This healthy baked apple oatmeal is hearty and nutritious with the BEST texture. Sweetened with maple syrup and made with applesauce instead of oil or butter, this make-ahead oatmeal freezes well for an all-around breakfast MVP.
Back at it again with the baked oatmeal. Most of the time I will opt for a savory breakfast dish over sweet, but over the past few years I’ve really taken to baked oatmeal. It’s hard not to love!
It has easy prep, holds up well to freezing/reheating, and the way I make it is healthier than many classic recipes out there. Each of the flavor variations on my site (this apple cinnamon baked oatmeal makes #4 on the blog so far) is modeled after my original healthy baked oatmeal, which uses a modest amount of maple syrup for sweetening and mashed fruit in place of oil or melted butter.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- Oats have a well-balanced nutritional profile and are helpful to a healthy diet. They’re a good source of fiber and have a variety of other beneficial nutrients (NIH source).
- This recipe is made healthier without the use of butter or granulated/brown sugar, but doesn’t lack in flavor. Natural sweetness is provided by apples, applesauce, and a modest amount of maple syrup for a perfectly balanced breakfast or anytime snack.
- Enjoy classic apple cinnamon oatmeal flavor without the cloying sweetness that store-bought versions can bring. After a long time of eating this homemade baked apple oatmeal, I recently had a packet of instant apple cinnamon oatmeal (which I used to love!) and was shocked at how sweet it tasted.
- Oats: Old-fashioned oats (also known as rolled oats) are large, flaky oats that soften just right with the amount of liquid and bake time in this recipe. They provide a tender chewiness without being mushy. I don’t recommend quick or instant oat varieties as they would lack a hearty texture and may lean too mushy.
- Apples: I’m not picky with apple variety and just use the kinds we snack on like Honeycrisp or Gala, as they’re sweet and retain some crispness after being baked. Fuji, Ambrosia, and Pink Lady are also good options.
- Applesauce: Applesauce is a wonderful (and on-theme) substitute for the usual mashed banana for tenderness and moisture. Either unsweetened or regular is fine.
- Milk: Any variety of milk will work here. Usually I use 2%, but I’ve also used oat milk. Using non-dairy milk will ensure this recipe remains dairy-free.
- Maple syrup: This provides most of the sweetness in this baked apple oatmeal so please don’t skip it. 100% pure maple syrup is recommended, though you can substitute in honey if desired.
- Add oats, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt to a mixing bowl. If you have bowls of different sizes, use a larger bowl for the dry ingredients as this is where the whole mixture gets combined later on.
- Whisk the dry ingredients well to combine evenly.
- Add milk, applesauce, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract to a separate mixing bowl.
- Whisk very well until combined and smooth. You can use an electric hand mixer for this, but I usually just do it manually.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the oats and other dry ingredients.
- Stir using a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula to combine, ensuring the oats are moistened evenly and scraped up from the bottom.
- Add the diced apples to the bowl…
- …and then stir them in evenly.
- Pour the apple cinnamon baked oatmeal mixture into a parchment paper-lined 8″ x 8″ pan, leveling out the top with a spatula so it’s in an even layer.
- Bake at 350°F/177°C for 45 minutes, or until the top has set and the edges have turned golden-brown. Let the baked oatmeal cool completely before slicing as that helps the squares hold their shapes. If you slice baked goods when they’re still warm, you run the risk of of having crumbly or mushed pieces.
- Line the 8″ x 8″ pan with a sheet of parchment paper to allow you to lift out the baked apple oatmeal to slice it MUCH easier. Leave enough parchment overhang on two opposite sides so you can get a good grip for lifting. Give the lined pan a little spritz of cooking spray, focusing on the two unlined edges to help those sides release cleanly.
- Let this baked oatmeal cool completely before storing. This prevents condensation from forming and becoming trapped inside the container, which can lead to some adverse mushiness in leftover portions.
- Recipe variations: Other mix-ins such as chopped walnuts, pecans, raisins, etc. would make a wonderful accompaniment to the apple cinnamon baked oatmeal flavor here. I have tested this recipe with a variety of dairy-free milks, as well as have replaced an egg with a flax egg. All work well.
Similarly, let the oatmeal cool completely before storing it. That prevents condensation from forming and becoming trapped inside the container, which can lead to some adverse mushiness going on in leftover portions.
Wrap the oatmeal bars in foil, then place in an air-tight container or bag for storage. They will stay in the refrigerator for several days, but also do well when frozen. Reheating them in the microwave on half-power until warmed is my go-to, along with serving with a drizzle of maple syrup.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups milk your preferred variety (12 oz)
- 1 cup applesauce (8 oz)
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups (180g) small dice peeled and cored apples
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8"x8" baking dish with parchment paper, leaving enough hanging out along two opposite sides to be able to lift the baked oatmeal out of the pan later on for slicing. Give the parchment-lined pan a quick spritz of cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl stir together the oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt until evenly combined.
- In a separate, medium mixing bowl, whisk together milk, applesauce, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract well until smooth.
- Pour wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until everything is evenly moistened and combined. Stir in diced apples.
- Pour out oatmeal mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until the center has set fully and the edges are turning golden-brown. Let cool in the pan, then run a spatula along the edges to loosen before carefully lifting out the baked oatmeal. Let cool completely before slicing into nine squares.
- Allow the baked oatmeal to cool entirely to room temperature before slicing and storing. This prevents the bars from crumbling up, and any remaining heat from forming moisture and condensation inside of the storage container.
- Other mix-ins can be added here as you like, such as pecans, walnuts, raisins, etc.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.