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Butter Pecan Cake

Butter Pecan Cake features beautiful, delicious cake layers made with white chocolate. And it’s all topped with an incredible frosting filled with buttery pecans!

Butter Pecan Cake on a marble cake stand

Butter Pecan Cake

I have a serious weakness for butter pecan. I am not likely to pass up anything labeled butter pecan – ice cream, cookies, and maybe especially this Butter Pecan Cake.

Not only does this cake celebrate all things butter pecan, but there’s also some white chocolate here mixed into the cake batter. I don’t find the white chocolate flavor to be overpowering. Rather, it serves to complement the other flavors in this fantastic cake. Be sure to choose a good quality white chocolate for the best results.

The cake itself has such a nice texture. It’s fluffy and moist, yet still sturdy enough to stand up to layering and frosting. Cake flour really makes a difference here, as does the extra step to whip the egg whites.

The first time I made this cake, I proclaimed it to be one of my all-time favorite cakes. And it has certainly lived up to that distinction. The flavor, the texture, the frosting… It really is pretty darn fabulous! As delicious as it is beautiful, this Butter Pecan Cake is a wonderful dessert for a special occasion or to make an everyday occasion special!

What You’ll Need

For the frosting:

  • Unsalted butter – You’ll need a little butter for toasting the pecans as well as softened butter for the frosting.
  • Pecans – Chop these coarsely so they’ll mix well into the frosting.
  • Cream cheese – Bring the cream cheese to room temperature for a smooth texture.
  • Confectioners’ sugar – Sift for the best texture.
  • Vanilla extract

For the cake:

  • White chocolate – Choose one that tastes good out of hand and that melts well. Be sure that you’re using white chocolate. Cocoa butter should be the primary ingredient. Be cautious of products labeled “white baking chips” or something similar. If the label doesn’t call it white chocolate, it’s not white chocolate, and it will affect the flavor and texture of the cake.
  • Water
  • Unsalted butter – Set out the butter about half an hour before baking so it can soften properly.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs – They’re more easily separated when they’re cold, so do that when you first get them out of the refrigerator. Then you can let them come to room temperature.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Buttermilk – Buttermilk works best, but you can use a substitute in a pinch.
  • Baking soda
  • Cake flour – Measure by weight if possible. Otherwise, spoon and sweep. Sift the flour for the best texture.
  • More pecans – Garnish the cake with more pecan halves and pieces.
overhead view of a slice of Butter Pecan Cake on a beige plate

How to Make Butter Pecan Cake

Make the frosting:

Toast the pecans. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add the pecans, and cook over medium heat until toasted. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

Mix the frosting. Beat the cream cheese and 1/2 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium speed. Once that mixture is creamy, gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla and cooled pecans.

Refrigerate. Cover the frosting and chill for at least an hour.

Make the cake:

Mix the white chocolate and water. Pour boiling water over the white chocolate. Stir until smooth; then allow it cool.

Prepare for baking. Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans, line them with parchment paper, and grease and flour the paper.

Mix the wet ingredients. Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until it’s creamy. Add the sugar gradually, and mix well. Mix in the egg yolks one at a time. Then stir in the melted white chocolate and vanilla.

Add the flour and buttermilk. Combine the buttermilk and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour to the butter mixture in three portions, alternating with two portions of the buttermilk mixture.

Add the egg whites. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the cake batter, being careful not to over-mix.

Bake the cakes. Divide the batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Bake 22 to 25 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes. Place the cake pans on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans and place them on wire racks to cool completely.

Frost the cake. Spread the frosting on the tops and sides of the cooled cake. If you like, garnish the frosted cake with more pecans.

Butter Pecan Cake on a marble cake stand

Tips for Success

  • Use light-colored, non-reflective, metal pans. Dark pans tend to over-bake the edges and potentially lead to under-baked centers.
  • Don’t use self-rising cake flour. There are many brands of cake flour that are self-rising, meaning that they contain leavening agents. If you use that, then you’re adding extra leavening to the cake, which can cause it to be tough or dry. If you’re not sure if your cake flour has these added ingredients, just check the ingredients on the package.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter. Too much mixing means a tough texture. Be especially cautious to mix only as much as needed when adding the egg whites.
  • Make more frosting if you like. This amount of frosting won’t be overly thick between the layers and on the outside of the cake. I tend to prefer a moderate amount of frosting on cakes, but I know we all have different tastes. Take a look at these photos to see if it looks like enough for you. Simply scale the recipe if you think you’d like more frosting.
slice of Butter Pecan Cake on a beige plate with the remaining cake on a marble cake stand

How to Store Butter Pecan Cake

Keep the cake refrigerated. The cake should keep for up to 3 days tightly covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature for serving.

