Celebrate derby day with an impressive Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake. A slight departure from the original Bourbon Butter Cake, this version is layered with cream cheese frosting and salted caramel sauce.

Bourbon Butter Layer Cake on a cake stand with caramel sauce in a jar.

It’s that time in my life where I think that maybe…we can eat cake anytime we want. Cake for breakfast, lunch or dinner, it’s totally acceptable to me now. Cakes drenched in bourbon….also, totally acceptable right now. Bourbon lovers, this is my gift to you. Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake is like a dream dessert blanketed with cream cheese frosting and drizzled with caramel sauce. Even non-bourbon lovers swoon over this layer cake.


Traditional Kentucky Butter Cake is made in a bundt pan. But that just seems so plain, this cake desserts layers….layers of buttery cake, caramel sauce,  the pecans, the caramel sauce.

It’s very much like a pound cake except it doesn’t have the 1:1:1 ration of a traditional pound cake. And a Kentucky Butter Cake recipe calls for a sugary syrup that’s poured over the cake which makes it incredibly moist and tender. I used that same technique for my Bourbon Butter Cake but we use bourbon in that cake soak.

Don’t be intimated with all the swirls and crushed nuts…they’re hiding things. Like some of the crumb that still peaked through my frosting…even though I put a crumb layer on the cake first. And the fact that I still haven’t perfected the perfectly smooth top so I added a swirl of caramel sauce.

overhead view of a Kentucky butter cake with cream cheese frosting and salted caramel with pecan on top.


Make the layer cake by whisking together the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Beat the sugar and butter until fluffy.

Add in the eggs, beating in one at a time.

Whisk the bourbon and cream.

Add the dry ingredients and bourbon mixture to the mixer beating to combine.

Divide the cake batter between two cake pans and bake.

Make the cake soak and brush on the cooled cakes.

Cake soak being brushed on a layer cake with a pastry brush.

Make the frosting and the caramel sauce.

Frost the cake and drizzle with the caramel sauce.

Garnish with pecans.

Chill and serve.

Slice of layer cake being served


You can make the entire cake up to 48 hours in advance and store in the refrigerator up to 30 minutes prior to serving.

Or you can make the cake layers, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months.

Thaw the cake layers at room temperature before assembling the cake according to the instructions.

Slice of Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake on a white plate.

I also like to make my cream cheese frosting (we use this recipe for just about everything) and the caramel sauce up to a week in advance. It’s fairly simple to pull together but when you plan ahead, this cake is a cinch to whip up.

The best news about this Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Salted Caramel Sauce is that it tastes ridiculous. Totally bakery quality but you can take pride knowing you made this two layer cake all on your own.

I credit the rich flavor to the butter used. Make sure you find the best butter you can, there are several varieties available in most grocery stores these days. A nice grass fed butter will lend the richest flavor to your cake batter.

Slice of butter cake on a white plate with a bite taken out of it.


If you love baking this Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake, you will also enjoy making this Funfetti Birthday Cake inspired by MilkBar! But it’s not as hard as it looks. Or try our favorite Carrot Cake….you can’t beat a classic and this uses the same Cream Cheese Frosting.

We also love this Apple Pie Layer Cake for something a little different during the fall and winter months. Layers of cheesecake filling, apple pie and Vanilla cake….I mean, it’s pretty amazing.


Get the Recipe: Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Salted Caramel Sauce

A southern classic, this Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake is a labor of love. It takes some time but you will be rewarded with the most amazingly moist cake ever.
4.80 from 10 votes


For the cake:

  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup Plugra unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

For the Cake Soak:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 cup Plugra unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4-6 cups powdered sugar

For the Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons Plugra unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans


For the Butter Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place an oven rack in the center position.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating completely before adding the next one. In a small bowl, whisk together the bourbon and heavy cream. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in thirds alternating between the flour mixture and bourbon/cream mixture until everything has been added.
  • Pour the batter into two 9 inch cake pans coated with butter and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the Cake Soak:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and bourbon for the cake soak. Brush the bottom of a cake with 1/2 the soak and then repeat with the remaining layer. (Cake can be made in advance and wrapped in plastic wrap after this point, keep at room temperature for up to 24 hours.)

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until completely incorporated. Once the frosting has reached a stable consistency, turn the mixer to med-high and beat for 2 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy and light in color. Transfer to an airtight container and store for up to 24 hours at room temperature if not using immediately.

For the Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • In a medium saucepan, mix together the sugar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over med-high heat. Continue boiling until amber in color, approximately 2-3 minutes. Carefully stir in the butter and remove from the heat. VERY carefully add the heavy cream and salt. (It will bubble up violently.) Allow the caramel to cool to room temperature before using.

To assemble the cake:

  • Place one layer on a cake plate or serving platter. Spread two tablespoons of caramel sauce over the bottom layer and then spread 1/2 cup of the frosting over the caramel. Top the frosting layer with the remaining cake layer and spread 1/2 cup of frosting over the top layer. Add a thin layer of frosting to the sides and place in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes to allow the frosting to set. Remove from the refrigerator and, using all but 1 cup of frosting, frost the entire cake with an off-set spatula creating a smooth surface all the way around.
  • Carefully press the pecans around the bottom half of the cake.
  • Pour 1/2 cup caramel sauce into a zip top bag and snip off one corner. Drizzle the sauce on top of the cake being careful to stay one inch from the side of the cake.
  • Add the remaining frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a 1M cake tip (open star) and pipe the frosting around the top edge of the cake. Allow the cake to chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
  • Bring the cake to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.


The cake layers can be made up to 2 days in advance and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Store at room temperature.
To freeze cake layers, wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil. Freeze for up to 2 months.
Serving: 0g, Calories: 804kcal, Carbohydrates: 87g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 48g, Saturated Fat: 27g, Cholesterol: 171mg, Sodium: 334mg, Potassium: 149mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 68g, Vitamin A: 1495IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 72mg, Iron: 1mg