Applesauce Cake

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Perfectly spiced and flavorful applesauce cake topped with an easy cream cheese frosting. This cake is made using healthy ingredients and can all be prepared in one bowl!

Image of two slices of Applesauce Cake stacked on top of each other ready to be eaten.

Easy applesauce cake recipe

This cake couldn’t be easier to make; it’s all mixed together in one bowl with a wooden spoon. You’ll only need mixers if you opt to make the frosting. While it’s delicious with the frosting, the cake is good enough to stand on its own.

It’s also made with better-for-you ingredients. How is it healthier than most cakes?

  • No white flour; we use ground oats instead.
  • No butter; instead, we use a healthier oil choice (coconut oil).
  • This cake requires far less sugar than most cake recipes.
  • This cake uses chopped pecans, which are loaded with good-for-you fats and nutrients.
  • And, of course, there’s applesauce in the cake (more on this below)!

Image of the applesauce that is used in Applesauce Cake.

Speaking of applesauce, here are a few commonly asked questions about baking with applesauce.

What does applesauce do in cake?

  • Besides being nutritious, applesauce works as a great fat replacer in this cake. You don’t need butter and there’s a lot less oil in this cake because of the applesauce.
  • Baking with applesauce instead of butter not only reduces the calories, it also adds fiber and healthy nutrients.
  • Additionally, applesauce keeps this cake moist and fresher longer because of its water content.

In fact, my mom used to replace the oil in cake mix recipes with applesauce! She’d replace the oil with equal amounts of applesauce. And because cake mixes already have so much sugar in them, unsweetened applesauce works just fine.

Will applesauce make a cake moist?

The moisture in applesauce, its sweetness, acidity, and fresh flavor all benefit this cake — both in flavor and texture. The applesauce in this cake recipe absolutely makes it more moist.

What kind of applesauce do you use for baking?

I suggest using unsweetened applesauce in baking because you can always add sugar, but you can’t take it away.
 
That’s different from what many recipe creators do. They increase the overall sugar if calling for unsweetened applesauce in the recipe. Sweetened applesauce requires less sugar in the baked good, but since most of us are consciously trying to cut back on sugar, I’ve used unsweetened applesauce.

Using applesauce as a substitute ingredient

Applesauce is an excellent substitution for things like oil, butter, and eggs. While applesauce is not always a perfect substitute, it will work in a lot of recipes.
  • Replacing oil: It’s a 1:1 substitution (1 cup of oil replaces 1 cup applesauce).
  • Replacing butter: Replace only half of the butter in 1:1 ratio with applesauce. So if a recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, use 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup applesauce. 
  • Replacing eggs: Use 1/4 cup applesauce in place of 1 egg.
Applesauce also adds natural sweetness, which means you can reduce the amount of added sugar– which is a bonus!

Image showing how oat flour is made.

How to make oat flour

If you have quick oats or old-fashioned oats, you can have oat flour in a flash!

  1. Place the oats (you can use old-fashioned or quick oats) in a food processor or small blender jar.
  2. Pulse the oats until they are ground into a powder-like consistency that resembles flour (see photo above on the right).
  3. Stir the oats around if needed to ensure that all the oats have been finely ground and there aren’t some whole oats left. 
  4. Make sure to measure your oat flour measurement for this applesauce cake after it’s been turned to flour and not in the original whole oat form.

Process shot-- images of Applesauce Cake being made.

How to make Applesauce Cake:

  1. Combine wet ingredients: Applesauce, melted (and cooled) coconut oil, a large egg, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. 
  2. Whisk wet ingredients until smooth.
  3. Add dry ingredients right on top of wet: Baking soda, baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground nutmeg, salt, oat flour (blended up oats), and chopped pecans.
  4. Mix ingredients until well combined and incorporated.
  5. Transfer: Using a spatula, spoon the cake batter into a parchment paper-lined 8×8-inch pan and bake.
  6. Cool: Allow the cake to fully cool at room temperature.
  7. Prepare frosting: While the cake is cooling, whip up a cream cheese frosting. The frosting in this recipe is healthier than most cream cheese frosting recipes. Or click here if you’d like a traditional cream cheese frosting recipe.
  8. Frost: Frost Applesauce Cake when completely cool, and sprinkle crushed pecans on top if desired.

