Applesauce Cake with Caramel Frosting

If you’ve been a blog reader of mine for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve realized by now that I love nostalgic recipes. I must be an 90-year-old in a younger body because I crave the recipes found in old church cookbooks and passed down from family member to family member. I find these recipes not only tried and true but easy!

Anymore, so many people want recipes that over the top. However, old recipes – while sometimes not the most exciting – have been used and tested over the years, perfected by home cooks just like me. Often, they’re utilitarian and use what most people have on hand in their pantry.

A little applesauce cake history…

An applesauce cake was a staple in its time. Families used to can or freeze applesauce from the bounty of their apples, whether purchased from the store or grown on their own property. They always made sure to never let any go to waste, knowing that during the winter months the produce would be used. And when it’s winter with plenty of applesauce in the pantry, what else do you do than invent an applesauce cake?!

Top down view of applesauce cake with caramel frosting on a piece of parchment sitting on wood board with basket of red and yellow apples and chopped walnuts on a gray slate surface

Personally, I love the texture and moisture in this applesauce cake. With cinnamon and nutmeg, this cake is packed full of autumnal flavor. When baked, the edges of the cake naturally get a bit of a crust while the inside stays perfectly tender.

And while it may not be what traditionally would’ve been made in years past, I like to top mine with a quick caramel frosting. For me, it’s a play on the idea of dipping apple slices in caramel sauce – and boy, is it a tasty combo!

Piece of applesauce cake with caramel frosting being held on fork with rest of piece on flowered plate in background with wood board and gray slate surface in background

If you’re feeling like you want to drive home the idea of fall, top this cake with some toasted and chopped walnuts. They add a nutty crunch that perfectly balances the sweetness of the frosting.

Top down view of piece of applesauce cake with caramel frosting with chopped and toasted walnuts on top with piece of parchment on a wire cooling rack on wood board with gray slate surface underneath
I mean, seriously – how good does that combo of walnuts and caramel frosting look?!

Watch how to make this cake:

In case you needed just one more picture to inspire you to make this cake, take a look at the interior texture of this cake. Uh huh, that’s the applesauce at work, retaining the moistness that you can practically taste through your screen.

Side view of piece of applesauce cake with caramel frosting sitting on piece of parchment on cooling rack with rest of cake in background

Are you just like me and love to make those tried and true recipes even though it may make you seem like an 90-year-old? If so, make sure to let me know how this cake turned out for you!

Give me a star rating too so I how much you love it!

Piece of applesauce cake with caramel frosting topped with toasted walnuts sitting on piece of parchment with rest of cake behind all on wood board on gray slate surface
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3.63 from 8 votes

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Frosting

Made from homemade applesauce, this applesauce cake with caramel frosting is a moist and sweet treat! The rich, fall flavors complement the caramel frosting perfectly!
Prep Time35 minutes
Cook Time55 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: applesauce, fall
Difficulty: Intermediate
Method: Baking
Servings: 12 pieces
Author: Kaleb


For the applesauce cake

  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups applesauce
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt

For the caramel frosting

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¾ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped


For the applesauce cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease a 9×9 cake pan with nonstick spray. Line with parchment and spray again. Then set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between each until incorporated.
  • Mix in applesauce. The batter will seem very loose and curdled, but that is completely normal.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Mix until just combined, 2 minutes.
  • Remove bowl from mixture and use a spatula to scrape the bottom of bowl, ensuring the batter was mixed evenly.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.

For the frosting

  • In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar and milk. Melt on medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook until the mixture begins to boil and boil lightly for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add vanilla and sugar. Whisk until smooth and thick.
  • Once the cake is completely cool, frost the cake. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts if desired.


  • To maintain freshness, this cake freezes well in an airtight container up to one month.


Serving: 1 pieceCalories: 503 kcal (25%)Carbohydrates: 75.4 g (25%)Protein: 4.9 g (10%)Fat: 21.5 g (33%)Saturated Fat: 10.5 g (66%)Trans Fat: 0 gCholesterol: 73.1 mg (24%)Sodium: 378.1 mg (16%)Fiber: 1.6 g (7%)Sugar: 57.2 g (64%)

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  • Hi! This cake looks so amazing that I just had to make it!! Frosting came out great but just wondering how you got yours so light in color and so thick?

    • I’m coming in late, but I added an extra cup of powdered sugar…it was way too runny before. Even after adding the extra cup, the frosting still had a runniness to it and oozed all over the cake. It wasn’t at all like the picture. Maybe she used a mixer to blend it? No clue.

  • I love the look & ingredients of this cake and the icing. Only problem is, I only have golden brown sugar. Will that be a problem? Also I have a collection of OLD recipes. Are you looking for anything in particular I could send you? Let me know.

  • Loved it. Applesauce cake is one of my favorites. Didn’t have an dark brown sugar so I used light brown, still turned out awesome. My son loved it so much he tried to convince me to let him have it for breakfast.