Cinnamon, spice, and all the fall feels are baked up together in this moist, healthy Apple Bread. This quick and easy bread is FULLY LOADED, nearly to the breaking point, with apple chunks and walnut pieces. Once you try a bite, you won’t want it any other way.
I’ve been making this special apple bread recipe every fall for more than 15 years. I was first introduced to it my freshman of college when my friend Elisabeth’s mom mailed her not one but TWO loaves in a care package.
Little wins friends or elicits envy quite like a dorm care package. Fortunately for me Elisabeth is generous, especially since this apple bread is outstanding.
Packed to the max with cinnamon, walnuts, and juicy apple hunks, this apple bread makes quite the impression. I can still remember my first slice—and the four slices that followed.
I’m not sure if Elisabeth was annoyed at my rather cavalier attitude towards her apple bread, but she emailed her mom for the recipe and I’ve been baking it myself ever since.
The Very Best Cinnamon Apple Bread
This apple cinnamon bread recipe is special. The first thing that you will notice about it is that it is stuffed nearly to the point of falling apart with apples and walnuts.
Call me a purist, but I’m not a fan of recipes that fail to deliver on the flavors their names promise. When I call something apple bread, I expect there to be a lovely piece of apple in every bite. This apple bread lives up to its title.
Over the fifteen years (!!!) that I’ve been baking this apple bread, I’ve been tweaking the recipe to see what healthy changes I could make without losing the wonderful flavor, texture, and all-around warm cinnamon apple goodness that originally stole my heart. Today’s recipe is it!
Apple Bread Recipe Ingredients
This apple bread is made with simple, fresh ingredients that I bet you already have in your pantry.
- Apples. The star of the show! This bread contains a full TWO CUPS of apples, which is a lot more than you find in the standard recipe. Have lots of apples and need something to bake? Look no further than this apple bread or one of my other healthy apple recipes!
You can use any variety of crisp baking apples for this recipe. A few excellent apples for baking are Honeycrisp, Cortland, and Granny Smith. This article has suggestions for other apple varieties too.
- Applesauce. This moist apple bread uses applesauce to replace nearly all of the oil. At some point, I want to bake it with homemade Crockpot Applesauce (if I can ever stop myself from eating all the applesauce first anyway…)
- Cinnamon. Let there be no apple recipe without cinnamon! Apples and cinnamon are life partners, and I have no intention of separating the two, so apple cinnamon bread we shall bake.
- Sugar. The original recipe called for nearly a full cup, which I found to be a bit too sweet. I’ve pared it down here significantly. As the recipe reviews report, it’s perfectly scrumptious with the lesser amount.
- White Whole Wheat Flour. Higher in fiber and protein than white flour, and it tastes so mild, you’ll never suspect the swap.
- Walnuts. Be sure to toast them first. It’s an extra step but SO worth it. You’ll notice a much richer flavor and better, crisper texture. You can also swap the walnuts for pecans or omit them entirely if you’d like the apple bread nut-free.
How to Make Healthy Apple Bread – Recipe Steps
- First, grab a 8×4 inch loaf pan and spray a light coating of cooking spray.
- Now, let’s toast those walnuts! Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 8 to 12 minutes. STAY NEARBY! Nuts can burn very easily.
- Grab a large mixing bowl and combine your dry ingredients. Using a separate bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients until smooth.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, then pour in the wet ingredients. Using your hand, mix them until combined. Don’t over do it or you’ll end up with tough bread. As soon as the flour disappears, it’s good to go.
- Fold in your apples and walnuts next. The batter will be ridiculously thick, but stick with it. I recommend using a rubber spatula to distribute the apples and walnuts.
- Pour your batter into the loaf pan, and smooth the top.
- For the yummy cinnamon sugar topping, stir together cinnamon and sugar (the fall baking dream team!) in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the batter like fairy dust.
- Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Loosely tent the bread with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 additional minutes. When a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, it’s done (YAY).
- Let the bread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, and then set it out on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Finally, grab a big slice (or four) and ENJOY!
Serving, Storing and Reheating Apple Bread
- For serving, I love a slice warmed up and smeared with apple butter (especially this Slow Cooker Apple Butter), a nut butter like almond butter or peanut butter, or a touch of softened regular butter.
