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This applesauce cake is light and moist, scented with cinnamon and brown sugar. Mix it up right in the pan: no mixing bowls required!

Applesauce Cake

Want to bake a cake with no effort at all? Try this easy applesauce cake! You don’t even need a bowl: just mix it up right in the pan. Does it sound too good to be true? We promise, it’s very real. Moist and scented with cinnamon, it’s perfectly fluffy and a little gooey. It’s got a lighter spin with olive oil and Greek yogurt, and instead of icing there’s a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Here’s everything you need to know!

How to make applesauce cake

Why to make this applesauce cake

First of all: I’m not a cake person. (Gasp, I know!) But I absolutely love this moist, spice-scented one you can whip up right in the baking dish. Here are all the reasons to make this specific applesauce cake recipe:

  • It’s cozy. There’s something so homey about saying, “Today we’re baking an applesauce cake recipe!”
  • It’s beyond easy to make. No mixing bowls required! You’ll mix everything in the cake pan.
  • It’s got big flavor. This cake features olive oil, Greek yogurt, and applesauce to keep the cake moist. With such simple ingredients, you’d expect the flavor to be overly simple too. But it’s got the perfect amount of sweetness, aroma of the cinnamon, and just the right amount of tangy apple from the applesauce.
  • It works for any season. This applesauce cake has a bit of a fall vibe, you can make it anytime.
Applesauce spice cake

How to make applesauce cake: basic steps

This cake is so simple, it might take you more time to read the recipe than bake it. (OK, not really: but close!) Here’s how to make applesauce cake (or go to the full recipe below):

  1. Mix together the dry ingredients in a buttered 8-inch baking dish. Use a fork to mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Make a well and mix in the wet ingredients. Use a fork to mix in the egg, olive oil, Greek yogurt, applesauce and vanilla. Smooth out the top.
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, until the center is fairly firm.
  4. Allow the cake to cool for about 1 hour to room temperature.
  5. Dust the cake with powdered sugar, cut into pieces, and serve.

Use icing, or a dusting of powdered sugar!

Now of course, if you’d like you can slather this applesauce cake with icing. But to keep it easy and light, we like to use a light dusting of powdered sugar instead of icing. Here are a few topping options:

  • Powered sugar (easiest): Top with a dusting of powdered sugar.
  • Glaze icing (festive): Make a double recipe of Powdered Sugar Icing and pour it over the top.
  • Maple glaze (fun): Try this easy Maple Glaze, which adds loads of cozy flavor!
  • Cream cheese icing (decadent): Make our Cream Cheese Frosting and slather it over the top.
Homemade applesauce
If you have a lot of apples, homemade applesauce is a must! It’s perfect for this cake

Does applesauce make a cake moist?

Does applesauce make a cake moist? Yes! Adding applesauce gives a rich, moist crumb to baked goods. Applesauce is a well-known substitute for butter and oil in baking recipes, an easy way to cut the overall calories. Applesauce is used for moisture and overall flavor in this applesauce cake. Even though it only uses ½ cup, you can taste it in every bite.

This applesauce cake recipe would be perfect for taking to a potluck, pitch in or barbecue. We know we will be adding it to our pitch-in repertoire because it’s just that easy!

Prep Cookbook

About the book: Prep

This applesauce cake recipe comes straight from the cookbook Prep: The Essential College Cookbook by Katie Sullivan Morford. Know someone going off to college? This really is the perfect starter cookbook! It’s all about helping students cook real meals with real food.

This is the book I wish Alex and I had to help us navigate under-equipped dorm and rental kitchens! (Yes, we met in college. On the first day!) It’s perfect for beginners and it would be a great gift or graduation present. Get the book: Prep: The Essential College Cookbook

Applesauce cake recipe

Got leftover applesauce?

Got leftovers from making this cake? Try some of our 10 Best Recipes with Applesauce to use up the jar:

This applesauce cake recipe is…

Vegetarian. For dairy-free, use dairy-free yogurt. (And let us know how it goes!)

