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 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon to make it even tastier.
  • Cream cheese icing (decadent): Make our 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 ½ 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. Or, go to any of our Best Applesauce Recipes to use up a jar! Some other favorites are Applesauce Cookies and Applesauce Bread.

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

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


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.


  • 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


  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

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. 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!

  2. 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!!

  3. 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. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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! :)

  14. 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!!

  15. 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

  16. 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. 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! :)

    1. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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. 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 Thank you!

  22. 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 😘❣️❣️

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

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

  30. 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!

  31. 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!

  32. 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.

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