Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

287 reviews / 4.7 average

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, and 100% as warming, fragrant, and cozy a basic apple cake should be. 

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.

How To Cut Apples For Apple Cake, In My (Un)Professional Opinion

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:

Three types of sliced apples.
  • 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 (affiliate link) 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.

Here’s How To Make Apple Cake

Mix your apples into the batter.

Cake batter with apples in a bowl.

Top with 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.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake: FAQs

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.

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Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

  • Author: Pinch of Yum
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 12 1x


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



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 ingredients in order given, stirring until just combined.
  2. Pour batter into a buttered 9×13 pan.
  3. Combine last 3 ingredients to make a topping and sprinkle / spread it evenly over the batter.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes. 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).

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

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

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  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Made this yesterday and it was a huge hit! I served with freshly made cinnamon whipped cream. I thought it was a smidge on the sweet side so next time I think I will use granny smith apples instead of honey crisp! Also, I loved using the thinly sliced apples instead of cutting into chunks. Great tip! Thanks for the great recipe!

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I usually love all POY recipes but this one was just ok. I added cinnamon and allspice to the batter, but it needed something… maybe just salt?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      We haven’t tested this cake using gluten free flour. We think it’s worth a try if you use a 1:1 gluten free flour!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      We haven’t tested this recipe with a flax egg, but we think it’d work just fine!

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Can I make this with almond milk or oat milk? I don’t have buttermilk or regular milk at home. Thanks so much!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Rebecca Torres

      It may work if you make sure to add the vinegar. The acid in the buttermilk (or milk+vinegar) is what reacts with the baking soda and causes the rise. Sub whatever you want for milk, but make sure there is an acid in there or you’ll get a flat, gummy cake.

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Made this with peaches. So good! Great easy recipe! Added cinnamon to the batter too!

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    J. Starr Gray

    I discovered this recipe last year and fell in love with it. It is so moist and full of flavor. It is easy to make. The tips on slicing the apples is the bomb! I used coconut oil and it gives the cake a subtle surprise for your taste buds.

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Had the recipe been altered for the Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake at some point? When I printed your website recipe, it had DOUBLED all the ingredients but still bake 325° for 45 min in 9×13″ pan. What?! So now i have a double recipe in a 9×13 in the oven! Very disappointed!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Sorry about that, Kathleen. There are small buttons on the recipe card that you can click to scale the recipe 2x or 3x. Perhaps one of those buttons was clicked prior to printing?

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Made this yesterday in muffin tin. Baked 14 min. Thanks for the tips on different ways to cut apples. Seems like a no-brainer, but that tip helped me want to experiment. Am a new fan of the thinly sliced apples now! Thanks again!

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    The only problem I found with the recipe was it only said flour so I did not know if it was plain or self raising
    I used plain and I had to double the topping to cover it all, on the upside it turned out fine in the end and the smell of cinnamon in the house is lovely and so was the cake.

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made this a few years ago at this point, but I was thinking about it so I decided I should review it! I was living in an acreage with a mini apple orchard and was looking for ways to use up some of the apples without having to go to the grocery store. I had all but the buttermilk, which is an easy fix if you have milk. This cake was super simple to make! Beyond simple! And so incredibly delicious. I’ve thought about it several times since then…hence why I’m here to give it five stars all these years later. Lol. I will have to make it again soon!

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Delicious, Moist! Added 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt for more flavor & it only took 40 minutes in my oven. I will cut the Cinnamon amount in half next time. Just a little too strong for my taste. Will definitely bake again. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Susan C Lester

    Can I make this without the apples? Would the ingredients be the same? I baked with apples and it’s delicious. Someone else wants to bake without the apples. Does anyone know?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Hi Susan. We haven’t tried baking this without apples, but we think it would work!

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This cinnamon sugar apple cake was easy and quick to make. The cake was super moist and so flavourful. Thanks for sharing! 😉