4-Ingredient “Thanksgiving Dump Cake” Is the Easiest Dessert You'll Ever Make

Overhead view of a serving of dump cake on a white speckled plate, with a scoop of ice cream on top.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Julia Choi-Rodriguez Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Julia Choi-Rodriguez

Holiday are getting longer by the minute, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a store-bought dessert. This four-ingredient cranberry-apple dump cake is the easiest Thanksgiving dessert you’ll ever make.

Simply dump canned (whole berry) cranberry sauce and apple pie filling into a baking dish, sprinkle cake mix on top, dot it with , and bake. Everyone at your holiday table will want seconds of the cinnamon-spiced apples and tart cranberries under a buttery crunch of the cobbler-esque topping. Here’s how to make it.

What Ingredients Are in Cranberry-Apple Dump Cake?

  • Apple pie filling: Canned apple pie filling has come a long way and contains peeled and sliced apples, sweetener, spices, and a thickener. It’s the perfect jump-start for your holiday desserts.

  • Whole berry cranberry sauce: Dump cakes tend to be on the sweeter side, but mixing whole berry cranberry sauce with the apples gives the dessert welcome tartness and a ruby-red color.

  • Yellow or white cake mix: Spread the entire box of dry cake mix over the fruit filling in an even layer.

  • Unsalted butter: Cover the cake mix with thin slices of unsalted butter, so that when it melts the topping will have a sweet, buttery crunch.

How Do You Make Cranberry-Apple Dump Cake?

  1. Mix the fruit. Combine 1 can of apple pie filling and 2 cans whole berry cranberry sauce in a baking dish.

  2. Add cake mix. Yellow or white cake mix pairs nicely with the flavors of apple and cranberry.

  3. Top with unsalted butter. Cut unsalted butter into thin slices rather than melting it for the best coverage.

  4. Bake. Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden-brown with a crispy crust.

Overhead view of the dump cake in a white pan, with a big scoop taken out of the bottom right corner, and a serving spoon resting there.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Julia Choi-Rodriguez Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Julia Choi-Rodriguez

What Is the Biggest Mistake to Avoid When Making Dump Cake?

If this is your first time making a dump cake, it may appear that we’ve forgotten an important instruction — stirring. But stirring is exactly what you do not want to do for this style of dessert. Dump the ingredients into the baking dish in the order listed, sandwiching the dry cake mix between butter and fruit so that it bakes up between a cake and a cobbler.

How Do You Serve Cranberry-Apple Dump Cake?

Serve warm cranberry-apple dump cake with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream or a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

How Do You Store Cranberry-Apple Dump Cake?

Once the cake has cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to three days. The topping may soften upon storage, but will crisp up again when reheated in the oven.

Cranberry-Apple Dump Cake Recipe

For the easiest Thanksgiving dessert, just dump apple pie filling, cranberry sauce, cake mix, and butter into a dish and bake!

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes to 55 minutes

Serves6 to 8


For the cake:

  • 2 (14-ounce) cans

    whole berry cranberry sauce

  • 1 (about 21-ounce) can

    apple pie filling

  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box

    yellow or white cake mix

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks)

    cold unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish

  • Vanilla ice cream, optional for serving


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with unsalted butter.

  2. Add 2 (14-ounce) cans whole berry cranberry sauce and 1 (about 21-ounce) can apple pie filling to the baking dish and stir to combine. Layer in the baking dish in the following order on top of the fruit (do not stir together): Sprinkle evenly with 1 (15.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix. Cut 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter into thin slices and arrange over the cake mix in an even layer, covering the entire surface.

  3. Bake until golden brown, bubbling, and a crispy crust begins to form, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.