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Caramel apple cake is perfectly spiced, moist, and topped with a decadent salted caramel frosting. Make with all-purpose flour or follow the alternate method for a gluten-free version. 

Slices of caramel apple cake arranged on a piece of parchment paper.

We’re deep into apple season over here.

A visit to the apple orchard is a fall must around here. Even if we don’t have time to pick the apples ourselves, we at least have to run by and pick up bags of fresh apples for everything from apple crumb pie to apple fritter bread.

This caramel apple cake is another great recipe from my friend Erin at Texanerin Baking. This cake is so simple to make but is so flavorful and moist, it will be a must for all of your fall gatherings.

Slice of caramel apple cake garnished with thinly sliced apples set on a white plate.
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Caramel Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

This caramel apple cake is about as easy as it gets. With the fall being so busy, I like to keep things simple, especially when it comes to fall holidays and gatherings.

Layer cakes are beautiful, sure, but a layer cake is probably the last thing I want to make for a big gathering. 

I don’t know about you, but I can easily waste half an hour fussing with the frosting trying to make it look just perfect. And it never does! 

Bowl of dry ingredients set next to a white mixing bowl with wet ingredients for caramel apple cake.

9×13-inch cakes like banana cake, chocolate zucchini cake, and this caramel apple cake are way more my style most of the time.

This cake is incredibly moist and delicious thanks to a generous amount of oil and sugar. Not to mention over 3 cups of diced apples!

You can either use all-purpose flour or a blend of gluten-free flours listed in the recipe for a gluten-free alternative. I’ve made both versions and none of my taste testers could tell a difference between the two!

And don’t forget the decadent salted caramel frosting! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Cake batter in a white bowl, set next to cinnamon-coated apples in a glass bowl.

How to Make This Caramel Apple Cake

This cake comes together quite simply, without the need for a mixer or any special equipment. 

You gotta love a cake that is easy enough to throw in the oven in just a few minutes but is delicious enough to serve at any gathering. 

Gluten-free option

The standard version of this recipe uses 1 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour. If you need the recipe to be gluten free, you can mix together:

Like I said, my taste testers couldn’t tell a difference between the standard and the gluten-free versions of this caramel apple cake – I’d call that a big success!

Unbaked caramel apple cake in a parchment-lined cake pan, ready to go in the oven.

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Making this cake

Caramel apple cake is so easy to make, you don’t even need to bother pulling out a mixer for it. Just grab a couple of bowls and a spatula and you’re set!

Mix together your dry ingredients: the flour (all-purpose or the gluten-free blend), cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl, mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Mix the apples with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, then fold the cinnamon-coated apples into the cake batter.

Spread the batter evenly into a 13×9-inch pan and bake for 33-40 minutes. Make sure to let the cake cool completely before frosting.

Baked caramel apple cake set next to the ingredients for salted caramel frosting.

Making the frosting

I am alllllll about this simple caramel frosting. I first shared it as a topping for my caramel apple cheesecake bars, but it’s too good not to use again and again.

If you use the full 1/2 teaspoon salt, the frosting has this amazing salted caramel thing going on. 

If you don’t like your sweets salty, stick to 1/4 teaspoon salt. And if you’d rather top your cake off with caramel sauce, salted caramel sauce would be perfect, especially alongside some vanilla ice cream.

To make this frosting, start by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in the brown sugar and whipping cream; once the mixture starts to bubble, stop stirring it.

Salted caramel frosting being whisked in a small saucepan set on a wooden trivet.

Let the sauce come to a full boil. Boil it for 1 full minute without stirring it. After the minute, remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla and ¼ teaspoon of the salt, then gradually whisk in the powdered sugar. The frosting will seem more like a sauce than a frosting at first, but it will get thicker as it cools.

If you’d like, now is a good time to add the rest of the salt.

Go ahead and pour the warm frosting over the cooled cake. Let the frosting cool and set before serving the cake.

