Applesauce Spice Cake

A delicious spice cake made with applesauce so it's super moist! Frosted with cream cheese frosting! This recipe makes enough batter for three 6"x2" cake rounds or two 8"x2" cake rounds.
slice of applesauce cake with cream cheese frosting on black plate

A moist applesauce cake recipe spiced with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and frosted with tangy cream cheese frosting

This applesauce cake recipe blew me away! Each bite was spiced apple heaven. Combined with cream cheese frosting, and topped with a homemade caramel drip, I didn’t want to stop eating!

This is the first cake recipe I’ve ever made with so little eggs! I had heard that applesauce makes a good egg replacer but I was skeptical. I’m happy to report this cake is very moist, has excellent texture and flavor! This cake recipe uses only one egg and less oil than other recipes so it’s a healthier option if you’re trying to cut down on fat. 

slice of applesauce cake with cream cheese frosting on black plate

Does applesauce cake taste like apples?

When I was first testing out a good applesauce cake recipe, I was confused about whether or not applesauce cake should taste like apples.

The funny thing is, I don’t think you can even tell there are apples in this cake. The cake mostly tastes like spice cake but moister. That’s from the applesauce! So don’t expect this applesauce cake recipe to taste like apples, it just tastes like warm, cozy spice cake! Which isn’t a bad thing! 

applesauce cake recipe

Why use applesauce in baking?

Applesauce can be added to your cake as a 1:1 replacement for oil or melted butter. This reduces the total amount of fat and calories in your recipe if you want a healthier version of your cake without losing moisture.

You can also replace some of your eggs using applesauce. Use a quarter cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of one egg. I actually reduced the number of eggs in this recipe because of the added applesauce. 

how to make homemade applesauce

Can you use store-bought applesauce or should I make it fresh?

You can use either homemade unsweetened applesauce or store-bought applesauce. Sugar-free is preferred so that you can control the sweetness of your cake. If you are interested in learning how to make your own applesauce, it’s super easy! 

When I was growing up, we made applesauce every year and canned it. I recently asked my Dad for the same equipment we used when I was a kid to make applesauce. It was this crazy contraption that clamped to the table. We’d spend the day picking apples, chopping them and cooking them before pouring them into the machine that would separate skins and seeds from the soft apple filling. 

Then we’d can the applesauce so we’d have it all year long. I remember many a pork chop being served with that homemade applesauce. 

How to use applesauce in your cake recipes

How to make an applesauce layer cake

Never made a cake before? Watch my “How to make your first cake” tutorial which covers everything from baking, frosting, filling and getting smooth edges. 

Applesauce cake frosted with cream cheese frosting and a caramel sauce drip

After baking your cake layers, you want to let them cool. I let mine cool in the pan for about 15 minutes then I flip them out onto a cooling rack to cool further. 

Once my cakes are barely warm, I wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer for about an hour so that I can trim the cakes and fill them right away. 

When I’m making my vanilla cake or other lighter colored cakes, I will trim off the dome and the brown edges but obviously, for this kind of cake, you don’t have to do that. Just trim off the dome to make your layers flat before filling them with your frosting. 

frosting an applesauce cake

My cake is filled and frosted with cream cheese frosting but brown butter buttercream would also taste amazing!

crumb coat applesauce cake

I decided to just go super simple with the cake design and just do a nice smooth layer of cream cheese frosting and do a caramel sauce drip

I had some leftover caramel in my fridge so I just warmed it up a bit (not hot!) and put it into a plastic bottle to pipe my drips. 

Then I topped the cake with some super simple dollops of buttercream using a Wilton tip #32 but you can use whatever tip you like!

applesauce cake with cream cheese frosting and caramel drip

This applesauce cake was a HUGE hit in our house! Every last bite was devoured! The cake is moist and perfectly balanced by the tang of the cream cheese frosting!

Can you use this applesauce cake recipe for stacked cakes?

You can definitely use this applesauce cake recipe for stacked cakes. It has a nice firm crumb that is strong enough to hold up under buttercream and fondant. 

I love how fine and tender the crumb was! Tell me this doesn’t make your mouth water!

applesauce cake with cream cheese frosting

Can you make this into applesauce cupcakes?

You can convert this recipe into applesauce cupcakes by leaving out the oil. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Fill your cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. I like to use a small ice cream scoop. Bake your cupcakes for 5 minutes at 400ºF then reduce the temperature to 350ºF. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN. Opening the oven can cause your cupcakes to deflate. 

Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the domes are set. Allow the cupcakes to cool before frosting. 

Want more delicious fall flavors? Check these out!

Pumpkin Spice Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Pineapple Carrot Cake  With Cream Cheese Frosting

Applesauce Spice Cake

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Note: measurements are estimated based off the vanilla cake recipe using standard US cake pans and sizes. Measurements used are for 2" tall cake pans only. Your results may vary. Do not overfill cake pans above manufacturer's recommended guidelines.

