This vegan apple cake is the perfect easy vegan dessert to use up fresh apples. It’s made with a decadent pecan glaze baked on top of the fluffiest, moist vegan cake. Enjoy warm with a scoop of non dairy ice cream or for the perfect sweet holiday breakfast. All you need is 10 simple ingredients!
I am definitely a savory over sweet person, so when I share a vegan dessert recipe with you, you know it’s going to be an easy vegan dessert. This apple cake recipe is made from scratch in 1 bowl, with no eggs, and with fresh grated apples. No complicated steps or hard to find ingredients!
For more easy vegan desserts, check out my Vegan Pumpkin Banana Bread, 1 Bowl Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, or Vegan Apple Nachos!
Why You’ll Love This Easy Vegan Cake Recipe
- No yeast required. Unlike my Vegan Flatbread, this easy apple cake is made without yeast and is instead leavened with baking soda. No need to worry about over proofing your vegan dessert or having to wait for the dough to rise. This vegan cake is ready start to finish in 1 hour!
- Can be served for breakfast. Around the holidays especially, it’s nice to serve something sweet and indulgent to celebrate. Since this vegan cake is made with freshly grated apples and a sticky glaze, it’s very similar to serving sticky buns for breakfast! Perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas. You might like my Overnight Vegan French Toast Casserole to celebrate the holidays, too!
- Made with fresh apples! Although making cake using a cake mix is incredibly convenient and easy, taking the extra time to make vegan cake from scratch using freshly grated apples simply can’t be beat! The flavor of this homemade vegan apple cake is far superior and more decadent than any boxed vegan dessert could be.
Ingredient Notes and Substitution Options
- Fresh Apples – I love using a combination of honey crisp and granny smith apples for a balance of sweet and tart. Feel free to use your favorite fresh apples here.
- Vegan Yogurt – Most cake recipes call for buttermilk or a similar high-fat dairy milks. In order to make this apple cake vegan, I used plain non dairy yogurt. This allows the cake batter to be similarly rich and higher in fat without dairy. If desired, substitute the yogurt with your favorite unsweetened plant-based milk or full fat canned coconut milk. I do not recommend using sweetened vegan milks or yogurts.
- All Purpose flour – For the lightest, fluffiest apple cake, I highly recommend using all purpose flour and using my weighted grams measurement. If you are new to baking with a scale or wondering why you would want to bake with a scale, watch this video: How to Measure Flour the Right Way. I have not tested this recipe using an alternative flour and caution against it!
- Vegan Butter – Non dairy butter not only makes this vegan cake extra moist, but also provides a bit of savoriness to balance the sweetness in this easy dessert. If needed, substitute the vegan butter with unrefined coconut oil.
- Flax Eggs – In our to make a cake without eggs, we need to use a vegan egg substitute that will bind the cake batter together and help give it structure while it bakes in the oven. A simple mix of ground flaxseed with water does the trick here!
How to Make Vegan Apple Cake (Step by Step photos!)
Although this vegan cake recipe is super easy, there are a couple of quick things to keep in mind before you get started making your dessert or sweet breakfast.
First, measure and prep all of the ingredients before you get started. If your apple cake batter sits out for too long before baking, the cake won’t rise properly in the oven. Measure all of the ingredients before starting to mix the batter ingredients together so you can move quickly without stress.
Second, do not attempt to skip the parchment paper. This cake is an upside down cake meaning after baking, the cake is flipped upside down so the pecan glaze is on top of the apple cake. Without the parchment paper, the apple glaze will stick to the bottom of the baking dish and be impossible to flip upside down.
- Prep the baking dish and glaze. Spread a large piece of parchment paper in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, making sure the parchment paper is large enough to cover the entire bottom as well as go up the sides of the dish. Then, spread an even layer of chopped pecans in the bottom of the baking dish.
- Whisk together the glaze ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the warm melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until the brown sugar has melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour over the pecans and gently spread until spread evenly.
- Add “wet cake ingredients” to mixing bowl. In the same mixing bowl used to make the glaze, add the vegan yogurt, brown sugar, flax egg, vanilla extract, and melted vegan butter.
