Easy Applesauce Cake

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! It sounds too good to be true: but we promise, it’s very real. And it turns into one of the most delicious cakes you’ll eat. Moist and scented with cinnamon, it’s perfectly fluffy and a little gooey. It’s got a healthy spin with olive oil and Greek yogurt, and instead of icing there’s a sprinkle of powdered sugar. The recipe is made for a kitchen where you don’t have lots of baking tools; it’s from Katie Sullivan Morford’s Prep: The Essential College Cookbook. Here’s everything you need to know!

Another tasty apple recipe? Try our Easy Apple Crumble.

How to make applesauce cake

Why to make this applesauce cake

OK, I’m going to be honest. First of all: I’m not a cake person. (Gasp, I know!) Second: Alex and I had never eaten an applesauce cake before this recipe (Double gasp!). Somehow we went our entire lives without tasting it. How did we not know this was a thing? Here are all the reasons to make this specific applesauce cake recipe:

  • It’s down-home cozy. There’s something so homey about saying, “Today we’re baking an applesauce cake recipe!” It’s like making chocolate chip cookies, but a little healthier.
  • It’s beyond easy to make. No mixing bowls required! You’ll mix everything in the cake pan. What could be easier?
  • It’s got a healthy spin but 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. We’ve made it in every season!
Applesauce spice cake

The basic steps: how to make applesauce cake!

This cake is so simple, it might take you more time to read the recipe than bake it. (OK, not really: but close!) If you happen to have homemade applesauce on hand, this would be the perfect use! 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. We wouldn’t be offended in the least! But to keep with the easy and healthy theme, we decided to opt for a light dusting of powdered sugar instead of icing. This has a side bonus of making this recipe even easier! 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. Add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to make it even tastier.
  • Cream cheese icing (decadent): Make a half recipe of this Cream Cheese Frosting.
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 cake 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 1/2 cup applesauce, 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: The Essential College Cookbook

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. It’s centered around 10 basic lessons for getting comfortable in the kitchen, which results in healthy dinners, satisfying snacks, and simple desserts like this applesauce cake.

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. 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

Want more easy recipes? Try these Easy Recipes for College Students.

Applesauce cake recipe

Got leftover applesauce from making this cake?

Try our Applesauce Muffins! They’re quick to mix up in a blender, and they’re made with 100% oats (no flour). The perfect healthy snack.

This applesauce cake recipe is…

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

Print
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How to make applesauce cake

Easy Applesauce Cake


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (190 votes, average: 3.97 out of 5)

  • 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.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 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.
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Applesauce cake, applesauce cake recipe, applesauce spice cake, how to make applesauce cake, does applesauce make a cake moist

Looking for easy dessert recipes?

This applesauce cake recipe is a truly one of the easiest cakes we’ve made. Here are a few more of our top desserts and baked goods:

Last updated: August 2020

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

23 Comments

  • Reply
    Jen
    May 30, 2019 at 9:56 am

    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!

    • Reply
      Stef
      May 31, 2019 at 2:37 am

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

      • Reply
        Patty
        May 6, 2020 at 10:40 pm

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

  • Reply
    Nona Waldeck
    May 30, 2019 at 11:41 pm

    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!!

  • Reply
    CAROLINE NORGEOT
    June 12, 2019 at 3:45 pm

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

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 12, 2019 at 9:39 pm

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

  • Reply
    Taylor
    June 14, 2019 at 9:14 am

    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!

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 15, 2019 at 2:40 pm

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

      • Reply
        Dee s
        September 19, 2020 at 8:58 am

        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.

        • Reply
          Alex Overhiser
          September 19, 2020 at 10:53 am

          We have not tried that, sorry!

  • Reply
    Sally
    September 21, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    Can you use something else besides yogurt?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      September 23, 2019 at 10:12 am

      Sorry, we haven’t tested alternate versions!

    • Reply
      Anonymous
      January 26, 2020 at 11:54 am

      I used sour cream and it was delicious!

    • Reply
      Anonymous
      August 26, 2020 at 10:12 am

      I used kefir ! Worked great!

  • Reply
    Lonna Miles
    January 27, 2020 at 2:39 am

    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.

  • Reply
    Vanessa
    April 10, 2020 at 2:58 pm

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

  • Reply
    Mia
    May 3, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Maxine
    June 16, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Ashley
    June 17, 2020 at 2:22 pm

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

  • Reply
    McKenzie
    August 30, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      August 31, 2020 at 10:32 am

      So glad you enjoy it! Thanks for commenting :)

  • Reply
    Elaine
    October 24, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      October 26, 2020 at 9:56 am

      So glad you enjoyed it!

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