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slice of applesauce cake with cream cheese frosting on black plate

Applesauce Spice Cake

A delicious spice cake made with applesauce so it's super moist! Frosted with cream cheese frosting! This recipe makes enough batter for three 6"x2" cake rounds or two 8"x2" cake rounds.
5 from 15 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Serves: 8 cups
Calories: 244kcal

Ingredients

Applesauce Cake Ingredients

  • 4 oz (113 g) unsalted butter softened
  • 10 oz (283 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 oz (85 g) oil
  • 1 large (1 ) egg room temperature
  • 10 oz (283 g) cake flour
  • 1 tsp (1 tsp) baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp (1/8 tsp) cloves
  • 1/4 tsp (1/4 tsp) nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp (1 1/2 tsp) cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 12 oz (340 g) applesauce unsweetened
  • 1 tsp (1 tsp) vanilla

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 oz (454 g) cream cheese softened
  • 8 oz (227 g) unsalted butter softened
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 36 oz (1020 g) powdered sugar

Equipment

  • Stand Mixer
  • #32 Wilton Piping Tip
  • Piping Bag or Bottle

Instructions

Applesauce Cake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350º F/176º C. Prepare your pans with cake goop or another preferred pan release.
  • Sift together your flour, baking soda, spices and salt.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter until smooth with the whisk attachment.
  • Sprinkle in sugar and whip on high until white and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add in your oil and whip another minute.
  • Switch to the paddle attachment. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  • Add the flour mixture and mix until it is just incorporated, do not over mix!
  • Finally, add in your applesauce and mix until everything is combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake cakes until they feel firm in the center and a toothpick comes out clean or with just a few crumbs on it, about 25-35 minutes.

Cream cheese frosting instructions

  • Place softened butter in the bowl of your stand mixer with whisk attachment and cream on low until smooth. Or you can use a hand mixer!
  • Place softened cream cheese in the bowl with butter in small chunks and blend on low until smooth and combined
  • Add your orange extract and salt. Add in sifted powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix until combined

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 244kcal (12%) | Carbohydrates: 28g (9%) | Protein: 1g (2%) | Fat: 15g (23%) | Saturated Fat: 6g (30%) | Cholesterol: 34mg (11%) | Sodium: 209mg (9%) | Potassium: 26mg (1%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 26g (29%) | Vitamin A: 264IU (5%) | Vitamin C: 1mg (1%) | Calcium: 9mg (1%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)

28 comments on “Applesauce Spice Cake Recipe

  1. 5 stars
    This is a delicious and moist recipe. Definitely the best spice cake I’ve ever had!

  2. Can you substitute cake flour for all purpose flour?

  3. 5 stars
    Used the recipe modification to make cupcakes. Cored them and filled with caramel and topped off with vanilla bean SMBC and caramel drizzle. They were so delicious and a huge hit at our block party – not a single cupcake left over!

  4. I just made this cake. It is so good between me (mostly me) my mom and my 5 year old, we ate about half the cake even before it completely cooled. My son dipped his in he milk and as it it was delicious 🙂

  5. The best spice cake , made it in the weekend and it was delicious ….. everyone LOVE it.. thank you so much for the recipe.

  6. Made the cake and it was a great! Thanks for the recipe! Liz is this cake stable enough to be carved and I’m making 10 inch and 9 inch cakes, should I turn the oven down and bake low and slow or just at reg temp with an increase in time?

  7. Planning to make this in two 8” pans as you suggested is possible. It looks like a small amount of flour/ batter. I’m thinking the layers would be very thin. I’m trying to feed 10 people. Have you made it in 8” pans? What do you think?

  8. 5 stars
    Love all your bakes. This one sounds so good. I want to try this.

  9. Hi Liz! I’ve made this cake a few times and each time it’s absolutely HEAVENLY! Can you tell me if this recipe would work well as a bundt cake?

  10. Hi! Can I make cupcakes from this recipe?
    Thanks!

  11. I made this cake for my youngest daughter, turning 3 tomorrow. I looked at a lot of recipes before deciding on this one. I prefer scratch cake recipes over box mix and this one is perfect!! Very moist and tender and just the right amount of spice! So happy with it. -The only thing is, it didn’t rise as much as I had expected so I will be making another half recipe to add a third layer to the 8” cake. Even so I think it’s perfect! It will be my one and only spice cake recipe! Thank you!!!

  12. So I am making this cake tomorrow, but to be clear, do I need 2 X 8″ pans or 3? The picture shows 3 layers, the discussion mostly refers to 2. I need to know if I need another pan….

    1. You can use either three 6″ cake pans or two 8″ cake pans. It’s up to you. I use 6″ cake pans because I Like more layers.

  13. Can this cake be set up..icing and filling and refrigerated for two days. Love the batter so light

  14. 5 stars
    I’m a new baker and I made this today (3-6 in layers) and my family said it was my best cake yet! The homemade applesauce made it so moist and delicious. I made it with brown butter cream cheese frosting and the caramel drip and everyone ate it up. Great recipe!!

  15. This looks so amazing, it is goi g to be my next project. But can I leave out the spices?

  16. 5 stars
    I made this cake today in a 9×13 pan & paired it with a browned butter cream cheese frosting. It is by far the lightest, fluffiest, & best spice cake I’ve ever had! This is definitely going on my Must Bake list every Fall. Thanks!

  17. I made it for a friend’s parents and they loved it. I put your apple filling between the layers and I made cinnamon cream cheese buttercream

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