Brown Butter Pecan Sheet Cake

Cakes, Desserts, Holiday, The Holidays

This Brown Butter Pecan Sheet Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting is the most festive, prettiest cake to make around this time of year.

The holidays truly are my favorite time of year. I usually have most of my work done for the year and I’m preparing my mind for two full weeks of rest and relaxation. I like to travel during this time, too, but if I end up at home near with the fireplace going, I’m truly happy. This cake is one of my favorite things to a friends house because it serves a crowd, everyone loves it and the flavor profile is holiday-central!

Why Sheets Cakes Are The Best!

Okay let’s talk about this cake. I think it’s safe to say that 2017 was the year that I fell in love with the art of “the sheet cake.”

I first made this strawberry-rhubarb version. Then I moved on to this chocolate one (which btw would be perfect for the holidays, too). And then, in October, there was a pumpkin sheet cake with brown butter frosting. It immediately became the most popular recipe this year!! Crazy!

They are amazing for a ton of reasons, here are a few:

  • Making them in a 9×13 cake pan means you only need one single layer. And yet they can feed a crowd.
  • Easy decorating! If you’re not the best at decorating layer cakes, then sheet cakes are the move. It’s super easy to add all of the frosting to the top of the cake, swoop and smooth the frosting and BOOM! A pretty cake.

What is (Brown) Butter Pecan?

Butter pecan is a popular flavor profile that is very American. It’s popular in ice cream, cookies, cakes, etc. I took it a step further and cooked the butter a bit further, browning the butter. Brown butter pecan is a delicious flavor profile that’s extra nutty.

The butter cooks with the chopped pecans until the butter gets all nutty and delicious. The frosting is perfectly tart. Perfectly spiced and fluffy AF.

How to Make a Holiday Cake

What’s good about this cake is that it can be made year around. Of course, the snowflake cookies on top, really take it over the top and make it quite festive.

Let’s talk about the cookies on top! I used the corgi chai sugar cookie recipe.

And I used these punch out cookie cutters that I was super skeptical about—I was convinced that the dough wouldn’t come out. But they worked great. Here are some tips:

  • I think the trick is to press the dough into the punch snowflake cookie cutters.
  • And then pressing them out onto a baking sheet. This way you don’t have to transport the cookies because they’re quite fragile.
  • The smaller ones will need to be baked on their own. They bake very quickly (maybe 5 minutes) and the rest bake in about 10 minutes.


  • Do not move them until they’re completely cooled.
  • For royal icing, I always, always use Wilton’s meringue powder and just added a few more teaspoons or water to get it to the perfect consistency.
  • Ok I think that’s it!

If you make this Brown Butter Pecan Sheet Cake, let me know on Instagram! 

Happy holidays, friends!


Brown Butter Pecan Sheet Cake Recipe

5 from 5 votes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Decorating 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Serving Size: 14 servings
Calories: 472kcal
This brown butter pecan sheet cake recipe with spiced cream cheese frosting is a festive holiday cake perfect for a crowd.


Brown Butter Pecan Mixture:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil, (vegetable oil, avocado oil or grape seed oil)
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Corgi Chai Cookies, for the topping (optional)


To Make the Brown Butter Mixture:

  • To a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, add the butter. Once it’s melted, it will begin to foam up and bubble a bit. Allow it to cook until you begin to see very lightly browned specks beginning to form. Add the pecans; toss the pecans until they’re evenly coated. Give it a stir and cook until it’s browned, about an additional 1 minute. Allow to stand until room temperature.

To Make the Cake Batter:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch cake pan with cooking spray and set aside. I also like to line my cake pan with a sheet of parchment because I don’t like anything to stick!
  • In the a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand-up mixer (or a large bowl using an electric mixer), using the paddle attachment, whisk the vegetable oil and sugar together, until combined about 1 minute. Then, add the reserved pecan/butter mixture and beat for an additional minute. Add the eggs, along with the vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  • Add half of the dry ingredients and half of the milk and mix until incorporated. Add the remaining dry ingredients and the remaining milk; mix until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  • Pour the batter into the pan and smooth it out using an offset spatula or butter knife. Transfer to the oven to bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then invert it onto a cooling rack. BE CAREFUL IT'S A BIG CAKE.

To Make the Frosting:

  • To a bowl of a stand-up mixer with the paddle attachment (OR a medium bowl using an electric mixer), add the butter, cream cheese, spices and vanilla. Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Sift in the powdered sugar in increments of about 1 cup (just so it doesn’t make a mess when you start your machine). Repeat until you’ve worked your way through the powdered sugar.
  • Lastly, add the heavy cream and beat the frosting for about 3 minutes. The fluffiness from the heavy cream really lightens up this frosting so be sure to beat it for the full 3 minutes.

To Assemble the Cake:

  • Pour all of the frosting on the cooled sheet cake and spread it around, creating cute swoops as you go. Top it with whatever you like! I added lil’ cookies. Cake will stay moist for about 3 days when wrapped properly.


