This homemade spice cake is easy to make, moist, delicious, and filled with several different spices. This cake is perfect for the holidays or an easy fall dessert!

A piece of spice cake on a speckled plate with a single bite taken out of it.

For the last few years, one of the most popular recipes on my site has been my homemade carrot cake recipe. So many of you have made that recipe and loved it so much! When a reader recently requested a recipe for a spice cake, I knew that I needed to get to work on creating one.

So what exactly is a spice cake? It’s essentially a cake that’s filled with a mixture of different spices, hence the name! It’s similar in a way to a carrot cake, but without the shredded carrots and typically uses buttermilk to help keep it moist.

This homemade spice cake recipe is filled with four different types of spices for the perfect balance of flavor. This cake is also incredibly simple to throw together. All you have to do is mix up the dry ingredients, mix up the wet ingredients, combine them, and bake it!

The ingredients needed to make spice cake laid out on a gray surface.

Recipe Ingredients

While the list of ingredients in this spice cake may seem a bit long, this cake is still incredibly simple to throw together. In fact, I’m sure you have most of the ingredients you will need to make it on hand! Let’s discuss a few key ingredients and why they’re important to this recipe.

  • Spices: When it comes to a good spice cake you need a lot of spices. This recipe uses a mixture of ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves.
  • Sugar: I tested this cake with a mix of granulated and brown sugar and just brown sugar. The cake with only brown sugar was much more flavorful! I used light brown sugar, but dark brown sugar will work fine too. 
  • Oil: I recommend using a neutral flavored oil like canola or vegetable oil. Melted coconut oil would be fine, just make sure all of your other ingredients are at room temperature so that the oil doesn’t solidify.
  • Applesauce: Along with the oil, there’s also some applesauce. I find that only using oil can tend to create a greasy cake that just doesn’t taste as good. By substituting some of the oil with applesauce, the cake stays moist but doesn’t end up too oily or greasy. I also recommend using unsweetened applesauce.
  • Buttermilk: This helps to create a soft, tender crumb and keep the cake moist too. Low-fat or full-fat buttermilk are both fine here. If you don’t have any on hand, feel free to use my buttermilk substitute

How To Make Spice Cake

  1. Preheat oven & prepare your baking pan: Like most of my other cake recipes, this cake is baked at 350°F (177°C). I used a 9×13 baking pan, but if you prefer to make a layered cake see my FAQ section.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together: For the dry ingredients you will be using all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt.
  3. Whisk the wet ingredients together: The wet ingredients are just a mixture of brown sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, vanilla extract, and buttermilk.
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients: Make sure to only mix them together until just combined – over mixing the batter can lead to a dense cake.
  5. Bake: This cake will take about 30 to 45 minutes, I recommend testing it with a toothpick to make sure its done.
  6. Cool & frost the cake: Make sure to let the cake cool completely before you add the frosting.

The cake being frosted with cream cheese frosting in a nine by thirteen pan.

For the frosting on this cake, I went with my homemade cream cheese frosting. I kept it simple, but you could add a little cinnamon to the frosting to add a little more spice.

One important note for the frosting – Make sure to use a brick or block of cream cheese and avoid cream cheese spread in a tub. This will make the frosting runny and it won’t hold up nearly as good.

If you want to try another frosting, my vanilla buttercream would also be fantastic with this cake!

A finished spice cake topped with cream cheese frosting sliced into pieces in the baking pan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make a layered cake instead?

Yes! I recommend using two 9-inch round cake pans for a layered cake, the baking time will be 28 to 32 minutes. The frosting in this recipe will be enough for a light layer of frosting, if you prefer more, then increase it by 1.5. 

What’s the best way to store this cake?

Since this cake has cream cheese in the frosting, I recommend covering it tightly and storing it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Can I freeze it?

Yes, this cake will freeze well! Once the cake has cooled completely, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. The frosting will also freeze well for up to 3 months. When you are ready to assemble, thaw the cake and frosting to room temperature, then frost it.

A side view of the spice cake in the baking pan with a few pieces removed to show the texture of the cake.

Baking Tips

  • Make sure to use the spoon and level method when measuring your flour. Too much flour can lead to a dense cake instead of a light and fluffy one.
  • When mixing the wet and dry ingredients together, be sure to only mix them until just combined.
  • If you don’t have any applesauce on hand, then you can substitute it with an equal amount of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream. Just keep in mind that it will slightly change the texture of the cake and won’t be quite as soft.

More Cake Recipes To Try!

A single piece of spice cake on a speckled plate with a bite taken out of it.

Spice Cake

5 from 7 ratings
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
This homemade spice cake is easy to make, moist, delicious, and filled with several different spices. This cake is perfect for the holidays or an easy fall dessert!

Ingredients

Servings: 12 slices

For the cake:

  • 2 and ½ cups (315 grams) all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 and ¾ cups (350 grams) light brown sugar packed
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • ½ cup (125 g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk

For the frosting:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package brick-style cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup (115 grams) unsalted butter softened
  • 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions
 

To make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9x13 baking pan well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices until well combined. Set aside.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, vanilla extract, and buttermilk until fully combined.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix together until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the top of the cake is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or whisk attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and mix for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until well combined and smooth.
  • Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until fully combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Spread the frosting on top of the cooled cake.

Notes

Storage Instructions: Leftover cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freezing Instructions: Once the cake has cooled completely, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Frosting will also freeze well for up to 3 months. When you are ready to assemble, thaw the cake and frosting to room temperature, then frost it.
Brown Sugar: I used light brown sugar, but dark brown sugar works just fine too!
Oil: I recommend using a neutral flavored oil like canola or vegetable oil. You may also use melted coconut oil, but if you do make sure all of your other ingredients are at room temperature. 
Buttermilk: Low-fat or full-fat buttermilk will both work in this cake. If you don't have any on hand, feel free to use my buttermilk substitute.
Cream Cheese: Make sure to use a brick or block of cream cheese and avoid cream cheese spread in a tub.
For a layered cake: Divide the batter between two 9-inch round cake pans and bake for 28 to 32 minutes. The frosting in this recipe will be enough for a light layer of frosting, if you prefer more, then increase it by 1.5.
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
Author: Danielle
Did you make this recipe?Mention @livewellbakeoften on Instagram or tag #livewellbakeoften.