Applesauce Cake

October 9, 2021

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An amazingly delicious, old fashioned Applesauce Cake recipe! It’s a super soft and moist cake, similar to carrot cake but rather with a light apple flavor and plenty of autumn spices!

Close up image of single slice of applesauce cake on a green plate with a second slice in the background.

An Easy Applesauce Cake Recipe

Who can resist a simple, flavorful, homestyle cake just like Grandma would have made? This cake is just that!

It’s brimming with applesauce, generously speckled with warm spices throughout, there’s just enough sweetness, and it’s all balanced with a rich cream cheese frosting to polish it off.

It’s an autumn cake worthy of celebrations, bringing to the holiday dinner parties, nice for gifting, or just a great applesauce snack cake to have in the fridge to enjoy after dinner throughout the week.

You’ll find it’s so good in fact that it really doesn’t even need a frosting if you aren’t feeling up to it. That’s right, a cake so good you can even skip the frosting!

A luscious cake that will have you savoring every tempting bite!

Applesauce cake topped with cream cheese frosting shown in a metal baking sheet over a green cloth.

Applesauce Cake Recipe Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE

  • 2 1/4 cups (318 g) all-purpose flour (scoop and level to measure)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) brown sugar (break up any clumps with fingertips)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, nearly at room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, soft
  • 3 cups (360 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

See below for printable recipe in recipe box.

Photo of ingredients needed to make applesauce cake.

How to Make Applesauce Cake

  1. Heat oven, prepare baking dish: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice for 30 seconds. Make a well in the center and set aside.
  3. Separately beat sugars and eggs: To a separate large mixing bowl, add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs. Using an electric hand mixer, beat on medium speed until fairly pale and fluffy, 2 minutes.
  4. Add remaining liquids: Add applesauce, vegetable oil and vanilla extract to sugar mixture and blend with hand mixer until combined.
  5. Combine wet and dry mixtures: Pour applesauce mixture into well in flour mixture, then gently fold and stir mixture just until there’s no longer streaks or pockets of flour.
  6. Add to baking dish: Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Wiggle pan to level batter out even.
  7. Bake until set: Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center comes out free of batter (a moist crumb or two is fine), about 30 to 40 minutes.
  8. Cool completely: Let cake cool on a wire rack (to speed up cooling you can cool in the fridge).

Collage of eight photos showing steps of making applesauce cake batter in mixing bowls.

How to Make the Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Add ingredients to mixing bowl: Add cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Beat until fluffy: Using an electric hand mixer (with clean beater blades), blend mixture on low speed until combined. Then increase speed to high and whip for several minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Frost cake: Spread frosting over cooled cake then cut into slices.

How to Store Applesauce Spice Cake

  • Due to it’s high moisture content and cream cheese frosting applesauce cake is best stored in the fridge.
  • We actually love this cake cold and it can be enjoyed straight from the fridge, but if preferred you can bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Another option is to freeze the unfrosted cake, wrapped in foil, for up to 3 months in an airtight container. Thaw then frost, slice and serve.

 

Collage of 6 images showing applesauce cake in pan before and after baking. Then shows making cream cheese frosting and frosting cake.

Can it be made without a hand mixer?

  • Yes, if you don’t have a hand mixer you can also make this cake by hand using a whisk.
  • You’ll just need to whisk the egg and sugar by hand for about 4 minutes until it’s fluffier.

Helpful Tips for the Best Applesauce Cake

  • Applesauce notes: Don’t use sweetened applesauce since it has added sugars and might make the cake a bit too sweet.
  • I like to look for an applesauce without added water for more apple flavor.
  • Use smooth, not chunky applesauce.
  • Weigh ingredients: If you have a kitchen scale, I highly recommend using it for this recipe (and almost all baking recipes when possible). I love this one HERE.
  • If you don’t have a scale, be sure to use the scoop and level method for measuring the flour as that is what I used to make this recipe.
  • Quick chill frosting: With cream cheese frosting, I like to freeze it in a few 3 minute intervals (stir between each) before frosting the cake so it’s a little more firm.

Possible Variations

  • Nuts: If preferred, you could add chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts) or raisins to the batter. Or finished the frosted cake with chopped nuts.
  • Frosting: Try a different frosting. A caramel (you won’t need to use up the whole batch) or browned butter frosting would be other tasty options.
  • Spices: Include other spices such as cloves and cardamom for an even more well spiced flavor.
  • If you don’t have all the spices listed you can use 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice.
  • Apples: To add more apple flavor, add freeze dried apple slices that have been pulverized to a fine powder to the frosting (use a few tablespoons powder).
  • Substitute butter: I’ve also made this cake with melted butter in place of the vegetable oil and it’s another delicious option (I just love the super moist and slightly fluffier crumb when using the vegetable oil option).

Three slices of applesauce cake shown on green dessert plates with apples, autumn leaves, and a red cloth to the sides.