Quick tips

  • Set cream cheese out at room temperature: We want the cream cheese to have plenty of time to get to room temperature, so start the process of making this cake by pulling it out of the fridge.
  • Use toasted pecans: Toasted pecans are so much more flavorful. You can toast your own or buy roasted pecans.
  • Make this cake gluten free: While the ingredients are naturally gluten free, make sure to check all your ingredient labels to ensure they weren’t processed in a facility with gluten.
  • Cool the coconut oil: While the coconut oil needs to be melted, you don’t want it hot when you add it to the cake batter. Allow plenty of time for it to get back to room temperature or it will get chunky in this recipe.

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Applesauce Cake

5 from 23 votes
Perfectly spiced and flavorful Applesauce Cake topped with an easy cream cheese frosting. This cake is made using healthy ingredients and can all be prepared in one bowl!
Print Recipe

Applesauce Cake

5 from 23 votes
Perfectly spiced and flavorful Applesauce Cake topped with an easy cream cheese frosting. This cake is made using healthy ingredients and can all be prepared in one bowl!
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword applesauce cake, Applesauce Spice Cake, healthy applesauce cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 12 pieces (1 8x8" baking pan)
Calories 92kcal
Cost $5.23

Equipment

  • 8x8 inch pan
  • Parchment paper

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (260g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup (50g) coconut oil, melted and cooled (See Note 1)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (93g) lightly packed brown sugar (light brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup (91g) oat flour (blend up regular oats)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans optional
  • 1/3 cup raisins, optional

Optional Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/4 - 1 and 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • Optional: additional chopped pecans to top

Instructions

  • PREP: Set out the cream cheese to warm to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper -- otherwise your cake will likely not come out easily. Greasing and flouring the pan isn't enough -- this batter is sticky and needs parchment paper. Foil will affect baking, so I don't recommend foil.
  • WET INGREDIENTS: In a large bowl, stir together the applesauce, coconut oil (measured when completely melted and then cooled back to room temperature See Note 1), large egg, vanilla extract, and brown sugar. Stir until completely combined and smooth.
  • DRY INGREDIENTS: Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg (you can use a little less or more, depending on your preference). Add in the oat flour. (See Note 2.) Add in the chopped pecans and raisins if desired. Mix ingredients until completely combined and smooth.
  • BAKE: Transfer batter to prepared 8x8-inch pan. Bake for 28-33 mins at 350 degree F oven or until a fork when inserted comes out clean. Be careful to not-over bake, as it will make this cake less tender and less flavorful. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  • FROST: Place softened cream cheese in a large bowl (give it ample time to set out so your frosting isn't chunky). Using a hand mixer, beat with the vanilla until smooth. Add in the salt and slowly add in the powdered sugar (beating in between additions) until smooth and creamy and your desired consistency has been met. If it is too thick add in a little bit of milk. If you'd like a more tangy or soft frosting, only add 1 and 1/4 cups powdered sugar. For a sweeter, thicker frosting, add closer to 1 and 3/4 cups.
  • DECORATE: Frost the completely cooled cake evenly with the frosting. If desired, top the frosting with the chopped pecans.
  • STORAGE: Store cake at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap. Applesauce Cake is best when used within 1-2 days. Freeze (un-frosted) pieces for up to 3 months; thaw at room temperature and then frost. Frosted cake doesn't freeze and thaw well.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: The coconut oil needs to be melted, but if it's hot, it will get chunky when added with other cold ingredients. Give it time to come back to room temperature before adding it in with the other ingredients.
Note 2: Make oat flour by blending (or pulsing) regular old fashioned oats or quick oats in a blender or food processor until they resemble flour. Blend well so you don't have any large oat chunks in the cake. Measure oat flour after blending and not before.
Note 3: These are the calories in just the cake, not including the optional cream cheese frosting. There are 56 calories in a serving of the cream cheese frosting.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 12pieces | Calories: 92kcal | Carbohydrates: 11.6g | Protein: 0.6g | Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 15.5mg | Sodium: 9mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 10.8g

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94 Comments

    1. I’m usually not either, but I did love the pecans in this cake! However, don’t feel bad leaving them out — they definitely aren’t essential πŸ™‚ Hope you love these!! Have a great weekend!