Can Butter Pecan Cake Be Frozen?

Yes! First, place the cake or individual slices in the freezer until the frosting is solid. Next, wrap the cake in two layers of plastic wrap. Finally, wrap the cake again in aluminum foil or place in a freezer-safe container. Properly stored, the cake should keep in the freezer up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

a slice of Butter Pecan Cake on a beige plate sitting on a black and white napking
Visit the Recipe Index for more cake recipes.

Butter Pecan Cake

Yield 12 to 16 servings
Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes

Plenty of nuts and white chocolate make this Butter Pecan Cake a delicious, irresistible dessert.

Butter Pecan Cake on a marble cake stand

Ingredients

For the frosting:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 & 1/4 cups (150g) coarsely chopped pecans
  • 11 ounces (311g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 ounces (454g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cake:

  • 6 ounces (170g) white chocolate, chopped (or white chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (236ml) buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups (360g) sifted cake flour
  • toasted pecan halves and pieces, for garnish

Instructions

To make the frosting:

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add the pecans and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until toasted (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and cool completely.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and 1/2 cup butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the buttered pecans and vanilla. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

To make the cake:

  1. Place the white chocolate in a bowl and pour boiling water over it, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans and line with parchment or wax paper. Grease and flour the paper.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating well. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the melted white chocolate and vanilla.
  4. Combine the buttermilk and baking soda. Add the flour to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Begin and end with the flour. Mix at low speed after each addition just until blended.
  5. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold into the batter, making sure not to over-mix. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.
  6. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then, remove the cake layers from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  7. Spread the frosting between the layers and on the top and sides of the cooled cake. Garnish, if desired, with toasted pecans. Store in the refrigerator.

Notes

Recipe slightly adapted from Christmas with Southern Living 2005.

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More Butter Pecan Desserts

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    83 Comments on “Butter Pecan Cake”

  1. wow, this looks great. I love butter pecan, and the white chocolate sounds like an interesting twist.

  2. O-M-G!! You have the greatest desserts. I wish I could try every single one of them.

  3. Yum. How did you know that butter pecan is one of my favorite flavors?

  4. I need taste-o-vision on my computer. And/or a napkin to wipe the drool! =)

  5. This looks beautiful. I love just about everything in it. Totally bookmarked and hopefully going to be made within the next four years 😉

  6. Wowza! That cake looks crazy good. I love Southern Living, and the cake definitely looks like a SL cake. It’s gorgeous, and it looks sinfully rich.

  7. Mmm, that looks delcious! I want!

  8. Desde hace un mes no tenía receta nueva tuya. Esta tiene un pinta estupenda. Gracias

  9. This sounds delicious and the perfect break from chocolate. I can’t wait to try it.

  10. Oh yum delicious. I love a variant from chocolate in cakes, and this seems just the perfect thing. It’s gorgeous looking too!

  11. Sounds seriously delicious….

  12. It’s beautiful and perfectly wintery looking. Glad to see you back! I always love your recipes.

  13. The cake looks super moist and soft. Share please!

  14. Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I made it this weekend for my in-laws. They loved it! Thanks for making me look like a baking superstar!

  15. I really hear you that one can never have too much chocolate. But if you’re not going to have chocolate, you might as well have butter pecan…this cake looks completely magnificent and flavourful. One to bookmark for sure.

  16. This cake looks to DIE FOR! It is so nice to see a post from you again! I have to admit… I missed them (: You’re my fav food blog (shh don’t tell!)

  17. Looks so yummy I can hardly stand it!! Can’t wait to try!!!

  18. I’m look at as many food blogs as I can looking for a good dessert for chef test I have on Friday. There’s some great ideas in here!

  19. This looks insanely delicious. I’m yet to venture into two-layer cakes, let alone three, but think this is the one to break me in!

