Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes with Baked Citrus Applesauce

Fall comfort on a plate: Good-for-you whole wheat apple pancakes served with aromatic baked citrus applesauce. Just add maple syrup! {Jump to Recipe}

Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes with Baked Citrus Applesauce // FoodNouveau.com

While fall’s gray skies can affect one’s mood for sure, I actually usually welcome the opportunity to stay in, cook and bake something comforting, and eat it wrapped in a blanket. Comfort food isn’t just a trendy hashtag come fall, it’s all that I wanna eat when cooler seasons roll around—and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

One of the best things about fall has to be apple season, am I right? Every September, I fill the fridge (literally!) with several apple varieties, from crisp and tart apples to applesauce-ready, sweet ones. It’s my family’s snack of choice, but I also LOVE to bake with apples. From simple crumbles to spectacular layered cakes, from deep-dish Dutch apple pies to French macaronsI welcome any and all sweet opportunities to showcase the flavor of apples. 

Several years ago, I was looking to use up a box of apples and an obvious choice was to make applesauce. As I flipped through my cookbooks, I discovered a new-to-me technique to make applesauce: baking apples, instead of boiling them. Ina Garten is probably the icon of comfort food so it was no surprise she could teach me a thing or two about apples. In The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Ina bakes apples in citrus juices, instead of boiling them in water. Baking the apples renders a deep, almost caramelized taste that reminds me of Tarte Tatin. The citrus juice and zest keep the flavors wide awake and the slow cooking process means produces apples are so tender they can simply be whisked and voilà, there’s applesauce.

Baked Citrus Applesauce // FoodNouveau.com

Baked Citrus Applesauce // FoodNouveau.com

So now I had the most delightful applesauce on my hands and I was looking for ways to showcase it. The citrus fruits used in the applesauce reminded me of breakfast: pancakes came to mind. I adapted my go-to pancake formula to use whole wheat flour and incorporate grated apple (I really did have a lot of apples on my hands!), and the recipe produced wonderfully fluffy, not-too-sweet pancakes that welcomed the zesty applesauce and a drizzle of maple syrup to perfection. This dreamy combination of whole wheat apple pancakes and baked citrus applesauce instantly became a fall classic for my family and I—I hope it’ll become one for you and yours, as well.

Which apples should you use in whole wheat apple pancakes?

Go for a firm and sweet variety, such as Honeycrisp, Gala, Red Delicious, or Fuji. Picking a firm variety means the grated apple won’t turn to mush upon cooking, which would weigh the pancakes down.

Can you make whole wheat apple pancakes ahead of time?

Yes, you can. As you cook pancakes, transfer them to a rack set over a baking sheet. This will allow them to cool more quickly and without sogging. Once the pancakes have cooled to room temperature, stack them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat pancakes by setting them side-by-side on a baking sheet and placing them in a 300°F (150°C) the oven until warm and crisp, about 10 minutes. I would not recommend freezing whole wheat apple pancakes because the defrosting process would release the water from the grated apple in the batter and produce soggy pancakes. No one likes soggy pancakes!

Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes with Baked Citrus Applesauce // FoodNouveau.com

Which apples work best in baked applesauce?

To make baked applesauce, you could pretty much use any apple variety. In fact, mixing varieties produces applesauce with a more complex, delightful flavor. McIntosh and Golden Delicious are obvious picks because they break down easily upon baking, but don’t be afraid of using firmer varieties as well. The baking process will give them plenty of time to cook through and melt with the other varieties. 

Can applesauce be frozen?

Of course, it can. Let the applesauce cool to room temperature, then store in airtight containers and freeze for months.

How do you make silky smooth applesauce?

This baked applesauce comes out smooth, but it does have texture. Some people prefer a silky smooth applesauce—little ones, especially. To make this baked applesauce extra smooth, simply process it using a stick blender, or pass it through a blender or a food processor.

