Full of sweet shredded apples and warm cinnamon, apple spice cake is perfect for dessert or brunch. The bourbon icing is optional but you won’t want to miss it!

Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: This mouthwatering apple spice cake is filled with fall flavor and super simple to make. Perfect for beginner bakers!

How long it takes: 15 minutes to prep and 40 minutes in the oven

Equipment you’ll need: mixing bowl, electric mixer, 10×7 inch cake pan, measuring utensils

Servings: 8

A fork lifting a bite from a slice of glazed apple spice cake on a plate.
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Easy Apple Spice Cake With Bourbon Icing

This apple spice cake drizzled with rich and creamy bourbon icing might sound fancy, but it’s actually such an easy cake recipe. Whip up this apple spice cake, put it in the oven, and let the warm baked apple cinnamon scents waft all through the house.

Like apple crisp, this easy apple blueberry crisp, and apple fritters, this spice cake is one more dessert you need to make this season! Drizzle over some smooth bourbon icing, and you have a decadent treat fit for brunch or entertaining. The flavors are next-level and perfectly suited for fall.

Why You’ll Love This Apple Spice Cake Recipe

  • Better ingredients. I make this apple spice cake recipe with whole wheat flour, plain yogurt, and plenty of apples for sweetness. If you’re going to eat dessert, why not make it just a little better for you, right? 
  • Easy to make. Whip up this cake using your electric mixer, or combine the ingredients by hand. There isn’t any fancy kitchen equipment involved.
  • Full of apple flavor. Since the apples are grated, you won’t find large chunks of apple in the cake. Just sweet, delicious apple flavor and warm spice throughout.
  • Easy cleanup. I use an easy one-bowl method of making cake. Why make a mountain of dirty dishes if you don’t have to?
The ingredients for apple spice cake.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Let’s get started with some notes on the important ingredients in this apple spice cake. Look for the printable recipe card near the end of the post with the complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information.

  • Apples! I like to use Honeycrisp or Gala but use whatever apple you like. Use a box grater (like you would use for shredding cheese) to grate the apples, using the side with larger holes.
  • Apple Pie Spice – A warm blend of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. If you don’t have apple pie spice, you’ll find an easy substitute on the recipe card.
  • Flour – Both all-purpose and whole wheat flour are used in this recipe but you can substitute white whole wheat, or make the cake with just all-purpose flour. Make sure you spoon the flour lightly into the measuring cup. Never use your measuring cup to scoop the flour from the storage container because it compacts and you’ll end up with a dry cake.
  • Yogurt – Using yogurt in place of some of the butter makes this cake lower in fat and healthier.
  • Butter – And yes, some butter too! Butter adds flavor and a tender texture to the cake.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract – Vanilla adds a sweet flavor to baked goods.
  • Eggs, Sugar, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt – The usual cake ingredients that add sweetness, leavening, and flavor.
  • Icing – Optional, but recommended! I make a simple bourbon icing from powdered sugar, butter, and bourbon whiskey. If you would like to omit the whiskey, use apple cider or apple juice instead.
Overhead view of a slice of apple spice cake on a plate.

How to make Apple Spice cake

One of the best things about this simple cake recipe is that you can have the whole thing mixed and ready in the time it takes to preheat your oven. Let’s get started:

  • Mix wet ingredients. First, beat the eggs and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. Add yogurt and vanilla, and then gradually stream in the melted butter. Continue to beat until well combined.
  • Add dry ingredients. We’re all about using one bowl for baking recipes! So you’ll add your dry ingredients right on top of the wet. Give the dry ingredients a light mix with your fingertips. Then, mix in the dry ingredients until the batter is well-blended and smooth. Do not overmix.
  • Add apples. Next, fold your grated apples into the cake batter, and spread the batter evenly into a greased cake pan.
  • Bake and cool. Bake the cake at 350ºF for 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool for a while before adding the glaze.

Add the Bourbon Glaze

If you’ll be glazing your cake, it’s super easy to do. Once your cake has sufficiently cooled (about 30 minutes on the counter usually does the trick), here’s how to whisk up a quick bourbon glaze:

  • Make the icing. Whisk together powdered sugar with melted butter and bourbon until completely smooth.
  • Ice the cake. Drizzle the icing generously over the cake. Give it a few minutes to firm up, then slice and serve!
Close up of an apple spice cake drizzled with bourbon glaze.