  20. Looks amazing, nice woork!!!!

  21. I tried this recipe on the weekend, but made a last minute decision to do cupcakes instead (Superbowl party so they were easier to eat). While the end result was delicious, I unfortunately thought I could get away without using cupcake wrappers – not a good idea. The cake itself is super delicate and fluffy which made it very difficult to remove from the cupcake pan. I’d definitely make it again, except either as a cake (in a well lined pan) or with cupcake wrappers.

    • THANK YOU!

      For once someone has left a review after actually having made the recipe. Don’t know abt you, but personally I don’t care if it looks amazing, I want to know if it tastes good, was easy to make, etc

      And your review is very helpful bc my daughter loves butter pecan and I’ve been going to make it, but you just never know. Especially the part abt making cupcakes, that’s usually what I always do and yes, there are times I don’t have any liners.

      Again, thank you, thank you, thank you

  22. I made this cake over the weekend for my grandmother’s birthday, and she absolutely LOVED it! More than one person at the party told me it was the best cake they had ever eaten! As an extreme chocoholic, I was a bit sad that she requested a cake that wasn’t chocolate, but I didn’t miss it one bit! The icing was wonderfully delicious, the cake was fluffy but moist. Just perfect! I will definitely be making this one again soon. Thanks so much for all the time and energy you put into making your blog so wonderful. It always brightens my day to see that you have a new post!

  23. Oooo, this sounds right up my alley1 We’re not fans of chocolate but don’t mind some white. Thanks for passig this beauty along!
    ~ingrid

  24. Made this cake tonight and it was wonderful! Everyone loved it. My brother even took a big chunk home and he’s not a big sweet eater. Will definitely be making again!

  25. It looks great and sounds delicious… so it must be!

  26. OMG! I made this cake last weekend and it was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!! We are now addicts!

  27. Amazing, what I wouldn’t give for a little tub of that frosting with me at work right now…just a little taste every few minutes to get me through this Friday!

  28. Wow, this looks amazing! I can’t believe I’ve never seen this recipe before.

    Thanks for posting.

    Kira

  29. this looks amazing – just like everything else on your site

  30. i see now, with toasted pecans – sorry for not reading more carefully

  31. i made this cake – excellent, nice change from chocolate cakes. the white chocolate flavor really comes thru in the cake. thanks for posting the recipe

  32. ive never heard of butter pecan cake it looks good

  33. I made this cake and it turned out fantastic. Very sweet and rich but good and so pretty.

  34. What a perfect dessert for celebrating National Pecan Month, which just happens to be in April!

    Thank you so much for sharing…you have a delicious looking blog:)

  35. The BEST cake I have ever made! Thanks for the recipe.

  36. there are so many cake recipes that we can choose from. my favorite are always those recipes that have chocolate in it. .”;”`Warmest regards

  37. Should this recipe have any salt in it? I just noticed that it doesn’t seem to have any.

    Thanks!

  38. Sarah, the recipe is correct – no salt.

  39. Made this for my husband’s birthday today. One word: perfect. Thank you for sharing this!

  40. Hello! I’m really excited about making this cake. I do have a question. Are you supposed to pour the entire half cup of water over the chocolate or only enough so that it melts? Thanks!

  41. If i were to make this in just one 9 inch pan could i then cut it in half etc? Would i need to adjust the baking time/temp for that if im trying to bake a larger volume? or should I just buy another cake tin XD

    • Hi, Orla. You can half the recipe. You’ll just need to use a pan that will accommodate half of the volume. A 9-inch round won’t be big enough, as this cake actually makes 3 layers. The closest common size pan that would work for half the volume is a 9-inch square. It will be a bit on the tall side, so just make sure it isn’t an unusually shallow pan. It may take a few extra minutes to bake due to its height.

  42. may I use this recipe for a vanilla layered cake?…is it fluffy light?

    • Hi, Cheryl. I remember this being a nice texture, but I don’t know that I’d describe it as especially light. I’m sure it would work fine. I like a little bit of heft to it so it holds up well with plenty of frosting.