- Mix to combine. You can do this using a whisk or a baking spatula.
- Sift in the dry cake ingredients. Directly into the bowl with the wet ingredients, sift the flour and baking soda into the bowl using a fine mesh sieve.
- Fold to combine. This is going to be a bit thick and slightly lumpy. Fold together until just combined.
- Add in the grated apple. For best results, toss or sprinkle the grated apple with a bit of all purpose flour to help prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
- Fold to combine. Again, this is not a whisking motion. Fold gently until just combined. This batter will be thick.
- Spread the apple cake batter over the glaze layer. The best, easiest way to do this is to use a 3 tablespoon cookie scoop and place scoops of cake batter about 2 inches apart over top the glaze, similar to how you would scoop cookie batter onto a baking sheet. Then, gently spread the cake batter smooth using a silicone spatula. This will help prevent the glaze from moving.
- Bake your cake. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the fluffy cake comes out clean.
- Allow the apple cake to cool. When you first pull your apple cake from the oven, you will likely be able to hear the apple glaze sizzling. Allow the cake to cool enough that the glaze layer sticks to the top of the cake, about 10 minutes.
- Invert the cake. Using oven mitts (the casserole dish is HOT!), carefully flip the casserole dish upside down onto a wire cooling rack so the sticky glaze is on top. The longer you allow it to cool the easier it will be to slice but I recommend enjoying a piece of vegan apple cake warm with vegan ice cream or coconut whip!
Regular cake batters are often made using milk and eggs. Vegan cake is made without eggs or dairy of any kind. This apple cake is made vegan by using a vegan egg substitute (flax egg), vegan butter, and vegan yogurt instead of milk!
Flour is naturally vegan! Vegan dessert recipes are free from animal products, but all purpose flour is made from wheat and is therefore free from animal products. Flour on the other hand is not gluten-free, so if you are cooking for a gluten-intolerant family member, look for a cake recipe that is made with a gluten-free flour blend.
Not necessarily. Vegan cake can be healthier than regular cake, but it is not always either. This vegan apple cake is still made with a lot of refined sugar, refined flour, and is higher in fat. Vegan cakes should typically still be consumed in moderation as an occasional treat!
Avoid over mixing and over baking. Over mixing the cake batter will prevent the cake from achieving a light, moist texture. Over baking the cake will of course cause it to be dry and crumbly.
It is best to use a mix of a sweet and sour apples when making an apple cake to create depth of flavor and ensure the apple cake isn’t overly sweet. Try a mix of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp!
Vegan Baking Tips
- Fold gently when combining wet and dry ingredients. Seriously. Over mixing or whisking it together quickly will leave you with a very dense, very gummy apple cake.
- Coat the grated apple in 1 tablespoon of flour. Before adding the grated apple to the batter, I recommend coating it in a tablespoon of flour. This will prevent the apples from sinking to the bottom of the apple cake and evenly disperse them throughout the batter to ensure fresh apples in every bite of fluffy cake!
- Use more parchment paper than you think you’ll need. If you use too little parchment paper, the glaze is likely to seep underneath it and therefore not stick to your apple cake at all. Using enough to also slightly cover the sides of the casserole dish will prevent this.
- Use room temperature ingredients. This helps the ingredients blend together into the perfect, seamless fluffy vegan cake batter.
More Vegan Desserts You May Enjoy
Easy Vegan Apple Cake (1 bowl!)
Apple Cake Batter
- 1 cup vegan yogurt - unsweetened (room temperature)
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 flax egg
- 5 ½ tablespoons vegan butter - melted (about ⅓ cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups flour - plus 2 tablespoons (328 grams)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup honey crisp apple - grated
- 1 cup granny smith apple - grated
- 1 ½ sticks vegan butter - melted
- 1 cup pecans - chopped
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Measure out all the cake ingredients ahead of time so you can prepare the cake quickly. If the batter sits too long it will be difficult to mix and the cake will deflate in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, Fahrenheit.