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How to make applesauce cake

Easy Applesauce Cake


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.8 from 24 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12 pieces 1x

Description

This applesauce cake is perfectly moist, scented with cinnamon and brown sugar. And you mix the entire dough in the cake pan! No mixing bowls required.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce (or homemade applesauce)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. Put the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the baking pan. Use a fork to thoroughly mix the ingredients together.
  3. Use your hands to make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients. Into the hole, crack the egg and add the olive oil, yogurt, applesauce, and vanilla. Use a fork to mix the ingredients together until smooth and blended. Smooth the top of the batter with the side of a butter knife.
  4. Bake until the cake is fairly firm when you press lightly at its center and a toothpick inserted in the middle has no wet batter sticking to it, 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and leave on the counter to cool completely, 1 hour. Leave the cake in the pan. Dust with powdered sugar. Cut into pieces and use a small spatula to lift them from the pan. Store at room temperature for 3 days or refrigerated for up to 5 days. 
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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82 Comments

  1. Marietta says:

    Hi,

    I love the idea of this cake but would you be able to provide measurements in grams? I’m desperate to try the cake but have no idea about cup measurements.

    Thank you,
    Marietta

  2. Katie says:

    A friend sent me this recipe, I have an abundance of home canned applesauce. I’ve added ginger, nutmeg and cloves as well as chopped walnuts to the original recipe. Turned the batter into muffins. The original recipe is slightly fluffier but I really like the added spices.

  3. Sara says:

    This recipe was very forgiving. I didn’t realise that I didn’t have baking soda until I had started adding ingredients to the pan. Then once I got that ingredient I realised I thawed bananas and not applesauce. Needless to say it worked fine with a few mashed bananas and no applesauce. Looking forward to making it again with the correct ingredients and all in one go.






  4. Amy Blumenthal says:

    Hi Sonja and Alex, We love this cake! Do you think it the recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9X13 pan? I’m having 10 people over for lunch and would love to serve this.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Yes! It might be just a bit longer bake time.

  5. Deanna says:

    This is the most moist applesauce cake yet! I’m not a fan of using the square cake pan to mix but that’s no deal breaker.






  6. Bobby Heidt says:

    How would you adjust this recipe for high altitude baking?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! We don’t have a lot of experience with baking at altitude, sorry!

  7. sharon says:

    I finished making it a few minutes ago. It taste wonderful; will be my go-to for maybe brunch or to put in a gift basket for someone! It’s so simple to make. I just might add chocolate chips morsels the last fews minutes of cooking to give it an extra choc kick. Thanks again!






  8. sharon says:

    I’m making it now minus greek yogurt – don’t like it – so about to see. thx for sharing the recipe.

  9. Allison D says:

    Ok I made this recipe with my 3yo daughter expecting a subpar cake that was an easy project in following directions. Oh. My. Lord. This cake turned out PERFECT. So soft, moist, springy, and perfectly sweet. No frosting needed at all! I subbed sour cream for the yogurt because it was what I had on hand, and I added 1/4tsp of allspice and I was blown away!






  10. Dawn Crawford says:

    I am going to try it with pumpkin pie spice, a bit of cinnamon, 1/4c of small diced Granny Smith apple and Blueberry yogurt ( the only yogurt on hand). What do you think? I will definitely let you know how it turns out.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We haven’t tried it with diced apple but let us know how it turns out!

  11. Whirlycook says:

    I used vanilla yogurt because that’s what I had and omitted the vanilla extract. Added toasted walnuts. I mixed it up in a bowl. It was light, fluffy and delicious! I will be making this again. Thank you for sharing the recipe!






  12. Robin says:

    Yum! Made exactly as written (though I did mix it all in one bowl, then poured into pan). Was just the right amount of sweet and spice. The texture was light. All in all a great recipe. Thanks!






  13. Sandra says:

    Wow! I did this on a Monday evening after work. This cake recipe was so easy and quick and delicious! I substituted the yogurt for sour cream ( like someone else suggested in their comments) and I used my mom’s homemade applesauce…and the outcome exceeded my expectations! Thanks for this recipe!! Two thumbs up!






  14. Edith Goldman says:

    This smelled heavenly while baking and the flavor is pretty good but…. although I added additional spices, the cake is still pretty bland. If I make it again I’ll punch the spices up. A lot. Letting the cake cool completely in the pan results in the bottom becoming soggy. If I make it again I’ll drain the apple sauce – I think part of the issue I’m having with the texture is because commercial apple sauce is too wet. And I won’t test with a toothpick – the center completely collapsed as soon as I did that.






  15. adena Loller says:

    Made this today. I subbed half of the brown sugar for monk fruit maple flavored syrup. All I had on hand was peach and apple low fat flavored Greek yogurt.
    Came out excellent. So moist. Tasted like a maple spiced cake. I will make this again.
    Easy!






