First birthdays are so fun and bittersweet to celebrate, and this Healthy Apple Cake is one of my very favorite birthday cakes for kids. It’s SO easy to make, can be made ahead, and has a tangy yogurt frosting. Plus, it’s great for other celebrations, too!

healthy-apple-cake on cake stand

Healthy Apple Cake

When it came time to make a birthday cake for my third kiddo, I wanted something easy so I could enjoy the day with him and also yummy of course. This Healthy Apple Cake fits both of those goals—you can make the cake the day before if you want and it simply stirs together in a bowl.

It’s sweetened with maple syrup and applesauce, so it’s less sweet than traditional cakes but still super moist and flavorful. It also has fresh apple for extra flavor and a delicious cream cheese frosting.

You can make it a full day ahead of time and it’s delicious to serve to a crowd of all ages or to use as a smash cake for baby.

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Healthy Smash Cake

This baby cake can work as a smash cake for a baby’s first birthday—which is where you essentially give the cake to baby by placing the whole thing right in front of them and letting them smash and eat it however they like! Or it can be a cake to share with the rest of the family.

I made sure it tastes delicious to adults too, so you can serve it either way.

Ingredients You Need

The ingredients in this cake are very straight forward pantry staples, so you should be able to find everything in a regular grocery store.

ingredients in healthy apple cake on counter.
  • Eggs: Eggs help the batter to be light and tender, and hold together nicely.
  • Melted butter or coconut oil (slightly cooled): Use either one according to your preference. They work very similarly in this recipe.
  • Unsweetened applesauce: Applesauce, either homemade or from the store, provides sweetness and moisture in this apple cake.
  • Maple syrup: A little maple syrup adds flavor and sweetness. You can also use honey for kids over age 1 if you prefer.
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Fresh apple: Use any apple you like for this recipe such as Honeycrisp, Granny Smith or Pink Lady.
  • Whole-wheat flour: I use whole wheat flour here for the nutty flavor and since it holds up nicely with the moisture from the applesauce and fresh apple.
  • Cinnamon
  • Baking powder and baking soda: A combination of these help ensure that the cake bakes through and rises nicely.

TIP: To make this cake dairy-free, use coconut oil instead of butter. To make it gluten-free, use cup for cup gluten-free flour blend. To make it vegan, omit the egg and increase the applesauce. See the NOTES at the bottom of the recipe for the full details.

cake pans lined with parchment paper.

How to Prepare Cake Pans for Baking

I prefer to grease cake pans with nonstick spray, then line with a round of parchment paper to ensure that the baked cakes come out of the pans easily. Be sure to grease the sides of the pans, too.

To make the parchment rounds, place the pan on top of parchment paper. Trace with a marker, then cut out inside of the lines. That should then fit inside of your pan easily.

Step-by-Step Instructions

To make this cake, you’ll need to follow a super simple process of just stirring the ingredients together and prepping the pans. Here’s a look of what to expect and scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full information.

how to make healthy apple cake in grid of four images.
  1. Finely dice your apple. Place the dry ingredients into a bowl. The wet into another bowl.
  2. Gently stir all ingredients together.
  3. Prepare your pans with nonstick spray and rounds of parchment paper. Divide the batter between the two pans.
  4. Bake, then let cool for a few minutes, and transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

TIP: This recipe is baked in two 6-inch pans so it’s a nicely sized cake for a baby or toddler, but it still feeds about 8.

Easy Greek Yogurt Frosting

This frosting requires only three ingredients and is very easy to make. You do need to make it ahead of time so it has time to thicken, so plan to get it ready the night before you plan to serve the cake.

how to make maple yogurt frosting in grid of four images.
  1. Gather your ingredients.
  2. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Line with cheesecloth or two layers of paper towels.
  3. Place the yogurt on top of the paper towels in the strainer.
  4. Store overnight in the fridge. Liquid will come out of the yogurt making it thicker.
  5. Mix in the maple syrup and vanilla.
  6. Frost the cake!

TIP: If you want to frost the sides of the cake, you’ll want to double the frosting recipe.

baked apple cakes on wire racks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of apples are best for apple cake?

We like to use Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, or Pink Lady apples in this recipe. These tend to have wonderful flavor and bake well. You can use any apple though, as the recipe will still work.

What’s the best baby cake?

I love to make a cake using flavors or ingredients that are some of baby’s favorites. I have a lot of birthday cake options, so you can explore and choose the right one for your family.

My littlest and I on his first birthday!

How to Store

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

You can also make the cake a day ahead of time if that’s helpful for your schedule. Let the cakes cool, then store in an airtight container at room temperature. Frost before serving if possible.

slice of healthy apple cake with frosting on pink plate

Best Tips for Success

  • Dice the apple finely to about the same size. You don’t have to peel it.
  • Use coconut oil instead of butter to make this cake dairy-free. You’ll also want to use nondairy Greek yogurt.
  • Double the frosting recipe if you want to frost the sides of the cake too.
  • Add natural sprinkles or natural food coloring as desired.
  • Store any leftover cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Related Recipes

I’d love to hear what you think of this cake if you try it, so please comment below to share!

healthy-apple-cake on cake stand

Healthy Apple Cake (with Yogurt Frosting)

