4.66 from 63 reviews

Apple Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

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This Apple Spice Cake is super moist and flavorful thanks to the abundance of apples and richness of the sour cream, just like this cinnamon crumb cake, blueberry sour cream coffee cake, and this lemon poppyseed cake.

When the day starts off with that crisp early morning air, you know that Fall has arrived.  People are apple picking, visiting the pumpkin patch, cozying up with blankets and movies and this Apple Spice Cake is the best addition to a fun Fall day.

Honey crisp apples are swirled throughout the cake batter that is filled with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves and the brown sugar icing on top is the perfect finishing touch! Now that I’ve made brown sugar icing, I want brown sugar icing on all the things. I think it would be totally delicious on my carrot cake bread and pumpkin banana bread, too!

The cake is great because it comes together quickly (in less than a hour), is delicious with a cup of coffee and is loaded with fresh apples that melt into the cake as it bakes! One of my other favorite apple desserts than comes together quickly is this Puff Pastry Apple Tart; everyone loves this one with ice cream on top!

4 Reasons to Love This Apple Spice Cake Recipe:

  • No mixer required!! And so much easier than a layer cake. 
  • The brown sugar icing: I love pouring it on the cake when it’s still warm and it melts into the cake. Brown sugar has this molasses-like crave-able sweetness and it compliments the spices in the cake so well!
  • Packed with fresh apples that require no chopping or peeling: just grate them using a box grater, skin on and all!
  • Fluffy and moist: thanks to the sour cream, it adds moistures and richness to the cake batter that takes it to the next level.
apple cake on a plate with a bite taken from it.

What are the best apples to use for apple spice cake?

When you get to showcase apples in a delicious dessert, you want to make certain that you use the most flavorful variety.

  • If there is one apple that is the perfect balance of sweet and tart it is the Honey crisp.  I love working with Honey Crisp apples because they are known for their honey-sweet flavor and since they are so juicy they can’t help but make my Apple Spice Cake the most moist cake you will taste this fall.  
  • Granny smith apples are the classic go-to baking apple thanks to their yummy tart flavors.
  • Braeburn apples are a delicious crisp apple that also works magnificently well in baked goods.
a close up image of an apple cake with a brown sugar icing on top.

Ingredient Notes

For the ingredient measurements and entire recipe, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the blog post where the recipe card is located.

ingredients to make an apple cake in glass bowls.
  • All purpose flour: spoon and level by using a spoon to scoop the flour into the measuring cup and use the back of a knife to level off the top of it. This helps prevent you from using too much flour than is necessary.
  • Spices: you’ll need cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Be sure to check the expiration dates on your spices! You’ll want fresh for the best flavor.
  • Apples: 2-3 large honey crisp apples will be plenty. You’ll grate them using the large holes on a box grater. I find this application of preparing the apple (as opposed to dicing into cubes or slicing) works best because the apples basically melt into the cake when it bakes.
  • Vegetable oil: at the end of the day, vegetable oil is really great for keeping a cake supremely moist and tender. Olive oil may work, but note the flavor will be changed. This recipe hasn’t been tested with melted butter.
  • Sour cream: another key contributor to the moist, tender crumb in this cake. Be sure it’s at room temperature.
  • Eggs: use room temperature eggs so they mix better in the batter.
  • Other ingredients needed: sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, salt, baking soda, vanilla extract, salted butter and heavy cream.

Step by Step Directions

For the full recipe instructions, scroll down to the bottom of the blog post to the recipe card.

  1. Grate the apples.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients together.
  3. Whisk wet ingredients together.
  4. Pour the wet into dry, fold.
  5. Fold in apples, then bake.
  6. Top with icing, slice & enjoy!
cake batter in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.

Expert Tips

  • Spoon and level the flour. I know I mentioned this already above, but it’s important because too much flour will make your cake, dry and dense and too little flour the cake will be too soft with will not take shape.
  • The best way to ensure your cake mixes up perfectly is to make sure the eggs and sour cream are at room temperature. Simply take them all out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you are ready to mix up this yummy, spice filled cake.
  • Keep your spices fresh! Spices play a critical role in the flavors of your fall favorite recipes.  So, it is important to check the expiration dates on all of your spices before you get into the baking mode. Expired spices are not dangerous for you, but as spices age over time, they will lose the intensity of their flavors and affect the overall tastiness of your baked treats. Make sure your spices are in non-porous containers and that you store them in a cool, dark, and dry pantry.
  • Line the pan with parchment paper so it makes taking the cake out of the pan easy-peasy!
a slice of cake with apples on top.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Instead of the brown sugar icing (which I highly recommend but totally understand if you want something else), you can drizzle with caramel, spread with some apple butter or use the frosting from these banana chocolate chip bars.
  • While I have not personally tested it yet, I bet this recipe can easily be made in different pans, such as a 9×13 cake pan, bundt pan or even a muffin tin. If making in a 9×13, you probably will need to double the recipes. Adjust the bake times as needed.
  • If you don’t have sour cream you can always substitute full fat Greek yogurt for the sour cream at a 1 to 1 ratio. With this easy swap, you will have a similar flavor and texture.
  • For some added crunch, top the cake with chopped pecans or walnuts.
  • Don’t want to make with apples? Try it with grated carrots or even pears!
a slice of cake on a plate with a bite taken out of it.

