Caramel Apple Coffee Cake – Low Carb and Gluten-Free


Moist cinnamon apple coffee cake drizzled with homemade low carb caramel sauce. Everything you love about fall in one recipe!

Low Carb Gluten-Free Caramel Apple Coffee Cake

Okay, so today is supposed to be a Makeover Monday post but already I am getting off track and straying from the schedule.  And here we are, only the second week in!  Welcome to the world of Carolyn, disorganized blogger and hater of all things routine.  That girl, she can’t stick to a schedule if her life depended on it!  Although, truth be told, this one is due to circumstances beyond my control.  I have a great makeover recipe for you, but because it is part of larger campaign, it’s being pushed to tomorrow or Wednesday.  And so, Makeover Monday becomes Makeover Tuesday or Wednesday.  Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

Caramel Apple Coffee Cake with sugar-free caramel sauce

However, to appease you, I offer up this delectable low carb Caramel Apple Coffee Cake.  Apple season is in full swing here in New England, and apple-picking is one of my favourite things about fall.  I have always loved apples and back in the day when I had a fully working pancreas, I ate at least one a day.  Apples are surprisingly high carb, so I now limit myself to half an apple here aor there. Or I eat one before I go for a run or work out, since I will burn the sugars up quickly anyway.  But they still rank among my favourite fruits and there are usually plenty of apples in our fruit drawer.  They’re infinitely portable and great for kids’ lunches, since they won’t smoosh like softer fruit.

Caramel Apple Coffee Cake top view

Even if I couldn’t eat apples at all, I’d probably still go apple-picking every fall.  It’s a tradition in these parts and it was when I was growing up in Toronto too.  Getting out of the city and into the apple orchards on a warm, sunny fall day makes the world seem like a friendlier place.  And those sun-warmed apples picked right off the tree…truth be told, I’d run a whole marathon, just to be able to eat one.  That crisp flesh, crunching under your teeth, releasing the tangy juice and sweetness onto your tongue.  Yep, that’s worth some serious mileage in my books!Low Carb Caramel Apple Coffee Cake slice

This recipe idea has been floating around in my brain ever since the kids went back to school, and I could hardly wait until we went apple-picking to make it.  I knew I’d have to go light on the actual apple in the cake, to keep the carb count down.  But I helped the flavour along a bit with some apple flavouring in the cake batter.  Then I swirled in some homemade low carb caramel sauce into the batter, and sprinkled the top with a cinnamon crumb mixture halfway through baking.  And then a drizzle of some more low carb caramel sauce to finish it off.

Now that’s what I love about fall!

Low Carb Caramel Apple Coffee Cake

This recipe is also being featured in a wonderful Fresh & Festive Holiday eZine. I am so honored to be asked to contribute 4 gluten-free, low sugar and healthy recipes to this gorgeousfree download. The focus is on using fresh produce in your holiday cooking, such as tomatoes, berries, apples and dates.  The  Please check it out here: Fresh & Festive
Fresh & Festive Holiday eZine

Caramel Apple Coffee Cake

Yield: 16 servings

Caramel Apple Coffee Cake

Moist cinnamon apple coffee cake drizzled with homemade low carb caramel sauce. Everything you love about fall in one recipe! Gluten-free and Grain-free.


    Caramel Sauce:
  • ¼ cup Swerve Sweetener
  • ¼ cup xylitol
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum
  • Cinnamon Crumb:
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp Swerve Sweetener
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Cake:
  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 6 tbsp unflavored whey protein powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup Swerve Sweetener
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ tsp apple flavoring
  • ¼ tsp stevia extract
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and cored, chopped fine


  1. For the caramel sauce, combine water, Swerve Sweetener and xylitol in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir until Swerve and xylitol dissolve. Bring to a boil and cook without stirring 7 to 9 minutes, until mixture begins to darken in colour. Mixture may smoke slightly.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in whipping cream, butter, vanilla and salt. Mixture may bubble vigorously.
  4. Sprinkle with xanthan gum and whisk in quickly to combine (if you get any lumps, use a hand blender to smooth them out). Set caramel sauce aside.
  5. For the cinnamon crumb, whisk together almond flour, Swerve and cinnamon. Cut in butter and use your fingers to rub together until small crumbs form. Set aside.
  6. Preheat oven to 325F and grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, whey protein, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  8. In a large bowl, beat butter with Swerve until smooth. Beat in eggs, apple flavoring and stevia extract.
  9. Beat in almond flour mixture in two additions, alternating with almond milk. Stir in chopped apples.
  10. Spread batter in prepared pan. Drizzle half of the caramel sauce over top and swirl into the batter with a knife.
  11. Bake 25 minutes, then remove from oven and sprinkle with cinnamon crumb mixture. Bake another 25 minutes, or until golden brown and center is set (if your cake is browning too quickly, cover with foil for the last 15 minutes of baking).
  12. Remove from oven and let cool. Then run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to loosen sides. Remove sides and drizzle with remaining caramel sauce.


