Need the perfect Christmas cake? Look no further than this boozy eggnog cake! With brown butter eggnog cake layers, eggnog buttercream, and topped with homemade salted caramel! This cake fun, festive, and perfect for the winter holidays!
There's something about the combination of eggnog, brown butter, bourbon, and salted caramel that is just SO good!
I like making layer cakes over the course of 2 days for the best results! So day 1 I'll make the brown butter, salted caramel, and cake layers! Then day 2 I'll make the brown butter eggnog buttercream and assemble/decorate the cake!
You just need a few simple ingredients to make this eggnog cake with salted caramel!
- Brown butter - Brown butter is one of my favorite ingredients to use in baking! It has the most delicious nutty flavor that pairs beautifully with the salted caramel!
- Cake flour - I always use cake flour in my cakes because it makes them super soft and tender, but all purpose flour also works great!
- Eggnog - You can use your favorite store-bought eggnog or make your own!
- Bourbon - The only thing better than cake is boozy cake! You can leave out the bourbon if you prefer, but bourbon eggnog is just SO good! I always use Bulleit bourbon because that's what I like to drink, but you can use whatever you have on hand.
- Salted caramel - I prefer to use my homemade salted caramel to top the cake!
Tip: I highly recommend making both the brown butter and salted caramel the night before so that they have plenty of time to cool!
If you've never made brown butter before, I have a whole post all about it with all my tips and tricks! It also includes step by step photos so you can see exactly what the butter should look like.
Since both the cake and the buttercream call for brown butter, I find it easier to just make one large batch and then weigh out the difference using a kitchen scale (½ cup of butter weighs about 113 grams).
However, if you don't have a scale you can just make two separate batches of brown butter!
I also highly recommend making the brown butter the night before you want to make the buttercream, so that it has time to fully cool to room temperature!
Eggnog is super easy to make, so I usually just make it myself but you can also just buy it at the store if you're feeling lazy! I like my eggnog boozy, but you can omit the alcohol for an equally delicious treat!
I use bourbon in my eggnog (and this cake) but you can also use dark rum or brandy if you prefer!
- 4 large eggs, separated
- ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup bourbon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the egg yolks and ⅓ cup sugar for about 5 minutes or until the yolks lighten in color and the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Add in the milk, heavy cream, bourbon, vanilla, and nutmeg and stir to combine. Pour into a separate bowl and set aside.
- Place the egg whites and 1 tablespoon of sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
- Chill and then serve! It will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Note: if you don't feel comfortable with raw eggs, you can buy pasteurized eggs/egg whites at most grocery stores!
This is the BEST and probably most underrated part of this recipe.
You literally just mix together some eggnog and bourbon and brush it over the cake layers before frosting.
It keeps the cake SO MOIST and adds a little extra hit of that boozy eggnog flavor. It might seem like an unnecessary extra step but I promise it’s so worth the extra 5 seconds!
How to Make Eggnog Cake
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt together in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the brown butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, bourbon, and, vanilla together until combined.
Stir in about half of the flour mixture. Then stir in the eggnog and the rest of the flour mixture and mix until fully combined. The batter will be thick.
Lightly spray three 6 inch layer cake pans with pan spray. Pour ⅓ of the batter into each cake pan (they will only be about half full). Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Place a cooling rack on top of each cake pan and invert. The pan should slide cleanly away.
Let the cakes cool completely to room temperature before trimming.
Once the cakes are fully cooled. Using a sharp bread knife, trim the cakes until the layers are even. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer overnight to help the frosting spread on smoothly (minimum of 2 hours).
Remove cake layers from the freezer. Place the bottom layer of cake on your cake stand and brush with about ⅓ of the milk soak. Then spread about ¼ of the frosting on top in an even layer.
Then top with the next layer and repeat. Place the final cake layer upside down so that the top of your cake is as even as possible.
Smooth the rest of the frosting on the top and sides of your cake as desired.
Spoon the caramel sauce over the top and let it drip down the sides of the cake. If the caramel is too thick, microwave it for 5-10 seconds until the consistency of honey.
Refrigerate your cake for 2-3 hours before slicing and serving.
Cover and store the cake in the fridge for up to 5 days.
How to Get Perfect Cake Layers
There are a few tricks that will help you get perfect, even layers for your eggnog cake!
First, you need good nonstick cake pans and pan spray. I use three 6×2 inch Fat Daddio’s layer cake pans and I love them!! It's super important to get actual layer cake pans because the sides are perfectly straight! It's a little annoying because this means you can't stack them, but your layers will have perfect sides! With just a tiny bit of pan spray, the cakes just slide right out and never stick! For pan spray, I love both Everbake Pan Spray and Baker's Joy!
Next, is trimming your cake. This can be a little tricky, but it's super easy once you do it a couple times. Let the cakes cool completely to room temperature, then take a large bread knife and very carefully slice off the very top of the cake so that you have a perfectly even layer. I like using a big bread knife because it's sharp, serrated, and long enough to go through the entire layer at one time.
And of course freezing the layers! So after you've let the cake layers cool completely and trimmed them. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap in place in the freezer overnight. Don't take them out until right before you start assembling the cake! This allows the frosting to slide on smoothly and prevents any crumbs from getting in the frosting.