  1. Yum! This looks delicious! Do you have any recommendations for applesauce substitutes? We never really have it around the house and I don’t really know anyone who uses it much around here x

    1. Hey Jodie! Sorry to have such an awful response, but I’m not sure what could replace the applesauce that would have the same flavor, texture, and overall “lightness”. It’s pretty important to this cake! Perhaps instead of buying a big container you could try the smaller snack packs? Hopefully that helps! I wish I had a better alternative for you to try!

    2. I’ve heard jicama can be subbed for applesauce. I have not tried it myself but only because we don’t have jicamas around here. Google that idea and see if you can find other comments about it.

  2. Hi! This looks great. However, I have a problem with oats so I need to use what flour instead. Would the amount be the same? Thanks!

  3. Hi Chelsea, this recipe looks so good, however, both my Hubby & me cannot use coconut oil, wondering if canola could be substituted?

    1. I haven’t actually tried canola in this recipe, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! Hope you love this πŸ™‚

  4. Made these today for my breakfast/lunch Cafe south of Buffalo NY, but had no coconut oil so used vegetable and also used gluten free oats so I can call them gluten free…..did not add nuts but made them in muffin tins, sprinkled oats on top – no cream cheese frosting and they are delicious and I am sure they will sell out!! Yum!!!

    1. Yay!! So glad to hear it! Thanks so much for the comment and for trying out this recipe πŸ™‚ Love the idea of making this in a muffin tin!

  5. Okay, I made this recipe today, followed it to a tee with the exception of the level of spices… and it was SO delicious! I’ve been reading your blog for months now and after a bite of this cake I thought it was time I comment here (instead of just on your Instagram photos πŸ˜‰ Just yum.

    Plus if you need any more proof, my boyfriend has already consumed 4 pieces…but to be fair this cake isn’t heavy but wonderfully light which is why I assume this was possible πŸ˜‰ Can’t wait to try more of your recipes, especially all these fall-inspirations you keep posting!

    1. You are so sweet Kirsti!! I so appreciate your sweet comment πŸ™‚ So glad you enjoyed this bread and hope you enjoy the next things you try out πŸ™‚ Thanks again for the comment!

  6. One question…do you taste to coconut flavor at all? That is my one hangup about coconut oil. I have sometimes been able to taste the slight coconut flavor when I didn’t want to.

    1. I think it all depends on the coconut oil you use! I’ve experimented with tons and the most neutral in my opinion is louana’s brand. Using that brand I’ve never been able to taste any bit of coconut flavor. Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

    2. I just used whatever coconut oil I had on hand (I think ours is from Aldi) and I didn’t taste it at all. I don’t like to taste the coconut oil either.

    1. Sorry Tracy, I don’t think it would work in a loaf pan. I haven’t ever had much success with flourless baked goods doing well in a loaf pan.

  7. Just made this last night, watched in amazement as the entire thing was demolished, and now I’m making it again.
    Thank you so much for such a delicious recipe!
    Just one question… Why is it called flourless if it has oat flour? πŸ˜›
    Flourless or not, it’s amazing!

    1. So, so happy to hear that! I’m glad this was so well enjoyed!! And great question! I should probably be more clear that I’m talking about refined or wheat flours. I usually just think of oat flour as blended up oats and not a type of “flour” πŸ™‚

    1. I’ve never tried that, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. You may need a little more liquid though. I’d love to hear your results!

    1. I haven’t tried it, so I can’t tell you how well it will work, but I believe coconut sugar would do well in its place.

  8. 5 stars
    I am not being melodramatic when I say that 1.) I am on the verge of happy tears and 2.) I never EVER post on food blogs (though I love them dearly).
    This is an exception in every sense of the word. I almost gave up looking for any sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free dessert, but this one…oh my god. It’s light, it’s fluffy, it’s sweet, it’s chewy, it’s everything that you crave at the end of a meal and it DOES NOT DISAPPOINT. I didn’t make the cream cheese frosting, but made a coconut meringue and it tasted divine and complimented the coconut oil in the recipe well!

