Broiled Nut Icing

5 from 1 vote

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Broiled nut icing is a super simple, caramel-like, nutty topping for cakes of all types and flavors!

This recipe is from my great grandmother and is one if the easiest and most decadent cake icings I’ve encountered. I absolutely love it on any kind of spice cake.

broiled nut icing in pot
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Broiled Nut Icing Recipe

Let’s talk about this ultra-easy, four-ingredient cake icing today! Have you ever heard of broiled nut icing? It looks (and tastes) a whole lot like caramel but it has nuts in it, and there’s this whole broiling element that makes it extra fun in prepping your baked goodies.

Basically to make it, you heat some milk and butter on the stove, add some brown sugar, melt it all together, and add some pecans or walnuts (or both for a real party!). Pour the mixture over the top of a cake, and then stick the whole thing in the oven under the broiler for a couple of minutes.

The result? A gooey, caramel-y, sweet, and nutty topping that is lovely on cakes of all kinds. Truly, the best. It’s a good recipe to whip out for rolls to make them into morning sticky buns, too! I actually got the recipe from my great-grandmother, who used it atop her famous old fashioned oatmeal cake, a rich and rustic dessert that’s full of sweet and warming flavors. They are both winning recipes, especially when you need a tasty dessert without a ton of time and effort. I hope you love making this yummy and fun icing for your next cake!

broiled nut icing on old fashioned oatmeal cake sitting on a white cake stand and red checked towel

What’s in broiled nut icing?

This icing recipe is super-duper simple. It just has four ingredients: butter and milk to make it creamy and rich, brown sugar for the deep golden color and warm sweetness, and nuts for a bit of crunch. Some people also use coconut flakes, which would be great! Just add the flakes when you add the nuts.

What does broiled nut icing taste like?

Broiled nut icing is absolutely heavenly. It tastes sort of like a caramel topping that seeps into the cake and makes the top layer extra moist from the broiling part of prepping it. It’s crunchy and nutty thanks to the pecans and/or walnuts, and warmly sweet but not over the top.

Do you need to broil broiled nut icing?

Broiling it over top a cake really takes it to the next level, allows it to thicken, and gets it to soak into the cake so that it’s infused into the top part of the dessert!

Can you use another sugar in broiled icing?

You could experiment with using brown coconut sugar for a similar effect, but I wouldn’t recommend using any white or granulated sugars.

broiled nut icing on old fashioned oatmeal cake with slice being removed on spatula

How to make broiled nut icing:

  1. Combine butter and milk in saucepan over medium heat until butter melts.
  2. Add brown sugar and stir until it dissolves.
  3. Remove from heat; stir in nuts.
  4. Pour sugar mixture over warm cake.
  5. Broil cake for 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Cool before serving.
broiled nut icing recipe how to image
top view - oatmeal cake with sticky nut icing on top of a white cake stand
5 from 1 vote

Broiled Nut Icing

Broiled nut icing is a super simple, caramel-like, nutty topping for cakes of all types and flavors!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 8 (Make icing for one 9-inch round cake)


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
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  • In a medium saucepan, combine butter and milk. Stir over medium heat until the butter melts.
  • Add the brown sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  • Remove from heat and stir in nuts.
  • Pour sugar mixture over warm cake.
  • Broil covered cake about 5 inches away from the heating element for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and golden.
  • Cool before serving.
  • This makes the perfect amount for a 9-inch round cake or a 9×9 square. If using a 9×13 cake, double the recipe. If you took the cake out of the pan before you put the topping on, be sure to place the cake on a baking sheet before topping and broiling.
  • I use this recipe on my favorite Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cake; both recipes are from my great grandmother.


Serving: 1 of 8 servings, Calories: 169kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 16mg, Sodium: 51mg, Potassium: 64mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 14g, Vitamin A: 189IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 24mg, Iron: 0.3mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

This recipe was originally published in 2010, and has been updated and rephotographed in January 2020.

More Icing Recipes You’ll Love

This super easy broiled nut icing is a caramelized, rich, and nutty topping for all sorts of cakes and baked goodies, and you will love how simple it is for such a decadent end result!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Leigh-Ann says:

    Does this frosting harden when it’s cooled? I’d like to use it as a filling between layers but I’m looking for something that would stay “gooey.”

    1. Melissa says:

      In the middle, I would still do an icing dam if I were you, it’s sticky but not hard.

  2. deb c says:

    I’ve never heard of broiling frosting/icing…..I have to try it! I love old family recipes!!!!!!

    1. Melissa says:

      It’s been fun to go back through and update them, they’re all the recipes I published 10 years ago because they were my favorites.