Baked Citrus Applesauce // FoodNouveau.com



Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes




Yield about 8 pancakes

These wonderfully fluffy, good-for-you whole wheat apple pancakes come together in a snap and can be prepared ahead of time.


  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) grated apple (about 1 small, firm apple such as Honeycrisp, Gala, Red Delicious, or Fuji)


To keep the pancakes warm before serving, preheat the oven to 250°F (125°C).

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add the milk and lightly beaten egg at once and stir with a fork until the mixture is combined but lumps remain. Add the grated apple and stir just to incorporate.

Set a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Melt a bit of butter or lightly spray with oil, then pour 1/3 cup (80 ml) portions of pancake batter into the pan. Avoid overcrowding your pan: a medium-sized skillet can usually fit only two pancakes at once. Cook until the edges of the pancakes are dry and bubbles rise to the surface, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and cook until the pancake is plump and the underside is golden, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the cooked pancakes on a baking sheet and place in the warm oven while you cook the remaining pancakes.

SERVING: Serve the pancakes with a generous amount of warm baked citrus applesauce and a drizzle of maple syrup.

MAKE-AHEAD TIP: Once the pancakes are cooked, transfer them to a rack set over a baking sheet. This will allow them to cool more quickly and without becoming soggy. Once the pancakes have cooled to room temperature, stack them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat pancakes by setting them side-by-side on a baking sheet and placing them in a 300°F (150°C) the oven until warm and crisp, about 10 minutes.


Baked Citrus Applesauce




Yield 4 cups (1 L) applesauce

This deep-flavored applesauce uses baking to soften the apples and citrus juice to keep flavors awake. The result is a deep, caramelized flavor reminiscent of Tarte Tatin.


  • 1 orange, finely grated zest and strained juice (about 1/2 cup/125 ml juice and 1 tbsp/15 ml zest)
  • 1/2 lemon, finely grated zest and strained juice (about 2 tbsp/30 ml juice and 1 1/2 tsp/7 ml zest)
  • 3 lbs (1.3 kg) sweet red apples (6 to 8 apples) such as McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Cortland, or Empire (combine varieties for the best flavor)
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) butter, diced
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon or 1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground cardamom (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Place the zest and juice of the oranges and the lemon juice in a nonreactive Dutch oven, enameled cast-iron braiser, or large nonstick saute pan. Peel, quarter, and core the apples, then add them to pan and toss to coat the apples with the juice. Add the brown sugar, butter, and spices and cover the pot. Bake for 90 minutes or until all the apples are very soft. Whisk until smooth.

STORAGE: Keep the applesauce in airtight jars in the fridge for up to 1 week, or freeze in airtight containers for several months.

SERVING: Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

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Dairy-Free Apple Crumble // FoodNouveau.com

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No-Butter Apple Butter

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What do you think of this recipe? Got any questions? Let's chat!

7 Responses to Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes with Baked Citrus Applesauce

  1. Applesauce makes everything better. For some people it's grilled cheese or maybe mashed potatoes. But really good homemade apple sauce just makes me want to curl up like a kitty and purr. GREG

  2. Ooh! These pancakes look wonderful. And thank you for saying that weekend breakfast recipes shouldn't be a big production. I want simple, quick, and delicious when I'm still in my jammies. Can't wait to try these.

    • Well, you know, there's breakfast and then there's brunch. I will go all out and make something gastronomic for brunch when I invite friends over, but breakfast? I get out of bed, I'm hungry and I just want something a little more special than the usual PB&J toast. These pancakes fit exactly into this category, I think you could make them with your eyes closed! And they're very easy to customize so go for it, make them your own.

  3. I have to try baking my apples for applesauce bc I have to agree that it wouldn't be as flavorful if you boil or steam them. Ina Garten is most definitely the queen of comfort foods. And with pancakes you just have to stick with your tried and true recipes (= Thanks for sharing. My son would love this.

    • Baking the applesauce makes all the difference in the world! I'm eating some while I'm writing this, I just can't stop. Kids would go crazy over it, I'm sure!

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