two have not been very common lately.
Each half-sheet cake can serve about 48 to 58 people – quite great for average gatherings and medium party sizes.
Full-Sheet Cake Sizes and Servings
As the largest out of the bunch, one full-sheet cake is enough to feed almost 120 people; no wonder it is so popular in huge corporate events and festivals.
They are baked in full-sheet pans, measuring 18 x 26 (double the half-sheet pans) or sometimes 18 x24.
Quarter-Sheet Cake Sizes and Servings
Despite being the tiniest among the three, a 1/4 sheet cake can feed 26 to 29 people, more than enough for smaller parties or gatherings.
The most common measurements for quarter-sheet cakes are 9 x 13 inches. But I usually go for the slightly smaller version (8 x 13) to save some expenses, and that can cater to my 3-member fam squad.
How to Measure The Sheet Cake Size and Servings?
Even without remembering whether the cake is ½, ¼, or full size, you can still calculate the number of servings by dividing the surface area of your pan with that of an individual cake slice.
This is how I would estimate the servings of each sheet cake I made since, as shared above, I often go for the off-size one for cost-saving, and the actual dimensions usually slip off my mind.
Step one. Find the pan’s area.
Basic high-school mathematics is enough for this step: simply multiply the length by the width.
Ex: 26 x 18 = 468
Step two. Find the slice’s area
Perform the same calculations as Step 1 to determine the slice’s area.
Ex: 2 x 2 = 4
Step three. Find the number of servings.
Divide Step 1’s number by Step 2’s to assess the number of people your cake can feed.
Ex: 468/ 4 = 117
How to Choose The Right Type of Cake Portion Size For Your Event?
Assess the number of guests and their demographics to ensure you land on the best cake sizes. For instance, a party for 50 grown-up adults requires full-sheet cakes, but a picnic for 50 kids that quickly get bored with their food only needs half-sheet cakes.
The key is to consider the event type and guests’ preferences. Who do these cakes serve?
- Fifty people for a casual party, most like deserts: full-sheet cakes are the best and most popular choice.
- Fifty kids that only scrape the frosting or eat small cake corners: half-sheet is the better option. Full-sheet cakes, on the other hand, will be a waste of money and effort.
- Black-tie, fancy dinner party: No cakes. Most participants will likely not touch any dessert!
When unsure, I often round up my number to stay on the safe side (ex: 117 to 120, 29 to 30, etc.) After all, slab cakes at parties tend to run out mysteriously!
How to Choose The Right Sheet Cake Pans?
Consider the cake’s number of layers to decide whether deep pans or shallow pans are better for the occasion. Also, calculate the number of guests.
If you only have a rough estimation, it would be best to purchase several quarter-sheet cake pans (instead of one half-sheets) or several half-sheets rather than one full-sheet.
Consider The Types of Cake Layers
I always ask myself whether I want a double-layer or single-layer cake. For the latter, I use deeper pans for more solid construction. As for multiple-layered cakes, there are two options:
- Purchase 2 shallow pans to make 2 thinner cakes
- Purchase 1 deeper pan to make 1 tall cake, then cut into several layers once cooled down.
Whenever I throw a party for my kid, my little boy and his friends always beg for a 5-story sheet cake, so I need to use sheet pan extenders to raise the cake’s height; they help manifest perfect straight edges without overbaking the cake batter.
And while there are rough definitions for quarter/half/full-sized cakes, it doesn’t hurt to use the exact number sizes to describe the cake to the manufacturer/ grocery store seller. This tip is especially helpful if you are a first-timer.
Consider The Guests
The tip is self-explanatory; the more guests you bake for, the larger sheet pan sizes you will need.
Consider using multiple pans to save cooking time if your guest estimation falls between the quarter and half or half and full. For instance:
- Suppose your rough estimation is between 39 and 78 people; you can use two half-sheet pans instead of one full-sheet pan.
- Suppose the guest number is between 19 and 36 (you haven’t yet figured out the exact number); use two quarter-sheets rather than one half-sheet.
Are American And German Sheet Cakes The Same?
No, they are different. German cakes are considered traditional German cuisine, made of sponge or yeast-leavened dough and rarely decorated.
Meanwhile, American cakes are never considered an American cuisine tradition and hence, can be pretty flexible with the formulas. People also like to decorate it with various frosting, toppings, and other edible decorations.
The servings per sheet cakes are different for each common size (quarter, half, and full), so keep in mind my chart above. In case you cannot remember it, I have also included a rough guide to help you manually calculate the number of servings.
If there are any questions not yet addressed, let me know about it.