Butter Pecan Cake

Wanna try a little slice of heaven? Then pull up a seat and let me tell y’all ‘bout this Butter Pecan Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting! It’s got three fluffy layers of the most tender cake you’ve ever laid tastebuds on, each speckled with golden, toasted pecans for that homey, nutty crunch. And the frosting? It’s like the icing on the cake – quite literally. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, making it just the perfect companion to the cake layers.

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Butter pecan cake on a white cake stand with a plate of pecans in the background

If you’ve been following my recipes for a while, you already know I’m a sucker for pecans. And let me tell you, I’ve tried ’em in just about everything, from morning oatmeal to savory suppers. But where these nuts really shine is in sweet treats, and that’s where this Butter Pecan Cake recipe takes the stage! It’s got all the warmth of maple syrup, the comforting richness of cream cheese frosting, and of course, those delightful little pecan pieces that add just the right amount of crunch. Although my go-to for the holidays has always been Southern Pecan Pie, this cake is also a great addition to any holiday table. I just know you’re gonna LOVE it!!

The Heart & Soul Of This Butter Pecan Cake

Cuisine Inspiration: Southern
Primary Cooking Method: Oven
Dietary Info: Vegetarian
Key Flavor: Maple with notes of toasty pecan
Skill Level: Intermidette

Sweet Spots

  • Easy-Peasy Prep: In less than an hour, you can whip up this cake and have it ready to wow your guests. It’s ideal for those days when you want to make something special but don’t have all day to wait for the magic to happen.
  • Show-Off Looks: When you bring this showstopper to the table, you best be ready for some oohs and aahs. The golden-brown layers, the rich white frosting peeking out between each one, the sprinkle of pecans… It’s as pretty as a peach!
  • Unbeatable Texture: This butter pecan layer cake’s texture is a dream come true. The crumb is just so tender and moist from the vegetable oil and sour cream, and those toasted pecans folded into the batter give it a delightful crunch. It’s a texture that’s sure to make your tastebuds sing!
  • Versatile for Any Occasion: Whether you’re bringing it to your Thanksgiving table, serving it at a fancy dinner party, or enjoying a simple slice with your afternoon tea, this cake is versatile enough to fit any occasion.

Ingredients To Make This Butter Pecan Layer Cake

  • Unsalted butter: It’s the good stuff that makes your cake rich and the frosting creamy. Remember to let it soften, so everything mixes up nice and easy.
  • Vegetable oil: This is what keeps our cake layers super moist. It helps create a lovely, even crumb.
  • Granulated Sugar: Sweetness is key in any good old-fashioned butter pecan cake, and sugar is our trusty sidekick for that. Plus, it helps the cake get a beautiful golden color.
  • Maple syrup: It’s not just for pancakes, y’all! Adding a little bit of maple syrup gives our cake and frosting a rich, sweet, and unique twist.
  • Eggs: They hold everything together, giving your cake height and structure so it doesn’t fall apart when you take that first bite.
  • All-purpose flour: This is the cake’s foundation, giving it the perfect texture and making sure it’s ready to rise.
  • Baking powder & Baking soda: They’re the leavening agents that make your cake light and fluffy. Without them, you’d have a cake as flat as a pancake.
  • Kosher salt: A pinch goes a long way in enhancing all the flavors in your cake.
  • Sour cream: This brings moisture and a subtle tangy back note to the batter, balancing out the sweetness.
  • Whole milk: It helps the batter to reach the right consistency and adds a little extra richness to the mix.
  • Vanilla extract: The classic flavor enhancer! It makes sure your cake tastes as good as it smells.
  • Toasted pecans: These add a lovely crunch and a nutty depth to the cake. Chop ’em up and throw ’em in!
  • Cream cheese: It’s what you need for that decadent frosting, offering a smooth texture and tangy taste that complements the sweet cake.
  • Confectioners’ sugar: For the frosting, this fine sugar makes it easy to get a smooth, spreadable consistency without any graininess.
Ingredients to make the butter pecan layer cake

How To Make This Butter Pecan Cake

For full recipe instructions, including baking times and measurements, you’ll want to head down to the recipe card below.

Make The Cake

  1. To a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Mix together and set aside. 
Steps to mix the dry ingredients for the butter pecan layer cake
  1. In a bowl of stand mixer, add oil, butter, sugar, and maple syrup.
  2. Mix until pale and fluffy. 
  3. Add dry ingredients in two additions. Then, add sour cream, milk, and pecans.
  4. Continue mixing until just mixed. Do not overmix.
  5. Pour the batter into 3 prepared cake pans.
  6. Bake until the cakes start to pull away from the edges and are a very light brown on top.
Steps to make the batter for the butter pecan layer cake

Make The Frosting

  1. In a bowl of stand mixer, place cream cheese and butter.
  2. Mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Then, add confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, and salt.
  3. Once the sugar is mixed in, increase the speed until smooth and thickened. 
  4. Chill in the refrigerator until stiffened and spread between layers.
Steps to make the frosting for the butter pecan layer cake

