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Caramel Apple Dump Cake

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Toasty pecans dot a golden, buttery crust on this gooey caramel and apple dump cake. This simple and effortless dessert is best served warm with a creamy scoop of vanilla ice cream.

A pan of golden brown Caramel Apple Dump Cake topped with toasted pecans is served from pan.

Once upon a time, long before the internet and viral recipe hacks, there was the dump cake. In the late 1960s, these easy desserts began popping up in church cookbooks and passed between home cooks. So, you just dump everything in the pan? Does it really work? Yes, girl: and you gotta try it.

My version with just 7 ingredients pays homage to the traditional dump cake. I added tart lemon juice to balance out the sweetness of the canned apple filling, and used salted butter to create its golden and crunchy lid. This apple dump cake is bound to become one of your new favorite fall dessert ideas.

Bring this cake to an autumn gathering and while everyone swoons over it, you can tell them about the magic of the dump cake.

Why is it Called a Dump Cake?

This cake’s silly-sounding name has a simple meaning!

This crowd-pleaser dessert is called a dump cake because there is no mixing involved. You simply layer (dump) the ingredients into a prepared pan and bake. Voila! Apple dump cake.

Recipe Ingredients

You’ll only need a few ingredients to pull this easy apple dessert together in a flash.

  • Apple pie filling – Canned
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemon juice
  • Kraft caramels – Unwrapped and cut in half.
  • Boxed yellow cake mix – The dry mix, leave unprepared.
  • Pecans – Chopped
  • Butter – salted
  • Optional garnishes – Vanilla ice cream, prepared caramel sauce, whipped cream
An antique silver serving spoon sits on top of freshly baked Caramel Apple Dump Cake.

How to Make a Caramel Apple Dump Cake

This apple dump cake comes together quickly. Each ingredient is simply layered (or dumped) on top of the next one.

  • Preheat. Set Oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare Pan. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • Combine Filling. Stir apple pie filling, cinnamon, and lemon juice and pour this mixture into the pan.
  • Add Caramel Layer. After halving them, arrange the cut caramels evenly over the apple pie filling.
  • Next the Cake Mix. Spread the still-dry cake mix evenly over the caramels layer.
  • Sprinkle Nuts. Spread the chopped pecans evenly over the cake mix layer.
  • Place Butter. Evenly dot the butter pats over the pecans.
  • Bake. Check after 40-45 minutes or until starting to turn golden

Tips for Success

While this Fall treat is quite easy to pull together, I have a few suggestions when making this recipe.

  • Don’t skip the acid. The tartness of the lemon juice balances out the sweet apple filling. If you don’t have any, you can use lime or orange juice or apple cider.
  • Use salted butter. Since this dessert is a sweet one, the salted butter adds contrast to the caramel apple filling.
  • Serve warm. Try it warm with a scoop of ice cream on top.

Frequently Asked Questions

I can’t find Kraft baking caramels – how will I know how many to use?

You want to use about 1 ½ cups of caramels. And if you use a little more, it will still work – I’ve tried it that way too.

I don’t have yellow cake mix – is there a different flavor that will work?

Yes, spice cake mix works really well, or you could use a white cake mix.

I don’t care for pecans – what else could I use?

You could either substitute chopped walnuts or leave the nuts out completely.

Do I need to stir the layers before baking?

No, the beauty of this cake is dumping in the ingredients for each of the layer. It bakes just like that!

I don’t have any lemon juice – what else could I use?

The best substitute would be lime juice, orange juice, or apple cider. Or, if you have it, you could use 1 teaspoon of lemon zest or ½ teaspoon lemon extract. You may also substitute 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. It is important to balance the sweetness of the apple filling and caramel.

A white plate of Caramel Apple Dump Cake is topped with melting vanilla ice cream and a swirl of caramel sauce drips over the cake. Whole cinnamon sticks, pecans, and a fork lie next to the plate.

How to Serve a Dump Cake

Much like a fruit cobbler, this dump cake is easily scooped out of its pan using a large serving spoon.

Best served warm, I highly recommend trying this cake a la mode with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You can also make this treat even sweeter by adding caramel sauce and whipped cream.

Storing and Freezing Extra Cake

If you find you have leftover dump cake, here’s how to ensure it stays fresh.

  • Counter: Once cooled, cover it tightly with plastic wrap for up to 2 days.
  • Fridge: Cover tightly with plastic wrap after cooling completely. Keeps in fridge for 5 days.
  • Freezer: Be sure to cool the cake first and then wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Can be frozen for at least 3 months. 

More Apple Recipes to Try

There are so many ways to bake with apples – try out my other Fall dessert recipes and let me know what you think.

A pan of golden brown Caramel Apple Dump Cake topped with toasted pecans is served from pan. A portion sits next to the pan topped a la mode with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.

Caramel Apple Dump Cake

This quick and easy apple dump cake recipe echoes the essence of Fall with cinnamon-scented apples and melted caramels.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 people
Author: Julie Chiou
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Ingredients 

  • 60 ounces apple pie filling, (three 20 ounce cans)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 11 ounces Kraft caramels, unwrapped and cut in half
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup salted butter, cut into small chunks

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 °F
  • Prepare a 9×13 baking dish by spraying with non-stick spray.
  • Unwrap and cut caramels in half.
  • Combine apple pie filling, cinnamon, and lemon juice in a medium sized bowl.
  • Pour apple mixture into the prepared pan.
  • Arrange the cut caramels evenly over the apple pie filling.
  • Spread the cake mix over top, evenly.
  • Sprinkle chopped pecans evenly over the top of the cake.
  • Place the chunks of butter evenly over the pecan layer.
  • Bake the cake for 45 minutes or until starting to turn golden.

NUTRITION FACTS

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 492 kcal | Carbohydrates: 55 g | Protein: 3 g | Fat: 30 g | Saturated Fat: 16 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9 g | Trans Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 61 mg | Sodium: 653 mg | Potassium: 73 mg | Fiber: 2 g | Sugar: 28 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple dump cake, dump cakes, easy apple cake
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