Cake Decorating Tips
- I absolutely love my rotating cake stand! I hesitated buying one for a long time, but it really does make getting nice, even frosting so much easier!
- My must have tools for frosting cakes are an offset spatula and an icing smoother. Both are super helpful in achieving that perfect, smooth outside frosting.
- I use a 6 inch cake board to transfer my cakes from the turning caking stand, to the stand I like to photograph with.
- The best thing about this eggnog cake, is that all you need to make it look beautiful is the salted caramel drip!
Tips for the Best Baked Goods
Use room temperature ingredients! Always make sure ingredients like butter, eggs, milk, yogurt, etc. are at room temperature before baking (unless the recipe indicates otherwise)! This ensures they'll incorporate into the batter more easily and leads to overall better texture. Remove all ingredients from the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before baking for best results.
Measure your flour correctly! It's most accurate to use a kitchen scale, but if you're measuring by volume you want to spoon and level! Fluff up the flour a bit with a spoon, and then spoon flour into the measuring cup. Once it's overflowing, use the back of a knife to level it off. Don't ever pack flour into the measuring cup or you'll end up with way too much! Improperly measured flour can lead to dry, dense baked goods. [Measure cocoa powder the same way!]
Use an oven thermometer! Just because your oven says it's 350, doesn't mean it is! If you oven hasn't been calibrated recently, it can be as much as 30 degrees off, which will negatively affect all baked goods from cakes to macarons! An oven thermometer is the easiest/cheapest way to ensure your oven is always at the proper temperature.
Make sure you baking powder is fresh! Baking powder is important for helping baked goods rise properly, but it has a relatively short shelf life once opened, so it's one of the few items I never buy in bulk! To test if your baking powder is still fresh, add a small amount to boiling water. If it bubbles it's still good to use, but if not it's time to toss it!
Yes!! The eggnog cake layers can be made and frozen up to a month in advance! Wrap the layers indivuvally with plastic wrap, and then seal in a freezer safe bag for the best results.
Of course not! You can absolutely substitute regular unsalted butter. I just love the flavor that brown butter adds and how it pairs with the salted caramel.
This cake recipe is designed for 3 six inch cake pans. It will also work with 2 eight inch cake pans.
I prefer the taste and texture of homemade caramel, but you can use store-bought if that's what you prefer.
Tips for Success!
For best results I always recommend using weight measurements (especially when baking) because it's the most accurate. Kitchen scales are super affordable and also reduce the number of dishes you have to do! However, all my recipes also include US customary measurements for convince. Use this chart to convert measurements for common ingredients!
Substitutions: In all my recipes, I've included substitutions that I know will work, but I cannot guarantee results if you substitute ingredients that I have not recommended. [For example, granulated sugar and honey are indeed both sweeteners but they have very different properties so they can not always be swapped 1:1. Using honey in a cookie recipe that calls for granulated sugar will yield a giant mess.] In the recipe card you'll find links to the specific ingredients/brands that I use.
A note on salt: I almost exclusively use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt because it's the best all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If you're not using kosher salt, consult this handy guide for a conversion chart! When in doubt, if you're using table salt just reduce the amount by half for baked goods. When cooking, I prefer to under-salt because you can always add more! If you've over-salted, adding a little bit of acid (like lemon juice) can help.
More Recipes You Might Like
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Eggnog Layer Cake with Salted Caramel
- 2 ½ cups cake flour, substitute all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup brown butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons bourbon, optional
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup eggnog
Brown Butter Frosting
- 1 ½ cups brown butter, room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon eggnog
- 2 teaspoons bourbon
- 2 tablespoons eggnog
- 2 teaspoons bourbon, optional
- ½ cup salted caramel
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt together in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the brown butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, bourbon and, vanilla together until combined.
- Stir in about half of the flour mixture. Then stir in the eggnog and the rest of the flour mixture and mix until fully combined. The batter will be thick.
- Lightly spray three 6 inch layer cake pans with pan spray. Pour ⅓ of the batter into each cake pan (they will only be about half full). Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Place a cooling rack on top of each cake pan and invert. The pan should slide cleanly away.
- Let the cakes cool completely to room temperature before trimming.
- Once the cakes are fully cooled. Using a sharp bread knife, trim the cakes until the layers are even. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer overnight to help the frosting spread on smoothly (minimum of 2 hours).
Brown Butter Frosting
- In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the room temperature brown butter and powdered sugar until smooth.
- Add in the eggnog and bourbon and beat the frosting on high for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
- In a small bowl, mix together the eggnog and bourbon and set aside.
Assemble the Cake
- Remove cake layers from the freezer. Place the bottom layer of cake on your cake stand and brush with about ⅓ of the milk soak. Then spread about ¼ of the frosting on top in an even layer.
- Then top with the next layer and repeat. Place the final cake layer upside down so that the top of your cake is as even as possible.
- Smooth the rest of the frosting on the top and sides of your cake as desired.
- Spoon the caramel sauce over the top and let it drip down the sides of the cake. If the caramel is too thick, microwave it for 5-10 seconds until the consistency of honey.
- Refrigerate your cake for 2-3 hours before slicing and serving.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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