    LOVE LOVE LOVE AND MANY HUGS FROM A NEW FAN,

    Sarah <3

  9. I was looking for something healthy and sugar free for my friend’s birthday and this was perfect! I only substituted the sugar with raisin puree. It was a hit! I’ll definitely use this recipe again and again.

  10. This looks amazing! I’d like to make it as a smash cake for my baby girl ( since all other recipes I tried with banana and egg turn out horribly mushy and not cooked even over an hour baking in the oven..) is there any mushiness to this cake? Would you say it’s okay for a baby? I’m goig to omit the vanilla extract though for alcohol reasons. πŸ™‚

    1. I think it would make for a wonderful smash cake! πŸ™‚ I wouldn’t say it is mushy, but it is moist πŸ™‚

  11. 5 stars
    Love your healthy flourless applesauce spice cake recipe. I’ll definitely try it, but instead of 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, I’ll use 1/2! I found your post from Pinterest! I’m also gonna pin this post on my Pinterest board my followers will love it. Thanks for sharing, Chelsea!

  12. 5 stars
    It was delicious! We made it to bring over to our friends’ house and it was a hit. I will definitely save this recipe to make it again. Look forward to trying out other recipes. πŸ™‚

  13. 5 stars
    Saw this recipe on Pinterest and decided to try it. It was amazingly moist and delicious. I take it for my morning break at work. Instead of the cream cheese I dollop yogurt over a nice hunk and its delicious. Trying to stay gluten free and so glad I found this healthy new recipe! Thanks

    1. Yay!! I’m so glad to hear this! It sounds awesome with yogurt! I definitely need to try that! Thanks! πŸ™‚

  14. I am impress and amaze in the instruction of making flourlesss cake. It is cheaper and affordable. Please share more recipe like this spice cake. It is unique and perfect to serve.

  15. 5 stars
    I love applesauce and this recipe enhanced my love for it even more. Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe!

  16. Yummy flavor and texture, but very small quantity of cake. Would adding 50% to the batter affect flavor/texture???

  17. 5 stars
    I often look for healthier versions of baked good recipes. Most of them I wouldn’t make again, but this was one of the best healthy recipes I’ve ever tried. I’ll definitely be making this again. I used sweetened apple sauce because that’s what I had, and I added extra spice, a bit of chopped pecans, no raisins. I had no parchment paper so I just sprayed the glass pan really well, and the cake did not stick. I didn’t make the frosting, it was perfectly good without it.

  18. 5 stars
    Oh. Wow. This cake is so amazing. And it’s so easy, my ten-year-old made it mostly by herself. I think I could eat the entire thing in one sitting. I’m not on a gf diet, but my kids are, so I guess I’ll save it for them. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. I’m so happy to hear how much you guys loved this! And I love your daughter can make it! Thanks so much for your comment!:)

  19. 5 stars
    Delicious! I used a “flax egg” instead of a real egg and it turned out great! Did need to cook it for the longer recommended time though. And used a vegan cream cheese frosting. Thanks for the recipe!

  20. 5 stars
    Made this earlier today. I wanted to make it as muffins to freeze some. I used silicone muffin cups. They came out Great! So moist and great flavor. I did not frost them. They have such a great flavor I honestly don’t think you need to. I will absolutely make these again!

  21. 5 stars
    This is an amazing recipe! It was just what I was looking for, moist and tender cake with the perfect fall spices!! I added 1/4 cup raisins and walnuts to the mix πŸ˜‰ I’m looking forward to making it again! Thank you for sharing 😊

  22. 5 stars
    I give this five stars. It has great flavor although it is a thin cake. I am making it again but, doubling the recipe. It is very good.

  23. 5 stars
    This turned out so moist and delicious! I used homemade applesauce and Einkorn flour in place of oat flour. I also added a few chopped dates….delicious!

  24. 5 stars
    Just made it and it is very good. Just the cake by its self is good and moist. I made it almost sugar free using zylitol and a tiny bit of date syrup. Yum yum. I will be making this again and again.

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