  16. Gentiana E. says:

    Hello Sonya & Alex,

    Great recipe! I’ve made it tonight for the first time with my daughter, we are so happy with the result! Didn’t change anything, will play a bit with them next time with the ingrdients. Maybe some whole wheat flour, some walnuts…
    Super tasty one! Thank you!

    All the best to you and many regards all the way from Germany!






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed! THanks for the comment.

  17. Kathleen Ann Tatarek-VanPeursem says:

    Where has this cake been all my life? I threw it together after dinner and it was cooling by the time I was done doing the dishes and tidying the kitchen. The only change was that I had “chunky” applesauce (surprise to me) and it worked out beautifully. Thanks for this! Delish.






  18. Morwenna says:

    This recipe is so great, it’s my new go to recipe. I love it. Thanks






  19. Susan Smith says:

    Made this yesterday but I did mix it in a bowl instead of the pan. I used one mini cup of unsweetened applesauce (100 ml – just under 1/2 c – didn’t want to open a large jar) , 1/3 mini cup of sugar (we prefer less sweet), 1 mini cup of plain yogurt, 1/3 mini cup of extra light olive oil, (other ingredients as in recipe) and added a little grind of fresh nutmeg, pinch of ground cloves and 1 mini cup of raisins, Sprinkled coarse sugar on top of the batter just before baking. Butter the pan well. Baked 350 convection oven. It was delicious and with a dollop of whipped cream made a lovely dessert.

  20. Rosiane Nogueira says:

    This cake is delicious!!! I just made it and came out beautifully!!! I’ll have to share it with everyone!






  21. J Neff says:

    Thank you for sharing this! This is truly very easy yet so very good I have already made it twice the second time I did twice the amount and still gone fast, lol! I am very pleased to have found this recipe, thank you so much 😘❣️❣️






  22. Jane says:

    Hi!! This recipe is really good, I would totally recommend. I have some questions though-I want to make mine with some streusel crumb topping, would that work okay? Also, mine rose a lot more than the one in the picture, is there a way a could make it rise more evenly? Thanks in advance.






    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Yes a streusel topping would be great here! Re rising a lot: we haven’t had that feedback before and haven’t experienced it! Make sure you get the correct quantities of baking powder and soda and smooth the batter evenly in the pan before you put it in the oven (you can tap on the counter to try to even it out). Let us know if it happens again — would love to see a photo if so (you can send to sonja@acouplecooks.com). Thank you!

  23. carol springer says:

    Three of the kids and I who live at the Los Angeles Eco Village roasted apples and apricots from our trees in a sun oven and sauced them. We used the sauce to bake a cake from this recipe in the sun oven and we substituted Flour FArm gluten free flour to bake two more cakes for our Sunday night potluck. They were a great hit. We were all surprised how light, moist and fluffy the cakes are. Thank you so much.






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  24. @imvacationista says:

    I absolutely loved this cake!! I substituted the all purpose flour with oat flour, the brown sugar for coconut sugar and I used coconut vegan yogurt and it is perfect! Just what I was craving – a simple yet satisfying moist cake🤩 oh and you’re definitely right about waiting at least an hour because they taste better the longer you wait!!

    Oh I also used your recipe to make homemade apple sauce which is also delicious.

    Thanks for the recipe, will definitely be making this a staple in our house!






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for making.

  25. Fran Wright says:

    I love this cake! (And, I am not a big cake fan). It’s an A+ recipe that is now in my recipe archives. I used chunky homemade applesauce & added chopped walnuts. Way yum! Thanks for sharing!






  26. Steve Wolgast says:

    What fun! It was delicious and a little different.
    – I used 1/2C Quick Oats and 3/4C flour to reduce the carbs
    – I put walnuts on top
    – I used 1/2C brown sugar since I had sweetened apple sauce.
    – I used a metal pan: it baked in 22 minutes and cooled in about 5.






  27. Kate says:

    Can I use extra Greek yogurt or applesauce in place of the olive oil?

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Hi Kate! We don’t recommend substituting all of the olive oil because the oil adds a nice fluffy, smooth texture to cakes and muffins. (We’ve experimented with no oil baked goods and they just aren’t satisfying!) We recommend using the oil — but that said, you can feel free to experiment! We just can’t guarantee it would work.

      1. Sharon says:

        Agreed. Don’t recommend substituting the olive oil. In my case I don’t like Greek yogurt left it out and to my pleasant surprise it came out wonderful, a little “crumby” but still fluffy. I just finished trying the recipe 😊👌🏾💕






  28. Caitlynn Hamden says:

    Can you use milk for the yogurt and can you use vegetable oil instead of olive oil

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      You can definitely use vegetable oil! We haven’t tried with milk instead of yogurt — we’d use 1/4 less milk to account for the texture differences. Try it at your own risk! :)

  29. Jody says:

    Can this be frozen?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We haven’t tried it but I think it would freeze ok.

