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Apple Spice Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

With tender bits of baked apples and a cozy blend of spices, this Apple Spice Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting is a delicious celebration of all things fall!

slice of Apple Spice Cake with a bite on a fork

Super Moist Spiced Apple Cake

If I could come up with an alternate name for this recipe, it would be fall-in-the-form-of-a-cake. This beauty has all kinds of good autumnal things going on, from apples to a whole slew of fall spices. The cinnamon-spiced frosting doesn’t hurt, either. It’s not just one of my favorite cake recipes for fall, it’s one of my all-time favorite desserts!

The apples in this recipe deliver sweetness and flavor, but they also make for a super moist cake—and while we all hate that word, there’s no denying that moist cake is the best cake. 

I freely admit that frosting cakes is not one of my best skills. I also tend to like a lower frosting to cake ratio than some people. Those two facts combined mean that I tend to do simple frosting on cakes. If you’d prefer to frost the entire cake, just increase the frosting ingredients by 50%, and you should have plenty of frosting to cover the entire cake.

And if you don’t want to frost your cake at all? Well, I have a solution for that, too: this Apple Spice Cake with Caramel Glaze skips the frosting process and instead you simply pour a glorious glaze over the top!

overhead view of ingredients for Apple Spice Cake

What You’ll Need

Other than the apples, you likely have most of these ingredients on hand. (And if it’s apple picking season, you might already have the apples too!) Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

For the cake:

  • All-purpose flour – Here’s how to measure flour.
  • Baking powder
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Ground nutmeg – Use freshly ground nutmeg if you can. It adds something special to this recipe!
  • Ground allspice
  • Unsalted butter – Set out the butter for about half an hour before baking to allow it to soften properly.
  • Light brown sugar – Pack it firmly in the measuring cup, or measure by weight.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs – The eggs should be room temperature for best results. I recommend baking with large eggs.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Milk
  • Apples

What Are the Best Apples for Baking?

Jonagold, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, and Pink Lady apples are all readily available varieties that are good for baking. Don’t use apples that are mushy, flavorless, or otherwise past their prime—basically, if you wouldn’t want to eat the apple out of hand, you don’t want to bake with it either. Learn more: The Best Apples for Baking

For the frosting:

  • Cream cheese – This should be at room temperature. Use full-fat cream cheese that comes in blocks for best results.
  • Unsalted butter – The butter also needs to be softened.
  • Confectioners’ sugar – Sift the sugar to keep lumps out of your frosting!
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract
  • Toasted nuts – Walnuts, pecans, or a combination of both work well for this cake.
Apple Spice Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting on a black cake stand

How to Make Apple Spice Cake With Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

If you don’t have a large block of time to make this cake, you can bake the cake layers one day and then prepare the frosting and assemble the next.

To make the cake:

Prepare. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and butter the paper.

Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and allspice in a mixing bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to cream the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until they’re light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla.

Combine wet and dry ingredients. Add the flour mixture in 3 portions, alternating with 2 portions of milk and mix just until combined. Fold in the apples.

Bake. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and use a spatula to spread it evenly. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then carefully flip them onto wire racks. Remove the parchment paper and allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting and assemble:

Mix the cream cheese and butter. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat them until they’re smooth and creamy.

Add the remaining ingredients. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth. Add the cinnamon and vanilla, and mix well.

Assemble. Place one cake layer onto a cake plate. Spread half of the frosting over the top of the cake. Set the other cake layer on top of the frosted cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting on top. If desired, garnish with chopped toasted nuts.

Tips for Success

Here are some of my best tips for making perfect apple spice cake:

  • To peel or not to peel? It’s up to you! Since the apples are chopped, leaving the peel on is fine, and it adds a little extra fiber to the recipe. (Which means this cake is practically health food, right?!)
  • Use fresh spices. The spices are an important component of this recipe! If you open your spice jars and they no longer have a strong smell, it’s time to replace them.
  • Bake in a light-colored metal pan. Dark pans have a tendency to over-bake cakes on the exterior.
overhead view of a slice of apple spice cake on a cake server with remaining cake in the background

How to Store

Because this apple spice cake has cream cheese frosting, it should be stored in the refrigerator. When stored in an airtight container or wrapped tightly, it should last about 4 to 5 days. I recommend letting it come to room temperature before serving.

