Vegan Apple Cake

This old-fashioned vegan apple cake features a deliciously-moist cake filled with apples and spices. It’s topped with brown sugar frosting.

A slice of vegan apple cake sits on a plate in front of other slices in the background.

Looking for the perfect dessert? This old-fashioned vegan apple cake recipe is a go-to favorite. It’s like my vegan vanilla cake, except this one is infused with the right spices, apple chunks, and brown sugar frosting.

Real bits of apple throughout the cake add texture and flavor. And the caramel brown sugar frosting adds rich color and sweetness to every bite.

How to Make Vegan Apple Cake

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

  1. Stir together flour, sugar, salt, spices, and baking soda.
  2. Combine the vegetable oil, water, applesauce, vinegar, and vanilla in a small bowl.
  3. Stir together the water mixture and the flour mixture.
  4. Fold in the chopped apples. Learn more about preparing apples for apple cake (and pies).
  5. Pour the batter into a prepared pan.
  6. Bake until the cake is done and golden on top.

Apple Cake Ingredients

  • Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
  • Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
  • Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
  • Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
  • Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
  • Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
  • Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
  • Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
  • Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
  • Flour — You can use all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, or even high-quality gluten-free flour for baking (usually, they’re labeled for baking). Learn more about all-purpose flour vs plain flour.
  • Sugar — You’ll need both granulated sugar and brown sugar.
  • Salt — Using salt balances the flavor of the sweetness.
  • Spices — I add ground cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice for the best flavor.
  • Baking soda — The baking soda will interact with the vinegar to create lift in this cake.
  • Vegetable oil — You can use canola oil, olive oil, or avocado oil.
  • Applesauce — to add to the apple flavor, we’ll add one cup of unsweetened applesauce or use this applesauce replacement.
  • Vinegar — Let’s continue with the apple theme and use apple cider vinegar. You can substitute regular white vinegar or even lemon juice.
  • Vanilla — We’ll add vanilla extract to enhance the cake’s flavor.
  • Apples — You’ll need two large apples. I prefer using a tart granny smith apple for this recipe.

How to Make this Cake Healthier

This is an egg-free apple cake which means “right out of the box” it’s a bit healthier than some. And if you prefer this cake as is, go for it. But in case you want healthy vegan apple cake, here are some ideas:

  • Reduce the granulated sugar by 25%
  • Use whole wheat flour (either 100% or half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour)
  • Add fiber by including a tablespoon or two of ground flax seed, ground chia seeds, or psyllium husk fiber.
  • Skip the sugary frosting and go with something light, like aquafaba whipped cream. You can use my vegan meringue recipe as a guide.
Looking down on a cake in a baking pan. The cake is covered with caramel frosting.

Frosting Options

Here are some great options for topping your apple cake:

  • Sprinkle powdered sugar — A little bit of powdered sugar sprinkled over the top is a nice touch.
  • Dairy-free whipped cream — I love the texture of whipped cream on a cake (such as my vegan pineapple cake), and it pairs nicely with this one!
  • Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Caramel Brown Sugar Frosting — This is what you see pictured in these photos. It’s pretty simple to make. The step-by-step instructions are in the recipe card below.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • FLAVORFUL — The spices and apples add so much flavor to every bite!
  • CROWD FAVORITE — There’s something about fresh apples baked into a cake and topped with caramel frosting that touches everyone’s favorite food button.
  • SATISFYING — The spices, combined with the caramel flavors and apple bits, make this cake so rich, delicious, and absolutely satisfying!

Frequently-Asked Questions

Can this cake be gluten-free?

You can make a vegan gluten-free apple cake by substituting all-purpose flour with high-quality gluten-free flour intended for baking.

What kind of apples are used for apple cake?

To offset the sweetness of the cake, I prefer using firm, tart apples, like Granny Smith Apples.

A fork holds a bite of apple cake sitting in front of the rest of the cake.

Storage Tips

Cover the cake and refrigerate. It will keep for up to 5 to 7 days in the fridge. You can freeze the cake or slices in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months.

A close-up of egg free apple cake, showing bits of apple in the cake.

Vegan Apple Recipes

If you love this vegan apple cake as much as me, you’ll want more apple desserts. Such as my vegan apple pie. Try these yummy vegan apple recipes, too:

A slice of easy vegan apple cake sits on a plate.

Vegan Apple Cake

This easy apple cake recipe is made with minimal, easy-to-find ingredients, and delivers a cake that's beautiful, easy, and delicious! Serve it with chocolate frosting or any of your favorite frosting recipes.
5 from 3 votes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Resting time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 12 slices
Calories: 330kcal


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups peeled chopped apples (about 2 large apples, cut into 1/2-inch chunks, or smaller)
  • Topping Ideas: Powdered sugar, Vegan Butterscotch, or Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting (see notes)


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C. Spray a 9×13 cake pan with vegetable spray.
  • Combine in a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, salt, spices, and baking soda. Stir to combine.
    A hand pours a bowl of spices into a mixing bowl with four, sugar, and other ingredients.
  • In a smaller bowl, combine the vegetable oil, water, applesauce, vinegar, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
    A hand holds a spatula, stirring a mixture of water, applesauce, and other ingredients.
  • Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture.
    Wet ingredients are being poured into a bowl with dry ingredients to make cake batter.
  • First, stir with a spatula.
    A hand holds a spatula, stirring cake batter in a bowl.
  • Then stir with a whisk to remove large clumps of flour.
    A hand holds a whisk stirring cake batter in a bowl.
  • Fold in the chopped apples. Learn more about preparing apples for apple cake (and pies).
    Chopped apples are being stirred into a cake batter.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
    Cake batter with apple bits is being poured into a 9x13 cake pan.
  • Allow the cake to cool for about 30 minutes before serving. Right before serving, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar or top with brown sugar frosting (see recipe below).

Recommended Equipment

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Top with powdered sugar or any of these frostings:

Brown Sugar Frosting

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup plant-based milk or creamer
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Cook the vegan butter, brown sugar and plant-based milk (or creamer) in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until the butter melts. Then stop stirring and let it come to a boil. Once boiling, let it continue boiling for 1 minute. Then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for another minute. Whisk in the powdered sugar and then remove from heat. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Drizzle it over the warm cake.
Calories: 330kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 382mg | Potassium: 94mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 23IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

2 Responses to Vegan Apple Cake

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyPat Reply

    5 stars
    Thanks for this delicious cake recipe!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      So glad you like this cake, Pat!

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