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. Dace

    Please let me know how many servings this recipe makes! It sounds great and I would like to try it this summer for a summer camp breakfast.

    1. Ann

      This recipe yields six generous servings or eight regular portions. I think this would be a delightful recipe for summer camp. I hope you–and the campers–enjoy!

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  3. Trudy

    Your baked oatmeal was hit. My teenage son described it as “delectable” and I have plenty of leftovers to keep him happy throughout the week. An added advantage for me was the use of whey. He is lactose intolerant so I make yogurt with Lactaid milk and hate pouring the whey down the drain.

    Keep up with great recipes!


  4. Kainat

    you mentioned 1 teaspoon vanilla, is this vanilla essence or powder? Moreover how to make an unsweetened applesauce? As I cook occasionally so i do not know much about cooking.

    1. Ann

      Hi Kainat,
      I use vanilla extract in liquid form in this recipe, but you could use what you have or even omit. To make it easy, you can purchase individual serving sizes of the unsweetened applesauce and keep them on hand for baking. They are the perfect size. Alternatively, you could use an extra grated apple or even use sweetened applesauce if that is what you have on hand.

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  6. Rachel

    Made this with half the honey and just a sprinkle of brown sugar and a coarse sugar on top. Also, pureed two cooked apples and mixed in since my one picky eater won’t do cooked apples yet. Anyway, both of my kids loved this. The oatmeal isn’t slimy or gooey at all and this is delicious for a breakfast treat and snack!

    1. Ann

      I am thrilled you and your kids enjoyed this recipe, Rachel, and think your adaptations sound perfect! Thank you for the feedback. By the way, I have several other variations listed in the breakfast category–strawberries and cream being my picky eater’s favorite–if you think any of these may appeal to your kids!

  7. Kate

    Hi Ann, you mentioned that we could substitue the melted Smart Balance Original Buttery Spread with butter, coconut oil, or canola oil. Same measurement?

    1. Ann

      Good question and, yes, use the same quarter cup measurement for all of them. I have used each one of them and they all produce a great result!

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  9. Kim

    I am currently preggo and I CRAVE oatmeal. I came across this recipe tonight, just threw it together and absolutely can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and throw it in the oven. No sleeping in for me tomorrow. Thanks so much, hope it tastes as great as it smells!

    1. Ann

      Hi Kim,
      I hope you love it! This recipe is my most basic, original version. If you like this one, I have quite a few varieties that you might also enjoy. I am a huge oatmeal fan, too…thanks for the great comment!

    1. Ann

      None! Seriously though…I actually don’t calculate nutritional content at this point although various people have mentioned using online apps including and I hope that helps, and I am so glad you enjoyed!

  10. lindsay

    Ooooo I am so happy for you!!! Congratulations!! I do not like oatmeal, but I am totally trying this, because it looks fantastic, and I think it may just change my mind.

    1. Ann

      As a non-oatmeal liker, if you make, you will have to let me know! Take a photo and I will even share on my page with your assessment: ) Thanks for the great comment, Lindsay!

    1. Ann

      I hope you enjoy, Erica! Also, if you look through the breakfast category on the righthand side of the page, you will find more baked oatmeal recipes. We are big fans here!

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  12. Cutco Alex

    Congrats again!! Even though I’m not a regular in the kitchen, I promise to make this recipe when I get home for thanksgiving break from school – it sounds great! Hope the knives are cutting well with no accidents! I will be back in Lancaster County this Saturday, November 10th to exchange the white for the black so let me know what time might work best! Thanks again

  13. Peg

    So excited for you as the national winner of this contest, Ann !!!
    Voting for you was easy because of all your delicious recipes and wonderful website.
    You are so good at responding to people with your comments/advice and that cannot be easy…takes a lot of time!

    1. Ann

      Thank you very much! Your thoughtful comments are most appreciated. You know the inspiration behind this…she would have responded, too: ) xoxo

  14. lee rowan

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I’m not very tech savey but thanks to Jack I got the news. Hooray. Canyon ranch not bad.
    Have you figured out yet how to send your blog if we don’t do face book?

    1. Ann

      Hi Lee,
      Thank you!!! I am excited about Canyon Ranch! As for the blog, you can subscribe to the RSS feed by clicking on one of the four boxes at he top of the page–the one to the right of the P. That will allow you to see new posts by clicking on a link from the page where you get your emails. Let me know if you have trouble. By the way, your name came up this morning and John asked when Aunt Lee is planning on coming for a visit. So……???