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Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting features a wonderful blend of spices and a sweet, rich frosting. It’s a perfect dessert for your fall and winter celebrations!

slice of spice cake with a bite on a fork on a red floral-rimmed plate

Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

I love all kinds of cakes, but I have a bit of a weakness for spice cake. Its simplicity and big flavor never fail to please. Plus, it’s comfort food in a big, big way. A recent and persistent craving led me to this Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting. And boy, am I glad it did!

It all begins with a simple yellow cake that’s augmented with a bit of brown sugar and lots of spices. It’s amazing how easily those simple additions transform everyday cake into such an irresistible dessert!

slices of Brown Sugar Spice Cake on red floral-rimmed plates

The cake is wonderfully soft and moist, with plenty of flavor from a blend of spices. It’s really good all on its own, but what’s cake without frosting? Many traditional spice cakes have cream cheese frostings. (If that’s your preference, try the frosting in this recipe.) Don’t get me wrong. I do love cream cheese frosting, but I wanted something a little different this time around.

This is a fairly standard frosting with one little change that makes it amazing. Brown butter! It gives it a richer, nutty taste that’s such a fantastic complement to the spice of the cake. This is a sweeter frosting than I usually prefer, so I generally find that less is more. I prefer a thin layer of frosting for this cake, but you can always make more if you like by scaling the recipe.

a slice of Brown Sugar Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting served on a red floral-rimmed white plate

This is just the kind of cake that’s a perfect ending to a meal with family and friends. And with just one layer, it’s easy to transport and serve. I’ll happily eat this cake year-round, but it’s an especially good choice for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or most any fall or winter holiday or gathering. If you’re a fan of spice cakes like I am, then I think you’ll love this one!

Tips for Success

  • Measure accurately. Use a kitchen scale to measure by weight if possible.
  • Use a light-colored metal pan. Your cake will bake more evenly and thoroughly.
  • Adjust the spices if you like. Dial them to your tastes. You can even use a spice blend if you prefer.
  • Sift the confectioners’ sugar. That will help make your frosting nice and smooth.
  • Want more frosting? A little of this flavorful frosting goes a long way, but the recipe will easily scale if you’ve got a hankering for more frosting.
Find more cake recipes in the Recipe Index.

Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

Yield 15 to 20 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

A wonderful blend of spices and a sweet, rich frosting make this Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting absolutely irresistible!

slice of spice cake with a bite on a fork on a red floral-rimmed plate


For the cake:

  • 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) milk

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter
  • 2 & 1/2 cups (275g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9"x 13"x 2" baking pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger, allspice, cardamom, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three portions, alternating with two portions of the milk. Mix just until combined.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack.

To make the frosting:

  1. Place the butter in a medium saucepan or skillet. Cook over medium heat until the butter melts and begins to foam.
  2. Continue cooking until brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and the butter has a nutty aroma.
  3. Transfer the butter (including the browned bits) to a large mixing bowl. Allow the butter to cool for about an hour. (It will become somewhat solidified.)
  4. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter for about a minute. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, mixing until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add the vanilla and 2 tablespoons of milk. Mix until thoroughly combined and smooth. If necessary, add more milk, a small amount at a time, and continue mixing until the frosting is the desired consistency.
  6. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake.

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    12 Comments on “Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting”

  1. Could you include calorie and sodium on your recipes?

  2. I love all the things you bake, and it makes my mouth water every time I open any email from you…. But is there any way you can make a cake recipe with oil instead of butter. I know the butter tastes better, but butter costs a lot where I’m from, so I have to bake primarily with oil. 

  3. i was browsing for a quick easy spice cake recipe and boom
    i came back a second time now because im going to make it again
    it is that good
    i used the standard butter confectioners frosting

  4. Looks like a great recipe! I will be making a cake for a birthday party and will need to double the recipe but not sure how to do that??

    • Oh, Shelley! I somehow missed your question, and I’m so sorry! I’m guessing I’m too late, but I can still offer advice for the next time. Since the cake is already baked in a 9″x 13″ pan, it’s tough to double it and bake all in one pan. Your best bet is to bake it in two pans. 

  5. Delicious. 

  6. I am wondering if Brown Butter frosting on my spice cake require refrigeration ?

  7. I only have salted butter on hand. If I use it, will it ruin the flavor of the frosting?

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