Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake

This Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake is incredibly moist, made with fresh apples and has the most amazing apple filling! It’s the perfect fall cake!

This post is sponsored by Challenge Dairy, but all opinions are my own.

Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake

Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake recipe

I can’t believe we are already well into October. This year has flown by! I’m trying to soak up the last of the good weather before it’s gone for the winter. One of our favorite things to do with the boys is go on walks, so I’m getting out with them as much as I can.

As sad as I’ll be to see the warm weather go, I’m always excited to enjoy fall flavors! Apples and cinnamon are certainly some of my favorites for fall. I pretty much get the biggest container of cinnamon I can every year and go through as much of it as I can. Cinnamon gives me life.

The combination of cinnamon and apples in this cake is amazing. The cake is so moist, it just about falls apart. It not only gets flavor from the cinnamon, but also from a mix of fresh chopped apples and applesauce. All the moisture from the apples adds wonderful flavor and so much moisture.

To get started with this Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake, you’ll make the cake layers. Combine the dry ingredients, including the cinnamon, and set those aside. Next up is creaming the butter and sugar together. I use Challenge Butter for my baked goods and highly recommend it. Their butter is made from fresh milk at family-owned dairies and goes from farm to fridge in just two days. It has no added hormones, artificial flavors or fillers, which I’m a big fan of. It’s such a great, creamy butter that goes perfectly in this cake. And life just got even better, because Challenge Butter is now available in Kroger, which is closer and more convenient than when I’d get it at Wal-Mart. Yay!

Add some brown sugar in with the butter and a little vegetable oil and cream them all together for several minutes. The brown sugar adds moisture to the cake, as well as flavor. The creaming process is an important one, as it adds air to the batter that helps the cake rise.

Best Cinnamon Apple Layer CakeFavorite Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake

Next up are the eggs, which add flavor, structure and rise to the cake. Then some vanilla extract, apple sauce and milk, which also adds flavor and structure. Those wet ingredients are added alternatively with the dry ingredients to ensure that everything incorporates properly without over mixing the batter. Overtaxing the batter can over develop the gluten in the flour and you’ll end up with a tough cake.

The final step is to gently stir in the chopped apples, then bake the cakes.

Next up is the cinnamon apple filling, which I kind of want to add to everything now. It’s SO good! The flavor is so perfectly cinnamon and apple, it’s like eating fall right out of a pan. It’s also easy to make.

Toss the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, apple sauce and cornstarch into a saucepan, heat it all together until the sugar has melted, then boil it for a few minutes. You want to be sure not to heat it on too high of a heat setting initially. The brown sugar can take it’s time in melting and you don’t want to rush it.

As for the applesauce in the filling, I decided to use applesauce instead of chopped apples because I didn’t want to have the texture of the whole cake radically changed by the addition of chunky bites of apple. I wanted things a little more cohesive. It was the perfect decision. The filling adds the perfect amount of apple flavor, without totally taking over the cake. I love it!

Once the filling has cooled, you’ll add a little powdered sugar to it to help thicken it up a bit.

This Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake is rounded out with a cinnamon-filled American buttercream. It’s the perfect final addition to the cake. Once frosted, I used my icing smoother and decorator to add some texture to the sides of the cake, then pressed some crushed cinnamon apple chips into the bottom. Add some swirls of frosting around the top edge and finish off the cake with some additional apple chips and it’s ready to go!

This is one of those cakes that I really wish I could give you a bite of through the screen. You just have to try it! Everyone who had it loved it. It’s so perfectly moist and full of flavor. It was generally agreed that you could eat it any time of day. Dessert, a snack – or even with your morning coffee. Shoot, you could eat it all day long. I promise I won’t tell. 😉

Decorated Cinnamon Apple Layer CakeEasy Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake

Read transcript

clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon facebook facebook icon print print icon squares squares icon
full image of Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake

Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes, plus cooling time
  • Yield: 12-14 slices
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


This Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake is incredibly moist, made with fresh apples and has the most amazing apple filling! It’s the perfect fall cake!