- Grate the apples, then sprinkle the grated apple with two tablespoons of flour to coat.
- Line the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish with a piece of parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sticky glaze ingredients.
- Pour the glaze mixture into the bottom of the parchment lined casserole dish and spread evenly until the entire bottom of the dish is covered.
- In the same mixing bowl used to make the glaze, prepare the flax egg by whisking together 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 2 ½ tablespoons of water. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, or until gelatinous in texture. Then, add in the light brown sugar, melted vegan butter, room temperature vegan yogurt, and vanilla extract. Whisk ingredients together until combined.
- Sift in the baking soda and flour and fold gently into wet ingredients. Avoid fast movements or the cake batter will get tough and stringy.
- Lastly fold in the grated apple until just combined. The batter will be thicker and not runny.
- Spread the cake batter over top the glaze in the casserole dish and gently spread it until fully covering the glaze. The best, easiest way to do this is to use a 3 tablespoon cookie scoop and place scoops of cake batter about 2 inches apart over top the glaze, similar to how you would scoop cookie batter onto a baking sheet. Then, gently spread the cake batter smooth using a silicone spatula. This will help prevent the glaze from moving.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5-10 minutes.
- Once cooled slightly, slide a knife around the edges of the cake to ensure no sticking, then put a cookie sheet over top the casserole dish. Using oven mitts, carefully invert the cake so the sticky glaze will be on top.
- Peel off the parchment paper from the glaze and slice the cake. Enjoy plain or with coconut whip or vanilla ice cream.
- Store leftovers at room temperature for 2-3 days. Because this cake is made with fresh apples, it will not last long.
- I use these vegan butter sticks. They are great for vegan holiday baking!
- How to easily spread the cake batter overtop the glaze: I like to do this by using a cookie scoop and placing scoops of batter overtop the glaze and then lightly spreading together with a baking spatula.
- Use enough parchment paper. If you use too little parchment paper, the glaze is likely to seep underneath it and therefore not stick to your cake at all. Using enough to also slightly cover the sides of the casserole dish will prevent this.
- Over mixing or whisking this batter together quickly will leave you with a very dense, very gummy cake.
- Using room temperature vegan yogurt will result in a lighter, fluffier cake batter.
Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
This recipe was originally published on November 5, 2020 and has been updated on March 3, 2021 to include step by step photos and instructions, FAQs, and Expert Tips. The original recipe remains the same.
We have made this recipe several times now, we made it for Christmas, Easter and most recently for my son’s birthday! It was a big hit every time! The batter is very thick and tricky the first time when trying to spread and not disturb the delicious sticky glaze. If you add it into the dish in large dollops you can cover most of the topping and carefully smooth any gaps at the end. We will definitely be making this again. 😋
Yay!! Dolloping on the batter is a great tip – I do that too!
We must have done something wrong. The mix was not “pourable” at all…it was really dry. We folded in the ingredients carefully but it just seemed like there was way too much flour. The pecan topping was fantastic but not sure what to do about the dough? Dry going in the oven and dry coming out. Any suggestions?? Thx!
Oh no! This cake batter is pretty thick and is not as runny and pourable as most other cake batters you’ve likely worked with but the cake should not be dry at all. Did you sift in the flour? Or was your yogurt extra thick? If the batter still seems dry, I would add an additional tablespoon of yogurt or even water at a time to make it more moist if needed. I hope these suggestions help!
This recipe was super easy to make! I’m eating it as I write this and I don’t think I can stop eating it! It’s perfectly sweet and could totally be a dessert of sweet breakfast treat! The texture and flavor are so perfect and delicious! Definitely a hit amongst non-vegans too!
So happy to hear this!! Thank you.
We have the pickiest of picky eaters! He is skeptical of everything even delicious sweets. So when he puts his seal of approval on a recipe we know it is a winner! Yes, this is more of a dessert we do not usually eat something this sweet for breakfast but this may be our new Christmas morning treat. It has apples so it’s health right? 🤷♀️🎄
I would say this is definitely allowed for breakfast! So happy you guys loved it.