I am absolutely in love with these juicy, cinnamony baked apples, and you will be, too!
There’s just something so comforting about apple desserts. And I've got to say, while these baked apples look super fancy, they are actually super easy to prepare.
All you do is stuff fresh apples with a mixture of whole rolled oats, walnuts, raisins, and just a bit of maple syrup, then cook them until they’re super tender and dripping with spiced apple goodness. (You can make it even easier by using my easy healthy homemade granola as the stuffing if you already have some prepared.)
You just core them, stuff them, and bake them. And ta-daaah! You've got a mouth-watering dessert that tastes like apple pie but without the work.
Healthy Baked Apples Recipe Notes
Plus, these baked apples are full of healthy ingredients and are dairy-free, gluten-free, low in added sugars, and vegan.
- Apples are the star of the show here. We all know that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." They are full of vitamins and antioxidants, and they’re a great source of fiber, too. Plus, when they're in season apples are a great price.
- Rolled Oats are rich in fiber, and minerals, including magnesium and zinc. And they’re also naturally gluten-free (if you have a severe gluten allergy or sensitivity, make sure to use oats specifically labeled gluten-free.) See the recipe notes below if you want to make your baked apples completely grain-free.
- Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats and provide even more antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Cinnamon is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, it's just delicious.
- Maple syrup is a vegan, natural sweetener that is loaded with healthy minerals. Always look for real maple syrup (none of that processed pancake stuff). Read the label, it should only contain maple syrup. I like to buy mine on Thrive Market or at Costco for a great price.
These baked apples are beautiful enough to entertain with and easy enough to make just about any time you crave them.
How to Make Baked Apples
This recipe takes only a few minutes to prep. Here’s all you need to do:
Choose Your Apples: For this recipe, I used small organic Gala apples. During the baking process, they baked down perfectly soft on the inside but still kept their shape. Fuji apples would work well, too. Granny Smith (green) apples are tart and work, too, but you may want to add another tablespoon of maple syrup to balance the flavors. There are hundreds of varieties of apples available, feel free to sub in your favorite variety. A fun thing to do with kids (and adults!) is buy a few varieties, some sweet, some more tart, and do a "baked apple taste test" to taste them side-by-side to start to understand the different flavors of different varieties.
Core the Apples: You’ll need to core your apples so they can hold all the yummy filling. To do this, cut off the very top of your apple. Then use a small melon baller or a pairing knife to carefully remove the seeds and the core while keeping the apple’s outside (and bottom) intact.
Stuff the Apples: Spoon the oatmeal filling into the apples and then add them to a dish. As I mentioned above, if you happen to have some healthy homemade granola on hand, you can use ½ cup of that to subsitute the filling as it's almost the same thing. For the liquid, use ¾ cup of filtered water or unprocessed natural apple cider if you have some on hand that you need to use up. The liquid will prevent the apples from drying out and sticking to the pan.
Bake the Apples: Bake the apples for 45 minutes. Halfway through, baste them with their pan juices to keep them juicy and tender.
Top and Serve the Apples: These beauties taste best warm from the oven. I like to top them off with a dollop of my delicious homemade coconut whipped cream and a small sprinkle of cinnamon. Your favorite vanilla ice cream would also be wonderful on top. Vegan ice cream has come a long way in the past few years and you can easily find some at your local natural grocery store if you want to keep this vegan and/or dairy-free.
Tips for Making This Baked Apple Recipe:
Here are a few more simple tips to ensure your baked apples turn out perfect every time:
- Use Old Fashioned Rolled Oats: There are many types of oats out there, but for this recipe, you want to use old-fashioned rolled oats, not steel-cut or quick-cooking.
- How to Keep Your Apples Upright: Most times your apples will stand up on their own, but if you’re having trouble getting an apple to stand up straight, you can trim it straight on the bottom so it's even. Just make sure not to cut off too much; you want to keep the apple intact so your filling won’t fall out.
- Choosing Your Butter: If you want to keep this vegan, choose a vegan butter that doesn’t contain any hydrogenated or interesterified oils, preservatives, or emulsifiers (Miyoko’s or Earth Balance brands are great). If you tolerate butter, look for a high-quality grass-fed butter if possible to keep your dish healthy, and use unsalted butter. If salted butter is the only thing you have, omit the pinch of sea salt in the ingredients list.
- Make-Ahead and Storing: You can prep these baked apples up to 24 hours ahead of time. Store them in a baking dish in the refrigerator (without the baking liquid), covered with a lid or plastic wrap. When ready, pull them out of the fridge an hour before you bake them to come to room temperature, then add the liquid to the dish and pop them in the oven. If you're in a rush and have to go from fridge to stove, they may just take a little extra longer to bake, so give them an extra 10 or so minutes in the oven.
This delicious, healthy baked apples recipe makes a perfect fall dessert! It's super easy to make and naturally vegan and gluten-free (see recipe notes). This recipe scales easily; plan on 1 small baked apple per serving. I like to pop it in the oven about 15 minutes before we sit down to dinner to serve after dinner. If you make this recipe and love it, please give it a star rating in the comments below to help other readers (thank you!).
- 4 small organic apples
- ¼ cup gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts (or nuts of your choice)
- 2 tablespoons raisins (chop them if they're big)
- 3 tablespoons real maple syrup (or honey), more or less to taste
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- a pinch of sea salt (or kosher salt)
- 1 tablespoon butter, cut into 4 pieces (use non-dairy butter if vegan is desired)
- ¾ cup filtered water (or natural, unfiltered apple cider for more flavor if you have it on hand)
- Topping ideas: coconut (non-dairy) whipped cream, a scoop of vegan or regular vanilla ice cream, a dusting of cinnamon, or an extra sprinkle of chopped nuts or healthy homemade granola
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Wash your apples, then prep by cutting off the top of the apple and then carefully removing the core and seeds using a melon baller or small pairing knife. We prefer to leave the skin on for flavor and texture (and fiber!) but feel free to peel them if you prefer. Place the apples into a small baking dish and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, nuts, raisins, maple syrup, salt, and cinnamon. (Alternatively, you can use ½ cup of already made granola and skip this step.)
- Spoon the mixture into the apples.
- Top each apple with a small piece of the cut butter. Then add the liquid to the pan.
- Bake until the apples are soft when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. Halfway through baking, remove the apples from the oven and baste with the pan juices.
- Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before adding your toppings and serving. Place each apple on a small plate, top with a small scoop of coconut whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (and a sprinkle of nuts or granola, if desired.) Serve warm. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator—they are delicious cold the next day.
- Use vegan butter and coconut (or non-dairy) whipped cream or ice cream to keep make this dish vegan
- Substitute the oats with 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, chopped, and 2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds (mixed with the walnuts) to make your baked apples completely grain-free.
Keywords: Baked Apples Recipe, Baked Apples, Gluten-Free Dessert, Vegan Dessert