Serves 16. Each serving has 7 g of carbs and 3 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 4 g.

232 Calories; 21g Fat (77.2% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 67mg Cholesterol; 231mg Sodium.

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  1. Kelli says

    Is there a reason for combining xylitol and swerve in the caramel sauce? I love to use xylitol but our little doggies get into our trash and after a couple of small panics I decided to switch to eyrithritol instead. O.O

    • Carolyn says

      erythritol doesn’t stay in solution and your caramel sauce will re-crystallize and harden. That said, it will still taste really good!

      • Kelli says

        Awesome, I think I’ll give it a go with all eyrithritol and make them into muffins as my hubby will most likely reheat when he eats them :). His fave breakfast used to be these rich pumpkin and butterscotch muffins that are definitely not low carb or sugar free, I think this will be a great substitute !!

        • Carolyn says

          I contemplated making these muffins instead of cake, so I think they would work well. The bake time will be less, of course.

  2. Alexandra says

    First of all, your blog is absolutely amazing and has really helped me find recipes that I can make to accomodate the rest of my family’s standard diet. They love all the new dishes I’m making for them and I get to enjoy them too. Also, I didn’t know you grew up in Toronto! The apples are absolutely huge here, and when I went apple picking last weekend I came home with over 25 lbs of apples and no idea how to cook them into something low carb. Thank you so much for this recipe, it’s a life saver!!

  3. says

    Wow this sounds just delish! Was hoping to make it for family visiting soon but they have nut allergies and this would be deadly for them … and I don’t mean on the hips.

    I’ll have to make it for me and hubby, sigh, so sad, too bad … I’ll have to freeze most of it, LOL for continued enjoyment.

  4. Robin Morelock says

    I’ve recently discovered your website and have had very good success with your recipes. I’m wondering if there might be a good substitute for the whey powder. It’s not easily obtained where I live. I’ve looked on the Internet and have found only large quantities to order. Plus, I don’t really enjoy the taste. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

    • Carolyn says

      Hi Robin…you won’t get any taste of whey if you use the unflavoured variety. But if you can’t get a hold of it, can you get powdered egg whites?

      • Robin Morelock says

        Thanks so much for your speedy response. Yes, I use powdered egg whites all the time! Protein for protein, right? Would I use the same amount?

    • Deborah says

      Robin, you can order unflavored whey protein powder from – they deliver all over the world. I ordered a fairly small canister, wasn’t expensive, got here (Israel) in about a month. And shipping is cheap, too – I pay $4 for any package that is under 4lbs in weight.

  5. Luana says

    Carolyn, you never cease to amaze me with your wonderful recipes and breathtaking photos! This looks like it would be a wonderful addition at any Thanksgiving dessert table.

  6. V says

    I love apples as well and I was keeping myself from eating a lot. With my CGM, I realized that a 4oz tart apple such as a Macintosh is not more than 6-7g each (which is far from the nutrition fact). I can totally eat 1 or 2 per day without even using insulin (I’m type 1). Your cake is lovely. Now I need to bake…

    • Carolyn says

      We like to pick the small ones when we go apple picking, so that I can eat a “whole” apple. But the ones you find in the grocery store are typically much larger than 4 oz!

  7. Linda says

    In the caramel sauce, can you use all Swerve and not Xylitol? I don’t use Xylitol, so I am trying to substitute something else. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  8. says

    I love good coffee cakes that are moist. I finally found this breakfast place that serves excellent blueberry coffee cake (and I’m going this Fri for brunch!). They started to serve apple coffee cake that I had been curious. Now that I saw yours I’m even more excited to taste it. Your coffee cake looks really delicious, Carolyn! I’ll need to save this recipe so that I can make my own (it’s about time!). :)

  9. Deborah says

    This looks divine. Is there any way I can make the caramel sauce dairy free? I can use palm shortening in place of butter, but I don’t know what I could use instead of the whipping cream… do you think coconut cream would work, in terms of consistency and flavour? Thanks!