Tips for Success

Keep the following tips and tricks in mind for the best spiced apple cake:

  • Don’t overmix. Make sure that you don’t overmix your cake batter, as this can yield a tough, dense cake. Mix in the dry ingredients until they’re just combined with the wet batter.
  • To check if your cake is done, stick a toothpick into the center of the baked cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, your cake is ready to come out.
  • Adjust the consistency of the icing. Add more powdered sugar if it’s too runny, or a few extra drops of bourbon to thin out icing that’s too thick.

FAQs

Can you use eating apples instead of cooking apples in a cake?

I like to bake with Honeycrisp, Gala, or sweet-tart green Granny Smith apples. However, since the apples in this apple cake are shredded, you can make this recipe with any eating or baking apples that are in season.

Should I peel the apples before baking with them?

For this cake recipe, peeling your apples is optional and it all depends on your preference. It won’t impact the texture, but if you’re worried about bits of apple peel in the cake, you can peel the apples before you grate them.

A forkful of cake resting next to a slice of apple spice cake on a plate.

Make This Spiced apple Cake Your Own

You’re going to love finding new ways to reinvent this easy apple spice cake recipe! Here are some variation ideas to have on hand:

  • Different icing. In place of bourbon icing, frost the cake with cream cheese frosting or brown sugar frosting. You can also make an easy cinnamon glaze by whisking your desired amount of cinnamon into plain icing.
  • Nuts. Add toasted pecans or toasted walnuts into the cake batter or sprinkle them over top for crunch.
  • Add a streusel. Borrow the streusel topping from my coffee cake recipe.
  • Try apple chunks. If you like to see nice chunks of apple in your cake, go ahead and chop your apples into chunks instead of grating them.
  • Different flour. Replace the all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour with white whole wheat flour. The cake will have a slightly heavier texture. You can also skip the whole wheat flour and just use all-purpose flour instead.
  • Add cinnamon. If you are crazy about cinnamon, replace the apple pie spice with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.

Ways to Serve Apple Spice Cake

Apple spice cake can also be served simply with a light dusting of powdered sugar, a spoonful of whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Top it off with homemade caramel sauce (just like a caramel apple!).

Having friends over? Serve this apple cake with an apple cider mocktail, this fall Moscow mule, or a bourbon champagne cocktail.

Overhead view of a forkful of cake resting next to a slice of apple spice cake on a plate.

How to Store

  • To Store. You can easily make this cake a day ahead because it’s so moist. When the cake is entirely cool, cover it tightly with foil or plastic wrap. It will keep on the counter for a couple of days or in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Freezer. This apple spice cake freezes well. Whenever possible, try to freeze it before you add the glaze. Wrap the cake tightly in a double layer of foil or store it airtight, and freeze it for up to 2-3 months. Defrost it in the fridge before icing and serving.

More Apple Recipes

Recipe

Apple Spice Cake

5 from 6 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
This apple spice cake recipe is filled with sweet shredded apples and cinnamon, drizzled with creamy bourbon icing. It's the perfect sweet addition to breakfast or brunch!
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Ingredients 

For the cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons apple pie spice (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup whole milk plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (one stick), melted
  • 2 apples, such as Gala or Honeycrisp, grated (1 ½ cups)

For the icing (optional):

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon whiskey (see note for non-alcoholic alternatives)

Instructions 

Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare 10.5 x 7.5 inch (or 11 x 8 inch) cake pan by spraying with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In medium bowl, beat eggs and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add yogurt and vanilla; beat to combine. Gradually beat in melted butter until well combined.
  • On top of mixture in bowl, add all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, spice, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Mix dry ingredients lightly with your fingertips. With mixer, mix just until well-blended and smooth. Do not overmix.
  • Fold grated apple into the batter. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Smooth top.
  • Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • Cool cake on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before glazing.

Icing:

  • Combine powdered sugar, melted butter, and bourbon in a small bowl; stir until completely smooth. Adjust the consistency by either adding more powdered sugar if it's too thin, or few drops of bourbon if it's too thick.
  • Drizzle the icing over the cake.

Notes

  • If you don’t have apple pie spice, substitute: 1¼ teaspoons cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon cardamom, ¼ teaspoon ginger, and a pinch of allspice. If you’d rather, you could also simply substitute 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon.
  • If desired, omit whole wheat flour. Substitute an additional ¾ cup of all-purpose flour (1 ¾ cup total).
  • If you would like to omit the whiskey in the icing, use apple cider or apple juice instead.
  • Alternatives to bourbon icing: Serve cake with a simple powdered sugar glaze, whipped cream or ice cream. You could also frost the cake with cream cheese frosting, brown sugar frosting, or brown butter frosting.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1square, Calories: 411kcal, Carbohydrates: 61g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 87mg, Sodium: 295mg, Potassium: 156mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 39g, Vitamin A: 552IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 72mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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