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

Yes, you can freeze this apple spice cake in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator.

slice of apple spice cake on a white cake plate

Fall is the perfect baking season! Find more of Bake or Break’s favorite fall recipes by clicking here.

Apple Spice Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield 12 to 14 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Apple Spice Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting is a delicious celebration of all things fall with lots of apples and fall spices.

apple spice cake served on a white plate with a bite on a fork


For the cake:

  • 2 & 1/4 cups (270g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (236ml) milk
  • 2 medium apples, finely chopped

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces (226g) cream cheese, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (220g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted nuts, for garnish


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Butter the paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and allspice. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
  5. Add the flour in 3 portions, alternating with 2 portions of milk. Mix just until combined. Stir in the apples.
  6. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth evenly.
  7. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes. Then, flip the cakes onto wire racks, remove the parchment paper, and allow to cool.

To make the frosting:

  1. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until combined and smooth.
  2. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, mixing until smooth. Add the cinnamon and vanilla, and mix well.
  3. Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread half of the frosting over the top of the cake.
  4. Place the other cake layer on top of the frosted cake layer. Spread the remainder of the frosting on top of the cake. If desired, garnish the top of cake with chopped toasted nuts.


*Make sure your cream cheese is very soft to avoid lumps.

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This recipe was originally developed in collaboration with Go Bold with Butter, where I am a paid contributor.

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    119 Comments on “Apple Spice Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. Cinnamon cream cheese frosting sounds delicious! Love the top view of the cake with the walnuts.

  2. What a beautiful cake! I can almost smell those warm spices. 🙂

  3. oh. yeah. that thick layer of frosting is everything to me, and the cake doesn’t sound too shabby either!

  4. I love the ingredients in this cake. It looks wonderful for fall baking.

  5. You’re so right, we are getting into the best part of the fall season … I Love it!! Great cake too 🙂

  6. Last year I made a chocolate pumpkin cupcake with cinnamon frosting. I happen to adore cream cheese frosting so I know I will have to try this too! I like the way you decorated the cake with a ring of chopped nuts too.

  7. What kind of apples did you use for this cake?

  8. This recipe is fabulous and the pictures are fantastic as well! Looks super yummy!

  9. Can this made in a 9 x 13 pan?

    • Marge, that should work as a 9″x 13″ pan has about the same volume as two 9″ round pans. I’d keep the amount of frosting the same since you’ll have about the same area to cover.

    • I’ve made this cake several times. It is delicious and becoming a Thanksgiving favorite. However, it doesn’t seem to rise at all. I’ve used new baking powder and that didn’t help. Am I doing something wrong?

      Also, does it need to be refrigerated?

      • I’ve just taken these out and they didn’t rise for me either. Third time baking this recipe and I didn’t change a thing. Suspect I overmixed this time around…

      • I know I’m a bit late here, but, the low rise is expected. This is a dense cake with little flour or leavening. Combining that with the heavy, wet, raw, apple pieces prevents the cake from fluffing in the traditional sense.

        If you are after a fluffy apple cake I would start by omitting the raw apples and add in flavorings and other apple related things. Or better yet, find another more cake-like recipe that doesn’t include the apple bits. Something designed for a Bundt pan could work well. Though adjusting a Bundt pan recipe to a layer cake recipe will need to have its cook times, and maybe even temperature changed slightly.

        Happy baking!

  10. Do you think it would be overkill / gilding the lily to make an apple filling to put between the layers?


  11. It looks sooo tempting! Going to bake this weekend. Thanks for sharing great recipes here.

  12. This looks delicious. I love apples and cinnamon. I was thinking of trying this and topping it with baked apple roses around the edges for Thanksgiving.

  13. What kind of apples did you use ? Does it matter what type ?

  14. I make this and it was awesome ! Glad I found it.

  15. I’m assuming the apples should be peeled?

  16. Made the cake, not bad but a little on the heavy side.

  17. OMG this sounds so amazing!! Love apple cake!

  18. Made this yesterday….it was soooooo good!!!!!

  19. I made this cake as one of the cakes for my daughter’s wedding. I made the cake a month ahead of time and froze it, then made the frosting the day before. There were 14 different cakes there, and my other daughter commented that this was her favorite.