Apple Cinnamon Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups (293g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (168g) unsalted Challenge Butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (337g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) milk
  • 1/2 cup (123g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups (162g) peeled and finely chopped apple (12 large apples)

Cinnamon Apple Filling

  • 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted Challenge Butter
  • 1 cup (144g) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 5 tbsp (36g) powdered sugar, sifted

Cinnamon Frosting

  • 1 1/4 cup (280g) salted Challenge Butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (237g) shortening
  • 910 cups (1035g-1150g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 34 tbsp (45ml-60ml) water or milk
  • 1/2 cup crushed cinnamon apple chips
  • Cinnamon apple chips, for decorating


1. To make the cake layers, prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
3. Add the butter, brown sugar and vegetable oil to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
4. Add the eggs two at a time and mix until completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until combined.
6. Add the vanilla extract, milk and applesauce and mix until well combined. The batter will look a little curdled, but that’s ok.
7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
8. Fold the chopped apples into the batter.
9. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 23-26 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
10. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.
11. While the cakes bake, make the filling. Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan.
12. Add the brown sugar, apple sauce, cinnamon and cornstarch and whisk constantly over medium-low heat until sugar is dissolved.
13. Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 3 minutes.
14. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
15. Add the sifted powdered sugar and whisk until well combined and smooth.
16. When you’re ready to build the cake, make the frosting. Add the butter and shortening to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth.
17. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
18. Add the vanilla extract, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of water or milk and mix until well combined.
19. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
20. Add additional water or milk as needed to get the right consistency.
21. To put the cake together, trim the tops/domes off of each cake, if needed. Place the first layer of cake on a cake plate or cardboard cake circle. Do be gentle moving the cake layers around – they are very moist and tender. I often use a cake lifter to help with moving them.
22. Pipe a dam of frosting around the outer edge of the cake and fill it in with about half of the filling. Spread the filling and dam into an even layer.
23. Add the second layer of cake, then repeat another layer of dam and filling.
24. Add the final layer of cake on top and then add a thin crumb coat of frosting to the outside of the cake.
25. Frost the outside of the cake with the remainder of frosting. See my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake. 26. Use an icing smoother with a patterned edge to create the lines in the side of the cake.
27. Press the crushed up apple chips into the bottom of the cake.
28. Add some swirls of frosting around the top edge of the cake, then finish it off with apple chips.

Keywords: Cinnamon Apple Cake, Apple Cinnamon Cake, Moist Apple Cinnamon Cake


images of slice and whole Cinnamon Apple Layer Cake

This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Share a Comment

Have a question? Use the form below to submit your question or comment. I love hearing from you and seeing what you made!

Recipe rating

  1. Brenna

    I’m going to be baking this for thanksgiving, and I planned on starting today. However I’m uncertain with the filling if you use unsweetened or sweetened applesauce. For the cake I saw you use unsweetened, so I didn’t know if it was the same for the filling. Thanks! Btw, I am obsessed with all of your recipes! Keep up the good work

      1. Grace

        We froze the leftovers! Will see how they hold up. Thanks for the recipe; it was a great cake!

  2. Debbie H

    This recipe is one of the best cakes I’ve ever had.
    I’m a semi-professional baker, meaning it’s not my full time job, but I make money on the side. Two years ago, I was approached to make a wedding cake and was requested to make two tiers in chocolate cake, and the other two in apple cake. I didn’t have a recipe for apple cake so I started researching and came up with 3 to test – one was a Martha Stewart recipe, one from another blog and this one. I had the bride and groom come over for a taste test and this recipe won hands down. At the wedding, I expected everyone to rave about the chocolate cake but this apple cake was the talk of the reception.
    This is now my go-to for apple cake. I sometimes use different fillings and frostings but just made it again this week with the exact filling, frosting and garnishes as in this recipe and it’s just so good.
    Thanks so much for this. <3

  3. Jade

    This cake turned out so good! I didn’t end up using all the frosting. Your recipes are my favorite!

  4. Trish

    Is the oven temperature for a fan forced oven? This recipe looks good and I plan to bake it for a friend’s birthday, so want to get the temperature right.