  10. Sandra says

    Thank you for telling us all about your being a diabetic. My son 29, was diagonosed a year ago (type 1). He is struggling with his diet and I am concerned for him. He is not a big sweet eater but loves pasta, bread, and crackers. I love getting your recipes via email. Thank you again for the yummy and eye appealing photos.

    • Carolyn says

      I understand for your son, it’s a tough diagnosis and can really through you. And in his case, with Type 1, it’s so imperative to figure out the food and insulin levels.

  11. Roni says

    Looks wonderful! There are only two of us, so it looks like I’ll be making muffins c this recipe. Wonder if the Carmel sauce would freeze in ice cube trays so I could use when I thaw out a couple of frozen muffins for us? Also, I would like to thank you for setting up your recipe print page to be able to print two sides; this certainly helps to save paper!

  12. nichole says

    I am allergic to dairy products, and I am wondering about a sub for the whey protein. Can I sub coconut flour? It is hard to get powdered egg whites here.

    • Carolyn says

      Coconut flour won’t help you, because it contains no protein (the protein helps things rise properly). How about this? Add another 1/4 cup of almond flour and one extra egg. The consistency will be a bit different but it should still be good.

    • Robin Morelock says

      Nichole, I order powdered egg whites from . They also have fantastic almond flour at a good price.

  13. Shyla says

    I’m wondering what kind of stevia you used. I have the old formula nunaturals which is very concentrated. I usually have to use much less than the recipe calls for if the original recipe used the kind that has filler.

  14. jillian says

    this sounds awesome…i like the almond flour but must use coconut sweeteners….so here is the question..since i am ok with some carbs from fruit would it change the cake to add a bit more apples? thanks

    • Carolyn says

      The apples do make it moister so be careful not to add too much. Almond flour is moist enough as it is, I don’t want you to end up with a soggy cake!

  15. Pamela says

    This cake has definitely put me and my tastebuds in the mood for all things fall even though the weather is quite cooperating yet! This looks scrumptious; especially that lovely molten caramel. I was wondering whether you thought chayote might work in place of or combined with the apples to lower the carb count even further? I’ve made a chayote “apple” crisp before that tasted like the real thing (it’s a sponge to soak up the spices & flavoring) but I don’t know how it would work in a cake. At any rate, I’m definitely making this. Thanks!

    • Carolyn says

      Feel free to use chayote, but honestly, the carb count on this cake is so low, I don’t know that it would help that much!

  16. says

    My this looks scrumptious, Carolyn. I’ll have to try it when I’m on sweets again. Just lovely, and apple cake is my fav cake after Black Forest.

  17. Mary Kate says

    Great looking recipe! :) I tried to make a caramel sauce today and I was heating splenda over medium heat and suddenly my pot broke from underneath (it split open) and I heard a pop noise. Some sort of reaction to the splenda being heated I guess. This caramel sauce looks good though! Can you think of why this happened? I don’t know much about working with these types of sweeteners in baking!

  18. caree says

    As far as the sweeteners, I just have Splenda and Truvia at home, and I’m not sure if I could find the other ones you have listed without having to order online- I want to make this recipe this weekend; I’m impatient! I know you don’t use Splenda, but do you think I could use what I have? Why the use of 3 different sweeteners anyway? Thanks!

    • Carolyn says

      Truvia is erythritol so you could try to caramelize that, but it will end up hardening once on the cake. It won’t be bad, though, just not a liquidy glaze. Every sweetener has its advantages and disadvantages and I think they work best in combination.

  19. Melanie says

    Well Carolyn, I think you outdid yourself with this one. I made it for a fall themed baby shower I was hosting and it was incredible! This is going to be a staple for holiday breakfasts at our house. Thank you so much for yet another wonderful recipe!

  20. Elaine says

    I made this over the weekend and it is absolutely amazing! I first thot one apple would not be enough but it was. Since my hubby is diabetic he didn’t need more than that. What a blessing you are. I had given up cooking fun stuff but not anymore. Thank you so much. Mine even looked just like your picture!

  21. Moe says

    My daughter was in from college this weekend and I made this as a treat – she deemed the caramel sauce “better than caramel!” It was a big hit, just as your recipes I have tried are. Thanks! You inspire me to keep on baking AND keep my carb count down.