    • That’s awesome, Robin! That’s a lot of cake baking!!!

    • How did you freeze/defrost the cake?

      • I wouldn’t freeze the frosted cake, but you could freeze the cake layers. Just wrap them really well and then defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, assemble and frost.

      • I freeze my cakes and cupcakes already iced and they taste and look exactly the same if not better! The cake is so moist and I use buttercream and have also used cream cheese icing and never ever had a problem! Just chill in fridge for a few minutes to harden icing a bit and then place in plastic container. Wrap container well  in Saran Wrap or in a large bag and seal. I have made 4-6 weeks in advance! I just take out and place on serving plate about a couple of hours in advance. 

  20. Hi, this looks amazing! I am wondering how to cut the sugar in the recipe, or to use an alternate like maple syrup, and/or perhaps a sweeter apple. It’s for my son’s first birthday, and I’d like to use much less sugar for him. Thanks!

    • Hi, Christine. Cutting down the sugar will also affect the texture, so it’s best to use something in its place if you want to reduce it. I don’t have much experience with sugar substitutes, but I know many people use them following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Maple syrup would likely be good, too, but I wouldn’t replace the entire amount with that because the flavor would probably be too much. I’ve not tried it, but I might suggest unsweetened applesauce as a substitute for some of the sugar. You can usually substitute 1:1, but you may not need to add all of the milk to the batter.

  21. Can this cake be made in a bundt pan?

  22. Hello! About to attempt your recipe! Fingers crossed! Just wondering when you mention chopped apples – how small/large do you recommend? Thanks!

  23. Why do people make comments like, “oh it looks so delicious,” instead of baking it and saying it WAS delicious. How about some real reviews. It is the same stupid useless comments, sorry.

    • Good lord, it looks like the people who actually made the cake are on this end of the line

    • I’m always looking for ACTUAL reviews too!

    • I made this cake and it was good. It was a little dense but very moist. I am going to make it again for Thanksgiving and the only thing I’ll change are the apples. I am going to mix them with some cinnamon before I add to the cake batter.

    • Hi. I totally agree!  Although you can’t go on everything everyone says as people have different skill levels, generally the reviews after people have baked give a good idea of whether the bake will be a success or not and it’s helpful for people to post questions who are considering the bake, ie for this recipe the variety of apples that would be good or the size of them. Happy baking!

  24. Oh my ! what a delicious apple cake recipe ! I am going to make it on Thanksgiving likewise the other person and I think everyone will be delighted , he he . Thnks so much Jennifer

  25. Jennifer what is your most favorite pie ?

  26. OMG I made this cake and it was AMAZING!!! Sooooo moist and the icing was fluffy and delicious! I used honey crisp apples because they are my favorites! My family said it was the best desert I’ve ever made!! Thank you so much for sharing P.S. Make sure you always bake on the bottom rack of your oven! 

  27. I made this the the other night and it was great! The only thing is the next night it dried out a little. I wonder if by adding a little applesauce it would help for next time. Has this happened to you?

    • Hi, Allison. I’ve not had issues with this cake being dry. Make sure you’re measuring the flour accurately and store the finished cake in an airtight container. I’m sure some applesauce in the batter would be fine. I’ve not tried that, so I can’t give you an exact measurement. Maybe 1/4 cup? If it’s sweetened applesauce, I’d reduce the sugar by that much as well.

  28. If I do not want the apples in the cake, is there any adjustment you would suggest, such as less flour due to less moisture without the apples?

    • Hi, Karen. Leaving out the apples will definitely affect the final result. You could try reducing the flour, but without that volume and the volume of the apples, you’re going to have thin cake layers. I might suggest another recipe, like Butterscotch Spice Poke Cake, with or without the butterscotch component. The frosting for this apple cake will work with that cake as well. It can be made as a one-layer cake or as two layers, if you prefer. You might also consider Chai Spice Bundt Cake. You can alter the spice blend however you like for that.