For a first birthday or a family celebration, this Apple Cake is easy and delicious. (Note: You'll want to start the frosting the night before you plan to make the cake so it has time to thicken.)
5 from 25 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 26 minutes
Total Time 41 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Desserts
Calories 291kcal
Servings 8


Apple Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup melted butter or coconut oil (slightly cooled)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • cups diced apple (about 1 large)
  • cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Maple Yogurt Frosting

  • 1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


To make the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease two 6-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray. Trace the pans onto parchment paper and cut out. Place parchment into the cake pans, trimming as needed to fit. Coat again with nonstick spray.
  • Stir together the eggs, butter, applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla, and diced apple. Gently fold in the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Divide batter between the two pans. (I put 1 cup into each, then divide the rest evenly by eye.) Spread the batter evenly in the pan with a spatula.
  • Bake for 26-28 minutes, or until the cakes are lightly golden brown around the edges, firm to the touch, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out evenly. Let cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then invert to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting:

  • Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Line strainer with cheesecloth or two layers of paper towels. Place the yogurt on top of the paper towels on top of the cheesecloth or paper towels in the strainer. Cover and store overnight in the fridge. Liquid will come out of the yogurt making it thicker. (About ¼ cup of liquid was in the bottom of the bowl each time I made it; discard this.)
  • Add the yogurt (spoon it off of the strainer) to a bowl with maple syrup and vanilla extract. Stir well with a wooden spoon or beat with a hand held electric mixer.

To assemble the cake:

  • Place one cake on a platter or cake plate. Top with ½ cup of the frosting and spread evenly.
  • Add the second cake on top, pressing down gently. Spread the remaining frosting on top.


  • Dice the apple finely to about the same size. You don’t have to peel it.
  • Dairy-Free: Use coconut oil instead of butter to make this cake dairy-free. You’ll also want to use nondairy Greek yogurt.
  • Egg-Free: Omit the egg. Increase the applesauce to ¾ cup and bake for 32-34 minutes. Let cool fully in the pans.
  • You can make the cake a day ahead. Let cool, then store in an airtight container at room temperature. Frost just before serving if possible.
  • Double the frosting recipe if you want to frost the sides of the cake too.
  • Add natural sprinkles or natural food coloring as desired.
  • Store any leftover cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.


Calories: 291kcal, Carbohydrates: 38g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 253mg, Potassium: 225mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 18g, Vitamin A: 436IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 105mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published February 2019.

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  1. Really excited to make this for my little girl’s first birthday! If I’m using 4-inch cake pans for three layers total, how should I modify this recipe? Thanks in advance!

    1. The layers will be much thinner so it should bake faster. I don’t know the exact timing without testing it but I would start checking at 14 minutes.

  2. 5 stars
    What a great recipe, Thank you! I was asked to make a sugarless Smash Cake for a 1-year old. Found this recipe online and tried it on my husband (!!) as I thought it would taste strange with no added sugar! I used salted butter and omitted the additional salt. I also substituted the yogurt with cream cheese. Well, it tasted absolutely divine. The combination of apples, cinnamon and maple syrup works really well together. I have the feeling I will be making it again for us adults, LOL!!!! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    Would it be possible to substitute diced apple with applesauce? I made it yesterday for my boy’s second birthday. He loved the cake but not the diced apples (he’s been finicky with new texture). If not, is there another cake recipe that uses whole wheat flour and applesauce? Thanks!

    1. You would need to double the recipe and bake for slightly less time since the cakes will be thinner.

  4. 5 stars
    I’m glad I found this recipe as my 2year old loves apple muffins and he is obsessed about yhogurt, so it sound like a perfect combination.

    I used 29cm (11.5inch pan) and made 2 versions as a trial run:

    Cake 1: I used 1/4 maple syrup and 1/4 ripe banana, the cake turned out great and it is actually sweet. So 1/2 maple syrup could be too much for my liking.
    Cake 2: I substituted maple syrup for very ripe banana. The cake turned out nice as well, however it’s significantly more dense.

    Verdict in my opinion: cake no 1 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    I don’t usually leave comments on blogs but I did a ton of research to find a recipe I was excited about for my son’s first smash cake, and I couldn’t believe how hard it was to find something with simple ingredients. Finally found this one and the cake was a hit! Super easy to make. The guests commented on how pretty it was (I used this cake with whipped cream instead of the yogurt frosting) and my son loved it! My husband and I tried some too it’s delicious. plenty sweet and loaded with apple. I plan to use this recipe again for muffins. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Hi! If I were to make this in 8 inch cake pans, would I need to add of each to the ingredients in order to achieve the same height?

    1. I have used other recipes that make two 6 inch cakes to make one 9 inch cake. I haven’t done 8 inch pans though. You could double it, add about 1 1/4-1/2 cups batter to each pan and then bake the rest for less time as cupcakes?

  7. Any suggestions for baking this as cupcakes? Do you know if I would do a different oven temp or bake time?

  8. 5 stars
    Loved this cake and so did the baby! The recipe made plenty of cake, so we have been eating it for breakfast without any frosting. It smelled and tasted amazing. It was also super easy to whip; I plan on making this in the future juat because.

  9. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe!
    I made this for my daughter’s first birthday. Love it! It’s easy, healthy and taste really good. I added a little beets juice to the yogurt frosting as a natural food colouring. It worked very well and made the cake to be a perfect pink smash cake.

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