  30. Ginger Kluender says:

    I made this cake for Halloween last year and my 2 year old loved it so much she wanted it for her 3rd birthday! We are sugar-aware parents and I was so happy this was low in sugar and tasted delicious. I actually use less sugar than is called for and skip the powdered sugar since we also have a diabetic in the family – still fantastic! Thank you so much for coming up with a dessert I can feel good about feeding to my daughter! I’m sure we’ll make it again for Halloween this year. Yum!






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  31. Janine Beasley says:

    I made this with some pear jam that didn’t set up like it should, instead of the applesauce, and made it gluten free by substituting half all purpose gluten free flour and half superfine almond flour, and it was fabulous!! I’ll definitely be making it again






  32. Angie Benitez says:

    I made this using light sour cream as a sub for the yogurt. I also doubled the recipe for a larger pan. I mixed it in a seperate bowl, since I was skeptical about how greased the pan would be after using IT as the mixing bowl. Cook time was longer, (to be expected with larger cake) but it came out beautifully! Very good and moist. I did not put anything on top. Just serve with coffee!!






  33. Amy says:

    I came across this recipe 2 weeks ago and made it. However, I forgot to add the oil before putting it in the oven. I made it again last weekend and remembered to add the oil. Not sure which I prefer because both were great! :)

    1. Angie says:

      I will have to try that! if it doesn’t need oil why add those calories?

  34. Susan Sherbert says:

    Can’t wait for this to come out of the oven! Next time I will use a bowl first. I went by the recipe (8” square pan). The ingredients were going over the top before I even began stirring. So I dumped it in the large mixer bowl and then put it in a 9×12” pan! I should have paid attention to the picture above! Thank you for sharing.






  35. Char says:

    Has anyone used maple syrup or honey instead of brown sugar?
    Thanks!

  36. Jenna says:

    I made this yesterday and it was gone this morning! Thank you so much, it was so good!

  37. SV says:

    I made the cake for the second time this evening while on a work call where I actually had to sort of pay attention- it’s that easy to make. And it’s delicious! I added a tiny bit of cardamom last time and this time I added a tiny bit of ground cloves. I like to sprinkle some cane sugar and slivered almonds on top because it’s an easy to make it look and feel fancy. Thank you for this versatile, easy and delicious recipe! Oh, one other thing I changed the second time around was to just use a bowl to mix. That was faster for me than trying to work quickly and keep all the ingredients in the pan.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Would cinnamon applesauce be ok?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      That should work fine.

  39. Jack says:

    Great texture and taste! Thanks. Was trying to use up 1/2 C of unsweetened applesauce. Kirkland plain nonfat Greek yogurt. Just moved and can’t find my cinnamon…so substituted 1/2 tsp mixed spice I bought for figgy pudding . Dark steel 8” square pan, greased with Crisco. Baked 25 min @ 350°. Toothpick came out clean. Frosted with Allrecipes brown butter frosting. Soooo good!

  40. Elaine says:

    How lucky it was to find your recipe today after combing through so many that called for butter or margarine. I’ve already shared it with loved ones. I had to work with what was in the pantry so the vanilla was omitted along with the sprinkled powdered sugar. I substituted the greek yogurt with fat-free milk and about a tablespoon of fig butter. Wow. I’ll have to bookmark this website for sure. Thank you!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  41. McKenzie says:

    This is a great recipe! I’ve made it multiple times and my family loves it! It’s not too sweet. My husband prefers desserts that are ‘healthy’ and he likes this one!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoy it! Thanks for commenting :)

      1. Rosie says:

        I just made this. Used Truvia natural sweetener with brown sugar and fat free Greek yogurt. Insanely delicious! What’s the best way to store it to keep it moist?

        1. Sonja Overhiser says:

          So glad to hear it! You can store it at room temperature for 3 days or refrigerated for 5 days. Both ways stay moist but it will be the most moist at room temp!

  42. Ashley says:

    I definitely recommend this recipe. The cake came out light, moist, and fluffy and tasted amazing!

  43. Maxine says:

    Unbelievably easy! I made it today for just hubby and myself. It’s almost gone. I realized once I put the batter in the oven that I’d forgotten the cinnamon so I sprinkled it on top along with some brown sugar and it turned out great! Super moist and love the cleanup — or lack thereof! Haha thanks so much for the recipe.

