20 real old-fashioned Southern fruitcake recipes: Traditional Plantation-style desserts from the old South

Traditional vintage Southern fruitcake recipes

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“Before the war” Southern fruitcake recipe (1921)

From The New York Tribune (New York, NY) November 6, 1921

This Colonial cake recipe makes an irresistible Christmas dish

This is the real old-fashioned fruitcake prepared on all the Southern plantations for the holiday season “befo’ de wah” [“Before the war”]. The recipe and its preparation come down from Colonial days.

1. Colonial Southern fruitcake recipe

Cream with the hand two cupfuls of butter and beat in two cupfuls of sugar. Add ten eggs, unbeaten, one at a time, and beat the mixture between each addition. Then add half a cupful each of grape juice and dark molasses (brandy was formerly used [before prohibition]), two teaspoonfuls of mace, one teaspoonful of nutmeg, three-quarters of a teaspoonful of salt, one teaspoonful of ginger and one and a half teaspoonfuls of cloves.

Sift four cupfuls of pastry flour with one and three-quarters teaspoonful of baking powder and mix with two pounds of seeded raisins, two pounds each of currants and candied orange peel, half a pound of citron, and a quarter of a pound each of candied cherries and pineapple. (The cherries should be quartered, the citron shredded, and the cherries and pineapple finely-chopped.)

Combine the flour and fruit with the other ingredients and turn into two large round pans, lined with two thicknesses of greased paper. Cover the tops with buttered paper and steam for three hours, then bake for two hours longer in a very slow oven.

Let cool, take from the pans, and put away in a stone jar to ripen for a month before cutting. In Colonial days, it was well-dampened with brandy after it had stood for two weeks.

This amount of ingredients will make about ten pounds of cake.

MORE: Old-fashioned plum pudding recipe (1912)

Southern fruitcake recipe ingredients list

2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
10 eggs
1/2 cup grape juice
1/2 cup dark molasses
2 teaspoons mace
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons cloves
4 cups pastry flour
1-3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 pounds raisins
2 pounds currants
2 pounds candied orange peel
1/2 pound citron
1/4 pound candied cherries
1/4 pound candied pineapple

* 1 cup brandy can be used in place of the grape juice and molasses (plus additional brandy later added to finished loaf)

Southern fruitcake recipe (1921)

2. Plantation plum pudding (1935)

From The Southern Cook Book of Fine Old Recipes, by Lustig, Sondheim & Rensel (1935)

1 cup suet, chopped fine
4 eggs
1 cup toasted bread crumbs
1 cup chopped citron
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped blanched almonds
2 cups finely-chopped apples
2 cups seeded raisins
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 lemon, juice and grated rind
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves

Beat whole eggs and slowly add the other ingredients, being very careful that they are well mixed. Place in a covered mold 3/4 full and steam in a large steamer for about 3 hours. To steam, the mold is placed on a trivet in a kettle containing boiling water which comes halfway up around the mold. Serve with a brandied hard sauce.

Brandied hard sauce

1/2 cup butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or brandy

Cream the butter and sugar together and work in the flavoring. Serve cold with hot puddings or apple dumplings.

9 Minute Can't Fail Holiday Fruitcake (1969)

18 more traditional vintage Southern fruitcake recipes (from 1912)

The following collection of Southern fruitcake recipes below comes from “Favorite Southern Recipes” by Joseph Dommers Vehling (Published in 1912)

3. Mrs Barwick’s Southern fruitcake recipe from Mississippi

Two pounds of raisins, two pounds of figs, one pound of shelled nuts, a half pound of citron, one cupful of jam, one cupful of molasses, one pint of sugar, one cupful of butter, ten eggs, one teaspoonful of soda in molasses, one teaspoonful each of cinnamon, spice and nutmeg. Cream sugar and butter and add the beaten eggs.

