This gluten free apple cake is positively packed with fork-tender apple chunks, the cake delicate and tender from being baked along with them.

There are few things more comforting than a still-warm slice of cinnamon-rich apple cake, packed with tender chunks of apples. It needs no dollop of whipped cream, no scoop of vanilla ice cream, to delight, especially if your friends and family are lucky enough to be served a slice the same day it was baked, the whole house still fragrant with its baking.

A gluten free apple cake you can’t resist

Similar in ingredient proportions to a French apple cake, this much simpler apple cake is baked right in a standard cake pan rather than a springform pan. This recipe somehow still manages to deliver a cake with a custard-like texture inside, but with a lovely, buttery browned crust.

Maybe you’re like me, and you’re just picking out the very best apples at the grocery store and baking like you mean it. Or maybe you’ve just spent a day picking apples at an orchard, leaving you with the apple over-abundance you promised yourself you’d avoid but never seem to. You just have to make this gf apple cake any way you can.

apples being prepared, a cake pan with batter on top, apples on top, and then a baked apple cake in a round pan

Preparing the apples for your gluten free apple cake

Here’s how I prepare my apples for this cake:

  • Peel the apples first, without coring them, using a classic vegetable peeler;
  • Using a large, sharp knife, slice each apple in half on a cutting board, then in half again, so you have 4 quarters;
  • Slice the core out of each quarter by placing each on one cut side, then slicing off the core at an angle;
  • Slice each cored, peeled, quarter apple into 3 or 4 pieces along the length, then into chunks by cross-section;
  • Toss the apples with the cinnamon, optional nutmeg, and lemon juice.

Can you freeze your prepared apple chunks ahead of time?

Yes! You can actually prepare the apple chunks as described above, and then only toss them with the lemon juice. Spread them on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet in the freezer. Once they’re frozen, transfer them to a zip-top bag and return them to the freezer. You can use them to bake this gf apple cake—without defrosting them!

Choosing a gluten free flour blend for your gf apple cake

I always use Better Batter (or my mock Better Batter gluten free flour blend) in this cake. There isn’t a ton of gluten free flour in this cake (it’s really mostly apples!), but the flour blend does a lot of work keeping everything together in this moist, custard-like cake. So be sure to choose your all purpose gluten free flour blend wisely!

Baked apple cake with slices on white platter

What’s the best cake pan for gluten free apple cake?

The easiest way to bake this cake is in a 9-inch round cast aluminum baking pan, greased well to ensure that the sides of the cake don’t stick to the pan. But I like the cake even better when it’s baked in an 8-inch round pan, prepared the same way. It takes about 10 minutes longer to bake all the way through, but each slice really shows off all those apples when it’s taller, instead of longer.

Can I bake this apple cake in a bundt pan?

No, I’m afraid that this cake is just too chunked with apples to hold together when made in a bundt pan. You’d never get it out of the pan in one piece!

Tips for preparing your gf apple cake

Get 3 mixing bowls ready

You’ll need 3 separate bowls for the different ingredients in this apple cake, but it’s worth it. You’ll need one for the apples, to which you’ll add most of the prepared cake batter, one for whisking together the few dry ingredients (gf flour blend, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and/or nutmeg), and one for creaming together the wet ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla).

The cake batter is super chunky

You’ll combine about 2/3 of the butter and egg mixture with the chopped apples, and the batter will be almost impossibly chunky. Just make sure to coat all the apples in as much batter as you can, and resist the urge to use all the batter. You’ll really need to coat the bottom of your prepared baking pan with that remaining 1/3 of the wet mixture.

Apple cake with slice missing

Gluten free apple cake substitutions and variations

Gluten free dairy free apple cake

The only dairy in this recipe is the butter, and you should be able to replace it successfully with vegan butter. My favorite brands are Melt and Miyoko’s Kitchen. Earth’s Balance Buttery Sticks might work here, but they’re really salty and have more moisture, so reduce the salt and expect that the batter might leak from the pan. Line it with a rimmed baking sheet during baking.

Gluten free egg free apple cake

There are two eggs in this cake, and you should be able to replace each of them with one “chia egg.” To make 2 chia eggs, place 2 tablespoons ground white chia seeds and 2 tablespoons lukewarm water in a small bowl, mix to combine, and allow to gel.

Gluten free sugar free apple cake

You might be able to make this cake with a sugar alternative. My favorite granulated sugar replacement for baking is Lankato brand monkfruit sweetener, but it does tend to be drying, so you may need to add some water to the butter and sugar mixture if it seems really tight.

Vegan gluten free apple cake

If you replace both the butter and the eggs as described above, and make sure that your granulated sugar isn’t made with bone char, your gf apple cake will also be vegan.