- It’s also delicious alongside Greek yogurt, either plain or vanilla (sometimes I sprinkle the yogurt with more cinnamon for good measure).
- To Store. Store leftover apple bread in an airtight storage container or ziptop bag at room temperature for up to four days.
- To Freeze. Place your baked apple bread in an airtight storage container or ziptop bag in the freezer for up to two months. I also love to wrap and freeze individual slices for on-demand breakfast portions.
- To Reheat. Let the bread thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. Place your apple bread on a baking sheet or wrap in aluminum foil, and warm in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until warmed through. (Or if you are in a big hurry, the microwave works well too.)
9.99% of the time, I bake this apple bread with apples and applesauce, just as the recipe is written.
That said, if you’d like to change it up—say you’re overrun with apples and on your third loaf in a week—or add a bit of extra flair, here are a few easy additions.
- Dutch Apple Bread. Start with this apple bread recipe, then add a cinnamon streusel topping and glaze! For the streusel topping, combine 1/4 cup brown sugar, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Mix together with a fork. Next, add in 2 tablespoons of softened, cubed butter and use your fingers or a fork to blend with the sugar mixture until small clumps form. Spread the topping evenly over the apple bread batter and bake as directed. While the bread is baking, whisk together 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons milk or cream. When the bread is finished baking and has cooled completely, drizzle the glaze mixture over the top.
- Snickerdoodle Apple Bread. Swap the walnuts for ¾ cups cinnamon baking chips (inspired by this classic Snickerdoodle Bread).
- Amish Apple Bread. This recipe is VERY similar to Amish Apple Bread recipes I found online (just made with healthier ingredients). Be sure to add the cinnamon sugar topping. Most Amish Apple Bread recipes yield two loaves, so I recommend doubling this recipe, then giving the second loaf to a friend :).
Have A Lot of Apples? Here are More Ways to Use Them Up!
- Fresh Apple Cake With Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
- Applesauce Muffins
- Hasselback Apples
- Apple Oatmeal Cookies
- Vegan Apple Crisp
- Apple Chips
- Apple Carrot Muffins
Happy fall to you, my beloved Apple Bread! Here’s to 15 years of baking and eating your apple cinnamon goodness, with many more to come. I hope this easy apple bread recipe becomes a part of your fall tradition too!
- 1/2 cup walnut halves - raw
- 2 cups tart apples - cored, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced, such as Cortland or Granny Smith (about 2 medium)
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat white flour - or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tablespoons canola oil - or light olive oil or melted, cooled coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons milk - any kind you like (I used skim)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For Topping (Optional)
- 1 tablespoon sparkling sugar - or turbinado (coarse, raw) sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and lightly coat a 8x4-inch loaf pan with baking spray. Set aside.
- Spread the walnuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until toasted and fragrant, about 8 to 12 minutes, stirring once throughout. DO NOT WALK AWAY during the last few minutes and set a timer. Nuts love to burn the very moment you stop watching. Transfer to a cutting board. Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the white whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the applesauce, canola oil, milk, sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredient all at once. Mix in by hand just until combined. The batter was looking be very thick and stiff. Fold in the apples and walnuts. It will be hard to do because the batter is so thick. Use a rubber spatula and smush and push it around gently but firmly as needed. Distribute the apples and walnuts as evenly as you can.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. With the back of a rubber spatula, press and smooth the top so it is mostly flat. For the cinnamon sugar topping, stir the cinnamon and coarse sugar together in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.
- Bake for 25 minutes, loosely tent with foil, then bake for 20 additional minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean without any wet batter clinging to it (quick breads can be hard to judge; the best way is to take its temperature with an instant read thermometer. When the bread hits 195 to 200 degrees F, it's done). Place on a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy warm, at room temperature, and/or smeared with butter, peanut butter, or almond butter.
Fun fact: is the third time I’ve shared this apple cinnamon recipe on my blog (a serial perfectionist, I wanted to improve the photos). It was one of the earliest recipes I posted, back in 2012—I took the first photos with a flip phone! Sadly, I lost those original shots in a website migration, but I do still have the round I posted back in 2016. Here they are for posterity. It’s fun to see the photography progress. And to be clear: apple bread tastes delicious no matter what it looks like.
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