Old Fashioned Applesauce Cake

Moist and tender, this Old Fashioned Applesauce Cake recipe is an absolute gem! Walnuts and raisins add texture, and it pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee or tea.

slice of applesauce cake on a white plate next to a fork.

I had a few recipes bookmarked for an Old Fashioned Applesauce Cake, but as soon as I tasted this one, I halted my efforts to test any additional recipes. It is an absolute winner!

It’s soft and moist, with tender raisins and crunchy walnuts. It has just the right amount of cinnamon, and I actually think you can taste the applesauce.

The recipe is from a 1970s cookbook called, “A Taste of South Carolina”.

In my mind, this qualifies as a “snacking cake”—something to nibble between meals. It’s nicely sweet (but not too sweet!) and pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee or tea.

I love it particularly during the fall and winter, when apple recipes (like my Apple Cinnamon Bread and Pumpkin Apple Bread) are at their most delicious.

Jump to:
whole applesauce cake in a white square pan.

What makes this the best old fashioned applesauce cake?

  • It uses a generous 1½ cups applesauce for an 8×8-inch cake. You can actually taste the applesauce in the cake!
  • Speaking of the cake size, this is perfect for smaller batch. Sometimes I just don’t need a whole 13×9-inch cake or a bundt cake! An 8×8-inch is just the right size.
  • It’s sweet without being too sweet. I’ve seen some recipes with 2+ cups of sugar. This one uses half that amount, and I bet you could decrease it even more if you wanted.
  • There’s no frosting here. It would mask that wonderful applesauce flavor, and the cake is nicely sweet without it.
  • Lemon zest. I would have never thought to add it, but it perfectly complements the applesauce, raisins, and walnuts.


applesauce, raisins, walnuts, flour, butter, and other ingredients.

Be sure to check the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and instructions!

  • The home cook who submitted this recipe suggested “thick applesauce” for the cake. Some homemade applesauce may be thicker than store-bought, but I found that a jar of store-bought applesauce worked just fine. You’ll want to use unsweetened applesauce here so it doesn’t get too sweet.
  • Cinnamon enhances the applesauce flavor even more.
  • Lemon zest brought a nice brightness to the cake without tasting lemon-y.
  • Walnuts and raisins add some texture. Substitute pecans for the walnuts, if you like.

How to make old fashioned applesauce cake with raisins and walnuts

Start by creaming together the sugar and room temperature butter. The mixture should be light and fluffy.

butter and sugar creamed together in a glass mixing bowl.

Add the lemon zest, and beat to combine.

Then, add the egg and applesauce, and beat to combine.

wet ingredients in a glass bowl.

Fold in the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon) until the mixture is just barely combined.

Then, fold in the walnuts and raisins.

cake batter with raisins and walnuts in a glass bowl.

Transfer the mixture to a greased 8×8-inch pan.

Bake for 45–50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

golden brown applesauce cake in a white dish with handles.

Storing the cake

The cake can be stored, covered tightly, at room temperature for up to one week. You do not need to refrigerate applesauce cake.

You can also freeze the cake for up to three months. Defrost it overnight at room temperature before enjoying it again.

side of a piece of applesauce cake with raisins and walnuts.

More old fashioned cakes

Here are a few of my favorites, also pulled from vintage recipe books!

Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!

📖 Recipe

slice of applesauce cake on a white plate.

Old Fashioned Applesauce Cake

Published by Kate
This classic applesauce cake with raisins and walnuts is the perfect snacking cake—pair with a cup of coffee or tea!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 9 servings
Calories 356 kcal


  • cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • cups unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup walnuts


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  • In another bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and beat until smooth.
  • Stir in the applesauce, then stir in the dry ingredients.
  • Finally, stir in the raisins and walnuts.
  • Pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 45–50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Homemade or store-bought applesauce both work for this recipe. I recommend unsweetened, but if you want to use sweetened applesauce, decrease the sugar by ¼ cup.
Store any leftovers (tightly covered) at room temperature for up to one week. 
You can freeze applesauce cake for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight at room temperature.


Calories: 356kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 5gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 390mgPotassium: 163mgFiber: 2gSugar: 26gVitamin A: 355IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 2mg
Keyword applesauce cake, old fashioned applesauce cake
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