      • Hi Jennifer, My son requested a cinnamon spice cake with cinnamon frosting for his birthday this year (instead of his usual chocolate cake chocolate frosting over the years). In over 40 years of baking I have never made one so didn’t have a recipe. I was glad to find yours. I ended up adding 1/3 cup of applesauce and adding 1 Fuji apple finely chopped. I doubled the spice. I baked it about the same amount of time the recipe indicated. Used a toothpick to be sure. It was delicious; not dry and still had some volume. Yes, the cake layers were a little shorter but still fine. We love lots of spice so I would add even more next time. We also love lots of frosting so I made 2x recipe. Had some left over. I would make this again. It was very good. Thank you for posting it.

  29. As previously mentioned by others, this is a very dense cake with tons of fall flavor. I chose to put mine in a 9×13 cake pan rather than stacked (as shown). The flavor of the cake as well as the frosting was exceptional although I did make a few minor adjustments by simply adding additional spices to the cake and doubled the cinnamon in the frosting. If you intend to stack this cake, you will want to double the frosting as it was just barely enough for the sheet cake version.

  30. Hi Jennifer. I going to try your recipe to test for a wedding cake in October. I’d like to use fresh apples but want to avoid large pieces.  Would the batter be adversely affected if I finely chopped or puréed the apple?

  31. I made this cake last night, it was so delicious!!!    Even better the day after!   My family loved it.  Thank you for sharing!

  32. I’m looking to make cupcakes, going to make a test run today, will let you know how it turns out😊

  33. This recipe looks delicious. One question though, do you think it would roll well for a jelly roll style cake?

  34. Made great cupcakes, shared them with friends, they loved them, I used maple cream frosting. Made around 22.

  35. Just made this cake and it is delicious. So moist and yummy! I did make a few adjustments. I seperated the eggs and beat the egg whites first to make it lighter and fluffier. I would add more apples than suggested and for the frosting I added lemon zest and a touch of milk so it was not so thick. The lemon zest made the frosting! Thanks for the recipe!

  36. Any suggestions on how to make this vegan?!?!

  37. This is a great cake and I use coconut sugar with a little pure raw honey to cut out regular sugar intake. I do this for a healthier version of this recipe as granulated sugar can cause many health problems later on in life. Norm here in Massachusetts.

  38. Making this for thanksgiving! Going to make candied pecans for the topping. Can I use a coconut almond milk instead of regular milk? 

    • Hi, Lauren. I’ve never tried substituting almond milk in this cake, so I can’t speak from experience. I would guess that it might work, although it would most certainly affect the texture and flavor. If you have a brand you like, I’d suggest using the manufacturer’s recommendations for substitution. 

  39. can we frost and refrigerate if we plan to serve the next day?

  40. I just made this cake and frosting and it was DELICIOUS. I used pretty big apples so the cake was super moist and I thought perfectly spiced. When I was making the frosting I accidentally put in 2 sticks of butter and didn’t have any more cream cheese so I added another half of all the remaining things. It still turned out delicious and I had enough frosting to frost the whole thing.

  41. I made this cake today in a 9×13 pan. I followed the recipe exactly with two apples finely chopped. When it was done, the cake was level with the sides of the pan, and the center slightly above. After a few hours of cooling, it had dropped to about 1/2 the height of the pan. It seems very moist, but I had expected it to remain a more normal height, similar to a carrot cake recipe that I always bake in the same sized pan. Any thoughts as to why it reduced so much?

  42. I made this cake and followed the recipe exactly as written. Absolutely beautiful with just the right amount of spice. We stored the cake in the fridge and ate it over four days and it stayed lovely and fresh. I actually think the flavours got even better after day one! Thanks for a great recipe, I’ll definitely be making this again.

  43. Don’t shoot me, but do you think this would work using a spice cake mix? I’m not really good with making cakes from scratch. I would be fine with adding more spices and whatever.

    • Hi, Connie. If you like to bake with cake mixes, then go for it! I haven’t used one for this recipe, but I think if you’re just adding apples to it then it may be just fine. Spices vary with different mixes, so just use your best judgment for adding more. Don’t forget that there’s cinnamon in the frosting, too.

  44. I know every oven is different, but I checked my cakes at 20 minutes and they were already a bit overdone even though the cooking time was supposed to be 25-30 min! Consider this a warning to check your cakes early!