Overhead view of six slices of frosted caramel apple cake, garnished with thinly sliced apples.

Storage Options

If you do not plan to serve your caramel apple cake right away, store it covered in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 4 days.

I recommend letting the cake come back to room temperature before serving it. The frosting hardens a bit in the fridge, but will soften up again once it comes to room temperature.

Alternatively, you could microwave a slice of the cold cake for 30-45 seconds to warm the cake and soften the frosting, turning it into more of a caramel sauce. It’s good stuff.

If you’d like to freeze this cake, I recommend doing so before you add the frosting. Wrap the cake tightly in plastic, followed by a layer of foil, and freeze for up to a month. Let the cake thaw at room temperature before frosting as directed.

Bowl of dry ingredients set next to a white mixing bowl with wet ingredients for caramel apple cake.

More Caramel Apple Baked Goods

Does this caramel apple cake have you craving all of the caramel apple goodness? Check out these recipes for even more of that classic combo:

Slices of caramel apple poke cake on plates next to the full cake

Caramel Apple Poke Cake

Caramel Apple Poke Cake is super simple to make. The caramel drizzle and toffee bits make it irresistible. So perfect for fall!
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Caramel apple crisp topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a white plate

Caramel Apple Crisp

Apples tossed with brown sugar and cinnamon are drizzled with homemade caramel sauce and topped with a crunchy crumb topping for a delectable Caramel Apple Crisp. This caramel twist on the traditional fall favorite will have your family coming back for more!
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Cake server holding a caramel apple blondie up to the camera.

Caramel Apple Blondies

Caramel apple blondies with an easy caramel frosting and topped with pecans for a delicious autumnal treat. Recipe includes a gluten-free option.
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Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls have ooey gooey caramel on top and apples throughout. The essence of fall baking.

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls are everything you love about crisp autumn nights at the carnival – in breakfast form. Imagine waking the whole family up to these gorgeous rolls!
View Recipe

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

This caramel apple upside down cake is a rich, moist, easy to make cake covered in apples and caramel that's made in one hour!
View Recipe

Mini Apple Pies with Caramel

These mini apple pies have a delicious oatmeal cookie crust and are covered in caramel sauce. The perfect individual dessert for Thanksgiving! Gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free.
View Recipe

Caramel Apple Slab Pie

Caramel apple slab pie is a sweet welcome to fall that feeds a crowd. Make it for potlucks, tailgating, or whenever you need to use up some apples.
View Recipe
Two thin slices of caramel apple cake on a speckled plate. One of the pieces is turned on its side.
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Caramel Apple Cake

By: Erin
4.45 from 133 ratings
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 18
Caramel apple cake is perfectly spiced, moist, and topped with a decadent salted caramel frosting. Make with all-purpose flour or follow the alternate method for a gluten-free version.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend*
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar divided
  • 1 cup canola oil or another mild tasting vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ⅓ cups peeled and diced apples from about 3 1/2 medium apples

* For the gluten-free flour blend:

  • 1 cup rice flour 140 grams
  • cup potato flour 51 grams
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons tapioca flour 20 grams
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum

For the caramel frosting:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • cup whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
  • Line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with a piece of parchment paper or alternatively spray the pan with baking spray.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
  • Add in the flour mixture and mix just until well combined.
  • Place the apples in a small bowl and sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon over the apples. Stir to coat the apples in the cinnamon sugar. Fold the apples into the batter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 33-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting:

  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir in the brown sugar and whipping cream. Once the mixture starts bubbling, stop stirring.
  • Let the mixture come to a full boil and boil for 1 minute without stirring. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Stir in the vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and gradually add the powdered sugar.
  • Whisk until the powdered sugar is fully incorporated and no lumps of sugar remain. Frosting will get thicker as it starts to cool, but will still seem more like a sauce than a traditional frosting.
  • Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, if desired.
  • Once the cake has cooled, pour the frosting over the top. Let the frosting cool completely before serving.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 4 days. Let come to room temperature before serving.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 466kcal, Carbohydrates: 66g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 51mg, Sodium: 183mg, Potassium: 131mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 45g, Vitamin A: 341IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 43mg, Iron: 1mg

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

4.45 from 133 votes (133 ratings without comment)

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44 Comments

  1. Frances Murphy says:

    This is wonderful cake! My question is can it be frozen either before or after icing is put on it?

