These healthy baked apples make for a simple and delicious autumn treat. Packed with a cinnamon-infused sweet and crunchy filling made with pecans, almonds, and coconut (no oats!), these apples are the perfect paleo, vegan, gluten-free, and grain-free fall dessert!

A paleo baked apple is cut open and vanilla ice cream is melting on top. The red banner at the bottom reads paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, and vegan.

A simple vegan, paleo, and gluten-free dessert

I look forward to apple desserts every year when the leaves change color and the weather turns chilly. It’s not just the warm, inviting flavors of these treats that I crave—I also love perfuming the house with smells of apples and cinnamon. When I want to roll up my sleeves, I’ll happily whip up an apple crisp or an apple bundt cake, but these delectable baked apples are even easier to make and satisfy my autumnal dessert cravings.

This crazy-simple baked apple recipe requires three steps: core the apples, stuff them with a nutty and sweet filling, and bake until tender. Then, simply dollop some whipped coconut cream or dairy-free ice cream on top and you’ve got a showstopper dessert. It’s all the flavors of an apple pie, but without the flour, effort, and fuss!

A closeup of a baked apple topped with whipped coconut cream.

Ingredients

An overhead shot of the raw ingredients needed for baked apples
  • Apples: Pick large apples that are suitable for baking (see below) so you have enough room inside to pack the delicious filling. Also, choose apples that have a relatively stable base with a core that isn’t off-center.
  • Nuts (Pecans and Almonds): You can vary the combination of nuts depending on your preferences, but I love pecans and almonds the best. If you use different nuts, just make sure the total amount is a ½ cup. 
  • Unsweetened Shredded Coconut: Shredded coconut adds a tropical touch to these baked apples—and some extra crunch. If you have a nut allergy, you can use more shredded coconut and combine it with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. Hate coconut? Leave them out and add more nuts.
  • Maple or coconut sugar: Maple and coconut sugar impart a nice caramel flavor and the right amount of sweetness to this dish. Both can be used interchangeably and are a great substitute for brown sugar. You can also use honey or maple syrup, but the filling will be more gooey.
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt: The salt adds a nice contrast to the sweet crunchy filling. If you’re using a fine grain salt or Morton’s brand kosher salt, use only ¼ teaspoon.
  • Spices: Ground cinnamon paired with a dash of ground cardamom or nutmeg pairs perfectly with apples.
  • Ghee or coconut oil: Ghee (a clarified butter) or coconut oil helps bind the filling together. If you’re vegan, opt for coconut oil.
  • Orange juice: I add orange juice to the pan so the apples bake in a moist environment. Also, the juice gets concentrated and makes a tasty sweet and tangy sauce for the baked apples, which I much prefer to a traditional cloyingly sweet caramel sauce.

What are the best apples for baking?

The best baking apples to use in this homemade apple crisp recipe are the varieties with great flavor that hold their shape while they cook. Golden Delicious, Gala, Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Mutsu, Braeburn, Cortland, Empire, and Pink Lady apples are fantastic for baking. Granny Smith apples hold their shape when baked, but they may be too tart for some folks.

Avoid Red Delicious apples for this recipe—they get too mushy when cooked. Trust me: you’ll be disappointed if you use ’em.

How to make healthy baked apples

Preheat the oven

Heat the oven to 350°F with the rack in the middle while you assemble the ingredients.

A hand is setting the oven to 350°F

Prepare and core the apples

If an apple is slightly wobbly, use a paring knife to trim a little off of the bottom to make it stable. Don’t trim off too much apple or you’ll run the risk of puncturing the apple when you core it.

Someone using a paring knifer to trim the bottom of the apple on a wooden cutting board.

Use a melon baller to remove the stem and scoop out the core and seeds.

A melon baller is scooping out the stem and core of a Honeycrisp apple.

Remove all of the seeds and core, but be careful to leave the bottom and sides intact.

No melon baller? Simply use a sharp paring knife and teaspoon to remove the core.

Two hands are holding an apple that has had the core and seeds removed.

Next, use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to peel the skin off the top edge, about ½-inch wide.

Four cored apples have the top peeled of their skin.

Make the filling

Finely chop the pecans and almonds and transfer them to a medium bowl.

Cutting pecans and almonds with a chef's knife on a wooden cutting board

Add the shredded coconut, maple sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom.

A closeup of the baked apple filling in a glass bowl.

Pour in the melted ghee or coconut oil and mix well to combine.

Pouring melted ghee into a bowl filled with the baked apple filling ingredients.

