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Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

330 reviews / 4.7 average

This simple cinnamon sugar apple cake is light and fluffy, loaded with fresh apples, and topped with a crunchy cinnamon sugar layer!

This cinnamon sugar apple cake is just one of those things that is very regular but somehow elevates the day a little bit. It’s low maintenance, highly snackable, has delicious sweet apple flavor, and 100% as warming, fragrant, and cozy a basic apple cake should be. 

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This apple cake is:

  • light and fluffy
  • loaded with fresh apples
  • sweet but not overly sweet
  • magically crispy with that layer of cinnamon-sugar on top
  • a nice vehicle for some whipped cream or honey butter
  • excellent with coffee
  • and a sweater
  • and a fall candle
  • coming to you, warm, fresh-out-the-oven, in just under an hour.

It’s just so, so good. And I want to tell you all about it.

In This Post: Everything You Need For This Apple Cake

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Click here to see the step-by-step web story instructions for this recipe!

Ingredients For Apple Cake

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Apples (anything can work, but Honeycrisp or Granny Smith Apples are 💯)
  • Dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, brown sugar)
  • Wet ingredients (egg, oil, buttermilk, vanilla)
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar

It’s very likely you already have everything on hand which makes this the best lazy weekend last-minute treat.

Three types of sliced apples.

How To Cut Apples For Apple Cake

First of all, let me just establish that I do not peel my apples for anything. No thanks, man. I just cannot be bothered to spend any time removing a perfectly good, edible, nutritious peel. You go ahead and make the rules in your own kitchen.

Here are some apple-cutting options for you:

  • Finely diced (top): classic apple cake situation. You’ll get tiny pockets of juicy apple tucked into your cake. Very normal and delicious.
  • Thinly sliced (middle): my personal favorite. I use a mandoline* to slice the apples super thinly, and then I run through them again with a knife to create bite-sized, paper-thin pieces of apple. This allows you to still get those pockets of apple in your cake, but helps distribute the apples a bit better so you’re not ending up with such heavy chunks of apple in the cake.
  • Shredded (bottom): the pieces of apple will magically sort of “disappear” into the cake. No pockets of apples – just lots of that naturally wonderful apple sweetness. This is my second favorite way to cut the apples.

The Best Apples For Apple Cake

Now that you know how to slice ’em, what’s the best type of apple to use in this recipe?

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • My First Pick: Honeycrisp! Juicy, crunchy, local to Minnesota (true story!), and just the perfect tartness and sweetness for this cake. I also love these in apple crisp.
  • A Close Second: Granny Smith. I love the tartness of these green wonders, so if you like a little more zing, this is a good one.
  • In a Pinch: Fuji or Gala. Great apples, but not as good as our friends above! These will still work great for this cake and are very delicious.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake: Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of flour do you recommend?

All-purpose flour is perfect here!

Will this work without the crumb topping?

It totally will, but also, why would you not?! It’s so good!

Can I make this vegan?

Sure! Just use a vegan flax or chia seed egg, vegan butter, and dairy-free milk to make the buttermilk.

What type of apples would you recommend for this cake?

Just about any type of apple would work (it’s pretty forgiving!), but I prefer Honeycrisp apples.

Could I freeze this cake?

After baking? Yes. It won’t be quite as delicious as freshly-baked, but you should be able to freeze and then thaw it with no problem. I’d just recommend warming it a bit at a very low temp in the oven after thawing.

How could I make this healthy?

By nature, this is a cake, so I’d recommend trying another recipe! These Healthy Cinnamon Sugar Apple Muffins or Feel-Good Apple Muffins might be your best bet.

What is the best way to store this cake?

This would keep at room temperature (covered) for about three days. If you want it to last longer, I’d recommend storing it in the fridge after baking.

Here’s How To Make This Apple Cake Recipe

Let me show you how it’s done, step by step (in photos!).

Mix your apples into the batter in a large bowl and spread that mixture into a pan.

Cake batter with apples in a bowl.

Top with a dust of that buttery cinnamon sugar sand.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake in a pan before baking.

