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Applesauce Cake: a delicious, old-fashioned recipe to make for the holidays

Total time: 50 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 8 people
By Cookist

If you're looking for a simple, classic dessert to serve at your next holiday gathering, you can't go wrong with homemade applesauce cake. Soft, moist, and fluffy, this wonderful dessert has a rich spiced apple flavor and is topped with a decadent cream cheese frosting to make each bite irresistible.

This easy old-fashioned applesauce cake is naturally vegan-friendly, apart from the frosting. It's incredibly easy to leave out the cream cheese frosting or swap it for a dairy-free alternative if you want to make a vegan version of applesauce cake. Serve it at potlucks, holiday parties, Thanksgiving, or Christmas for a tasty treat everyone will enjoy.

Applesauce Cake Ingredients


Applesauce is the star of this simple cake recipe. Be sure to use room-temperature ingredients for your cake. This will help the batter to come together easier.

Make sure to use unsweetened applesauce as you'll be adding sugar. Either store-bought or homemade applesauce work for this cake recipe. The choice is yours!

Brown sugar and white sugar help add sweetness and layers of flavor to the cake.

Vegetable oil makes the cake moist and tender, while baking soda and baking powder leaven the cake.

You'll need flour, of course. All-purpose flour is perfect for this recipe.

To spice the cake, use ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

To make the frosting, you'll need cream cheese and butter, plus some powdered sugar. For best results, leave the butter and cream cheese to come up to room temperature.

Chopped pecans are perfect to add crunchiness to this fluffy dessert.


How to Make Applesauce Cake

Making this beautiful, tasty applesauce cake from scratch is super easy. Start by mixing the applesauce, oil, and vanilla until smooth. Next, whisk in the dry ingredients, beating the batter until just combined – you don't want to overmix it, so it's totally fine if there are some lumps in the batter.

Next, pour the cake batter into a greased baking dish. Bake your applesauce cake for 30 to 35 minutes at 350F. It's done baking when the edges are lightly browned. Take the cake out of the oven and leave it to cool down to room temperature.

Once cooled, grab a large bowl and beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla until it's smooth and has reached your desired consistency. Using a spatula, frost the top of the cake with the cream cheese frosting. Pop the cake in the fridge until it's time to serve, then garnish with pecans and enjoy!

Tips for Making Old-fashioned Applesauce Cake

You can substitute the individual spices for pumpkin spice mix.

If you wind up using sweetened applesauce, make sure to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe by half.


Applesauce Cake Variations

Instead of pecans, you can add walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts.

For extra sweetness, fold chocolate chips into the batter.

Desiccated coconut makes a lovely addition, too.

Not a fan of frosting? Leave it out.

To make an ultra-tender, fluffy cake, add buttermilk to the batter.

Make vegan-friendly applesauce cake by using plant-based cream cheese and margarine for the frosting.

How to Store Applesauce Cake

Cover or wrap your applesauce cake and store it in the fridge for up to one week.

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for the cake
unsweetened applesauce
2 cups
Vegetable Oil
3/4 cup
pure vanilla extract
2 tsp
All-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups
White sugar
1/2 cup
light brown sugar
1/2 cup
Baking powder
1 tsp
Baking soda
1 tsp
Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp
2 tsp
Ground ginger
1 tsp
Ground cloves
1/2 tsp
Ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp
chopped pecans, for garnish
for the frosting
Cream Cheese at room temperature
8 ounces
unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup
pure vanilla extract
1 tsp
Powdered sugar
3 cups


Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease a baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine applesauce, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Beat in white sugar.

Add brown sugar.

Sift in the flour.

Add ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Mix until just combined.

Transfer the batter to the baking dish.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. Take the cake out of the oven and leave it to cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.

Using a spatula, frost the top of the cake with the cream cheese frosting.

Garnish with chopped pecans.

Slice and serve applesauce cake. Enjoy!


Use a 9×13-inch baking dish to make your applesauce cake.

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