  44. Mia says:

    I made this with my toddler last week. It was nice and easy, which is a real plus when baking with children. I did mix it up in a bowl, just because she gets very vigorous with her whisking and we definitely would have had more flour on the counters than in the pan. The tester was a little dense (not in a bad way), tender, and moist. I added just a pinch of nutmeg and otherwise made as written (besides mixing in a bowl). I thought the flavor was fine but not amazing. Definitely better with ice cream. Probably would not make again.

  45. Vanessa says:

    Made this and added 1 cup of shredded carrots to make it an applesauce carrot cake – perfect texture and not too sweet. Loved it!

    1. JOSEPH FARSHT says:

      You need to rethink the oatmeal applesause recipe. It was very flat (did not rise)and did not stick together. Tasted good though.
      Good luck.

  46. Lonna Miles says:

    This little cake was delicious and so easy to make! I needed a last minute dessert to take to my friend’s dinner invite. I took it out of the oven 15 minutes before I left my house. I added a pinch of ground nutmeg and ground cloves in addition to the cinnamon. Served it with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

  47. Sally says:

    Can you use something else besides yogurt?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Sorry, we haven’t tested alternate versions!

    2. Anonymous says:

      I used sour cream and it was delicious!

    3. Anonymous says:

      I used kefir ! Worked great!

  48. Taylor says:

    I love baking with applesauce because it is so flexible! Curious if this recipe would work with einkorn flour, have you guys ever tried that? Thanks for an easy and practical recipe!

    1. Alex says:

      You’re welcome! We haven’t tried this with einkorn but I would think it would work!

      1. Dee s says:

        Want to try this with apple flour. Please let me know if you have tried it with this flour. Applesauce cake was a family favorite while growing up and I have passed it on to my family. The recipe I had was semi simple, this one looks so easy I can’t wait to try it.

        1. Alex Overhiser says:

          We have not tried that, sorry!

        2. Shaima says:

          Hi! First off om loving this recipe because I have apple sauce I need to use up and I didn’t want an overly sweet dessert. I have 3 questions for adjustments though. Firstly can I use 1 cup of apple sauce instead of the yogurt I just wanted to use up all my sauce before it goes bad and I thought of leaving out the yogurt and making it 1 cup. Secondly can I add fresh apples and walnuts to this dessert or will it effect the texture? Lastly I’m thinking of halfing the sugar recipe I would also like to know of that will effect the recipe. Thats all please let me know!

          1. Sonja Overhiser says:

            Hi there! Thanks for asking — the yogurt helps to add richness and body to the texture of the cake. We wouldn’t substitute it for applesauce unless absolutely necessary. You could definitely add apples or walnuts, which would make a chunky texture. We would not suggest using less sugar since this is essential to the texture of the cake as well. Thanks for asking and let us know how you like it!

  49. CAROLINE NORGEOT says:

    Hi, could this be served for breakfast like a pumpkin or banana bread?

    1. Alex says:

      Yes, it’s not overly sweet. I think it’d be great.

  50. Nona Waldeck says:

    I had to make this immediately! It is delicious. As a person who loves to bake I was having my doubts about this not sticking to the pan. It totally didn’t! So easy. I substituted whole wheat pastry flour and just sprinkled some brown sugar on the top before I put it in the oven instead of the powdered sugar because I’m lazy. I think the next time I will use 1/2 cup of brown sugar and not sprinkle any on the top only because it is just a little bit sweeter than I like but it is amazing!!

  51. Jen says:

    Can’t wait to try this! And I just ordered the book…my son is 5 years away from college, but it sounds like a good one to help him start learning to cook with as well! And then maybe he will have some favorites from it that will make him smile when he makes them away from home. <3 Okay, getting teary eyed! LOL On to the cake…funny story! My mom used to make applesauce cake from time-to-time when we were growing up. She was also very into pottery and had painted a set of canisters that she kept on the counter for flour, sugar, etc. One of the lids broke while she was making the cake, and she somehow didn't realize a huge chunk had fallen into the batter! I found it while eating my piece later, and from then on whenever she made applesauce cake, we all had to give her a hard time and "check" our pieces before eating them!

    1. Stef says:

      Add a little cardomon powder to the mix and this cake will knock your shoes off!

      1. Patty says:

        Yes 1/4 tsp cardamom + 1/4 tsp nutmeg, great recipe, not too sweet!

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