Tips For Making The Best Butter Pecan Cake

  1. Room Temperature Ingredients: Be sure to bring your eggs, butter, sour cream, and milk to room temperature before starting. It makes sure everything blends smoothly and reacts properly when baking, giving you a consistent texture.
  2. Toast Then Chop: Toasting pecans deepens their flavor, making them stand out in the cake. If you don’t know how to toast them, simply spread them on a baking sheet, toast for about 6-8 minutes at 350F until they’re fragrant, and then let them cool before you chop. This way, they’ll be extra crunchy and packed with flavor when mixed into the batter!
  3. Just Enough Mixing: When combining wet and dry ingredients, stop as soon as you see no more flour streaks. Mixing the batter just right ensures a delicate crumb. Overmixing can activate the gluten too much and give you a cake with the toughness of a bread loaf.
  4. Frost Like a Pro: When you’re ready to frost your butter pecan cake with the cream cheese frosting, slap a dollop of frosting on the cake stand before placing the first layer. It anchors your cake in place, so it doesn’t slide around. And when applying frosting to the layers, start from the top and work your way down the sides. This way, you’ll get a crumb-free finish and a magazine-worthy look!
  5. Thick Frosting Trick: For the frosting to spread without dripping, it should be stiff yet spreadable. After mixing, if it seems thin, chilling it in the fridge can save the day. You’re looking for a consistency that’s easy to work with and holds its shape.
  • Brown Sugar Swap: Try using brown sugar instead of granulated sugar in the cake for a deeper, caramel-like sweetness. It’ll add a hint of molasses to each bite that pairs great with the pecans.
  • Honey for Maple: If you’re out of maple syrup or just want to try something new, substitute honey in both the cake and frosting. It will give a different floral twist to the sweetness.
  • Greek Yogurt for Sour Cream: Greek yogurt can stand in for sour cream if you’re looking for a lighter alternative. It will still keep your butter pecan layer cake moist and balance out the sweetness.
  • Bourbon Glaze Drizzle: For an adult twist, make a bourbon glaze to drizzle over the top of the frosted cake. Just mix a little bourbon with confectioners’ sugar until you have a pourable glaze. If you’ve tried my Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie or my Bourbon Pecan Sticky Buns, you just know bourbon pairs beautifully with pecans!
Butter pecan cake with slices missing on a white cake stand

What To Serve With Old Fashioned Butter Pecan Cake

  • Great for Holiday Dinners: Let this butter pecan layer cake be the grand finale at your next holiday dinner! After your guests have tasted the honey-glazed ham, garlic mashed potatoes, fried turkey, and rich, creamy mac ‘n’ cheese, this cake will come in as the perfect sweet ending to a hearty meal.
  • Add a Scoop of Ice Cream: There’s nothing like a scoop of vanilla bean or coffee ice cream to go with a slice of cake. It’s a classic pairing that everyone’s sure to love!
  • Cozy Drinks: Sip on a warm spiced chai latte, a robust espresso, or a mug of french hot chocolate topped with whipped cream as you dig into this cake. If it’s holiday cheer you’re after, a glass of homemade eggnog or a warm apple cider will pair delightfully with the cake’s nutty, buttery flavors.
  • Sweet Spread: Pair this beauty with other decadent desserts like lemon meringue pie, red velvet whoopie pies, and classic fudge brownies for a table that’s as merry as it is sweet.

How To Store

After you’ve enjoyed that first slice of butter pecan layer cake, it’s best to keep the rest fresh by storing it in an airtight container. If you’ve got a cake carrier, that’s perfect; if not, a large sealed container will do. Make sure it’s covered snugly to keep out the air, which can dry it out.

You can store the cake at room temp if you’re going to enjoy it within 2 days, but if you plan to keep it longer, it is best to put it in the fridge.

If you’re keeping it in the fridge, which I recommend due to the cream cheese frosting, it’ll keep for about a week. Just bring it to room temperature before serving for the best flavor and texture.

Can I Freeze This Butter Pecan Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting?

Yep you know it! Unfrosted cake layers freeze great for up to 2-3 months; just wrap them well with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. The same goes for a fully frosted cake – though you’ll want to freeze it unwrapped for a short time first, then add the plastic wrap and foil once the frosting is hard to avoid smudging. The cream cheese frosting alone also freezes well for up to 3 months. Just give it a good stir after thawing to bring back its smooth texture.

Overhead shot of the butter pecan cake on a white plate

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this cake in a different size pan?
Yes! If you want to use different-sized pans, you’ll need to adjust the baking time. Smaller pans will take less time, and larger pans will take more. Just keep an eye on it and test for doneness as you go.

What can I do if my frosting is too thin?
If your frosting is looking a bit runny, try adding a little more confectioners’ sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Alternatively, chilling the frosting in the fridge for a bit can also help it firm up.