  22. chanin says

    Maybe you answered this and I missed it. Can you just use swerve in the caramel sauce? I don’t have xylitol? This looks delicious!

    • Carolyn says

      You can, but just be aware that it will harden a lot as it cools. It’s just a thing with erythritol, it won’t stay in solution.

  23. Barbara says

    My family is having an early Thanksgiving dinner this Saturday, since family members will be vacationing over the holidays and we won’t all be together. I’m going to make this for dessert and my thought is to make on Friday, after I get home from work. Do you think I can leave it out on the counter until our early dinner the next day? Or should it be refridgerated?

  24. says

    Carolyn, I used this recipe to make an upside-down cake — I just put sliced apples in the pan, covered with caramel sauce, and then poured in the cake batter. The cake performed beautifully, being substantial enough to support the topping, and flexible enough to absorb the apple juices as it was cooking.

  25. Brandi says

    Do you think I could use coconut flour instead of almond here? And, of so, how muh less coconut flour would I use?

  26. Cathy says

    Just wanted to let you know I am sharing your wonderful recipe tomorrow in my Gluten-Free Recipe RoundUp with a link back to your original post!
    Have a terrific weekend!
    Cathy from

  27. Jennifer says

    Do you know if Swerve and Truvia can be used interchangeably? I’ve never bought Swerve before…

    • Carolyn says

      Truvia doesn’t caramelize quite as well but you can certainly use it. Your end product will likely be paler in colour but still tasty.

  28. Scarlett says

    I know that a lot of people have asked about using erythritol/only swerve for the caramel sauce and you said it’ll re-crystalize. But do you think I could use only powdered swerve and make it more like a caramel glaze?

    Your blog is hands down my favorite website. Thank you for creating/adapting such amazing recipes!

    • Carolyn says

      You can use powdered and it will be good…but it will still re-crystallize more than with the Swerve/xylitol combo. Pour it over when it’s hot, though and it will be delicious!

  29. noreen says

    Do you have an info sheet of all the different sweetner you use in your baking, including brand names, and how to use them effectively. I am so confused, swerve, xytiol, erythitoil, liquid, etc. Until I started this way of eating I only used sweet n low to sweetened my ice tea! I’m no a big added sugar person but I do bake tons and I don’t ice very sweet desserts, so I always adjust sweetness when sugar doesn’t matter. Thanks in advance.

    • Carolyn says

      I don’t have such an info sheet, but I really should make them. However, I can tell my that my preferences are for Swerve (which is mostly erythritol) with a touch of liquid stevia extract (NuNaturals brand). I only use xylitol when I need a caramel sauce to stay liquid. Hope that helps for now!

  30. Marcille says

    This is the first THM thing that my husband has said that is good–you can make this again. He is very supportive. Just hasn’t been on board for eating the food.
    Thank you!

  31. Lee says

    I don’t use almond milk regularly and it kills me to open a container just for the little bit I’m going to use in a recipe because the rest of it will go to waste. I always have yogurt and whole milk on hand. Can I sub either of those for the almond milk?

  32. nicole thomas says

    You are an incredible artist Carolyn, truly gifted. May God bless your move to my beloved pacific northwest! I pray that your family will make many memories, beloved traditions and lifelong friends there!! I’m jealous, I moved to the south , and though memphis is home now I find myself missing the more pronounced fall time….. this amazingly yummy cake will help though, reminds me of apple picking time from my childhood!!! again, thank you for all you do, your husband must be very proud of his creative wife!!

  33. Emma says

    Going to make this soon! I assume ideal would work as xylitol for the caramel sauce. (it has some maltodextrin added, mostly xylitol)

    After reading comments I presume 4oz is what you’re counting carbs on for the apple? “medium”?

  34. Amy S says

    Just made this cake and ate it for the first time. DE-LISH-USH!!!! It was so good, and so moist and so apple-y. Going to try as muffins/cupcakes next time for easier freezing. You are a genius! Good luck on your move. I think you’ll like it here in OR, lots of runners and health conscious folks, in addition to LOTS of foodies. Hope to meet you someday!

  35. Sue says

    This recipe sounds and looks amazing! I love caramel and apples. Your site is by far my favorite (or should I spell it favourite – I am a fellow Canadian living in California and I smile every time I read your blog when I see the Canadian spellings). You have incredible recipes and great tips for LC baking. I am new to this lifestyle and couldn’t live without sites like yours. Thanks for all you do!


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