Flour the fruit and add last. It will be stiff enough with the fruit well floured. Bake three and a half hours. — Recipe from Mrs. R. E. Barwick, Pace, Mississippi

4. Mrs Hawkins’ Southern fruitcake recipe from Georgia

Twelve eggs, one pound of sugar, one pound of butter, one pound of flour, two pounds of seeded raisins, one and a half pounds of currants, one pound of citron. Cut in small pieces two tablespoonsful of ground cinnamon, one teaspoonful of cloves, a half teaspoonful of mace, two nutmegs, one tumblerful of brandy or wine, one teaspoonful of baking powder. Bake slowly. — Recipe from Mrs. J. W. Hawkins, Crawford, Georgia

5. Mrs Howell’s Southern fruitcake recipe from Mississippi

One pound of raisins, a half pound of citron, one pound of currants, one teaspoonful of cloves, mace and cinnamon, wineglassful of brandy, two cupsful of brown sugar, a half cupful of molasses, a half cupful of buttermilk, two cupsful of butter, one teaspoonful of soda, four cupsful of flour, six eggs. Bake this about one month before you expect to use it. — Recipe from Mrs. W. P. Howell, Mendenhall, Mississippi

6. Mrs Mackenzie’s Southern fruitcake recipe from Louisiana

One pound each of butter, brown sugar, and flour, one tablespoonful each of cinnamon, cloves and allspice, one teaspoonful each of vanilla and lemon, two coffee cupsful each of seeded raisins, currants, chopped figs and thinly-sliced citron, one coffee cupful each of molasses, chopped pecans and blanched almonds (chopped), one gill of cider, or black coffee, ten eggs, one-half teaspoonful of soda ; beat whites and yolks of eggs separately, cream butter and sugar ; add yolks and flour.

When the batter is smooth, add whites of eggs, then spices, then molasses, then cider or black coffee and flavoring, then one-half teaspoonful of soda, sifted with two tablespoonsful of flour. Beat thoroughly. Take the fruits and mix in a platter, sift flour over them and stir until the fruit is thoroughly coated, stir quickly into the batter, pour in a well-greased pan, bake one and a half hours in a moderate oven.

After cake is cooled, put away in a tight box, laying a half dozen sound apples around it; it will keep for a year and improve in flavor. — Recipe from Mrs. E. H. Mackenzie, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Southern fruitcake recipe (1921)

7. Mrs Swearingen’s Southern fruitcake recipe from Georgia

One pound of flour, one pound of sugar (brown preferred), one pound of butter, one dozen eggs, two teaspoonsful of baking powder, two pounds of raisins after they are seeded and clipped, one and three-fourths pounds of currants, two tablespoonsful of cinnamon, one level tablespoonful of mace, four nutmegs, one teaspoonful of cloves, two wineglassfuls of wine, one wineglassful of brandy, two pounds of citron, one small teacupful of preserve syrup.

After you clip the raisins and currants, roll in flour before adding to the batter. Bake very slowly. This quantity will make two good-sized cakes. — Recipe from Mrs. W. E. Swearingen, Vienna, Georgia

8. Mrs Tipton’s Southern fruitcake recipe from Alabama

Four eggs (beat yolks and whites separately), one cupful of butter, two cupsful of sugar, one cupful of sweet milk, one tablespoonful of bak- ing powder, enough flour to make a stiff batter. Cook in layers.

Filling: Take a quart of fruit, most any kind, apples or peaches preferred, two cupsful of sugar, a little water; let cook until the same can be easily mashed, then add one cupful of sweet milk, one cupful of butter, whites of two eggs beaten well; cook till thickened. — Recipe from Mrs. L. G. Tipton, Andalusia, Alabama

9. Miss Earnest’s Southern fruitcake recipe from Alabama

To seven well-beaten eggs add one cupful of sugar, one cupful of molasses (sorghum), and continue to beat until the mixture is light and smooth. Add a half pound each of seven different dried fruits or preserves, such as raisins, prunes, currants or figs, and preserved apples, pears, quinces, figs or citron. Do not use the syrup of the preserves.

Add a half pound of almonds and one-half pound of walnut meats (black walnuts preferred). For flavor, use a half pound of candied peel (lemon or orange), two teaspoonsful of mace and two teaspoonsful of cinnamon.

Fruits and nuts must be chopped. Sift two teaspoonsful of baking powder with about a quart of flour, and stir again until all is smooth. Last of all, add one pound of soft butter. This butter is best beaten until soft, but may be melted over a steaming kettle. Grease a large pie pan and lay a white paper in the bottom. Have the pan warm and put all your cake into it It is much better cooked all together and will not rise very much.

