cinnamon apples in cast iron pan

skillet cinnamon apples with orange cream sauce (whole30, paleo)

I have to say these skillet cinnamon apples with orange cream sauce came out so much better than I even dreamed they would!

Coming out of January, I’m doing a nutrition reset, especially when it comes to desserts. I experimented so much with desserts around the holidays so I needed a slight break.

I love eating home made apple sauce or sautéed cinnamon apples when I’m dessert “detoxing” but I miss having something creamy over the sautéed apples. It’s just like when you have apple pie, you want it al a mode (at least I do)!

bowl of cinnamon apples

I thought about what I could create that would give me the “creamy factor” over the apples but not derail me too much. This orange sauce reduction came to mind!

It’s dairy free because I used full-fat coconut milk and then added orange zest and juice, vanilla and salt—no added sweetener. It’s not necessary! (unless your orange is a dud). In that case, add a teaspoon of xylitol or sweetener of choice. From there, orange sauce greatness was born!

It pairs PERFECTLY with the apples. Add some toasted nuts for their crunchy texture and you’ve got a fantastic “non-dessert” (who am I kidding—I’ve slowly migrated into dessert territory)!

overhead photo of cinnamon apples

how to cook cinnamon apples

Common ways to cook cinnamon apples are to sauté them on the stove top in a skillet or bake them in the oven. I love the brown crisp they get when they sauté so bring on the cast iron pan!

I slice the apples thin and leave the skins on (you could peel them however I don’t even notice the skin once the apples have been sautéed). In addition, there are a lot of nutrients in the skin.

pouring sauce over apples

how to make the orange cream sauce reduction

This is very easy and can be done while you’re cooking the apples. They’ll finish about the same time (depending on how thick you slice the apples).

This is the same sauce I use to make caramel like in my homemade twix bars (keto, GF), however instead of butter and sweetener, I use orange and vanilla.

For the full-fat coconut milk, I like to use Whole foods brand or Thai Kitchen because the taste is subtle (I don’t even taste coconut) and they’re not oily like some seem to be.

Add the milk to a heave bottom pot. Mix in orange zest, juice and salt. Bring this to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer for 15 minutes. This will reduce the sauce by about a 1/3 and REALLY bring out the orange flavor!

cinnamon apples in skillet

After 15 minutes, take it off the heat (there should be approx. 1 cup of sauce) and the consistency should be that of caramel. Add the vanilla once it’s off the heat.

Note, if it seems like the sauce is “separating”, add 1 tablespoon of hot or boiling water and stir thoroughly. This will always bring it back to it’s smooth state.

what to add to the skillet cinnamon apples

Sky’s the limit on how you can top these suckers! Of course, the orange cream sauce it’s your best option (wink) however you could use whipped cream or ice cream.

Other suggestions include:

how to use the left over orange cream sauce

Most likely you will have extra so store it in the fridge in a glass jar or Tupperware for up to a month. Here are suggestions on how to use it:

  • as a fruit dip or topping a fruit salad
  • in smoothies
  • over ice cream
  • in salad dressings or marinades
  • over white fish
cinnamon apples in pan

skillet cinnamon apples with orange cream sauce (dairy free, whole30, paleo)

  • Author: Karen
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


Buttery, cinnamon apples, perfectly browned in a cast iron skillet topped with sweet, tangy, creamy orange sauce and toasted pecans – holy YUM! This dessert is ALL whole foods – NO extra sweeteners and totally decadent! 



For orange cream sauce

  • 1 can ( oz) full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • juice from 1 orange
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For apples

  • 6 apples, sliced thin (use whatever apples  you prefer – I used Gala apples)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, clarified butter or ghee (I used clarified)
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • handful of toasted pecans (optional but so good!)


  1. Pour coconut milk into a heavy bottom sauce pan. Add orange zest, juice and salt. Bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for approx. 15 minutes to reduce sauce. Sauce should reduce down to approx. 1 cup of liquid and should be the consistency of caramel sauce. See notes if it seems like sauce separates.
  2. Once sauce is reduced down, take off heat and add vanilla. Add more salt if necessary. Put aside.
  3. While sauce is reducing, make the apples. Place butter (clarified or ghee) in a cast iron pan or skillet. Once the pan is warm, add the apples, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Mix occasionally. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to do this in 2 batches. 
  4. Once the apples are soft, take off the heat. Drizzle orange sauce over the apples. Add toasted pecans if you like. Enjoy!
    Note: you will probably have extra cream sauce, store in the fridge in a glass jar or Tupperware for up to a month. See post with suggestions on how to use the extra orange sauce!


  • If it seems like your orange sauce has separated, don’t worry! Add about a tablespoon of hot or boiling water and stir. Sauce should re-combine and become smooth again.
  • To keep this paleo or whole30 compliant, use clarified butter or ghee.

Keywords: cinnamon apples, skillet cinnamon apples, stove top cinnamon apples, sauteed cinnamon apples

skillet apples
pin me for later!
multiple images of cinnamon apples
pin me for later!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *