Cinnamon, spice, and all the fall feels are baked up together in this moist, healthy Apple Bread made with fresh apples and applesauce.
As soon as the wind gets chilly and leaves begin to turn (or sometimes before they do), I plan an apple picking trip to our local orchard.
Inevitably, I come home with way beyond the reasonable amount of apples for a single household.
Equally inevitably, my husband Ben just looks at me, and asks (as if this is the first time this has happened) what are you going to do with all of those?
HELLO APPLE BREAD.
Packed to the max with cinnamon, walnuts, and juicy apple chunks, this loaded apple bread (along with these Apple Carrot Muffins) is as much an annual tradition as apple picking itself.
This recipe originally was from my friend Elisabeth’s mom, and I’ve been baking it every fall for the last 10+ years.
Below you’ll find a version with my healthy tweaks. It’s nothing short of stellar!
5 Star Review
“I have probably made this recipe 10+ times during this fall for family, friends, neighbors, small get togethers, etc. It is always such a hit!”— Catherine —
The Best Loaded Apple Bread from Scratch
Like this classic Gluten Free Apple Crisp, this apple cinnamon bread recipe is special.
- It is stuffed nearly to the point of falling apart with BIG apples and toasted walnuts. The apple situation here is loud and proud.
- It doubles down on apple flavor thanks to the addition of applesauce. Call me a purist, but I’m not a fan of recipes that fail to deliver on the flavor promise their name implies. When something is called APPLE bread (or Fresh APPLE Cake) , I expect there to be the lovely flavor of apple in every bite.
- This is a healthy apple bread compared to most. The applesauce replaces most of the oil and it reduces the need for excess added sugar.
- It’s made with white whole wheat flour for some whole grain goodness.
How to Make Apple Bread
This quick and easy bread is PACKED, nearly to the breaking point, with apple chunks and walnut pieces and topped with a crunchy cinnamon-sugar topping.
Once you try a bite, you won’t want it any other way.
- Apples. The star of the show! This bread contains a full TWO CUPS of apples, which is a lot more than you find in most standard apple bread recipes.
- Applesauce. This moist apple bread uses applesauce to replace nearly all of the oil. (If you’re feeling ambitious, try this recipe with some homemade Crockpot Applesauce.)
- 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.
- 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.
- Toast the walnuts. STAY NEARBY! Nuts can burn easily.
- Combine your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Using a separate bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients until smooth.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix them until just combined.
Don’t overdo the mixing or you’ll end up with tough bread. As soon as the flour disappears, it’s good to go.
- Fold the apples and walnuts into the batter next.
- Pour your batter into the loaf pan, and smooth the top. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar filling over the batter like fairy dust.
- Bake apple bread at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes, tent the bread with aluminum foil, and then bake for 20 additional minutes.
You know apple bread is done baking when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Better yet: take its temperature. When an instant-read thermometer registers 195-200 degrees F, it’s done.
- 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!
Topping 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 or even topped with 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.)
If you’d like to change it up—say you’re overrun with apples and on your third loaf in a week—and want to 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 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 3/4 cups of 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.
- Caramel Apple Bread. Simply add a drizzle of this Apple Cider Caramel Sauce over a slice (or two) of the apple bread.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Chef’s Knife. Use its high quality steel blade to uniformly chop the apples into chunks.
- Mixing Bowl Set. I use this set of glass nesting bowls almost daily. They’re durable and dishwasher-safe.
- Loaf Pan. Invest in a quality loaf pan so you can make this apple bread and this Healthy Pumpkin Bread all autumn long.
Frequently Asked Questions
Apple bread tends to be dense when it was overmixed before baking. For best results, mix only until the flour is just incorporated into the other ingredients. This bread does have some heft to it, but in a good, nourishing way.
Yes! This recipe for healthy apple bread is reduced sugar, reduced fat, and made with white whole wheat flour, making it more nutritious than other apple bread recipes.
No. This apple bread recipe does not contain yeast. It is a quick bread that depends on baking soda as a leavening agent. For an apple bread with yeast, see this Apple Honey Challah.
- 1/2 cup walnut halves raw
- 2 cups tart apples cored, peeled, and 1/4-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 an 8×4-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 will look 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.* Place on a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
- *Quick bread 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.
- TO STORE: Leftover apple bread can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for four days.
- TO FREEZE: Apple bread can be frozen for up to two months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
- TO REHEAT: 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.)
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