The History of Apricot Nectar Cake

This is another cake that I did not grow up with nor did either of my parents. Actually, I only came to know about Apricot Nectar Cake in an old 1960s article that mentions a popular cake recipe from a few years back made with nectar. Well that sent my spidey senses a tingling and off down the rabbit hole I gladly went!

What ingredients are in Apricot Nectar Cake?
Most of the time the cake is called Apricot Nectar Cake. Though I have found the recipe under other names such as Glorified Cake Mix, Apricot Lemon Jell-O Cake, and even Lemon Supreme Cake. That last one seemed to be a catchall for a lot of cakes that used the Lemon Supreme box cake mix. There are three versions that I found these recipes can fall into:

  1. A box cake mix, usually the Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme flavor, where the apricot nectar replaces the water in the mix. Usually, the recipe adds either (though sometimes a combination) lemon extract, lemon zest, or a box of lemon gelatin to the mix. This is baked in a tube or Bundt pan and is topped with a lemon glaze while the cake is still warm. A few used the apricot nectar to make a glaze. Sometimes the recipe will poke holes into the cake before pouring the glaze. This is the most popular version.
  2. A variation of the box cake recipe above. Sometimes the recipe will separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. The cake batter is mixed with egg yolks. Then the egg whites are beaten to stiff peaks and folded into the batter. It is baked in tube pan and topped with a lemon glaze as well. 
  3. A three-layer cake made from scratch that uses apricot nectar in place of the liquid in the cake. This usually has an apricot filling and is frosted. 

So what does the apricot nectar add to the mix? A 1963 Dothan, Alabama newspaper explained it perfectly: “The cake is baked in a tube pan and uses a prepared yellow cake mix. A glaze of confectioners sugar and lemon juice is poured on the cake while it is still hot and adds to the tart-sweet flavor that the apricot nectar gives it”.

Who and where was Apricot Nectar Cake created?
I honestly do not know. It is pretty connected to box cake mixes and especially the Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme. Cake mixes were first invented in the 1930s but really did not get popular until some time in the 1950s. A 1999 newspaper article agrees with that sentiment when they wrote: “Recipes for apricot nectar cake have probably been around just about as long as boxed cake mix.”

Rebecca Sharpless in her book Grain and Fire: A History of Baking in the American South (2022) says the apricot cake came from Lafayette, Louisiana. Now I could not find anything myself pointing for sure to Lafayette but I am limited in my reach with the resources I have. What I did find was a 1966 ad campaign from Pillsbury that featured the recipe for the cake that targeted Southern towns in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Texas. Therefore it would not surprise me that this cake has its origins in the south.

When was Apricot Nectar Cake popular?
The height of popularity for the cake is the 1960s. This is not surprising to me as during this same time period the “Famous” Lemon Jell-O Cake was making its rounds as well. Both cakes are fairly similar to each other. Just like the Lemon Jell-O Cake, the Apricot Nectar Cake was served at baby and bridal showers as well as ladies’ auxiliary, garden clubs, and junior league meetings alongside soft drinks and punches. In 1963, a newspaper wrote that the cake was “sweeping” the wiregrass area (the area includes parts of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia). In the same article, it mentions that a grocery in a town near Dothan, Alabama had completely sold out of apricot nectar.


The cake was popular in the 1960s because it was considered easy  with an interesting twist of using the nectar. In 1961, a newspaper article said that the cake was “simple, easy-to-make” which is “always popular” with homemakers. One column in 1963 called the recipe very good while another from the same year said that the recipe was “unusual and easy”. An article that highlighted a reader in 1966 shared the recipe calling it a family favorite. Another 1966 newspaper called Apricot Nectar Cake “so good, and so easy to make”. The ease of the recipe surprised another 1966 columnist who urged you to try the recipe and “see if you don’t think it has a wonderful flavor and texture”.

Since then it has been a cake that is remembered fondly by those who have tasted it. In a 1999 article titled “Apricot Nectar Cake is Old Family Treat”, someone wrote in for the recipe and many answered the call. One of the people who sent a recipe remembers that her great-grandmother received the recipe after her great-grandfather died and it “quickly became an old standby”. Another reader remembers her mother making the cake and it was the first cake that she made herself. This was not the only time an inquiry was sent to a newspaper to get this recipe. In 1988, a newspaper column in Texas got over 50 responses from one such request. In a 2003 Linda Cicero column, one asked about the Apricot Nectar Cake that she lost and many wrote in not only with a recipe but with many fond memories. This surprised Cicero who wrote that the cake “apparently has made its way into many family recipe collections.”


Why should I make Apricot Nectar Cake?
Well for all the same reasons as they did in the 1960s. It is a quick, easy, moist, and delicious cake. It is a perfect cake to travel for potlucks or other social events. It also freezes quite well. The one thing I would mention is that if you are looking for “in-your-face” apricot flavor, this is not the cake for you. What you do get is a slight tangy note and I do think that heavily depends on how strong the apricot flavor is in the nectar that is used.

