20 Minute Air Fryer Apple Cake (German Apfelkuchen)

Apple cake is soft, sweet, and a perfect way to use up those fresh fall apples straight from the orchard! I love a simple dessert done well, and this air fryer apple cake is a great choice. Plus, it’s ready in half the time of a conventional oven!

air fryer apple cake recipe dinners done quick

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Apple cake is a perfect fall dessert, making use of fresh apples during peak season. In fact, that’s why you’ll see so many apple desserts as part of an Oktoberfest menu!

While in Germany it’s called apfelkuchen, literally meaning “apple cake”, this moist, fluffy cake has become popular all over the world.

Like many recipes, you’ll find there are different variations and ways to make it, with modern spins on classic dishes.

While the air fryer is a newer appliance to the culinary scene, you’ll find it’s a great tool for making an apple cake. Why? Well, it takes about half the time as a traditional oven, and that’s not even including the shorter preheating!

Ingredients and Tools

ingredients to make air fryer apple cake
  • 1 medium sweet tart apple
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (see notes)
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Powdered sugar for topping (optional)

Ingredient Tips and Substitutions

  • You may use any kind of sweet but tart apple, such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Jondgold, Jazz, Braeburn, or similar
  • The all purpose flour may be swapped for cake flour, and brown sugar is interchangeable with regular granulated sugar if needed
  • Traditionally, German apple cake is made with vanilla sugar, but high quality vanilla extract is a fine substitute, as it is not commonly found in US grocery stores

Apple Cutting

There are a few different ways you can cut your apples for this cake, mostly based on personal preference and the desired finished look:

  • Diced. Peel, core, and dice your apples into ½” in pieces and fold them into the batter at the end, just before adding to the baking dish.
  • Sliced. Thinly slice your peeled and cored apples. You may either fold them into the batter, or you may arrange them on top of the cake in a spiral pattern for a unique presentation
  • Fanned. This is the method I use, wherein you cut thin slices lengthwise into apple quarters, without cutting all the way through. Add them to the top of the cake before baking. As they bake, they will “fan” open and cook through due to the cuts, making for an elegant look
holding up a slice of warm air fryer apple cake

Equipment

Since this is a cake, you will need some form of a cake pan that fits in your air fryer’s basket or rack. This could include:

  • Traditional cake pan
  • Springform pan
  • Silicone cake insert
  • Air fryer cake insert
  • Mini cake pan(s)

I’m using two 4” round cake pans because I have two narrow baskets in my Ninja Dual Zone air fryer. If you have a single basket air fryer or an oven-style with racks, it’s easier to use one larger pan instead.

Note that cooking times are going to vary slightly between different pan types and sizes, as well as your specific air fryer.

Step By Step Preparation

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 350°F, and grease or line your cake pan with parchment
  2. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Using a sharp knife, cut thin slices lengthwise into each apple quarter, without going all the way through. Brush them with the lemon juice to prevent browning
peel and quarter apples before slicing them
  1. Cream together butter and sugar. Then, mix in the wet ingredients and finally the dry, stirring until just combined
cream together butter and brown sugar before mixing in wet ingredients
  1. Pour the batter into the cake pan (or divide evenly amongst smaller pans) and press the sliced apples into the top (sliced side facing up)
divide batter evenly into cake pans and press apples on top
  1. Place the filled cake pan(s) into the preheated air fryer basket or rack, and cook on the air fry setting for 15-20 minutes at 350°F, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
place filled apple cake pans in air fryer basket
  1. Cool for 5-10 minutes, then dust with powdered sugar if desired and enjoy
overhead view of air fryer apple cake on a plate with powdered sugar

Other Varieties of Air Fryer Cakes to Try

Recipe FAQs

Can I Use Different Types of Apples?

Absolutely! You can use a variety of apples for your air fryer apple cake. Some options include Granny Smith for a tart flavor, Honeycrisp for sweetness, or Gala for a milder taste.

 Experiment with different types to find your favorite flavor combination.

How Can I Make This Recipe Gluten-Free?

To make this recipe gluten-free, you can use a gluten-free flour blend such as almond flour instead of traditional wheat flour. Additionally, ensure that any baking powder you use is certified gluten-free.

The texture will be slightly different overall, but this substitution allows those with gluten sensitivities to enjoy cake for dessert.

What’s the Ideal Serving Temperature for Apple Cake?

The ideal serving temperature for your air fryer apple cake is warm, though it is perfectly safe to enjoy chilled as well, if preferred.

A warm slice of cake is perfect for flavors, and melts the ice cream when served a la mode. Feel free to reheat portions after the initial baking to get that warm profile back.

Can I Prepare the Cake in Advance and Reheat It?

Yes, you can prepare your air fryer apple cake in advance and reheat it when needed. Simply store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

When you’re ready to enjoy it, pop a slice in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up, or in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes at a lower temperature of 325°F, until warmed to your liking.

Are There Vegan or Dairy-Free Options?

Absolutely! You can make vegan or dairy-free air fryer apple cake by using plant-based butter or margarine and egg substitute.

Make sure to check the labels on all ingredients for diet specific certifications to ensure they meet your needs.

What’s the Shelf Life of Air Fryer Apple Cake?

The shelf life of your air fryer apple cake depends on storage conditions. If stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it can last for up to 4 days.

For longer storage, you can freeze individual slices for several months. Just wrap them well to prevent freezer burn.