Taste the filling and adjust the seasoning if needed. It should taste nutty, sweet, mildly salty, and have just the right amount of cinnamon-y flavor.

The final filling for the baked apples after the melted ghee has been mixed in.

Stuff the apples

Use a spoon to carefully pack the filling in the center of each apple, adding enough to reach the top.

A spoon is filling a cored apple with a paleo and vegan sweet and salty filling.

When the apples are stuffed, add some of the remaining filling on the top of each apple, covering the peeled portion of the apple.

A spoon is adding baked apple filling to the top of an apple, covering the unpeeled portion.

Carefully place the filled apples in a single layer in a 2-quart oven-safe baking dish.

Two hands are placing stuffed apples into a white baking dish.

Pour the orange juice into the bottom of the dish.

Pouring orange juice from a Pyrex measuring cup into a baking dish filled with stuffed apples

Bake the apples in the oven

Pop the apples into the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes…

A baking dish with baked apples is put into an open oven.

…or until a knife easily pierces through the apple and the top is golden brown. You want your baked apples to be tender but not mushy, so start checking them at the 40 minute mark.

A paring knife is inserted into a baked apple in an open oven.

Serve the baked apples

Take the baked apples out of the oven and cool slightly. Place each in a small bowl. The baked apples are best served warm, but you don’t want to burn the roof of your mouth when you eat it.

A hand is placing a baked apple in a shallow bowl.

Spoon some of orange juice from the baking dish on top of the apples.

A spoon is pouring the concentrated orange juice onto a baked apple.

Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (dairy-free if you want to keep it paleo or vegan) or whipped coconut cream, if desired.

A spoon is adding a dollop of whipped cream to a baked apple in a shallow white bowl.

Dig in!

A baked apple topped with whipped coconut cream has a slice cut out of it to show the inside.

How to store leftover baked apples

If you have any leftover baked apples, you can store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can reheat the baked apples in the microwave, about 1 minute on high power, or in the oven at 325°F for 5 to 10 minutes or until heated through.

More paleo apple dessert recipes


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022).


PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

Baked Apples (Paleo, Vegan, Gluten Free)

4.88 from 16 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time55 minutes
Servings 4
Packed with a cinnamon-infused sweet and crunchy filling made with pecans, almonds, and coconut (no oats!), these baked apples are the perfect paleo, vegan, gluten-free, and grain-free fall dessert!

Ingredients  

  • 4 large baking apples Golden Delicious, Gala, Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Mutsu, Braeburn, Cortland, Empire, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith are good baking apples
  • ¼ cup whole raw pecans
  • ¼ cup whole raw almonds
  • ¼ cup

    unsweetened shredded coconut


  • ¼ cup maple sugar or coconut sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom or ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons melted ghee or coconut oil
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • dairy-free vanilla ice cream or whipped coconut cream (optional)

Instructions 

  • Heat the oven to 350°F with the rack in the middle while you assemble the ingredients.
  • If an apple is slightly wobbly, use a paring knife to trim a little off of the bottom to make it stable. Don’t trim off too much apple or you’ll run the risk of puncturing the apple when you core it.
  • Use a melon baller to remove the stem and scoop out the core and seeds. Remove all of the seeds and core, but be careful to leave the bottom and sides intact. No melon baller? Simply use a sharp paring knife and teaspoon to remove the core.
  • Next, use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to peel the skin off the top edge, about ½-inch wide.
  • Finely chop the pecans and almonds and transfer them to a medium bowl. Add the shredded coconut, maple sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom. Pour in the melted ghee or coconut oil and mix well to combine.
  • Taste the filling and adjust the seasoning if needed. It should taste nutty, sweet, mildly salty, and have just the right amount of cinnamon-y flavor.
  • Use a spoon to carefully pack the filling in the center of each apple, adding enough to reach the top. When the apples are stuffed, add some of the remaining filling on the top of each apple, covering the peeled portion of the apple.
  • Carefully place the filled apples in a single layer in a 2-quart oven-safe baking dish. Pour the orange juice into the bottom of the dish.
  • Pop the apples into the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a knife easily pierces through the apple and the top is golden brown. You want your baked apples to be tender but not mushy, so start checking them at the 40 minute mark.
  • Take the baked apples out of the oven and cool slightly. Spoon some of orange juice from the baking dish on top of the apples. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (dairy-free if you want to keep it paleo or vegan) or whipped coconut cream, if desired.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 393kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 24g | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 35g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

Other Recipes You May Like

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. In the oven now. The filling was so tasty, can’t wait to try it! Didn’t have orange juice so I used apple cider we just picked up from the orchard.