  5. Kara

    I made this for a birthday. I looove the filling and am determined to put it in everything! The cake was good and moist to the only thing that fell short for me was the frosting I found it be overly sweet so I used a different recipe for that but overall it was fantastic thx for sharing this recipe! 😊

  6. Debbie

    This cake sounds delicious as all your cakes do that I have made, and that is a lot. I have been wanting to make a cake with honey could you add that to this cake and if so how much and would you add it to the cake or filling or frosting? Thanks for all the great cake recipes. The boys walking with you wow seems like just a month ago you were helping me with a cake while on maternity leave. That’s great news you and the boys are doing great.

    1. Lindsay

      I really haven’t done much baking with honey. It really does make quite a difference to the way something bakes I find, and I just haven’t experimented with it much. I think you’d probably have more success with it in the filling and frosting.

      Thanks Debbie! It is amazing how time flies! The boys just started swimming lessons yesterday. They are growing up so fast!

      1. Debbie

        Thank you, Lindsay. I thought the honey would be better in the frosting also. Swimming lessons are great. Time seems to be moving to fast the older I get lol. Have a great day. Thank you again for the wonderful recipes, I think I will wait in the honey cake and just make it as you did. I always like to do the recipe as written first then tweak it if I want to. I have the layer baked and the filling just doing the buttercream today. It smells delicious.

      2. Emma-Louise Ferguson

        Hi Lindsay, I need help I’m a UK Baker and what to try this recipe today. Are the measurements in Gram UK usable too?

      3. Lindsay

        I believe grams are universal, which is what makes them so useful. You should be fine with the measurements listed. I hope you enjoy the cake!

    1. Lindsay

      You can, but it really is nice in this cake. If you do want to skip it, just use the same amount of additional milk.

  7. Katrin

    I made this cake for my birthday as I looked for an apple/cinnamon cake and this one had good ratings. I ended up using just half the frosting, which was still more than enough. All in all I think it doesn’t taste much like apple and is way too sweet for me. But I like the basic idea of this cake and would recommend it to everyone who really loves super sweet cakes.

  8. Toni

    Your website is a go-to for me whenever I want to make something special. It’s gotten to the point where every time I bring in a cake to work, my coworkers ask “Is this from Life, Love, and Sugar?”
    I don’t normally rate recipes when I’ve made changes to them, but I’m going to make an exception in this case – because I’m certain the original is wonderful also. I’ve been wanting to make a pear flavored cake but couldn’t find one that appealed to me – so I modified this cake. I made some homemade “pearsauce” to replace the applesauce and used chopped pears instead of the apples. The results were fabulous.
    Thanks again for a great recipe!

  9. aaron

    Hi Lindsay, 

    I’m planning on making this cake for Christmas but my family hate apples lol, can I omit the apples and just make it a cinnamon cake? Do I have to change or add anything? Thanks! 

  10. Suzy-q

    Hi, Lindsay! I made both the cinnamon apple layer cake and the pumpkin cheesecake for
    our Thanksgiving desserts. Both were a big hit! Thank you for the wonderful recipes.

    1. Lindsay

      If it’s going to sit out for more than about 24 hours, I’d probably store it in the fridge. It’s best served at room temperature though.

  11. Emma

    Hi Lindsey! All of your recipes look fabulous and I have loved your cupcake recipes! They are all a hit! I think I am gonna attempt a cake recipe for this upcoming holiday season! Do you use 8×2 in cake pans or 8×3? Thank you!!

  12. Shaban

    Most of the replies for the question “why does my cake bake dense” is insufficient creaming of butter and sugar…can you pls tell me for how long do you cream your butter and sugar…how do you know that creaming is done now and I need to stop…

    N does the sugar makes a difference.. Like granulated sugar takes longer time..or superfine sugar takes lesser time to cream..

    1. Lindsay

      Honestly, that seems to be a common reason, but it certainly isn’t the only one. There are any number of reasons it could happen – but I wouldn’t be able to say without being there and seeing what someone is doing. Sometimes people do things differently and don’t even realize it. To tell when the creaming is done – you’ll notice a chance in the consistency and color of the butter and sugar. It’ll lighten in color and thicken in consistency. When you see it change, you know it. Butter temperature also makes a difference. Here’s a great article with photos that should be helpful.