Bake, slice, and now eat, like, a lot of apple cake.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake with bite taken out.

This cake was the perfect weekend treat (not to mention Monday snack and Tuesday 2nd dinner), and guess what’s right around the corner?  Wednesday breakfast.

Add some honey butter and coffee and you are in Cozy Fall Business.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake with bite being taken.

In our house, we have no problem eating the. whole. thing.  As in, two adults and one entire cake. A little piece here, and a little piece there, and three more pieces after dinner, and suddenly it’s time to make another apple cake.

Ways To Serve This Apple Cake

This cake makes for an excellent dessert, but also a little treat for a fall brunch.

Any way that you swing it, here are my favorite toppings to serve with this cake:

  • Whipped Cream: Simple, delicious, easy to whip up.
  • HONEY BUTTER: That’s what’s pictured in this post. You can find the quick method for this in the note of the recipe card.
  • Glaze It: The glaze from these muffins is DELICIOUS and could absolutely work on top of this cake as well.
  • Ice Cream: If you’re serving this as dessert, this cake is also delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Apple Cake Variations

We like this one just the way it is, but there are some options if you’re looking to mix it up.

  • Bake it in a different size pan. While we’ve never tested it officially, it should work to bake this in another pan, like a loaf pan or bundt pan. How pretty as a bundt! You could also maybe bake this in two 9-inch square pans, but your cake may be a little thinner.
  • Make it into muffins. I’ve already mentioned this recipe, but I think this could work in muffin form too if you’re looking for something a little more grab and go (Jennifer Garner did it!). Just reduce the baking time.
  • Use another fruit. I think this could work with some other fruit variations – like pears? peaches? berries? Lots of options here.
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A fork cuts into apple cake.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake


This simple cinnamon sugar apple cake is light and fluffy, loaded with fresh apples, and topped with a crunchy cinnamon sugar layer!


Units Scale

Apple Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk or (1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon white vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped apples (see notes)

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix or whisk ingredients in order given, stirring until just combined. Fold in your apples.
  2. Pour batter into a buttered 9×13 pan (alternatively, you can line with parchment paper).
  3. Combine last 3 ingredients to make a topping and sprinkle / spread it evenly over the batter.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes. Test with a toothpick if needed. Serve with honey butter or whipped cream if you want. APPLE CAKE IS THE BEST!



Apples: I found that two average sized apples was about the right amount to get 2-ish cups of cut apples. For cuts/textures, see the photo and notes in the post! I like to use a crispy, sweet apple like Honeycrisp for this cake, but honestly, I think just about any type of apple would work.

Types of Oil: Canola or vegetable oil is what I normally use, but olive oil is also really delicious in baked goods – it just has a unique, distinct, olive oily flavor. Also, I haven’t tried it yet but I’d be willing to bet that an equal amount of coconut oil or butter would work, too.

Honey Butter: Mix 2-3 tablespoons softened butter with 2-3 tablespoons of honey. Add a sprinkle of sea salt if you want to take it over the top (you do).

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: cinnamon apple cake, cinnamon sugar apple cake, apple cake

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Recipe rating


  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    When I first saw this recipe, I thought it seemed suuuuper simple, which attracted me to it. I feel like lots of recipes these days are unnecessarily complex. The accessibility/simplicity of this is what makes it soooo amazing! Absolutely a wonderful recipe!

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    ella Nihan

    This is an awesome recipe! I’ve made this so many times i lost count. If you follow the instructions you shouldn’t have a problem with this recipe namely the size of your pan! Thanks for this delicious recipe

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Karen Orna Kahn

    This recipe sucks. Why do people like it?? It made this very weird, gummy oil-tasting cake. Yuck.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Hi Karen, I just made this recipe as cupcakes. They came out amazing. Soft, delicious, slightly sweet, incredible apple flavor. I hope you try it again, it’s worth it.

