Get ready to savor the flavors of fall with the easiest dessert you’ll ever make! This Caramel Apple Dump Cake, featuring just four simple ingredients: apple pie filling, caramel bits, yellow cake mix, and butter, is the ultimate autumn indulgence that practically bakes itself.
This Easy Caramel Apple Dump Cake is not just a breeze to make; it’s also the perfect alternative when you’re craving the flavors of a classic apple pie but don’t have the time or inclination for all the intricate steps. This Thanksgiving, let go of the fuss and enjoy the simplicity of this dessert, which retains all the rich, caramelized apple goodness you love, minus the complicated prep. It’s a delightful treat that’ll have your guests coming back for seconds, and you won’t miss the stress of making a traditional apple pie one bit!
Ingredients for Easy Caramel Apple Dump Cake
- Canned apple pie filling – It’s the effortless shortcut to achieving that quintessential apple pie flavor without the peeling, slicing, or spicing. You will need two 20-ounce cans or 5 cups of filling.
- Caramel bits – Melts into a gooey, sweet sauce with a chewy texture.
- Yellow cake mix – The cake mix serves as our quick and convenient base, providing a tender, golden, and slightly crumbly cake layer that holds all the heavenly ingredients together. It’s the ultimate time-saver in this fuss-free recipe. Be sure to use the dry mix only. Do not prepare the cake.
- Salted butter – Creates a crispy, buttery topping and enhances the overall flavor profile. We prefer salted butter as it helps balance the sweetness of the dish.
Making the Easy Caramel Apple Dump Cake
- Preheat the Oven: Start by preheating your oven to a toasty 350 degrees F. This ensures your dump cake bakes to perfection.
- Prepare the Baking Dish: Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. This step ensures your dessert doesn’t stick and makes for easier serving later on.
- Layer the Apple Pie Filling: Spread an even layer of apple pie filling at the bottom of your prepared baking dish. This forms the fruity foundation of your dessert.
- Add the Caramel Bits: Sprinkle those tantalizing caramel bits over the apple pie filling. They’re the sweet, chewy surprise in every bite.
- Spread the Cake Mix: Grab a box of yellow cake mix and sprinkle it evenly over the caramel and apple layer. Then, use the back of a spoon to gently spread it into an even layer. This will ensure a consistent texture throughout the cake.
- Butter It Up: Now, take your salted butter and evenly distribute small pats of butter over the dry cake mix. Make sure there are no large patches of cake mix exposed. This buttery topping will transform into a crispy, golden delight in the oven.
- Bake to Perfection: Place your prepared dish into the preheated oven and let it work its magic for about 45-50 minutes or until the top turns a beautiful golden brown.
- Rest and Serve: Once it’s out of the oven, give your dump cake a 10-minute rest. This allows it to settle and makes it easier to serve. Then, dish it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a whipped cream dollop for extra indulgence.
Variations and substitutions
Homemade apple pie filling – For those who prefer a homemade touch, you can use 5 cups of your own homemade apple pie filling instead of the canned version. Using homemade filling give you complete control over the sweetness and spice levels of your dump cake.
Caramel square substitute – If you can’t find caramel bits, don’t worry! You can easily substitute them with 1 ½ cups of caramel squares. Simply cut the caramels into smaller pieces before sprinkling them over the apple filling. This method will achieve the same gooey caramel goodness throughout your dump cake.
Healthier version – Consider using a sugar-free apple pie filling, a zero-sugar cake mix, and sugar-free caramels for a low-sugar alternative. Most brands have a low or no added sugar apple pie filling, Pillsbury makes a zero sugar yellow cake mix, and Wether’s makes sugar-free chewy caramels.
Cake mix variation – If you’re feeling adventurous, swap out the yellow cake mix for white, spice, or vanilla cake mix. Each of these options brings its own unique flavor profile to the Easy Caramel Apple Dump Cake, allowing you to tailor this dessert to your taste preferences.
Add nuts – Add a layer of chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts for extra texture and a nutty flavor.
Spice it up – Sprinkle some ground cinnamon or nutmeg over the apple pie filling for a warm, spiced flavor.
Tips for success
- Even layers – When layering the ingredients, aim for even distribution. This helps ensure that every bite has the perfect balance of flavors.
- Do not mix! – Resist the urge to mix the layers. The magic of this dump cake comes from the distinct layers, so avoid stirring them.
- Use dry cake mix – To ensure the right consistency and texture in your Easy Caramel Apple Dump Cake, do not prepare the cake mix as directed on the box. Instead, use the dry cake mix straight from the box. This dry mix provides the perfect base for your dessert and simplifies the recipe without sacrificing its deliciousness.
- Even butter distribution – When placing the butter pats on top of the cake mix, make sure to distribute them evenly to cover the entire surface. This not only prevents large patches of dry cake mix from showing underneath but also ensures that the buttery goodness melds uniformly with the cake mix. This step is crucial for creating that signature crispy, golden topping that defines this dessert.
- Rest before serving – Allowing the cake to rest for about 10 minutes after removing it from the oven makes it easier to serve and allows the flavors to settle.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream – While optional, serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream takes this dessert to the next level.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days or in the refrigerator for up to five days. I like to reheat my leftover cake slightly in the microwave before serving.
While it’s best enjoyed fresh, you can freeze individual portions in airtight containers for up to a month. Thaw and reheat in the oven or microwave before serving.
Easy Caramel Apple Dump Cake FAQs
The ideal serving temperature for Easy Caramel Apple Dump Cake is warm. When it’s fresh out of the oven, the cake is at its best, with the caramel and apple layers oozing deliciously. However, if you have leftovers or want to enjoy it later, gently reheating individual portions in the microwave or oven for a few minutes brings back that delightful warmth and gooey texture. Serving it warm enhances the dessert’s overall comfort and appeal, making it a cozy treat, especially during cool fall evenings.
Salted butter is preferred in this recipe as it provides a pleasant contrast to the sweetness of the caramel and apple filling. If you must use unsalted butter, consider adding a pinch of salt to the cake mix.
Looking for more great Fall recipes?
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Easy Caramel Apple Dump Cake
- 2 (20 ounce) cans of apple pie filling
- 1 (11 ounce) bag of caramel bits
- 1 (15.25 ounce) box of yellow cake mix
- ¾ cup salted butter cut into thin slices
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Lightly spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Spread an even layer of the apple pie filling in the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Sprinkle the caramel bits over the pie filling.
- Sprinkle the dry cake mix over the top and spread it into an even layer with the back of a spoon.
- Place the butter pats evenly over the dry cake mix, ensuring no large patches of cake mix are showing.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Allow the cake to rest for 10 minutes before serving with ice cream or whipped cream.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days or in the refrigerator for up to five days. I like to reheat my leftover cake slightly in the microwave before serving.
- You can use 5 cups of homemade apple pie filling instead of the canned pie filling.
- If you can’t find caramel bits, you can use 1 ½ cups of caramel squares instead. Cut the caramels into smaller pieces before sprinkling them over the apple filling.