More Tempting Apples Desserts to Try

 

Close up image of single slice of applesauce cake on a green plate with a second slice in the background.
5 from 5 votes

Applesauce Cake

An old fashioned, super soft, incredibly moist cake that's brimming with spices and has a tasty light apple flavor. It's much like carrot cake and absolutely delicious!
Servings: 15
Prep30 minutes
Cook30 minutes
Cool1 hour 30 minutes
Ready in: 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups (318 g) all-purpose flour (scoop and level to measure)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) brown sugar (break up any clumps with fingertips)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (490 g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, nearly at room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp (42 g) butter, soft
  • 3 cups (360 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • To make the applesauce cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice for 30 seconds. Make a well in the center and set aside.
  • To a separate large mixing bowl add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs. Using an electric hand mixer beat on medium speed until fairly pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add applesauce, vegetable oil and 1 tsp vanilla extract to sugar mixture and blend with hand mixer until combined.
  • Pour applesauce mixture into well in flour mixture then gently fold and stir mixture just until there's no longer streaks or pockets of flour. Mixture will be lumpy and that's okay.
  • Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Wiggle pan to level batter out even.
  • Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center comes out free of batter (a moist crumb or two is fine), about 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Let cake cool on a wire rack (to speed up cooling you can cool in the fridge).
  • To make the cream cheese frosting: Add cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla to a large mixing bowl.
  • Using an electric hand mixer (with clean beater blades), blend mixture on low speed until combined. Then increase speed to high and whip for several minutes until light and fluffy.
  • If needed you can freeze the frosting in 3 minute increments, stirring between intervals, until it's firmed up some.
  • Frost cake with cream cheese frosting then cut into slices.

Notes

  • Cover and store cake in the fridge.
  • It can be served cold or bring to room temperature before serving.
Nutrition Facts
Applesauce Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 445 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 44mg15%
Sodium 287mg12%
Potassium 115mg3%
Carbohydrates 62g21%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 44g49%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 376IU8%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 44mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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18 Comments

  • Brenda Prior

    I made this on the weekend.. OMG !! It is amazing, turned out perfect. Nice and moist, the Butter Cream Icing, turned out to perfection (my first time making it). I now have request to make this cake for my daughter :)

    Highly Recommend try this recipe, you will not be disappointed..

  • Joan Brown

    Excellent fall dessert with or without the cream cheese icing. But the icing is sooo good! Family loved it! Lighter than a gingerbread and so tasty. Will definitely be making this again and again…..

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I’m glad you enjoyed both the cake and frosting Joan! Thanks for leaving feedback!

  • Carolann

    I made this without the frosting and added whipped cream with a dash of nutmeg & chopped pecans. Amazing with coffee. Thank you for this wonderful recipe! Next time I will add your delicious frosting addition, just didn’t have the cream cheese on hand & wanted something “fall-ish” with coffee!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I would never complain about the switch to whipped cream, delicious! Glad it turned out well for you Carolann!

  • Deborah Lilly

    This is such a good cake! So moist and full of flavor. My daughter loved it without frosting. My granddaughter loved it with frosting, and said it was “As good as chocolate!” High praise from her.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I’m glad your family liked this cake and it got high praise! Thanks for taking time to leave a review Deborah!

  • Roger

    Excellent moistness and flavor. I did use the additional spices as suggested in the notes, and upped all spice quantities by about half, a good move. Seems it would be a little bland otherwise. Might help with the commenter that said it just tasted sweet. I used a super good applesauce with no water or sugar added – you do want that concentrated apple flavor. I think I’d add some calvados next time to amp up the apple and combat the sweet.

    I did not use the frosting. That also helps to let the apple flavor come through. The cake, without frosting, is plenty moist and sweet.

  • Stu

    No apple taste at all. Just tasted like spices and not in a good way. I should have realized that allspice really only belongs in some sort of meat recipe like a meat pie. Only spices used in an apple pie would make more sense so even the ginger shouldn’t be included. I might consider making it again without those 2 spices.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the spices but you can definitely omit as preferred. It’s hard to find a right balance that fits everyone’s taste, sometimes I get feedback to include more spices in recipes. :)

  • Kathy

    If I wanted to make my boxed spice cake mix an applesauce spice cake what would I need to add or subtract?

      • madelon

        first of all i loooooved this cake! the recipe is truly soo easy but unique at the same time. that cream cheese frosting is dangerously delicious 🤤 especially when fresh from the whipping after several minutes. WOW! I’m a sugar addict so i also made the pecan for the topping candied and i loved it. thank you!

        • Jaclyn

          Jaclyn Bell

          I’m so glad you loved this cake Madelon! Thanks for your feedback! The pecans sound tasty!

  • Dorothy

    Directions say to use a baking “dish” which I consider glass yet in the picture the cake appears to be in a metal 9×13 pan.

    Does it matter if you use glass vs metal? I would like to bake this for the upcoming weekend.

    Thanks

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      It’s a 13 by 9-inch baking dish noted there in step 1 :).

      I recommend using a metal baking dish if you have it, though glass will work if you don’t.