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Mine’s been cooking for about 90 minutes now and it’s still wet inside. I used a 9 inch ceramic pan and I replaced the buttermilk with 1 cup soy milk plus lemon. I also put in some extra apples. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly – not sure what I did wrong, but I won’t be making this again

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      By opting for a smaller dish you created a deeper cake, you also added more apples which adds moisture. I imagine the soy milk also changed how the moisture/protein would combine but I can’t swear to that. You first two factors would be enough though to either make the cake take a very long time to bake/always turn out a little bit wetter than expected. Fresh fruit is a tricky thing in baking and this being an oil cake to begin with it’s going to be very wet.

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Carrie Munroe

    This cake is the BEST!
    I did extra apples. It makes the cake super moist but they loved it.
    Did extra topping since that was a request.
    Made 3 times now

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Love this recipe! Do you think it would be ok to prep it the day/night before and have it in the baking dish in the fridge overnight and then bake it in the morning? Thanks!

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Made this in a 9 inch square pan because I wanted a thicker look to my cake. The pan took the entire batter,
    it did not over flow and looked very good.

    I thought the cake tasted better after several hours instead of warm.

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Angela McMillan

    Love love love this cake. Took it to a holiday party and it was a huge it. I did make the maple glaze from the muffins (browned the butter for extra amazingness) and put flaky salt on top. Wow!!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      I’m really confused as to how this recipe doesn’t include any cinnamon or salt in the actual cake

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    The official home of all things pumpkin, the world’s largest food network Search, watch and cook every single Tasty recipe and video ever all in one place

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Mine turned out really sloppy. Take note: the metric units version says 237ml of buttermilk or 1 cup of milk + 1 tbsp vinegar. However, a metric cup is 250ml. So if you go with a metric cup as I did, (plus the vinegar), you’re adding too much liquid. I should have noticed this earlier but the recipe needs to be adjusted too.

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jessica B

    Made this tonight and won 2nd place at our Fall Festival! Making it again for Friendsgiving this week 💛 I know I will never go wrong with a POY recipe!

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I baked this as written today based on the high number of good ratings. I think this recipe really missed the mark in terms of flavor and texture and overall meh. Not sure how there are so many good ratings on this one. Sorry for the negative review but I want to let others know. I am a seasoned baker and home cook so I’m perplexed on those commenters.

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Very very good recipe
    I eyeballed the apple and for me one very large honeycrisp was enough for the recipe
    Kid friendly recipe as far as assisting you can’t really mess it up
    Very good!!

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Another great recipe from Pinch of Yum! This was a big hit at my book club meeting yesterday. Seriously so easy to come together. I used Honeycrisp apples and sliced them thin. As someone else mentioned in the comments, I went ahead and doubled the topping and man was that a good call. If you are considering trying, DO IT NOW.

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Katherine Compton

    This was yummy and moist but a little too sweet for my preferences? Maybe next time i will reduce sugar to 1.25 cups and maybe add a pinch of salt

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Hi, I just read your recipe and it sounds delicious. I noticed one thing that does not look right when you change the size of it. The buttermilk calls for the same amount in all three versions. I’m not sure if you can correct it or not.

  17. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Super yummy and easy to make! A great way to use some of our apples from the orchard. I ended up making more of the topping to cover cake evenly.

  18. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This was so good! I halved the recipe and it fit perfectly in an 8×8 square pan. Mine baked in about 35 minutes. I would definitely make this again.

  19. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jami Lynn

    This is a great recipe! Here’s how I did it:
    I had three honey crisp apples going bad. Didn’t measure how many cups I had, but they were perfect. Sliced them very thin.
    Used the metric instructions for more accurate ingredient amounts.
    Added cinnamon to the batter as well as some pumpkin pie spice.
    Cut the sugar down by about 1/4 cup.
    Made buttermilk with powdered buttermilk mix.
    To the topping I added one packet of instant apple cinnamon oatmeal. It was so lovely on top I wished I had used two.

    Next I will try this with pears! This is a keeper and I think it’ll be very versatile.

  20. Pinch of Yum Logo

    So delicious! I could eat that cinnamon sugar topping on its own. This was a fun recipe to make with my little one and a perfect way to spend a morning.