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Sweet Potato Cake

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This spiced sweet potato cake with caramel cream cheese frosting is a moist and tender layer cake studded with soft bites of sweet potato and crunchy walnuts.

If you love this classic homemade sweet potato cake, try my chocolate sweet potato cake for a chocolate lover’s version!

Sweet Potato Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

My grandmother’s carrot cake is by far one of my favorite cakes, and if you love carrot cake just as much, then you will absolutely love this sweet potato cake. This cake recipe is loaded with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, shredded sweet potatoes, and chunky walnuts. Soft, moist, and full of flavor, you’ll be tempted to devour the cake even before it’s frosted!

Why You’ll Love This Sweet Potato Cake Recipe

  • Sweet and spiced cake layers. The sweet potato cake is tender and moist, filled with bits of real sweet potato and crunchy chopped walnuts, and scented with cinnamon spice.
  • Caramel cream cheese frosting. The salted caramel cream cheese frosting, when paired with this cake, is a match made in heaven. You can choose to add a splash of bourbon for a grown-up twist.
  • Delicious for any occasion. This is an easy cake to bake for the holidays, but it’s just as delicious year-round. Like carrot cake, a decadent layered sweet potato cake is timeless.

Ingredient Notes

Below are some quick notes on the key ingredients you’ll need to make a sweet potato cake. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card for the full ingredients list, amounts, and recipe details.

  • Sweet Potatoes – Peeled and grated. The easiest way to grate sweet potatoes for baking is to use a food processor. Peel the potatoes, chop them, and then blitz them. Of course, you can also use a cheese grater (it’ll just take a while!). 
  • Vegetable Oil – There’s a whole cup of oil in this cake which makes it nice and tender, and helps keep the crumb ultra-moist.
  • Bourbon – Add a splash of bourbon to the batter to echo the flavors of the frosting. You can substitute bourbon with vanilla extract or simply leave it out altogether.
  • Spices – Ground cinnamon and nutmeg for a touch of warm spice. You can also use pumpkin pie spice.
  • Walnuts – Roughly chopped walnuts or pecans. Nuts are optional but I love the texture that they add. 
  • Frosting – The frosting I chose for this cake is a cream cheese frosting, jazzed up with salted caramel sauce and bourbon. (The cozy flavors taste as amazing with this sweet potato cake as they do with my pumpkin cupcakes!).

How to Make Sweet Potato Cake

You’ll find the complete cake recipe in the recipe card below the post, but here’s a short overview of the steps! Start by preparing two thick, fluffy cake layers:

Mix the wet ingredients. Once you’ve peeled and shredded your sweet potatoes, set them aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then beat in the sugar followed by the oil and a splash of bourbon.

Add the dry ingredients. Whisk together the dry ingredients, and gradually incorporate the dry mixture into the wet batter. Lastly, fold in the walnuts and grated sweet potatoes.

Bake. Next, divide the batter evenly between two greased and lined 8-inch round baking pans. Bake the cakes at 350ºF for 25-30 minutes. Afterward, the cake layers will need to cool completely before you can frost them.

Baked sweet potato cake in a round cake pan.

Make the Frosting

The caramel frosting is a variation of my cream cheese frosting recipe (which would also go great with this cake), with the consistency of traditional buttercream. It has the absolute best flavor: a touch of vanilla, plenty of salted caramel, and a little bourbon pair perfectly with the spices in this cake. It’s also quick and easy to make:

A stand mixer attachment resting in a bowl of whipped vanilla frosting.
  • Whip the butter. Start by whipping cold, cubed butter until it’s light and fluffy. This can take a few minutes.
  • Combine. Next, beat in cream cheese, followed by powdered sugar, a couple of cups at a time. Alternate adding the vanilla, heavy cream, bourbon, and caramel sauce to the frosting in between the powdered sugar, until you reach your desired consistency.
A stand mixer attachment covered with bourbon salted caramel frosting standing upright on a marble countertop.

Assembling and Frosting the Cake

Finally, you’re ready to stack your sweet potato cake. If your cakes have domed during baking, level them using a cake leveler or a serrated knife before assembling them. My tutorial on how to make a layer cake has lots of helpful tips!

Assembled sweet potato cake on a white cake stand.
  • Start with the first layer. Drop a dollop of frosting onto your plate or cake board. Place the first cake layer over top. Using a piping bag, pipe a thick layer of caramel frosting over the cake, then even it out with an offset spatula.
  • Add the second layer. Gently place the second cake layer over top of the first. I recommend inverting the cake so that the bottom creates a smooth, level surface for frosting. 
Assembled sweet potato cake with a frosting crumb coat on a white cake stand.
  • Add a crumb coat. Use the frosting to create a crumb coat around the outside edge of the cake, then place the whole cake into the freezer to chill for 5-10 minutes.
  • Frost the cake. Take the cake out and use the remaining frosting to frost the sides and top of the cake. See below for more easy decorating tips!

Recipe Tips

This sweet potato cake is a wonderful recipe for beginners and long-time bakers alike. Keep these tips in mind:

    • Don’t overmix the cake batter. Overmixing the batter is a leading cause of dense cake layers that won’t rise properly in the oven. Make sure to only mix the ingredients until they’re just combined.

    • Skip the bourbon. If you’d prefer to substitute the alcohol in the cake and in the frosting, replace the bourbon in this recipe with vanilla extract instead. Another option is to leave it out altogether. In this case, you may need to use additional heavy cream in the frosting to get it to the right consistency.

