Old-fashioned Oatmeal Cake is decadently rich, dense, and comforting nostalgia in one bite with a toasty coconut and buttery pecan topping. Straight from Grandma’s recipe box and always a favorite.

Oats are classic and the foundation of many timeless recipes, from breakfast to desserts. We have a variety of recipes with oats to appeal to every taste, like an Oatmeal Brownie Strawberry Shortbread dessert, Snickerdoodle Homemade Granola breakfast, Ranger Cookies for snacks, or Peanut Butter No Bake Energy Bites

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slice of cake with a fork on the plate

Why Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake With Broiled Topping Is Amazing

Oatmeal cake for breakfast, snacks, and dessert? Absolutely! Grandma’s old-fashioned oatmeal cake recipe is crowd-pleasing and oh-so-satisfying, topped with the divine flavor of toasted coconut and pecan icing. Even better, an oatmeal cake is a perfect make-ahead dessert.

  • Moist, flavorful oatmeal cake contrasts beautifully with the sweet, nutty crunch of the coconut pecan topping. 
  • A coffee break with grandma’s oatmeal cake will carry you through the afternoon.
  • Whole grain oats contain fiber and complex carbs to stave off hunger and provide sustained energy.
  • Aging an extra day helps old-fashioned oatmeal cake flavors to blossom.
  • Excellent for parties, potlucks, and large gatherings. 
  • Broiled coconut topping is 10x easier than traditional coconut pecan frosting and uniquely delicious! 
  • So good it’s hard to wait for your next serving. (I usually don’t!)
Oatmeal Cake ingredients

Oatmeal Cake With Broiled Icing Ingredients

For specific amounts, please refer to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Grandma’s Old Fashioned Cake:

  • Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats – are preferred over quick-cooking oats, although they will work in an absolute bind. 
  • Boiling Water – is poured over oats, so they soak, soften, and swell. 
  • Unsalted Butter – softened, 
  • Brown Sugar – firmly packed to remove air pockets due to the moist molasses content.
  • Granulated Sugar 
  • Large Eggs -room temperature 
  • All-Purpose Flour – it is especially important to follow the fluff, spoon, and level method to measure the flour for an oatmeal cake.
  • Baking Soda – test your baking soda for freshness* if you’ve had it for a while.
  • Ground Cinnamon – a warm aromatic, woody spice with a hint of citrus. 
  • Salt

*Baker’s Note: Test your baking soda by placing a few tablespoons of vinegar in a small dish and stirring in a teaspoon of baking soda. The mixture should fizz immediately if the baking soda is still active; if there’s little to no reaction, it’s time to replace it.

Broiled Coconut Pecan Topping:

  • Unsalted Butter – melted just to the point of liquidity. Coconut oil is another option if desired.
  • Packed Brown Sugar
  • Half And Half – or milk can be used.
  • Vanilla
  • Chopped Pecans* –  you can use walnuts or almonds if you prefer. If you store your nuts in the freezer, let them warm to room temperature.
  • Shredded Sweetened Coconut

*Another Baker’s Note:  I learned this the hard way; if you freeze your nuts and the container isn’t airtight, they can really pick up stronger food odors. Secondly, if you don’t store them in the freezer, they can go rancid at any given time. (Each bag is different for some reason). Always take a big sniff, then a little nibble, to make sure the nuts haven’t gone off.

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How To Make Oatmeal Cake & Broiled Topping Just Like Grandma’s

Old-fashioned oatmeal cake just gets better with age. I love that you can make it a day in advance when you’re crunched for time. So grab a couple of mixing bowls, an electric mixer, a whisk, cooking spray, and a 9”x13” metal baking pan. Let’s get to it!

When you are baking, you’ll want to use the full recipe at the bottom of the page.

Oatmeal Cake Batter:

  1. Soak oats and boiling water 
  2. Cream butter and sugars, then add the eggs and mix until combined.
  3. Whisk together the dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture. 
  4. Beat in the soaked oats until well blended.
  5. Pour the oatmeal cake batter into a greased cake pan and bake in preheated oven. Remove when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Broiled Topping:

  1. Stir all coconut pecan broiled topping ingredients until combined. 
  2. Spread the pecan topping mixture on the hot oatmeal cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.
  3. Immediately place the oatmeal cake with coconut pecan frosting on the top rack under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Don’t stray (watch very closely) until the pecan topping browns and the edges of the coconut start to toast.
  5. Allow the oatmeal cake with broiled topping to cool for about an hour before serving.
cut cake in the pan

Tips For Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cake

  • This oatmeal cake goes under the broiler, unless you know for sure your glass baking pan is broiler safe, I strongly recommend you stick with a metal baking pan. If you aren’t sure and end up going for it anyway, keep your oven rack at least 6” from the broiler at a minimum.
  • While you can usually sub in (thinner) quick oats in old-fashioned oatmeal recipes, you can tell the difference in texture/chewiness and structure in an oatmeal cake. Still, it won’t mess with the fantastic flavor.
  • Avoid throwing oats into a saucepan of boiling water or letting them sit on the hot stove in the pan. The boiling water should be poured over the rolled oats and allowed to sit. The goal is to soak the oats, not necessarily “cook” them.
  • Cinnamon, like other spices, can lose potency over time. If you aren’t assailed with a pungent and spicy aroma when you open the bottle or sniff, it may be time to replace your cinnamon.

