This 2-minute gluten-free cinnamon apple mug cake is tender, fluffy, and perfectly infused with the flavors of fall. It’s a crave-worthy healthy dessert that you can make for yourself in no time flat!
I love me a good mug cake because when the cravings hit for a sweet but healthy treat, I can whip one up in a jiffy. And believe me: this apple- and cinnamon-infused version takes the cake (literally). If you want to share the love, it’s the perfect baking activity to make with your friends and family—and no one has to share!
- Finely ground almond flour: I use finely ground blanched almond flour to make paleo and gluten-free mug cakes because it’s the best for producing a rich, tender crumb. If you have a nut allergy, you can substitute sunflower seed flour or Otto’s cassava flour in a 1:1 ratio. I haven’t tried a 1:1 gluten-free flour, but many Nomsters have reported that it works!
- Applesauce: Rather than breaking out a big jar of the stuff, I just grab an applesauce pouch from the kids’ snack section in our pantry and squeeze out a tablespoon. (My favorite brand is Go Go SqueeZ.)
- Egg: The egg helps the cake rise and gives it a light, sponge-like structure. I know there are lots of folks with egg allergies, but unfortunately, this mug cake doesn’t work without eggs. (Really: I tested this recipe using two different egg substitutes, and the results were abominable.)
- Ground cinnamon: This apple cake is spiced with ground cinnamon because the pairing of apple + cinnamon is iconic. Feel free to add some ground nutmeg and allspice, too!
- Honey: The honey adds just the right amount of sweetness to these cakes, but feel free to use maple syrup as well. I tried using only unsweetened applesauce, but frankly, it didn’t taste that great. My son, Ollie, said it was like “health food cake”—in other words, it was sub-par.
- Avocado oil or melted coconut oil: To keep things dairy-free, I add a little fat to the batter in the form of avocado oil or melted refined coconut oil in place of butter. (I always prefer to use avocado oil, ghee, or refined coconut oil in baking recipes instead of vegetable oil.)
- Vanilla extract: Don’t skip this ingredient—just a smidge of vanilla extract makes a big difference in flavor!
- Baking soda:A leavening agent for the mug cake. You can substitute a scant ½ teaspoon of baking powder in place of baking soda if you tolerate corn starch.
- Diamond Crystal kosher salt: All sweets taste better with a pinch of salt!
Can you make an egg free or vegan mug cake?
Unfortunately, I tried making this recipe with a couple of different egg substitutes—Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer and a flax egg—and both produced a dense, gooey cake rather than a light and fluffy one. I really don’t think this recipe works well without an actual egg because it’s essential for the structure of the mug cake.
Seriously: you won’t get this fluffy texture below if you don’t add the egg:
Can you make a nut-free mug cake?
Yes! Although almond flour is my favorite base for this mug cake, it can be made to work with either sunflower seed flour or Otto’s cassava flour as a 1:1 replacement. Warning: the sunflower seed flour will react with baking soda and turn the mug cake green(!) so use a scant ½ teaspoon of baking powder in place of baking soda to keep the cake crumb color a light brown.
Do you have to use a microwave?
If you want the best-tasting fluffy mug cake in a hurry, you’re gonna have to use a microwave. Plus, cooking in the microwave is perfectly safe and the total time (including prep time) is under 5 minutes.
If you insist on using an oven or air fryer instead, you can do it—but the mug cake won’t rise as high and it will taste more egg-y. Pour the batter into an oven-safe 6-ounce ramekin and bake it in a 350°F oven or toaster oven for 18-20 minutes or a 325°F air fryer for 13-15 minutes. The tiny single serve cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. But to be honest, if you’re going to put in the additional time and effort, I recommend baking my Apple Bundt Cake, Baked Apples, or Apple Crisp instead.
Tips on how to make the best gluten free mug cake
- Whisk well before nuking! Mix the dry ingredients before vigorously stirring in the wet ingredients to ensure that your cake will be uniform, rise well, and have a soft, spongy crumb.
- Know your microwave wattage! Every microwave is different, so it might take a little experimentation to figure out exactly how much time it’ll take to cook your mug cake perfectly. As a reference, my 900-watt microwave with a turntable cooks a mug cake in 90 seconds.
- Don’t grease the cup! The cake climbs up and sticks to the side of the mug (or measuring cup) when you cook it, so don’t grease it (or else it won’t rise properly).
- Nuke one cake at a time! I know you might be tempted to throw a bunch of mug cakes into the microwave at the same time or double/triple the recipe in a bowl—but if you do, the mug cakes will cook unevenly. I strongly recommend cooking one at a time. If you’re cooking for a crowd, make my Apple Bundt Cake instead!
Let’s make a gluten free apple mug cake!
In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, add the almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until uniform.
Add the applesauce, honey, avocado oil, vanilla extract, and egg and stir the batter vigorously until smooth.
If you want the mug cake to look pretty, pour the batter into a microwave-safe mug (6- to 8-ounce size is optimal). That said, if you want to cut down on dirty dishes to wash, you can just microwave the cake in the glass liquid measuring cup itself.
Place the mug in the center of your microwave (it will rise more evenly in that spot), and cook on high power for 1-2 minutes. A 900-watt microwave will cook the mug cake in 90 seconds. Adjust the cooking time depending on the strength of your microwave: decrease the time if you have a higher wattage microwave and increase it if you have a less powerful microwave.
This paleo apple mug cake is finished cooking when it puffs up and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Your cake may rise up and collapse down, and that’s okay—it’ll still be tender, fluffy, and tasty!
Let the cake cool for a few minutes and top with a dollop of whipped coconut cream (or regular whipped cream or vanilla ice cream)…
…and a dusting of extra ground cinnamon, if desired.
Eat it up!
Other paleo and gluten free mug cake recipes
- Matcha mug cake (includes instructions for gluten-free chocolate mug cake and vanilla mug cake)
- Pumpkin mug cake
- Black sesame mug cake
Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and 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
Apple Mug Cake (Gluten Free, Paleo, Nut Free Option)
- 3 tablespoons finely ground almond flour or either sunflower seed flour or Otto’s cassava flour as a 1:1 nut-free replacement
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda or scant ½ teaspoon baking powder (Choose baking powder if using sunflower seed flour so the cake doesn’t turn green.)
- ⅛ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon applesauce
- 2 teaspoons honey or 2½ teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil or melted refined coconut oil or ghee
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, add the almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until uniform.
- Add the applesauce, honey, avocado oil, vanilla extract, and egg and stir the batter vigorously until smooth.
- If you want the mug cake to look pretty, pour the batter into a microwave-safe mug (6- to 8-ounce size is optimal). That said, if you want to cut down on dirty dishes to wash, you can just microwave the cake in the glass liquid measuring cup itself.
- Place the mug in the center of your microwave (it will rise more evenly in that spot), and cook on high power for 1-2 minutes. A 900-watt microwave will cook the mug cake in 90 seconds. Adjust the cooking time depending on the strength of your microwave: decrease the time if you have a higher wattage microwave and increase it if you have a less powerful microwave.
- This paleo apple mug cake is finished cooking when it puffs up and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool for a few minutes and top with a dollop of whipped coconut cream and more ground cinnamon, if desired.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.