    • Adjust the thickness of the frosting. This frosting is stiffer than traditional cream cheese frosting. If you feel that your frosting is too thin, add additional powdered sugar to help thicken it. Otherwise, add more heavy cream, one spoonful at a time, to thin out the frosting that’s too thick.

    • If your frosting is still on the softer side, stick it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so to help stiffen it up for decorating.

    • Add a crumb coating to the cake prior to frosting it. This helps pick up any loose crumbs and gives you a nice, even surface to frost. Once your crumb cake is applied, stick the whole cake into the freezer for 5-10 minutes max, or in the fridge for 15 minutes. It’s just long enough for the frosting to get cold.

    • When using multiple piping tips, I like to place my frosting in a large piping bag, and then use a smaller piping bag that I can use with the various piping tips, and swap them out as I decorate.

Overhead view of a frosted and decorated sweet potato layer cake cut into slices, with one slice missing.

How to Decorate a Sweet Potato Cake

The frosting recipe makes more than enough, so you’ll have plenty left to decorate with! If you’re new to decorating cakes, check out my tutorials on how to use piping tips and how to use a piping bag for lots of tips and tricks.

As for this sweet potato layer cake, you can decorate it any way you’d like using additional salted caramel sauce, or a garnish of nuts. Or, use a variety of piping tips to decorate the cake like you see in the photos:

  • Roses. First, pipe the large roses using a 1M tip, and the large rosettes with the Ateco 866 French star tip. 
  • Smaller details. Fill in any gaps using the smaller Wilton 199 and Wilton 21 star tips. 

I use a similar technique on my buttercream flower cake, so if you’re looking for a more in-depth tutorial, check out that post.

A slice of frosted sweet potato cake on a white plate.

Can I Make The Cake Layers In Advance?

Yes! The sweet potato cake layers can be baked in advance and kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. You can also prepare the frosting ahead of time and store it covered in an airtight container the fridge until you’re ready to assemble and frost the cake.

How to Store

  • To Store. Store your frosted sweet potato cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you live in a warm or humid environment, then I would recommend refrigerating this cake due to the frosting. This cake will last up to 5 days in the fridge.
  • Freeze. I don’t recommend freezing a frosted cake, but you can freeze the individual cake layers once they’re baked and cooled. To freeze cake layers, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or store them airtight, and keep them frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw the cake in the fridge before frosting.

More Easy Cake Recipes

A slice of frosted sweet potato cake lifted up with a cake server.

Sweet Potato Cake

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12-15 slices


This spiced sweet potato cake with caramel cream cheese frosting is a moist and tender layer cake studded with soft bites of sweet potato and crunchy walnuts.


For the cake

  • 3 cups Grated sweet potatoes, raw (about 2 medium sized)
  • 4 Large eggs
  • 2 cups (380g) Granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (236ml) Vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon (30ml) Bourbon (optional)
  • 2 1/4 cups (270g) All-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (5g) Ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons (8.5g) Baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1 cup (116g) Walnuts, chopped (optional)

For the frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups (339g) Unsalted butter, cold
  • 8 ounces (226g) Full-fat cream cheese, cold
  • 7 cups (911g) Powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) Pure vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoons (15-30ml) Bourbon (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Heavy whipping cream or milk
  • 3 heaping tablespoons (65g) Salted caramel sauce (store-bought)
  • 1/81/4 teaspoon salt (optional)


For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Prepare two 8-inch round baking pans, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides, lightly dust with flour.
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes and use a grater or food processor to shred the sweet potatoes. Set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat on low speed until smooth. Then add the oil and bourbon and continue beating on low speed until well mixed.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients and beat until incorporated. Fold in walnuts and sweet potatoes.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing evenly. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes. Use a toothpick or knife to check the center of the cake. If your toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. Allow the cake to cool completely.

For the frosting:

  1. Cut the butter into pieces, about 1 tablespoon size. Using the paddle attachment, whip butter for 3-5 minutes until the butter if fluffy and spreadable, scraping down the bowl occasionally until the butter is light and fluffy.
  2. Then add the cream cheese and cream together with the butter for 2-3 minutes until they are whipped and free of lumps, scape down the bowl occasionally.
  3. Slowly add confectionary sugar, 2-3 cups at a time, alternating with the liquid (vanilla extract, heavy cream, bourbon, salted caramel) and beat until desired consistency is reached. Add salt if desired.

To assemble the cake:

  1.  Level off the cakes by removing any domes. Place a dollop of frosting on your cake board and place the bottom layer of cake centered on the cake board.
  2. Pipe a layer of frosting in circles working outside edge to the middle. Spread evenly with an offset spatula. Add the second layer of cake, inverted. Apply a crumb coat the cake and put in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from freezer and add remaining frosting to the side and top of the cake. Decorate and serve.


  • Storage and make ahead: The cake layers can be made up to 2 days in advance. Cool completely and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container. Once frosted, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator such as a cake carrier. Serve at room temperature for best results.
  • Alcohol substitutions: If you don’t want to use bourbon, just omit it from the cake and the frosting. If additional liquid is needed for the frosting to reach your desired consistency, add additional heavy cream.
  • Frosting consistency: This frosting should be thick but easily spreadable, it won’t be quite as soft as a cream cheese frosting. If your frosting seems too thin, add additional powdered sugar. Or if your frosting is too thick, add additional cream. The secret to the best frosting is to really whip the butter before adding any additional ingredients. If your frosting because too soft when applying and decorating the cake, stick it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes
  • Decorating this cake: This cake is decorated using a variety of piping tips including 1M, French tip: Ateco 866 and Wilton 199. Open star tip 21.
Nutrition Information:
1 slice
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American
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