  45. My cake batter was so thick I couldn’t split it into two different pans. It would barely spread I basically had to use my hands to try and smooth it down. I measured perfectly but I ended up using one round pan because it didn’t seem enough to even be able to separate it in to 2. Does anyone else have that issue? I was scared to add more milk in case I messed it up so I just left it this way. It’s baking now. I don’t know the final product just yet but the batter tasted so delicious! 

  46. Hi! I know you posted the recipe for Apple Spice Cake a few years ago, but I just discovered it! I made it for my birthday buddy at work and everyone enjoyed it! Thanks!

  47. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. I made the cake to take to a party and it was a big hit! Since my guy is not big on cream cheese frosting, I made a caramel frosting instead and it was super with the Apple Spice Cake. Yummy!!

  48. I made this cake exactly as per the recipe, but adjusted the frosting. I used green Granny Smith Apples, peeled. It was delicious. My only comment is that the cake was very dense, and didn’t rise much. I made 50% more frosting as you suggested, and it was plenty. The frosting is very light and fluffy. I had to add at least 1/2 C more powdered sugar for the frosting to be stiff enough. I have to say the whole family loved it, from my 5 year old grandson to my 97 year old mother!

  49. Is this gluten free?

  50. I made this cake for my husband’s birthday, it is very good! It is dense, and the frosting is AMAZING. He was veryyyy happy. He loves apple pie, so I took a chance on this cake. Finely dicing the apples is tedious though, but I did not notice any obtrusive apple bits, so I guess it is necessary. I did not add nuts on top, and replaced all vanilla called for with equal parts maple syrup – because i am allergic to vanilla, and that’s the best alternative I’ve found, I can’t tell much of a difference. We enjoyed it very much. I would say the cake is more plain tasting while the frosting really brings it together sweetness wise.

  51. Can you shred the apples and get the same end result?

  52. I’ve made this cake twice now, both times with canned apples. They keep the cake so moist! And I’ve made a caramel butter cream icing for one and a normal vanilla icing for another. Both were hits!

  53. Made this cake. Was delish and looked beautiful. Didn’t have any nuts in house, but instead garnished with a sprig of rosemary. I doubled the frosting recipe…with the exception of the confectioners sugar. Used 3 cups
    Not 4. The frosting stole the show. I HIGHLY recommend doubling the frosting recipe. 

  54. I made this cake last weekend for my dad’s 85th birthday. My whole family loved it, and I honestly think it’s the best cake I’ve ever tasted! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  55. Such a moist and delicious cake!! The spices were in perfect quantities and that frosting is to die for. I’ll definitely be making this again. Thank you for the lovely recipe Jennifer!

  56. Hello! I make this cake but not very successfully. The cake had a delicious flavor and a very nice crumb. However, I wound up with a wet cake bottom. No, I did not peek prematurely. Yes my oven temp was right on. The cake didn’t rise with a rounded top. I’d love to try again. Any advice?

    • Hi, Deborah. I’m sorry you had troubles! The cake is moist but shouldn’t be wet. Check that your ingredients are measured accurately. Use a scale if at all possible. It could also be the apples, as some have more water content than others. As far as rising, the top shouldn’t be that rounded so that it’s easier to layer. If it’s not rising at all, check your baking powder and make sure you’re not over-mixing.

  57. Thank you! The baking powder could be a strong possibility! I used honey crisp apples and they were very moist. Thank you!

  58. Hi Jennifer,
    This recipe sounds lovely and one I will be making in the next few days.

    I’d like to give you a big thanks and thumbs up for putting your recipe in cups and grams.
    Living in the UK, I struggle to work out how much I should be using when a recipe is just in cups, and often don’t bother to make them.

  59. I made this cake today. I used a bundt pan and baked it for about 39 minutes and it turned out great. I find it too sweet as did my daughter and I reduced the brown sugar by 1/4 cup. I will further reduce it if I make it again. The icing was delicious but I only used 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. I would add a bit more of the spices next time, too.

  60. After a weekend of apple picking, my son chose this recipe, and I made it yesterday. SO good! My chocolate preferring husband went back for seconds. The frosting is super yummy!

  61. Hi, did you toast the nuts yourself or do you buy pre-toasted nuts? If the former, what’s the best way of fitting that into the cake-making process here?


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