Applesauce Coffee Cake

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This Applesauce Coffee Cake is made with applesauce and sour cream to keep it super-moist, and the cinnamon nut streusel adds sugar and spice in the center and the top of the cake.  This is an easy recipe for the perfect cake to enjoy with your morning coffee, gingerbread latte, or any time of day snack!

Applesauce Coffee Cake

Do the words coffee cake make you think of breakfast?  I suppose it would when it has the word coffee in it!  But this treat is a little different than your classic morning carb like a nice toasted bagel, homemade croissant, or even the cherry crumb cake.

Not only does it seem a little indulgent to have cinnamon and sugar with your morning cup of joe, but it is actually like having cake for breakfast!  Now, I’m all for a flaky breakfast danish or mesmerizing chocolate cinnamon roll, but anytime I can have cake for breakfast, I’m in!

What makes this applesauce coffee cake a little different is that I tried to make some healthier concessions since we are eating cake before noon.  But, make no mistake, this breakfast is still full of all the gratifying things!

  • Applesauce to Replace Some of the Sugar and FatThere is still sugar and butter in this coffee cake, but not as much as would traditionally be.  Applesauce is a great substitute for both.
  • Sour Cream for Moisture and Texture – Sour cream has been added to make the cake extra tender and moist.

Standard Portion Coffee Cake Recipe

Given this applesauce coffee cake is one of the first recipes on the blog, it happened before I embraced small batch baking.  Along with the banana chocolate chip coffee cake.  Both are made in a standard size 9×13 inch baking pan.  So no need to worry about finding a small vessel to bake this cake in!  

However, if you are interested in checking out a few of my small batch coffee cake recipes, try the gluten free mini mocha coffee cake – it actually has coffee in it!  Or the mini cherry coffee cake, which is a delightful way to incorporate some fruit into the breakfast cake.

Breakfast cake cut into squares on a plate.

What You Need To Make coffee cake with applesauce


  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Dark Brown Sugar – For the streusel topping.
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda – We use both for texture and rise.  And since we are using sour cream, the baking soda balances the acidity and contributes to the rise.
  • Salt
  • Sour Cream – The sour cream aids in the moisture and texture of the coffee cake.
  • Eggs
  • Applesauce – I recommend unsweetened applesauce because we still add sugar to the cake, and we don’t want the result to be overly sweet.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Ground Cinnamon – A little spice for the streusel topping.
  • Pecans – The pecans are going in the streusel topping, and any nut will work.

Baking Equipment

  • 9×13-Inch Baking Pan
  • Mixing Bowls
Applesauce coffee cake squares on a platter.

Tips For Making Applesauce Coffee Cake with streusel topping

  • Bring the refrigerated ingredients to room temperatureFor the coffee cake, mixing the batter with ingredients that are all the same temperature will make for even distribution and baking.  The exception to this is the butter in the streusel topping – I like the butter to be cold so the streusel doesn’t just melt as soon as it starts baking.
  • Use full fat sour cream – I have not tested this recipe with anything other than full fat sour cream.  The fat contributes to the desired texture and moisture of the cake.
  • Unsweetened applesauce is best – Because we are adding our own sugar, we don’t want the coffee cake to be excessively sweet.  I recommend a simple, unsweetened and un-chunky applesauce.
  • Use a food processor to make the streusel topping – It makes it easy.  That said, you can always mix the streusel by hand.  Either using a pastry cutter or two forks to cut the butter in.  Even your fingers will work to make the streusel.
  • Scrape the sides of the bowl while mixing – It is inevitable that some of the batter will stick to the sides of the mixing bowl while mixing.  We want all of the ingredients to mix thoroughly!
  • Try the foil sling – Using foil makes removing the cake from the pan easy.  However, you could always line the pan with parchment paper.  As long as the sides are long enough so you can lift it out of the pan.
  • Use any nut for the streusel topping – I like pecans because they have a bit of a buttery flavor.  Though, any nut will work!
A plate of applesauce coffee cake squares set on a table.

faq’s For Making Applesauce Coffee Cake

Is the coffee cake healthier because it includes applesauce?

