This not-pie Thanksgiving dessert takes the cake.
Pie gets the Thanksgiving love. But this year, it’s all about this easyThanksgiving cake recipe with cranberries, apples, nuts, and spice.
Let’s Make Thanksgiving Cake
This Thanksgiving, I am all about a slice of cake for dessert. Now I will be the first person to defend pie. I even have apple pie on my birthday instead of birthday cake. And it just wouldn’t be the Thanksgiving holiday without a slice of pumpkin. But — and this is a big but — other, non-pie Thanksgiving desserts like this Thanksgiving cake recipe make a fun, lets-shake-things-up alternative to the same old thing.
This easy Thanksgiving cake recipe is my top pick for Thanksgiving non-pie dessert this year. It’s a simple, super moist spice cake folded with apples, cranberries, and nuts. This sweet layer cake is festive, seasonal, and easy to make a day or two in advance. I think it may convert even the most dyed-in-the-wool pie lover.
How to Make This Best Apple Cranberry Thanksgiving Cake Recipe
I adapted this Thanksgiving apple cranberry spice cake recipe from a recipe from a Magnolia Bakery cookbook. I made it more straightforward, adjusted the spice measurements, and converted it into a layer cake.
The method is a simple creaming and folding method: Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then fold in the nuts, apples, and cranberries.
The result is so, so good: moist, sweet but not overly so, and full of festive goodness.
Thanksgiving Layer Cake Ingredients
So much goodness! You’ll need the following ingredients to make this Thanksgiving cake:
- Baking soda
- Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
- Vegetable oil
- Pecans or walnuts
Spiced Layer Cake Steps
This is a simple layer cake recipe to mix and bake. Here’s how to make it:
- Preheat the oven and grease two 9-inch cake pans.
- In a mixture, mix the eggs, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and sugar until lightened.
- Stir in the flour and baking soda.
- Fold in the apples, cranberries, raisins, and chopped nuts.
- Bake, cool, frost, and serve.
Additional cake recipe notes, substitutions, and tips
This is a straightforward recipe, and should be easy to make. One of the great things about cake? Cake always tastes better the next day, meaning you can make it a day or two in advance. Store it at room temperature, wrapped, until you’re ready to frost and serve.
I do think that the spices and mix-ins (nuts, raisins, cranberries, apples) really make this cake something special. But feel free to cut out something if you don’t like it, or substitute pears for apples, walnuts for pecans, and so on.
To decorate your Thanksgiving cake, I suggest keeping it simple and seasonal. Some candied cranberries could be nice, or perhaps a ring of chopped or halved pecans.
Some more best non-pie Thanksgiving dessert ideas:
- Apple Spice Layer Cake
- Pecan Pie Toffee Bars
- Pumpkin Swirl Bullseye Cheesecake
- Moist Gingerbread Layer Cake
Thanksgiving Cake With Apples + Cranberries
- 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, diced small
- 1 cup cranberries, roughly chopped
- ¾ cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 recipe vanilla buttercream (recipe follows)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease and line two 9-inch cake pans. Soak the raisins in hot water to soften them up while you mix the cake.
- In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the oil, sugar, vanilla, eggs, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and salt until mixed and lightened. Scrape the bowl.
- Add the flour and baking soda. Stir until about 3/4 mixed, then add the apples, cranberries, nuts, and drained, softened raisins. Stir until fully mixed.
- Divide the batter into the two cake pans. The batter will be thick and chunky, so use a spatula to spread it evenly in the pans.
- Bake until a cake tester comes out clean from the center, about 40 minutes. If you are baking these in loaf pans, each loaf will take about 1 hour.
- Cool fully. Frost with vanilla buttercream and decorate as you like, and serve.
This was an exceptional cake. It was so good, and I am going to make it for Christmas as well!
Emma H says
The Thanksgiving cake is outstanding!! It will also now be my Christmas cake with Christmas coming up. It is so moist , delicious and the spices are a perfect balance. Lasts a few days also and can I say, even tastes better ??
Thx again for the great recipe!!
FANTASTIC!!! moist, full of good stuff. Everyone RAVED.