If you're looking for a shortcut and you'd like to skip making cookie dough (for the topping), you're welcome to buy cookies!
Nestle also makes prepared gingerbread cookie dough at places like Walmart and Target.
CourseCookies, Dessert
CuisineAmerican, Christmas, Holiday
Keywordbrown butter pecan, butter pecan, butter pecan cake, carrot sheet cake
Calories: 472kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 186mg | Potassium: 165mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 48g | Vitamin A: 578IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this Recipe? Tag me Today!Tag @acozykitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #acozykitchen

Products used:
1. Snowflake Cookie Cutter Set
2. Large Snowflake Set
3. Wilton Meringue Powder (perfect for Royal Icing)
4. USA Sheet Cake Pan that is 9×13

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Recipe Rating

  • Reply Nadia May 8, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    Hi! Please reply to me urgently as I really want to make the pecan cake today and was wondering if I could make the cake batter without the pecan mixture. So that it can be a regular vanilla sheet cake. And I can choose my own toppings. Thank you

  • Reply Melissa December 20, 2019 at 5:49 am

    This recipe looks amazing!! Planning on making this over the holidays but I have a question.. I’m one of those people who don’t like texture in my cake, I like nuts alone but not in cake lol if I crushed the pecans up small do you think this would be ok and not affect the cake negatively? Thanks so much !!

  • Reply Katherine Helms November 23, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    5 stars
    Is the bake time for this recipe a mistype? I tried it today, took the cake out at 20 minutes and it was way underbaked. When I tried to turn it out onto a plate the middle went splat. What a disappointment! I had to throw the cake away, but at least I was able to use the spiced cream cheese frosting to top some pumpkin cupcakes I made at the last minute. I notice that the pumpkin sheet cake recipe gives a bake time of 25 to 30 minutes. Seems more reasonable for such a large cake.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme November 23, 2019 at 10:43 pm

      Hi! I’m sorry this recipe gave you trouble. Bake times will vary by 5 minutes or so due to different ovens, hence the reason why all my cake recipes–including this one–specify to bake for 20 minutes OR until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Did you check it with a skewer before you removed it from the oven?

  • Reply Melissa December 31, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    5 stars
    Thanks for this wonderful recipe! I made it over the weekend, and it turned out really well. I loved the pumpkin version too. Brown butter in a cake is a great idea. I made the chai cookies and tried the cookie cutters. The plungers on mine got stuck after one cookie, but I just switched to regular cut out cookies. They were delicious. I love your blog and just bought your book too. All the best from cozy Michigan!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme January 1, 2019 at 3:56 pm

      Ahh so glad this was delicious. Thanks so much! 🙂

  • Reply Lilcee December 6, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful post! The pumpkin cake was a crowd pleaser and was going to message you if you had any recipe recommendations for a Christmas version of the sheet cake. I cannot wait to make this! Amazing!

  • Reply Peach Pie January 28, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    This is some of the most horrible writing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been a TA for middle school. Wow…

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme January 28, 2018 at 5:20 pm

      If you don’t like the writing here, the solution is super simple: don’t visit my blog.

  • Reply Adriana December 20, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    5 stars
    Lovely cake! I baked it tonight, and it was delicious! I did however noticed a metallic aftertaste. Do you think it might have anything to do with the baking powder amount? Would I be able to reduce it?
    Thank you!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme December 21, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      do you use aluminum free baking powder?

      • Reply Adriana December 22, 2017 at 6:58 pm

        Oh my, I didn’t even know that existed! I’ll definitely try that next time. Thank you!

  • Reply Katie December 11, 2017 at 8:24 am

    I’ve made the pumpkin sheet cake twice so far to rave reviews from friends and family. This one sounds amazing too… I think it will need to be my 30th birthday cake in a few weeks.

  • Reply Debra December 8, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    You have a few confusing parts to the recipe. One is there is no amount for the baking soda. And sugar is added to dry and wet ingredients for the cake. Could you clarify? Thank you!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme December 8, 2017 at 8:50 pm

      Hi! Sorry for the confusion. It’s all fixed now. The sugar and the oil should be beaten together. Sorry about that!

  • Reply Mimi December 8, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    This is the prettiest darn cake i’ve Ever seen!

  • Reply Louise - Cooking with kids December 8, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    This cake looks beautiful . I’ve never cooked a sheet bake (we call them tray bakes in the UK), I might have to put this on my to do list.

  • Reply Abby @ Heart of a Baker December 8, 2017 at 9:09 am

    YES to cookies on a cake. Why am I not doing this?! Also, congrats to almost being done with work for the year! It’s such a good feeling to start on a clean slate for the year!

  • Reply fatimah December 8, 2017 at 7:28 am

    this is so pretty! also lots of sheet cake inspo, i should probably just go ahead and make one already!

  • Reply Chloe (Musings on Dinner) December 8, 2017 at 2:07 am

    Pinning the heck out of this – I just love the decoration and how it looks beautifully pared-down. I love garish Christmas stuff like anyone else but this is so soothing and pleasing on the eye