Cook slowly and test to see if done by pushing a clean straw into the middle If no dough adheres to the straw, the cake is done, but should be allowed to cool before removing from the pan. — Recipe from Mattie Earnest, Winfield, Alabama

10. Mrs Svendsen’s Southern fruitcake recipe from Georgia

One pound each of flour, sugar, butter, raisins, currants, citron, figs, dates and English walnuts, ten eggs, one cupful of whiskey or brandy, a half gill of syrup, one level teaspoonful of cooking soda, two tablespoonsful of mixed spices.

Cream the sugar and butter, add the eggs, one at a time, beating each five minutes in the mixture of butter and sugar. Then add part of the flour, mix the soda in the syrup, stir until it froths, then add to mixture; stir well.

Cut the fruit and pour the whiskey over it, stir in the spices and let stand at least four hours (all night is better); take the remaining flour and roll the fruit in it, then add fruit; beat twenty minutes longer.

For a cake three and a half or four inches deep, it will take four and a half or five hours to bake in a slow oven. Use brown sugar. — Recipe from Mrs. Carl O. Svendsen, St Simon Island Light House, Brunswick, Georgia

11. Mrs Nivens’ fruitcake recipe from Texas

Five eggs well beaten, one and a half cupsful of sugar and one cupful of butter creamed together, a half cupful of sweet milk, one teaspoonful of baking powder, a half teaspoonful of spice or cinnamon, two cupsful of flour mixed well, one box of currants, one box of raisins (seedless), one-fourth pound of citron, one quart of mixed nuts.

Rinse raisins and currants, chop nuts and citron fine, and cover with flour; rub flour on well, so they will not settle at bottom of cake. Bake in moderate oven one and a half hours. — Recipe from Mrs. E. H. Nivens, Rockdale, Texas

A vintage Plantation Fruit Cake Christmas card (c1930s)

… For you… An old plantation fruit cake… In keeping with this festive season, please accept this sincere token of appreciation and friendship…

Old Plantation fruit cake card from 1930s

12. Miss Nelson’s Southern fruitcake recipe from Florida

One pound of brown sugar, one cupful of buttermilk, five eggs, one pound of currants, a half pound of figs, one large cupful of hickory nut meats chopped fine, two teaspoonsful of soda or saleratus, two teaspoonsful of cinnamon, one teaspoonful of allspice, one large cupful of butter, seven cupsful of sifted flour, two pounds of raisins, a half pound of dates, one teaspoonful of cloves, and one nutmeg.

Prepare fruit and dry with flour, then mix butter, sugar, milk and flour. Bake two and a half hours. — Recipe from Virginia Nelson, Harbor View, Florida

13. Mrs Addison’s traditional Southern fruitcake recipe from Louisiana

Twelve eggs, one pound of flour, which must be browned, one pound of sugar, one pound of butter ; cream the butter and sugar ; beat the eggs well and stir by degrees into the butter and sugar, alternately with the flour ; into this put six nutmegs, two pounds of raisins, two pounds of currants, two pounds of citron, one pound of almonds, a half pound of figs, a half pound of dates, one teacupful of molasses. — Recipe from Mrs. G. E. Addison, Spider, Louisiana

Have yourself a little tomato soup fruitcake for a very retro Christmas (1960s)

14. Mrs Cummins’ Southern fruitcake recipe from Alabama

Two pounds of raisins, one pound of currants, one-fourth pound of citron, one cupful of butter, one and a half cupsful of sugar, one cupful of milk, four cupsful of flour, three eggs (well beaten), a half cupful of syrup, one teaspoonful of nutmeg, one teaspoonful of cinnamon, one teaspoonful of cloves, one teaspoonful of spice, two teaspoonsful of baking powder, one-fourth cupful of wine or brandy.

Cream butter and sugar, add syrup, milk and eggs. Sift flour and baking powder together, lastly, add fruit dredged in flour. Bake very slowly three hours. When done, pour two cupsful of good wine slowly over. Put away in a tight box. Should be baked a month or six weeks before serving. — Recipe from Mrs. W. N. Cummins, Felix, Alabama

15. Mrs Pluss’ black fruitcake recipe from South Carolina

Put one and a half pounds of flour into a large biscuit pan, set in the stove and stir often until it is a golden brown. Then prepare all your fruits, four pounds of raisins, one pound each of currants, citron, figs and almonds.

