Crunchy Top Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

By Ann Fulton

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This tried-and-true breakfast offers a deliciously wholesome, make-ahead way to start the day. The recipe even won a national contest! 


I love oatmeal. I eat it almost every morning.

Old-fashioned or steel cut oats, baked oatmeal or boiled, it’s all good. I have experimented with countless baked oatmeal recipes and this is a hands-down winner with everyone in my family.

When Smart Balance, a company that makes butters, oils, peanut butter, and other products aimed at avoiding trans fats naturally and reducing saturated fats, total fat and cholesterol, asked me to participate in a national recipe contest, I thought, “NO WAY!”  

Heck, I was only playing around with a business Facebook page when I started The Fountain Avenue Kitchen. I thought I checked all the boxes to keep the page private. I mean, people didn’t really care what I was cooking, right?  

Well, as you may have figured out, I’m not very tech-savvy, and I accidentally made that page public.  (My husband informed me when he noticed I had two “likes!”) So, I decided I would go with it and see what happened.

The thought of a national contest where people voted for me seemed crazy. How would I ever get votes when I hate to ask anyone for anything?

When I learned that the winner would receive TWO trips for two to Canyon Ranch Hotel & Resort  in Miami Beach, Florida – one to keep and one to give away – I reconsidered.

Of course, the chances of winning are slim, but if I do, I get to give away a trip!  How fun would that be? 

Then I thought about my recipes. My baked oatmeals have been well received and they are healthy and delicious. Though I have made my baked oatmeals with everything from butter to coconut oil, canola olive, and grapeseed oil, my original recipe calls for butter.  

So, incorporating Smart Balance’s butter was a natural fit. It felt authentic.  

When I first cooked with this product, no one could tell a difference. Now, I felt as though I could participate in the contest and, win or lose, feel good about it.

My favorite part of this recipe is the little bit of sweet crunch on top. Through much experimentation, I created an oatmeal that isn’t  mushy like stovetop oatmeal. It’s the slightest bit cake-like and can be cut for serving.  

Delicious hot out of the oven or made ahead and warmed, the oatmeal is perfect as is. Alternatively, it can be topped with milk or a dollop of yogurt. 

I hope you approve – and I would be thrilled if you voted for my recipe!

This tried-and-true breakfast offers a deliciously wholesome, make-ahead way to start the day. The recipe even won a national contest!  

UPDATE:  WE WON!!!!!  Click HERE to see the prize giveaway and thank you to all who voted.  Maybe we can do this again sometime!  

This tried-and-true breakfast offers a deliciously wholesome, make-ahead way to start the day. The recipe even won a national contest! 

When creating this recipe, the goal was an oatmeal that was healthy, whole grain, wheat-free, slightly sweet, and could be eaten like a muffin or topped with milk and any desired toppings. I never dreamed it would win a national recipe contest! 

Overnight Crunchy Top Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
Yield: 6-8 servings
After more than a decade of making this tried-and-true breakfast, I've made a few minor adjustments to the original recipe and have included them in the notes section for those who'd like to try.
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup (80g) pure maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup (56g) melted Smart Balance Original Buttery Spread (butter, coconut oil, or vegetable oil of choice work well too)
  • ½ cup (4oz) unsweetened applesauce (I keep a pack of the individual serving cups on hand–they are the perfect size)
  • 1 small apple, grated (fine to leave skin on)
  • 1¼ cups (300ml) milk of choice
  • 3 cups (270g) old fashioned oats (use certified gluten-free oats if necessary)
  • For topping: ⅓ (66g) cup brown sugar (may use ¼ cup (50g) for less sweetness)
  1. Combine all ingredients except the oats and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add oats and mix well.
  2. Transfer mixture to a buttered baking dish. (You may use a 9-inch pie plate or an 9-inch square pan–or really any 2-quart baking dish–depending on how thick you would like your oatmeal. A 10-inch cast iron skillet works well, too.) Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.
  3. When ready to bake, let the baking dish sit on the counter while the oven pre-heats to 375℉. Uncover the oatmeal and bake for 25-30 minutes or until just set in the center. Remove oatmeal from oven, set oven to broil, and sprinkle the brown sugar over top of oatmeal. Broil for a minute, watching very closely, or until the topping is melted and lightly browned.
  4. May serve as is or with yogurt or warmed milk, nuts, and or fruit of choice. My kids eat it plain, like a muffin; I load it up. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator. May reheat gently in the microwave.

Recipe options:
•To play up the flavor of the warm spices, I now regularly add 1 teaspoon of apple pie spice (could sub a mixture of freshly grated nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon) in addition to the 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. For a slightly different yet complementary flavor profile, you could use pumpkin pie spice. 
•Don’t have applesauce?
Simply grate another apple for a total of 8–9 ounces (or about 1 cup) shredded apple.
•For a pretty garnish
, I like to reserve some thin slices of apple and place on top of the oatmeal mixture once transferred to the prepared baking dish.
 •For a hint more toothsome texture, I’ve added 2 tablespoons of steel cut oats to the batter.