Featured Product 9×13 Non-Stick Cake Pan

This baking pan can be used to bake brownies, bar cookies, casseroles, and more. Add the plastic cover, then bring them to a picnic, party, or family gathering!

serving of cake on a dessert plate

How To Store This Oatmeal Cake

Store old-fashioned oatmeal cake with broiled topping on the counter, thoroughly cooled, and tightly covered in foil for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. For the best flavor, allow it to warm to room temperature before serving.

Make-Ahead

When making the oatmeal cake recipe one or two days in advance for a party or other event, cool completely, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 1-2 hours before serving.

Freeze

An oatmeal cake with coconut pecan icing freezes beautifully for up to 3 months wrapped and stored in an airtight container. It’s best to thaw in the fridge overnight, then warm to room temp before anyone starts snitching pieces.

cut Oatmeal Cake in a white baking dish

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cake  FAQs

What is the difference between rolled oats and quick oats?

Rolled oats (also called old-fashioned oats) and quick oats differ in thickness and the length of time they need to cook. Except for steel-cut oats, oats are whole groats that are steamed and flattened by rollers to different levels of thickness and, in some cases, go through the process again, like instant oats.

What can I use instead of pecans in a broiled coconut pecan topping?

Walnuts, almonds, and even macadamia nuts are delicious, combined with the buttery, toasty coconut flavors. Hazelnuts or cashews would also be fabulous additions to a broiled coconut icing.

oatmeal cake on a plate with a fork

Serving Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake

This oatmeal cake with broiled coconut pecan topping has always been one of my mom’s favorites (direct from her recipe box to you). Getting this oatmeal cake recipe ready to post made me think I’ll have to surprise her this year for her birthday! Hmm…she also loves Gooey Upside-Down German Chocolate Cake, so maybe it’s a two-cake  🎂 🎂 birthday this year?

I love a nostalgic, old-fashioned recipe, but I love it even more when you can make it ahead and the flavors bloom and intensify! Oatmeal cake, just like grandma’s, is

  • Perfect for potlucks and parties 
  • Fantastic for friends and family
  • Craveable for coffee breaks and chillin’
  • Blissful for breakfast
  • Delightful for dessert
  • Awesome anytime
  • Enjoy oatmeal cake with a tall glass of milk, a cup of coffee, or your favorite tea.
  • An oatmeal cake doesn’t need anything to make it better! But you can always fancy it up with a rosette of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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close up of Old-fashioned Oatmeal Cake in a pan
slice of cake with a fork on the plate

Oatmeal Cake With Broiled Icing

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 32 minutes
Total Time: 47 minutes

Old-fashioned Oatmeal Cake is decadently rich, dense, and comforting nostalgia in one bite with a toasty coconut and buttery broiled pecan topping. Straight from Grandma’s recipe box and always a favorite.

Ingredients

For Oatmeal Cake

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (quick-cooking oats will work too)
  • 1 1/3 cup boiling water
  • ½ Cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For Topping

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup half and half or milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Gease a 9x13 pan and set aside.
  2. Using a small bowl, combine oats and boiling water. Let sit for 20 minutes.
  3. While the oats are soaking. In a large bowl add butter, sugar, and brown sugar and mix using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and continue mixing until combined.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Beat in the soaked oats until well blended.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For Broiled Topping:

  1. While the cake is baking, use a medium bowl to combine all of the topping ingredients. Stir until combined. Spread the topping on the hot cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.
  2. Switch the oven to broil and place the cake on the top rack under the broiler for 1-2 minutes (watch very closely) until brown and the edges of the coconut start to toast.
  3. Allow to cool for about an hour before serving.

Notes

Store this cake on the counter fully cooled and tightly covered in foil for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. You may want to bring it to room temperature for serving.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 471Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 249mgCarbohydrates: 64gFiber: 2gSugar: 47gProtein: 5g

Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used and are just estimates. We encourage, especially if these numbers are important to you, to calculate these on your own for most accurate results.

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Old-fashioned Oatmeal Cake photo collage