Storage and Freezing

  • My fresh Apple Cake will store for 2 to 3 days on the kitchen counter, and if wrapped in an air tight container, it will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • If you are going to freeze the cake before serving, then do not frost the cake. Bake the cake, and let it cool completely before wrapping in plastic wrap and storing in an air tight container.  
  • Freezer instructions: You can freeze the Apple Spice Cake for up to 3 months.  When you are ready to bust into this delicious cake, thaw it over night in the refrigerator, and then frost it.  

What's the best Fall flavor?

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4.66 from 63 reviews

Apple Spice Cake

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 9 servings
This Apple Spice Cake is perfectly moist, made with in season, fresh apples and has the best brown sugar icing on top. It's an easy to make dessert to enjoy all Autumn long!


  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed (light or dark)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2-3 large honey crispy apples, grated using the large holes on a box grater, ~1 1/2 cups (can keep the skin on)

Brown sugar icing

  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Last step! If you make this, please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9-inch light colored nonstick pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
    2 1/4 cup all purpose flour, spooned and leveled, 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. ground allspice, 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • In another mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
    2/3 cup vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, room temperature, 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed (light or dark), 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature, 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract, 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold just until combined.
  • Fold in the grated apples. 
    2-3 large honey crispy apples, grated using the large holes on a box grater, ~1 1/2 cups (can keep the skin on)
  • Turn out the cake batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
  • To make the brown sugar icing, melt the butter, brown sugar and heavy cream in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until mixture is combined and comes to a gentle boil.
    1/4 cup salted butter, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed, 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and powdered sugar. 
    1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract, 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • Pour the icing on top of cake. The cake doesn’t need to completely cool, when it's still a little warm, the icing melts into the cake.
  • Slice and enjoy warm!



  • Storage: will keep 2 to 3 days on the kitchen counter, and if wrapped in an air tight container, it will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • Freeze: Make the cake and allow to cool. Do not add the icing. Tightly wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and then add the icing. 

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 386kcal (19%), Carbohydrates: 49g (16%), Protein: 5g (10%), Fat: 10g (15%), Saturated Fat: 6g (38%), Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 66mg (22%), Sodium: 308mg (13%), Potassium: 122mg (3%), Fiber: 1g (4%), Sugar: 34g (38%), Vitamin A: 349IU (7%), Vitamin C: 0.3mg, Calcium: 62mg (6%), Iron: 2mg (11%)

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is automatically calculated. It should only be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Kroll’s Korner can’t make any guarantees to the accuracy of this information.

Krolls Korner

Krolls Korner

Welcome to my tiny “korner” on the Internet! I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who loves cookies as much as kale. (OK, maybe I like cookies a little bit more but shh, don’t tell anyone). I am so glad you’re here! Follow along for hassle free, realistic and approachable recipes.

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Moist and brings back memories of my grandmothers kitchen. Brown sugar frosting is the best!!

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Loved the nostalgic vibe of this cake, so easy to make and I loved the icing and texture overall. I would suggest more tart apples to make more of that flavor come through if you really like that taste.

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This cake was very good! Mine took a little longer to bake than the recipe stated which may have been from using a glass pan? Cake was moist and the icing is delicious!

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Zoe Harper

This cake is DELICIOUS and easy to make! It’s moist, full of flavor from the fall spices, and perfectly sweet! I made it for Thanksgiving and my family asked me to make it again for Christmas Eve! Thanks for a great recipe!

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Megan Clarizio

The carmel icing is to die for! I used Bob’s Red Mill GF 1 to 1 Flour and the recipe turned out perfect.

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I loved the apple flavors of this cake! The powdered sugar was clumpy in my icing which I think made it not so visually appealing, but it was really good!

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This is a spectacular cake in all ways: easy to prepare, soft and fluffy texture, best icing ever and amazing flavor!

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Soooo good! A perfect, cozy treat on a cold night. I didn’t have all the individual spices but I did have ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and apple pie spice blend. I used 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and 1 tsp apple pie spice. I also used cake flour. Definitely sift the powdered sugar. I skipped that step and ended up with tiny powered sugar balls that wouldn’t blend fully in the icing. It didn’t affect the taste but did affect the presentation. 🙂

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I have made this cake twice now and it is soooo good. Super moist and the spice is so rich and robust. Such an indulgence.

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Amanda D

Everyone LOVED this when I made it! It was super delicious and easy to make. My fiancé is very lactose intolerant so I made it dairy free. Just switched out the sour cream with Forager Project, butter with Earth Balance and heavy cream with Silk Heavy Whipping Cream. I will definitely be making again ?

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