The next morning, make a rich pound cake batter of twelve eggs, one pound of sugar, one pound of brown flour, one pound of butter, two tablespoonsful of lard, one teaspoonful each of spice, nutmeg, and cloves, one glassful of blackberry jelly and the grated rind, pulp and juice of four lemons.

Mix your half-pound of brown flour well into the fruits, stir into the batter and just before putting into the pan, add one heaping teaspoonful of soda.

Steam for two and a half hours, either in a steamer or over a pot of water. This will make one quite large or two medium-sized cakes; dry in the stove for twenty minutes. — Recipe from Mrs. J. J. Pluss, Laurens, South Carolina

Make a Kahlua Christmas cake & some festive holiday cocktails (1981)

16. Mrs Salley’s black fruitcake recipe from South Carolina

Twelve eggs, one pound of sugar (either brown or granulated), one and a half pounds of flour, one pound of butter, three pounds of raisins, chopped fine, two pounds of currants, one pound of citron, two teaspoonsful of pulverized spice, two teaspoonsful of pulverized cloves, the same amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, a half teaspoonful of pulverized ginger, one teaspoonful of mace, one teaspoonful of baking powder, two tablespoonsful of molasses, a half teacupful of wine or brandy.

Roll fruit in flour, mix batter well. Bake in moderate oven three hours. — Recipe from Mrs. H. P. Salley, Antreville, South Carolina

Frosted fruitcake - Old recipes
Photo by ld1976/Deposit Photos

17. A basic Southern fruit cake recipe

One cupful each of butter, sugar and molasses, a half cupful of sour cream, three cupsful of flour, three eggs, yolks and whites beaten separately, a teaspoonful of cinnamon, a half teaspoonful each of cloves and allspice, a fourth of a nutmeg, grated, a half pint of seeded raisins, a half cupful of currants, a half teaspoonful of soda.

Mix in order named. Dissolve soda in one tablespoonful of hot water and add last. Bake in slow oven. — Recipe from Unknown

18. Mrs Crownover’s white fruitcake recipe from Alabama

Cream a half pound of butter, add one pound of sugar, beat until very light; one cupful of water, three cupsful of flour, two teaspoonsful of baking powder. Beat well. Mix one pound of seeded raisins, one- fourth pound of citron, a half pound of figs, a half pound of dates, a half pound of almond dust with a half cupful of flour; beat whites of five eggs, stir into cake mixture; add the fruit Bake slowly for three hours. Ice if desired. — Recipe from Irene Crownover, Bridgeport, Alabama

19. Mrs Pluss’ white fruitcake recipe from South Carolina

Cream together a pound of butter and a pound of sugar, add a pound of flour and well-beaten whites of twelve eggs, grated rind and juice of one lemon, one pound of citron, one pound of blanched almonds, one coconut (grated fine), a half pound each of crystallized cherry and pineapple, two teaspoonsful of baking powder. If the batter is too thick, add a little boiling water.

Steam for two hours and dry inside the stove twenty minutes. — Recipe from Mrs. J. J. Pluss, Laurens, South Carolina

20. Mrs Richardson’s Kentucky fruitcake recipe

One cupful of butter, two cupsful of sugar, three cupsful of flour, two-thirds cupful of sweet milk, whites of fifteen eggs, one teaspoonful of soda dissolved in the milk, two teaspoonsful of cream of tartar, one teaspoonful of lemon extract and two teaspoonsful of vanilla. Mix in the usual manner and bake in layers.

Filling: One cupful of raisins, one cupful of currants, a half cupful of citron, a half cupful of pecans or almonds; chop all together. Make a plain, boiled icing and add to it one teaspoonful each of nutmeg, cloves, allspice and cinnamon, one tablespoonful of brandy or wine, and a small pinch of citric acid.

Spread between the layers of cake, each time sprinkling it with the chopped fruit and nuts. Use a white frosting on the outside of the cake and garnish with raisins and nuts. — Recipe from Mrs. J. S. Richardson, Delta, Louisiana

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Comments on this story

2 Responses

  1. This recipe looks great and it looks just right for storing in my bean pot with some brandy or whiskey! Thanks for posting!

  2. This recipe is the nearest to my grandma’s! I thought it was incomplete but I found out from this recipe that it isnt!!Now my search is over and am ready to start on my project:Fruitcake from grandma’s kitchen for gift giving this holiday season!!

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