  43. Okay people. I caved. Printed off the recipe, went out, bought 35$ worth of ingredients and got to work on this extravaganza tonight. First off: 30 minutes prep time?? Let’s call it 2 1/2 hours from turning on the oven to putting these delicious pan-fillings into the heat. Next, 20-22 minutes bake time is completely off. 35 minutes did it for these cakes. But now we are in the wait for the frosting to tighten up stage and i could eat that up with a spoon. Also I over shot it on vanilla. Keep to the recipe measurements. Here’s to yummy results tomorrow for brunch.

  44. If I wanted to make this recipe into cupcake would I bake same amount of time and how many would it make

  45. If I want to make this to fit in a 10″x4″ cake pan is it safe to double the recipe or would I need more batter?

    • Hi, Akilah. This is a 3-layer cake, which is a lot of batter. Do you mean 10″x4″ or did you mistype? If you meant 10″x14″, you won’t need to alter the recipe. The cake will be a bit taller, so just make sure your pan is not shallow. You may need to bake it a few more minutes to account for the added thickness.

  46. I’ve made this cake from the original site…but I use chocolate ganache between the layers- solves the not quite enough pecan frosting and adds a bit of chocolate(okay more than a bit!) win-win!

  47. I am looking forward to baking this cake, it sounds deelish!!!
    Will salted butter work just as well in the cake and frosting?

    • Hi, Yvonne. The only difference will be (obviously) the salt. I am a big believer in using unsalted butter for baking so you can control the saltiness. Usually if someone wants to use salted butter, I suggest reducing the salt in the recipe. But there is no salt in this recipe, so you wouldn’t be able to make that alteration. The salt will really just affect the taste, not the consistency. Ultimately, if you don’t mind a salty cake and frosting, then it will be fine.

  48. Can I sub the white chocolate for something else?

    • Hi, Vetta. If you don’t want to use white chocolate, I’d recommend just using your favorite cake recipe for a yellow or white cake. The frosting will work just fine with either of those. The cake recipe from this Pecan Cake could be used with or without the pecans.

  49. I just replied to the first review I saw where someone had actually made the recipe to thank them for that instead of just saying how amazing it looks and they might try it. Then as I scrolled down and see where quite a few of you have made it and all the reviews are consistent. So I’m off to make it thanks to all you Trail Blazers

  50. If AP  flour is  used instead of cake  flour should  I use same amount  IE 3 cups?

    • I’d recommend using cake flour if at all possible, but if you do substitute then use 2 tablespoons less flour for every cup in the recipe. So, for 3 cups of cake flour, you’d use 2 & 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. If you like, you can replace those 6 tablespoons of flour with an equal amount of cornstarch to try to get the same effect as using cake flour.

  51. This cake is GOOD!! It is worth every step.

  52. My cake flour (Swans Down) does not contain a leavening agent. Do I need to add any baking powder or is the baking soda all I need?

  53. I’ve been baking for years but this is the worse cake I’ve baked. I baked this for Thanksgiving 2016, never again. The frosting is delicious. 

  54. I made this cake for my dad’s birthday. It was very easy to make and turned out beautiful!!! Such a delicious cake!!! Thank you.

  55. I baked the cake today and the frosting is delicious; the cake itself is ok.  I was expecting a light and fluffy cake; similar to what you get from a bakery.  This cake was moist but very dense.  It took longer than 20-22 minutes to make; more like 30 minutes.  Overall, the cake is good.

  56. My husbands favorite ice cream is Butter Pecan, however I think after making this cake he’s had a change of heart! I made this cake on Sunday evening and I had to pat myself on the back. This is by far the BEST Butter Pecan Cake recipe I’ve ever tried! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe with us!

  57. I only have salted pecans. Can I use them in the frosting?

  58. Could I substitute the pecans for walnuts?

  59. Hello, I am not big on pecans. Could I use almonds or walnuts?

  60. I just made this for my dads birthday and it turned out amazing! He was blown away and said “you could make a lot of money selling this.” Lol!  I have a gluten sensitivity so I used 1 to 1 Bobs gluten free baking flour in place of the cake flour and it worked perfectly. I did have to bake it about 8min longer but GF baking times can vary. Thank you so much for the recipe and making me look like a pro! 

  61. Ma’am… Let me just say–it don’t make no sense–at ALL… for an icing to taste that dang good!

    That stuff is just tasty, creamy…buttery…crunchy… GOODNESS on a cake.  You should be arrested for peddlin’ such tastiness. 

    Travesty. 

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