  13. James

    I made this with honey crisp apples. It was awesome. It was actually better the third day. Next time I will make it ahead of time. Thanks for another great recipe 🙂

  14. Wanita Albertson

    I have your book and love it. I have one problem I live in mountains and I follow your recipe but my cakes don’t rise like yours does. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad to hear you enjoy the book! It sounds like high altitude might be having an effect. I don’t know much about how to make adjustments, but there should be some good resources out there for high altitude baking.

  15. Nicola Tomlinson

    I made this for my friends birthday, the cake was really good but the filling was a little too sweet for my taste buds

  16. Linda Kolstad

    I used tjhis recipe for cupcakes and it made 2 1/2 dozen, filling the cups 3/4 full. I shredded the apples for the cake. The cupcakes were tender and very moist and DELICIOUS.!!! And the apple filling is to die for– it has the taste of carmel. I used a thingy to make a hole in the cupcakes when cooled and filled with the apple filling. The frosting is OK but not great, maybe because I used the whisk attachment so it was really fluffy, but the flavor was blah. Maybe I will use more butter and less shortening and add a little lemon juice, as others have suggested. Also, for other users, I made 1/3 less frosting and still had a lot left over but I don’t frost cupcakes as much as you do as most people I serve don’t like that much frosting, I still used a generous amount though.

  17. Rebekah

    Hi, this looks amazing and I can’t wait to make it but I just had a quick question. The recipe for the frosting says to use 9-10 cups of sugar. That’s seems a bit much.., Im  probably wrong but I’ve never had a recipe call for that much sugar. Before I buy my ingredients, I wanted to make sure that this is correct. Thanks!

  18. Agatha

    Hi Lindsay, This recipe looks amazing, as all of your recipes do! You are always super awesome at giving us bakers measurements in grams… I was wondering about how many grams of apples and the applesauce did you use? We all chop differently, so I don’t want to be off on the apples. I appreciate the fact that you incorporate grams into your recipes. Every ingredient given in grams is such a lifesaver when it comes to baking. Much appreciation to you for that extra step 🙂 Kind regards!

  19. Cathy

    Oh, that filling looks SO good! I’ve gotta try this recipe, but have a question. Could I shred the apples instead of chop? I don’t really like chunks of anything in a cake. What do you think? If I did shred the apples, how much do you think I should use, still 1.5 cups or less? Thank you!

    1. Lindsay

      That should be fine. I just added a weight measurement to the apples, so I’d just use the same amount by weight.

  20. Lin

    I agree, I, too, love apples and cinnamon together. Can’t wait to try this…I love the rustic look and you have me on the “hunt” for adorable cake stands! But, I need to ask, where did you find the cinnamon apple chips?

    1. Lindsay

      I find them by the fresh fruit in the grocery store. They’re normally on a shelf right by the fresh apples. Sometimes you can find them on the chip aisle or by the dried fruit too.

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t tested this particular recipe as a cupcake, but it should be fine. The cupcakes would definitely be moist and you’d want to reduce the amount of frosting needed – maybe by about a third.

  21. Judith Gerlach

    Is it possible to make this cake in a 13×9 cake pan? If so, I guess I would have to eliminate the filling.

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t tried it in a 9×13 pan, but I think it’d be fine. You’d want to either eliminate the filling or the frosting. Honestly, the filling is of a consistency that you could use it like a somewhat thinner consistency icing on the cake, if you wanted. I’m so in love with the filling, that might be what I’d do.

  22. Suzy-q

    Yeah!!! Bring on the apples! Super cake for the fall and upcoming holidays. I can’t wait to try it.
    Thanks, Lindsay!

  23. Renee

     Please share the type of Apple that you used in this recipe. I want to make it for my husband’s end of summer work lunch. I love your website.  Thank you so much,! 

    1. Lindsay

      I believe I used Fuji apples, but others such as Gala, Honeycrisp and Red Delicious should work as well. I hope everyone enjoys it!

  24. Kelly

    I can’t wait to make this cake. Apples and cinnamon are my two most favorite flavors together. However, when making the frosting it calls for butter and shortening. What kind of shortening do you use? Crisco? Butter flavored Crisco? Because I generally do not use shortening in my baking I want to make sure I get it right!

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, I use vegetable crisco, not the butter flavored. And feel free to use additional butter, if you prefer. There are several reasons I like to use some shortening (which you can read about here), but either way will work great. I hope you enjoy it!

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12