    1. Jamie says:

      I would freeze and then frost before serving. :)

  2. Iris says:

    This is amazing – incredibly moist and not too sweet. I made it with only a half cup of granulated sugar and a scant cup of brown sugar. I used 2 green apples and one reddish one (not sure their exact names; people started giving us too many apples). Instead of the frosting, I added in butterscotch chips. Everything else was the same. Next time, I’ll try using 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup applesauce. Thank you for the recipe!

    1. Jamie says:

      So happy to hear you enjoyed the cake, Iris! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback!
      -Jamie

  3. Kristi says:

    This cake is amazing! I made it with Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour. My husband has requested it again for Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    1. Jamie says:

      So happy to hear you enjoyed the cake, Kristi! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback!
      -Jamie

  4. Glenda says:

    Yummy, yummy cake. I substituted coconut oil for the oil and loved the result. I used a 9×13 pan and my cake didnt seemed to rise very much. It wasnt dense. Is that typical? My whole family devoured it.

    1. Jamie says:

      So happy to hear you enjoyed the cake, Glenda! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback!
      -Jamie

  5. Ann E says:

    Hi Erin!  I was wondering if you have frozen this cake unfrosted. Thank you for the time you have put into your delicious recipes. 

  6. Marcy says:

    Really loved this cake for fall. I used Macintosh apples as I find Granny Smith Apples too tart and tough for baking into cakes. The frosting was very good, but very sweet. I wonder if this might work with a cream cheese frosting? I also think the cake on it’s own would be fine if you have people who can’t have too much sugar, diabetics etc..the flavor is really lovely with the cinnamon and nutmeg and the sweetness of the apples.

    1. Jamie says:

      So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe Marcy! Thanks for stopping back to leave your feedback! Happy baking!
      -Jamie

  7. Cherie Johnson says:

    Delicious! I used less sugar and used a bag of caramel chips. I made an oatmeal crumble to place on top instead of the glaze.

    1. Jamie says:

      Thanks so much, Cherie! Your substitutions sound delightful!
      Happy Holidays to you and yours!
      -Jamie

  8. Felicia says:

    I quadrupled this recipe, used a total of 12 apples (4 granny smith, 4 honey crisp, 4 red delicious ) 3 & a half cups oil..
    Also quadrupled the caramel,  used evaporated milk, poured batter into two 12×18 sheet pans, cut both cakes into 3×5 pieces, took to church this morning… not one piece remained!! This Cake Is a winner for sure!!

    1. Jamie says:

      Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Felicia! Happy Baking!
      -Jamie

    2. Terry says:

      @Felicia,
      I love your idea of making these into sheet cakes. I’m curious when you say for the caramel you used evaporated milk. Was this in place of the whipping cream or in addition to?

  9. IJ says:

    Hi, looks like a fantastic cake. Just wondering if anyone has tried cutting back on sugar by any chance and how it turned out please..? 

  10. Dee Dee says:

    I made this as a bundt cake for rosh hashanah,and it was excellent! I preheated the oven to 350 then put the cake in and baked for an hour and 10 minutes. I would recommend checking after an hour since oven temps vary. Also, I let the glaze cool for a few minutes until it thickened just a bit. It seemed to stay put on the cake better yet still had the ‘drizzle’ affect down the sides. This is a perfect fall dessert but I’m sure I’ll make it more than just once a year!

    1. Jamie says:

      So happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe, Dee Dee! Thanks for stopping by an leaving your feedback!
      -Jamie