Applesauce Cake with Brown Butter Frosting is an old-fashioned homemade single layer cake that is super moist, full of fall flavor, and very delicious. Just the right amounts of cinnamon, brown sugar, and crunchy pecans make this the best fall dessert.
Why this recipe is so great:
- Easy to make: If you're like me and have a pantry full of homemade applesauce, or just love cooking with applesauce, then this easy old-fashioned cake recipe is for you! Even though this recipe is from scratch, it's super easy to make and the brown butter frosting adds the perfect amount of sweetness!
- Apple flavor: Baking with applesauce not only infuses the fall flavor of apple, but it creates a super moist cake.
- The best frosting: You can easily use something like a Cream Cheese Frosting or a Mascarpone Frosting on this cake, but the brown butter paired with the apples, cinnamon, and pecans is amazing.
Exact quantities are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.
For the applesauce cake:
- Wet ingredients: butter, granulated and brown sugar, applesauce, eggs, vanilla
- Dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, pecans
For the frosting:
Butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, plus more pecans to top the frosted cake.
How to make applesauce spice cake:
Detailed step by step instructions are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.
- Mix wet ingredients: Cream together the butter with the sugars. Then mix in the applesauce, eggs, and vanilla.
- Mix dry ingredients: Combine the remaining dry ingredients except for the pecans.
- Combine batter: Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir well to combine. Stir in the pecans.
- Bake: Spread the batter into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish and bake in preheated oven.
How to make brown butter frosting:
- Brown butter: On the stove, melt butter and continue to heat while continually stirring until you see golden brown specs. Remove from heat when down.
- Mix: Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla until frosting is thick but light and fluffy.
- Thin: Add small amounts of milk until the frosting is thin enough to spread.
Frost the cake:
Once the applesauce cake has been removed from the oven and has cooled, spread the frosting on top. Then, cover with additional chopped pecans.
Recipe tips for perfect results:
- Substitutions: Although I think this applesauce cake turned out perfect, you can make a few ingredient swaps, if needed. Oil can be used in place of butter. You can also increase the amount of applesauce and reduce the amount of butter. Walnuts make a great substitution for pecans.
- Variations: You can mix in raisins, grated carrot, or mashed banana for additional flavor and moisture!
- Storage: This cake should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Should remain fresh for at least a few days and even longer if refrigerated.
Other delicious apple recipes:
If you love the fall flavors of baking with apples and cinnamon, you will absolutely love these favorites.
- Apple Fritter Monkey Bread
- Apple Brown Betty
- Homemade Apple Pie
- Apple Upside Down Cake
- Apple Cobbler
- Dutch Apple Pie
If you’ve made this or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out. I love hearing from my readers!
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Full Recipe Instructions
Applesauce Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter (softened)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar (packed)
- 1 ½ cups applesauce
- 2 large eggs (room temperature, slightly beaten)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup pecans (chopped)
Brown Butter Frosting:
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoon milk (or half and half, amount may vary depending on desired thickness)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup pecans (chopped)
To make the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 baking pan and set aside.
- Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. This can be done by hand or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix in applesauce. egg, and vanilla.
- In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix into wet ingredients until well combined, scraping bowl as needed. Stir in pecans.
- Transfer to prepared baking dish and bake in preheated oven 35-40 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. When done, remove from oven and allow to cool on wire rack.
To make the brown butter frosting:
- While the cake is cooking, make the frosting. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk frequently, scraping teh bottom of the pan. As the butter foams, continue whisking and scraping to release any brown bits that may stick. Once the butter solids have sufficiently browned and begin to smell nutty, remove from heat. Take care to not burn.
- Using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, beat browned butter with confectioners sugar on medium speed. Add vanilla.
- Continue to mix and add milk or half and half, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieved and frosting is smooth.
- Frost over cooled cake and sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of chopped pecans.
This recipe was originally published in September 2018 and has been updated with helpful information, ingredient and process photos, as well as recipe tips. Don't worry - the recipe hasn't changed!
This recipe was originally published in July 2014 and has been updated with helpful information, ingredient and process photos, as well as recipe tips. Don't worry - the recipe hasn't changed!
I haven't made this yet. I wanted to ask you if I do add ins of grated carrots, raisins, mashed banana or sweetened shredded coconut, how much should be used? I was wanting to try the raisins, carrots and coconut together. My mom used to make a cake a lot like this when I was a child.
I've only ever made this cake as written, but I think all of that mixed in would be delicious! It's one of those forgiving recipes where you could add a small amount of each of those ingredients, say 1/2 cup each, and it would still turn out great.
Do you think this would work by subbing pumpkin for the applesauce? I want to do a “battle of the fall flavors” and I think this cake could be perfect for it, with an apple and a pumpkin version!
I think it would work!
Oh Krissy, I made this and it was amazing. I left out the nuts . The applesauce cake is so full of good flavors with spices and sweetness. And the frosting...who made frosting out of brown butter is a GENIUS. The butter and sugar are sweet but not too! The butter gives it the most lovely flavor!!!! As soon as I made the frosting I tasted it. Then I scraped it all out on top of cake. Nice thick layer. Thank you for one of the best cakes I’ve ever made. & easy!!!!
Glad you liked it!!!
I just read this recipe and I HAVE EVERYTHING. I’m going to get started right now. You made my day so nice!!!!!
Don't you love it when that happens?