It is not necessarily a healthier coffee cake. The applesauce is included to replace some of the fat and sugar that the coffee cake may normally have. Plus, it also helps to make the cake moist.

Can I make the coffee cake healthier by replacing ALL of the fat and sugar with applesauce?

I don’t think the recipe will work as written to make that swap. Too much applesauce may make the cake gummy and dense.

Can you taste the sour cream in the cake?

No, I don’t think you can. The sour cream adds needed fat and moisture to the cake. It also makes the cake soft and tender.

Does the cake taste like applesauce?

You may find an ever so slight hint of applesauce. The flavor is more likely to come through as a sweetener.

Why is it called coffee cake when there isn’t any coffee in it?

Because it was originally intended to be served with coffee.

Can I omit the nuts in the streusel topping?

You certainly can!

Close up of applesauce coffee cake slice
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4.44 from 16 reviews

Applesauce Coffee Cake

Yield: 12 Slices
This Applesauce Coffee Cake is made with applesauce and sour cream to keep it super-moist, and a cinnamon streusel adds sugar and spice in the center and the top of the cake.  This is an easy recipe for the perfect cake to enjoy with your morning coffee or an anytime snack!
Prep15 minutes
Cook40 minutes
Total55 minutes


Streusel Topping

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

Coffee Cake

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce (room temperature)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups full fat sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt


Streusel Topping

  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the butter cubes and 'cut' into the mixture using two forks, your fingers, or a pastry cutter. Mix until you have coarse crumbs. Stir in the pecans. Note – Chop the pecans as small as you prefer. Keep in mind, part of the streusel will be in the middle of the cake, so you may want smaller pecan pieces.
  • Option for making the streusel – You can also make the streusel in a food processor – Simply add all of the ingredients – except for the pecans – and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Stir in the chopped pecans after everything has been mixed.

Coffee Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position.  Line a 9×13-Inch baking pan with foil – long enough so it hangs over the sides of the pan. This will make getting the cake out of the pan easier. Lightly grease the foil.
  • In a small mixing bowl, add the applesauce, sour cream, and vanilla. Mix until combined and smooth. Set aside.
  • In another small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Mix on medium high speed to cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix to incorporate after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Turn the speed to low, sprinkle in half of the dry ingredients into the stand mixer. Mix on low speed until just incorporated. Then add the applesauce mixture. Mix until just incorporated. Sprinkle in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until no dry streaks remain. Do not over mix – otherwise the cake will turn out tough.
  • Pour half of the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread out evenly. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the streusel topping over the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the top – carefully spreading the batter out as necessary. Then finish with sprinkling the remaining streusel mix on top.
  • Bake the cake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cake feels firm and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for 30 minutes. Lift the cake out of the pan using the edges of the foil, and let cool completely on the wire rack.
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Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich

11 thoughts on “Applesauce Coffee Cake”

  1. 5 stars
    made this recipe yesterday. used homemade chunky applesauce. it was GREAT !!!! very moist and flavorful…will definitely make this again and again !

  2. 3 stars
    I wondering if the amount of butter in the streusel topping is way too low. You call for only 2 tablespoons while most streusel topping recipes call for at least 6 tablespoons considering the amount of sugar and flour you call for.
    Is this possible?

  3. I”m a bit confused on the measuring of the sour cream and applesauce. It says to mix them in a liquid measuring cup but do you measure them using the liquid measuring cup?

    1. Hi Denise – thanks for the note. I updated the recipe to just mix the sour cream and applesauce in a mixing bowl. I (personally) like to measure and mix into a liquid measuring cup because the cup makes pouring the liquid mix into the dry ingredients easier (for me). Thanks!

  4. 5 stars
    The best recipe ever!! I used homemade applesauce and yogurt instead of sour cream just because I didn’t have the sour cream. So delicate and perfect leavening ratio❤️

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