Can I make this butter pecan cake recipe less sweet?
Sure thing! For a less sweet cake, you can reduce the sugar in the cake batter slightly. You could also cut back on the confectioners’ sugar in the frosting or use a cream cheese with a higher tang to balance the sweetness.

Slice of butter pecan cake on a wooden cake server

This Butter Pecan Layer Cake is just as perfect for a sunny Sunday as it is for the holidays! It’s a versatile show-stopper that’ll have your guests glued to the dessert table asking for seconds – and maybe thirds. With its rich layers and nutty, buttery crunch topped off with a swoon-worthy maple cream cheese frosting, this cake will be the toast of any table. So, tie on your apron, preheat that oven, and let’s get baking!!

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Slice of butter pecan layer cake on a white plate with more cake in the background

Butter Pecan Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

This Butter Pecan Cake has three delicious layers with pecans baked right in the batter and is topped with a maple cream cheese frosting and toasted pecans!
5 from 19 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course: Dessert
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

For the Pecan Cake

  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour sifted
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter room temp
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup sour cream room temperature
  • 1/3 cup whole milk room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans toasted

For the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces cream cheese softened, but still slightly firm
  • ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup chopped pecans toasted, for garnish

Instructions

For the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 325F. Set racks in top and bottom third positions. Prep 3 9-inch cake pans by spraying liberally with nonstick baking spray.
  • In a large bowl, mix together, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In bowl of stand mixer, add oil, butter, sugar, and maple syrup and mix for 2 minutes on high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and combine until well combined.
  • Reduce speed and add dry ingredients in two additions. Add sour cream, milk, vanilla and pecans and continue on low speed until just mixed. Do not overmix.
  • Bake until cakes start to pull away from the edges and are a very light brown on top, about 25 minutes. Rotate cakes from top to bottom racks halfway through baking.
  • Remove cakes from oven and cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn cakes out of pans and finish cooling on wire racks, about 25 minutes.

For the Frosting

  • In bowl of stand mixer, place cream cheese and butter, and mix on high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  • Reduce speed to low and add confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, and salt. Once the sugar is mixed in, increase the speed to high until smooth and thickened.
  • Chill in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes, until stiffened. Spread between layers and garnish with chopped pecans. Serve it up and enjoy!

Notes

Tips For Making The Best Butter Pecan Cake

  1. Room Temperature Ingredients: Be sure to bring your eggs, butter, sour cream, and milk to room temperature before starting. It makes sure everything blends smoothly and reacts properly when baking, giving you a consistent texture.
  2. Toast Then Chop: Toasting pecans deepens their flavor, making them stand out in the cake. If you don’t know how to toast them, simply spread them on a baking sheet, toast them for about 6-8 minutes at 350F until they’re fragrant, and then let them cool before you chop. This way, they’ll be extra crunchy and packed with flavor when mixed into the batter!
  3. Just Enough Mixing: When combining wet and dry ingredients, stop as soon as you see no more flour streaks. Mixing the batter just right ensures a delicate crumb. Overmixing can activate the gluten too much and give you a cake with the toughness of a bread loaf.
  4. Frost Like a Pro: When you’re ready to frost your butter pecan cake with the cream cheese frosting, slap a dollop of frosting on the cake stand before placing the first layer. It anchors your cake in place so it doesn’t slide around. And when applying frosting to the layers, start from the top and work your way down the sides. This way, you’ll get a crumb-free finish and a magazine-worthy look!
  5. Thick Frosting Trick: For the frosting to spread without dripping, it should be stiff yet spreadable. After mixing, if it seems thin, chilling it in the fridge can save the day. You’re looking for a consistency that’s easy to work with and holds its shape.

Nutrition

Calories: 858kcal | Carbohydrates: 88g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 54g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 128mg | Sodium: 441mg | Potassium: 228mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 62g | Vitamin A: 1129IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 138mg | Iron: 2mg
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Filed Under:  Cake, Dessert and Baking, Fall Recipes, Oven, Thanksgiving

Comments

  1. Your cake remind of my mother cake recipe. she cook cake just like your. Your Pecan Cake. Is a winner in my recipe. for cake baking

  2. I like this idea over pecan pie. It’s a nice way to switch things up a little and its a beautiful layer cake. Might save this for Christmas too! Looks perfect 😀

  3. What a delicious combo of flavors and textures. I’m a big fan of pecans in any way possible. I loved the maple syrup in it. i just have one question, for me the frosting is extremely sweet, can I reduce the confectioners sugar?

  4. Five stares! I’d give it 100 if I could! So light and fluffy with a perfect hint of maple. Thanks for the detailed hints and instructions. That’s what always makes your recipes the best!

  5. Oh my, this Butter Pecan Cake looks amazingly delicious and very tasty! It’s overloaded with the taste of pecans! A perfect treat for this Thanksgiving or any given occasion! Loved it!

  6. Love your description to this delicious cake. Perfect for people who love nutty and crunchy flavors. Sounds like a delicious party dessert option.

5 from 19 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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