These are the best healthy stuffed baked apples for an easy to make, and nutrient-dense dessert or snack for kids and adults alike. Plus, they’re vegan and gluten-free!
It’s a bit of a mystery where I apparently got my culinary prowess since it’s always been a family joke that my mom hated to cook. As a parent of a toddler now (and another one who keeps me busy), I guess I can’t really blame her. And if cooking is a struggle for a lot of us, baking is just not going to happen. Like all of us, my mom wasn’t much for fussy cake recipes or homemade pie crusts. But she did know how to make a MEAN baked apple. To her, it was probably an easy recipe packed with a ton of nutritious stuff (apples, oats, nuts, etc.) that she would want us to eat. And to us, it was just dessert. Win, win. So I guess you could say I am following in mom’s footsteps and making the best easy healthy stuffed baked apples that the whole family will love.
Why This Recipe Works
There are so many reasons to love these delicious stuffed baked apples! Some of my favourite reasons are:
- Easy to make
- Packed with healthy goodness
My bet is that you probably have most of these things in your pantry, and the recipe is so versatile, you can absolutely swap things in and out.
Apples – I recommend using large red apples (larger ones are much easier to carve out and stuff), but you could also do a two smaller ones if that’s what you have.
Instant Oatmeal packets – This makes it so much easier to make the perfect baked apple stuffing volume, but if you don’t have the packets, you can also use 1/3 cup quick cooking oats per serving (so 1 1/3 cups for four people). I have also made this with other packets of flavoured oatmeal like maple & brown sugar or apple & cinnamon and it’s delish. If you opt for that, you can cut out the brown sugar in the filling.
Vegan Butter – To keep this recipe vegan-friendly, find a vegan butter that helps keep the apples and filling moist.
Ground flax– Flax adds omega 3s, protein and fibre, and just ups the whole grain action in these stuffed baked apples. This definitely will ensure your kiddos are getting something really nutrient dense.
Raisins – I get that not everyone is a raisin lover, so feel free to swap in dried cranberries, cherries, or whatever else your family likes.
How to Make This Recipe
Step 1: Slice the top off of the apple so it’s flat and core 2/3 of the way down until you remove all the seeds. Hollow out the apple allowing about 1/4“ of apple. Place in a greased 8×8” square pan.
Step 2: Mix together the oatmeal, sugar, butter, pecans, flax, raisins, cinnamon, and salt. Stuff the apple holes. Drizzle with maple syrup and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Step 3: Pour the apple cider, juice, or water into the bottom of the dish and mix in the extra cinnamon. Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes or until tender when pricked. Uncover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes to let the tops brown up. Serve with yogurt, whipped cream, or ice cream.
If your kids don’t like apple peel, then yes, go ahead and peel them before you bake them. I love the colour of the red baked apples, plus the extra fibre in the peel, but it’s really not a big deal.
You’ll want to use a firm large apple – I like Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Cortland, Empire or Fuji best. But again, this is an easy versatile recipe, so use what you have. It’s mainly important that the apples are all the same size so they cook evenly.
Like I said, there are a lot of ways you can make these stuffed baked apples your own, or just switch things up based on what you have on hand. These need to be an easy weekday dessert, breakfast or snack for you to want to make them regularly (and you’ll want to make them regularly). Here are some ideas on how to modify this recipe.
- Use flavoured instant oatmeal packets (ie. apple and cinnamon, maple and brown sugar, peaches and cream, etc.)
- Use regular quick cooking oats (1/3 cup per packet in the recipe)
- Use honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, low calorie brown sugar alternative, white sugar, or molasses in place of brown sugar
- Add almonds, walnuts, cashews, pine nuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds in place of pecans
- Add a spoonful of nut butter to the filling for extra flavour and healthy fats
- Use hemp hearts, wheat bran or ground chia seeds instead of flax
- Use dried cranberries, cherries, minced dates, minced apricots or minced prunes in place of raisins
Kids will love getting involved making these apples. I recommend letting an adult do the carving of the apple insides, and then the kids can mix up the filling ingredients and help you stuff them back in.
If you are sure to use gluten free oats, then this recipe is completely gluten free and safe for those with celiac and gluten intolerance.
Yes, if you use vegan butter, these will be completely vegan.
To make these stuffed baked apples in the microwave (because let’s be real, we don’t all have time on a Tuesday night to bake them), pop them into a microwave safe dish (so not metal, likely pyrex), and cover the dish with a paper towel. Cook for 6 to 10 minutes, then check to see if they’re cooked through. These won’t get a crunchy bits like they would if baked, but you can always add some nuts on top.
You may not fit all this filling in 4 small apples, but you can just do more apples and adjust the cooking time a bit. You want a fork to go in easily but for the apples to still hold their shape. The most important thing is that the apples are all the same size.
Yes, we keep them in the fridge for easy healthy breakfasts that will keep for 4 days in the fridge. The topping might not stay crunchy, but you can easily cut them in half and warm pieces up in the microwave for 30-45 seconds and serve them with yogurt.
Other Recipes You May Like
I am all about making sweets super easy to pull off for family. Here are some of my favourite weeknight desserts.
- Granola Poached Pears
- Coconut Rice Pudding
- Easy Fruit Spring Rolls
- No Bake Matcha Cheesecake Parfait
What are your go-to easy weeknight desserts? Leave me a comment below with your thoughts!
Stuffed Baked Apples with Oatmeal
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Slice the top off of the apple so it’s flat and core 2/3 of the way down until you remove all the seeds. Hollow out the apple allowing about 1/4“ of apple. Place in a greased 8×8” square pan.
- Mix together the oatmeal, sugar, butter, pecans, flax, raisins, cinnamon and salt. Stuff the apple holes. Drizzle with maple syrup and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
- Pour the apple cider, juice or water into the bottom of the dish and mix in the extra cinnamon. Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes or until tender when pricked. Uncover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes to let the tops brown up. Serve with yogurt, whipped cream or ice cream.
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.