skillet cinnamon apples with orange cream sauce

Trick your taste buds with these cinnamon apples! You’ll feel like you’re eating a sweet, indulgent dessert however in reality, it’s whole food goodness all the way!

cinnamon apples in cast iron pan

Also, if you’re staying away from whipped cream or ice cream, you’ll love this orange sauce reduction as a dairy free cream substitute!

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)!

what to do with 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!

bowl of cinnamon apples

cinnamon apples without sugar

This recipe does not add extra sugar and it’s definitely a sweet treat. You could use any apple but if you’d prefer sweeter apples, stick with Honey-crisp, Gala, Fuji or Golden Delicious.

how to make cinnamon apples

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

While the orange cream sauce is cooking, make the apples. Add them to a cast iron pan or skillet with butter or ghee, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Mix occasionally. 

Depending on the size of your skillet,  you may want to cook the apples in 2 batches because you don’t want to overcrowd the pan.

Once the apples are soft, you can take them off the heat and place them in a bowl.

overhead photo of cinnamon apples

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.

pouring sauce over apples

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!

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.

cinnamon apples in skillet

what to add to the 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 leftover 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
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multiple images of cinnamon apples
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