Prefer to make baked oatmeal muffins? In this case, I refrigerate the uncooked oatmeal in the mixing bowl and then transfer it to the muffin tin once the liquid has been absorbed by the oats. This ensures even distribution of the liquid and solid ingredients. I get 8 regular muffins or 6 jumbo and bake for approximately 20 minutes. (Because of the wider proportions of my jumbo tin, those muffins bake in the same amount of time as the muffins baked in my regular tin. Just peek a little early until you know the exact time for your oven.)

Using coconut oil? When using melted coconut oil (and butter to a somewhat lesser degree), it is helpful to have the cold ingredients come to room temperature before mixing, That way, the oil will not re-harden when it comes into contact with the cold ingredients.


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  1. Mandy Post author

    Made this in hopes of having several days of breakfasts ready to go and the only problem is that everyone is snacking on it and it’s not going to last as long as I planned! Great flavor. Very satisfying. Big hit!

  2. Larry Keyko

    Hi, I made this recipe and it is good but with one problem. I am a 73 year old male whose wife of 44 years passed away 23 months ago and I have been looking for easy morning breakfast recipes. OK the problem is the wording of your recipe, when you go down the list of ingredients and come to the brown sugar there is no seperation from the other ingredients and nothing that says the brown sugar is a topping so into the other ingredients it goes. Then when I read the next page I see the mistake. I read it earlier but my memory is not what it used to be. I can’t put more brown sugar on top because it will make it too sweet. I hope no one else has made this mistake. Thank you.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Larry, I appreciate your calling that to my attention. This is an older recipe, and I tend to write the recipes a little differently now to avoid something like this happening if people are looking at the ingredients but not fully reading the instructions. I inserted some bold type to make this later addition more obvious. I am impressed that you are cooking for yourself and hope the baked oatmeal was still enjoyable – and that you might give this another try…and perhaps some of my other easy breakfast recipes as well.

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  4. Taylor

    Made this today and it is delicious. I admit that I used whipped cream as a topper. Unfortunately apples and applesauce are VERY expensive in the tropics as they are imported and I had no choice other than to buy a large jar of applesauce. Will have to look for recipes to use balance of sauce. As my garden has mega mango trees, I will try that the next time I make this wonderful dish.

    1. Ann Post author

      Thanks for your great feedback, Taylor…and if only I could trade you some apples for some mangos! You could freeze a few portions of the applesauce so you don’t have to buy a whole jar again for a relatively small quantity. In the meantime, enjoy every bite!

  5. char

    hi, do you think this would work with a flax egg substitution? I would love to try it for my son, but he has an egg allergy. Thanks!!

    1. Ann

      I think it would work well, Char. I haven’t tried it myself with a flax egg substitute but have with a substitute called “neat” which is a combination of ground chia seeds and garbanzo beans. If that product is available where you live, I highly recommend. You could also find it online. If you do try the recipe with either substitute, I’d love to know how you make out!

      1. char

        thanks for taking the time to respond. i tried it and it did work! most importantly, i had a happy customer 😉 i appreciate you sharing the recipe and encouraging me to try it with the flax egg.

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  12. Sara

    I almost cried when I couldn’t find this recipe after my laptop battery ran too low! I was stranded with 10 beautifully baked muffins that my awesome husband had finished one morning when I had to go to work before topping them with the brown sugar and chopped walnuts. …of course the one time my history doesn’t keep track of the site…I finally found it 🙂 and I love this recipe sooo much that I was compelled to leave a note here (which I never do). We are not required to eliminate anything from our diets in our home, but we are conscious of what is in our food. I had apples and no flour and ran across this website and the recipe and thought well if it sucks, no big deal it’s only 1 cup of my apples, not the whole bag like most recipes. SERIOUSLY LOVE THIS RECIPE <3 I hope everyone and their families love it as much as ours!!!!! Thank you sooo much!

    1. Ann

      You seriously just made my day, Sara! I love your message and am so glad you found me…and re-found me! I hope you enjoy many batches of these and maybe try out one of my other baked oatmeal varieties or some of the other recipes I have shared here. Have a great night!

  13. Lesley Kieffer

    Since I live in a tropical part of the world where apples aren’t always available or they are expensive, could i substitute the apples for mangoes? papaya? banana? Ideas? I luv your recipe, sounds amazing!

    1. Ann

      Hi Lesley,
      I have made many variations of this recipe, and it is quite forgiving. I think you could experiment with all of those fruits and have delicious results. You can look through my the other baked oatmeal recipes in the Breakfast category and get more ideas, but do feel free to experiment…and let me know how you make out!