Variations for your gluten free apple cake

Here are a few suggestions for how to switch things up a bit and make your apple cake a little different:

  • Serve your apple cake warm, with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream;
  • Drizzle the cake very lightly with a really simple confectioners’ sugar glaze;
  • Replace half the apples with firm pears, prepared the same way, for a gf apple pear cake;
  • Add a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a light sprinkle of ground cinnamon on top.
Closeup image of apple cake with ice cream and bite taken with fork


Does this gluten free apple cake need a glaze or frosting?

No, this cake is so packed with baked apple chunks, and warm aromatic spices that it’s perfect on its own. Of course, no one can say no to a generous slice of apple cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream…

What are the best apples for making gluten free apple cake?

For baking, you want an apple that will hold its shape when heat is applied to it, and provide lots of flavor. Granny Smith are the apples that are typically recommended for baking, since they’re quite tart, hold up very well in baking, and are widely available for purchase. I love them for everything. 

For depth of flavor and texture in your baked goods, it’s great to use a variety. My favorite apples for eating, and for baking, and even for cooking down into applesauce are Empire, Macintosh, and Cortland. Gala is also a great variety, especially when used in baking with Granny Smith for a nice flavor variety.

Do I have to peel the apples for gluten free apple cake?

Yes, you have to peel and core apples when they’re being baked into the center of a cake. The apple skins have a lot of fiber, and won’t break down in the oven like the flesh does.

Storing your gf apple cake

The crumb of this cake is so moist, and the baked apple chunks keep it that way. So you can store it at room temperature, or even in the refrigerator (or freeze for longer storage). Here are some more specific tips for getting the most out of your cake:

How long does gluten free apple cake keep?

This gluten free apple cake is super moist and will keep on the counter for a full day if it’s well-covered with plastic wrap, and in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 days. The crumb of the cake is so moist, and the baked apple chunks keep it that way.

Does gluten free apple cake need to be refrigerated?

The cake should only be refrigerated if you plan to store it for longer than 1 day, or if it’s very warm in your kitchen and cooked foods are prone to spoiling.

Can you freeze gf apple cake?

Yes, you can freeze this cake whole, or in slices. Just be sure to place it in a container with a tight-fitting lid. If you’re freezing the cake whole, you can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap on all sides, and place it on a quarter sheet pan in the freezer until it’s frozen. Then, you can remove it from the pan.

If your cake has been frozen, defrost it at room temperature uncovered, since condensation will gather on the container or plastic wrap as it defrosts, which could make the cake soggy.

An apple cake on a silver surface with a slice being taken

Tender Gluten Free Apple Cake Recipe below



Tender Gluten Free Apple Cake

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Try this incredibly tender gluten free apple cake any time of year. Our gf apple cake smells amazing and doesn't need additional toppings to satisfy.
Course Cake, Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword gluten free apple cake
Prep Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cooling time 40 minutes
Servings 8 slices
Author Nicole Hunn


  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment or handheld mixer


  • 1 ½ pounds baking apples peeled, cored and diced (a mix of Cortland, Gala, and/or Granny Smith apples works really well) (about 3 large apples)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 ⅛ cups all purpose gluten free flour blend (I used Better Batter; please click thru for appropriate blends)
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease well an 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pan, and set it aside.
  • In a large bowl, place the diced apples, and toss with the ground cinnamon, nutmeg (if using), and the lemon juice. Set the bowl aside.
  • In a separate medium-sized bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine well. Set the bowl aside.
  • In another separate, large bowl with a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the butter and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).
  • Add the sugar, then the eggs and vanilla, beating to combine well after each addition.
  • Add the dry ingredients, and beat until just combined. The batter will be thick but smooth and fluffy.
  • Scrape about two-thirds of the cake batter into the large bowl with the apple mixture. Mix to coat all of the apples in the batter. The mixture will be very chunky.
  • Transfer the remaining one-third of the cake batter to the prepared cake pan. With a moistened, small offset spatula, spread into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan.
  • Scrape the chunky apple-packed cake batter into the pan on top of the base layer of batter, and spread again into an even layer with an offset spatula. If you’ve used an 8-inch pan, it will be quite full.
  • Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and remove the foil cover from the pan. Return the pan to the oven to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with no more than a few moist crumbs attached (about another 40 minutes, or about 50 minutes for an 8-inch pan).
  • Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes. The cake will begin to shrink away from the sides of the pan a bit.
  • Run a thin spatula along the edge of the pan to ensure that the sides aren’t sticking before carefully transferring the cake to a wire rack.
  • Allow the cake to cool for about another 15 minutes. Using a very sharp knife, slice and serve the cake, ideally while it’s still warm.



Originally published on the blog in 2015. Recipe method adjusted slightly and recipe otherwise unchanged. Most photos, video, and most text new.

The post Tender Gluten Free Apple Cake | Dairy Free Option! appeared first on Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

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