How do you make Apricot Nectar Cake?
Before we get to the recipe, we need to talk about the apricot nectar. First, in case you didn’t know, nectar is usually made by adding sugar and water to fruit pulp. It can not be called juice as only beverages made with 100% fruit juices can be called that. It is usually a little thicker than juice as well. Apricot nectar can be kind of hard to find. I had a hard time and I live in a fairly big city with three grocery stores within walking distance and like five more a super quick car ride away. If you can’t find apricot nectar, peach or mango can be substituted and should work out fine. Also, juice versions of those same three fruits will be good substitutes as well. Please do not order the overpriced apricot nectar from Amazon. I just checked and they are charging $24 dollars for 8 cans of Jumex apricot nectar which is usually under a dollar per can if one is able to find it in a store.

If you are interested in similar cakes, then check out:
“Famous” Lemon Jell-O Cake

Frances Dee’s Orange Cake

Harvey Wallbanger Cake

Peg Bracken’s The Cake


Apricot Nectar Cake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A popular cake of the 1960s that uses a box cake mix and apricot nectar!


  • 1 box yellow or lemon cake mix
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup apricot nectar
  • 4 eggs
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons lemon extract  (see note)

For glaze

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup apricot nectar or lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degree and well grease a Bundt or tube pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cake mix, vegetable oil, apricot nectar, eggs and lemon extract if using.
  3. Pour into the Bundt cake pan and bake for 1 hour.
  4. Let cool and remove from the pan.
  5. For glaze: mix together the sifted confectioners sugar and the apricot or lemon juice until smooth. Pour over the warm Bundt cake.
  6. Serve and Enjoy!

Notes: I personally don’t think the recipe really needs the lemon extract especially if using a lemon cake mix. I left it in for prosperity’s sake for anyone who would like to try it the way it was made in the 1960s.


Adams, Jocelyn Delk. Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories. United States: Agate Publishing, 2015.

Anderson, Carol. “Apricot Nectar Cake is Old Family Treat.” The Free Lance-Star. October 27, 1999.

Buckert, Emily. “Favorite’s Among Recipes”. The Victoria Advocate. April 23, 1961.

Bundy, Beverly. “Apricot Nectar Cake Recipes Come Pouring Into the Office”. Fort Worth Star-Telegram. July 6, 1988.

Byrn, Anne. The Cake Mix Doctor. United States: Rodale, 2003.

Cicero, Linda. “Apricot Cake Just Like Grandma’s”. Star-News. May 14, 2003.

Dynes, Karen. “Apricot Nectar Recipes Take Cake”. Abilene Reporter-News. October 15, 1980.

“Easy, Thrifty, Elegant Food Gifts for the Holiday”. The Mount Airy News. November 14, 1984.

Erdman, A. Evelyn. “What’s Cooking?: Start With a Cake Mix”. Herald Magazine. April 7, 1966.

“Glorified Cake Mix Features Apricots”. Ellensburg Daily Record. April 2, 1968.

 Grady, Katie Sue. “Spotlighting the Home”. Richmond County Journal. November 4, 1963.

“Lavender View Club Holds August Meeting”. Rome News-Tribune. August 28, 1963.

McLenman, Mary Nell. “Apricot Nectar Cake is Popular”. The Dothan Eagle. March 7, 1963 (Clipped Photo)

Miller, Lorena. “Cook of the Week: Shares Cake, Pie Recipes”. March 17, 1966.

“Miss Hairston is Honored with Pre-nuptial Party Series”. Rome News-Tribune. December 15, 1963.

Monette, Marilyn. “Bundt Cakes Best for Busy Bakers”. November 7, 2007.

“Montgomery is Sweet on Apricot Glazed Apricot Cake”. The Montgomery Advertiser. May 19, 1966.

Moore, Helen. “Apricot Nectar Cake Recipes Are Hot From the Mail Bag”. The Charlotte Observer. June 1, 1980.

“Mrs. B.E. Kersh Hostess to Group”. The Victoria Advocate. May 30, 1966.

Robinson, Pat. “Add Fruit Juice to Lemon Cake”. The Evening Independent. October 19, 1966.

Sharpless, Rebecca. Grain and Fire: A History of Baking in the American South. United States: University of North Carolina Press, 2022.

Simkins, Virginia. “Homemaking in Robeson”. The Robesonian. August 21, 1962.

Stephens, Angela. “For Apricot Nectar Cake, the ‘Doctor” is in”. Arizona Republic. December 20, 2000..

“Twentieth Century Club Meets”. Holmes County Herald. March 12, 1964.

Walton, Laurene. “Come ‘n Get It”. Prescott Evening Courier. October 8, 1966.


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