Recipe Pro Tips

  • As I noted earlier, this recipe was created and tested in my Ninja Dual Zone air fryer. Cooking times will vary slightly in different air fryers, and based on the type and size of pan you use. You may also double the recipe easily if you’d like a larger cake (and have more space in your basket)
  • If your apples start to get too brown on top, you may cover the pan(s) with foil, but note that this generally increases the cooking time needed by about 10 minutes. You may also fold them into the batter (see my notes on apple cutting above) if that’s a worry
  • If you’re dividing among multiple small pans, make sure to split your batter as evenly as possible. Otherwise, you’ll get varied cooking times needed between cakes (I hate when I get one underbaked and one overbaked in the same batch!)
closeup of uncut homemade air fryer apple cake

Storage and Reheating Tips

  • Store apple cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. For longer term storage, wrap and freeze for up to 3 months
  • You may enjoy air fryer apple cake cold, at room temperature, or warmed (though I like warm best). Reheat a slice in the microwave for about 30 seconds on high, or air fry at a lower temperature of 325°F for 2-3 minutes, until warmed to your liking

More Air Fryer Apple Recipes to Try

  • Trader Joe’s Rustic Apple Tart in the Air Fryer
  • Air Fryer Apple Fries
  • Trader Joe’s Apple Blossom in the Air Fryer

Final Thoughts

This German inspired air fryer apple cake is perfectly moist, and a great addition to your Oktoberfest or fall menu. 

I love to make it with apples fresh from a day of apple picking at the orchard when I can, but store bought apples are equally delicious.

Whether you make mini cakes or a full size pan, they’re sure to be a hit. Plus, there are so many ways to cut your apples, you can make your presentation just the way you want.

The biggest advantage to the air fryer is the time it saves over the traditional oven, and still delivers great results. For more great recipes to try, check out my compilation of the Best Air Fryer Apple Recipes for more inspiration!

air fryer apple cake recipe dinners done quick featured image

Air Fryer Apple Cake (Ninja Air Fryer)

This air fryer apple cake is a perfect fall dessert. It comes together in less time than a traditional oven and you’ll wonder why you didn’t switch sooner!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Servings 4
Calories 268 kcal

Equipment

  • Cake pan or similar that fits in your air fryer (I use two 4" aluminum cake pans)
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Sharp knife

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Medium sweet tart apple (such as Jazz, Granny Smith, or Honeycrisp)
  • 1 Tsp lemon juice
  • ½ Cup all purpose flour
  • ½ Cup brown sugar
  • ½ Tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Large egg
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ Tsp salt
  • Powdered sugar for topping (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your air fryer to 350°F, and grease or line your cake pan with parchment
  • Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Using a sharp knife, cut thin slices lengthwise into each apple quarter, without going all the way through. Brush them with the lemon juice to prevent browning
    1 Medium sweet tart apple, 1 Tsp lemon juice
  • Cream together butter and sugar. Then, mix in the wet ingredients and finally the dry, stirring until just combined
    ½ Cup brown sugar, ½ Tsp baking powder, 1 Tsp vanilla extract, 1 Large egg, 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, 1 Tsp cinnamon, ¼ Tsp salt, ½ Cup all purpose flour
  • Pour the batter into the cake pan (or divide evenly amongst smaller pans) and press the sliced apples into the top (sliced side facing up)
  • Place the filled cake pan(s) into the preheated air fryer basket or rack, and cook on the air fry setting for 15-20 minutes at 350°F, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
  • Cool for 5-10 minutes, then dust with powdered sugar if desired and enjoy
    Powdered sugar for topping

Notes

  • The all purpose flour may be swapped for cake flour, and brown sugar is interchangeable with regular granulated sugar if needed
  • Traditionally, German apple cake is made with vanilla sugar, but high quality vanilla extract is a fine substitute, as the sugar is not commonly found in US grocery stores
  • This recipe was created and tested in my Ninja Dual Zone air fryer. Cooking times will vary slightly in different air fryers, and based on the type and size of pan you use. You may also double the recipe easily if you’d like a larger cake (and have more space in your basket)
  • If your apples start to get too brown on top, you may cover the pan(s) with foil, but note that this generally increases the cooking time needed by about 10 minutes. You may also dice and fold them into the batter if that’s a worry
  • If you’re dividing among multiple small pans, make sure to split your batter as evenly as possible. Otherwise, you’ll get varied cooking times needed between cakes
  • Store apple cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. For longer term storage, wrap and freeze for up to 3 months
  • You may enjoy air fryer apple cake cold, at room temperature, or warmed (though I like warm best). Reheat a slice in the microwave for about 30 seconds on high, or air fry at a lower temperature of 325°F for 2-3 minutes, until warmed to your liking
  • Exact nutritional values will vary based on brand and variety of ingredients, any swaps or additions, and actual quantity consumed, so please consider this a guideline only

Nutrition

Serving: 110gCalories: 268kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 3.4gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7.6gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 318mgPotassium: 93mgFiber: 1.4gSugar: 23gVitamin A: 388.5IUVitamin C: 4.3mgCalcium: 65mgIron: 1.2mg
Keyword air fryer apple cake, air fryer cake recipes, air fryer desserts, air fryer german apple cake, baking with fresh apples, fruit based cakes, ninja air fryer apple cake, time saving baking
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Katie Vine