“Apple Jacks”—Gluten-free style

“Apple Jacks”—Gluten-free style

Apple jack style cereal in bowl We seem to have moved waaaaaay beyond the whole “A is for Apple… J is for Jacks” jingle. I’m not even going to link to the website for Kellogg’s Apple Jacks. It’s suuuuuuper annoying. And not really at all cute. Or nostalgic. And it turns out—Apple Jacks are now red and green.

Not cool, Jack.

These little beauties taste just like I remember old school Apple Jacks to taste. I haven’t had them in years, so I really don’t know what in the world they have done with the cereal. But if they’ve done anything with the taste, it’s not what I’d call a brilliant move.

No Toucan Sam, like in Froot Loops. Which reminds me: If you haven’t yet, you should totally see my recipe for Gluten-Free “Froot Loops.” That’s some good stuff.

A close up of Apple jack style cereal in a spoon

Speaking of good stuff, these “cinnamon toasty apple jacks” are, indeed, good stuff. They’re sweet and tasty, and almost taste like crunchy little apple pies. But they’re for your milk!

Apple jack style cereal in a bowl and an apple beside it

And part … of this complete breakfast.

A close up of freeze dried apples

Firstly, you’ll need some freeze-dried apples. I used this brand, but I wish I had had a better option. They annoying insist upon coming in these little single-serve packs. And, in my ongoing quest to take personally every inanimate with which I interact, I found that offensive.

I’m sure there are better freeze-dried apple options. I just didn’t know about them. Perhaps you know about them. Tell us all about them in the comments. It’s only fair. To share.

Apple jack style cereal being made

So, yeah. I also added some ground freeze-dried strawberries. I did it for the color! It didn’t add any real strawberry taste. It just kinda brought out the taste of the apples.

Freeze-dried fruit is such a happy mystery. If I were a better person, I’d buy some sort of freeze-drying contraption and freeze-dry everything.

I really really really really really want to make gluten-free freeze-dried astronaut food. If I win the lottery (which is highly unlikely since I don’t actually play the lottery and any darn fool knows you gotta be in it to win it), that’s the very first thing I’m going to do. Buy a freeze-dry-inator.

Apple jack style cereal being shaped

Moving right along, you cut out the shapes, and then create holes in the centers.

Apple jack style cereal on gray surface

Then sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.

A close up of Apple jack style cereal

Toss in some chopped freeze-dried (read: astronaut) apples. And bake. This time, we bake it low (250 degrees F) and slow (about 20 minutes).

Apple Jacks, Gluten-free style
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Nicole @ Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.com
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 18 mins
Total time: 28 mins
Serves: 6
Gluten-free version of Apple Jacks cereal, with no artificial colors or flavors
  • 1 cup (140g) high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
  • 2 tablespoons (16g) cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons (12g) cultured buttermilk blend (I use Saco brand)
  • 40g finely ground freeze-dried apples (ground in a blender until a fine powder results)
  • 7g finely ground freeze-dried strawberries (ground in a blender until a fine powder results)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 7 tablespoons (50g) confectioner’s sugar (plus more for dusting, if necessary)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 1/3 tablespoons (40g) vegetable shortening, melted
  • 1/4 cup cream or milk (not nonfat), at room temperature
  • 30g freeze-dried apples, chopped into small pieces – divided
  • Cinnamon-sugar mixture (to taste), for sprinkling
  1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, buttermilk blend, finely ground apples, finely ground strawberries, salt, baking powder, baking soda, 100 grams granulated sugar, 50 grams confectioner’s sugar and ground cinnamon. Whisk to combine well. Add the melted vegetable shortening (no need to let it cool after melting in the microwave) and cream or milk, plus 10 grams of the chopped freeze-dried apples, and mix to combine. The dough should come together. Once it begins to come together, knead it with your hands until it forms a smooth but stiff dough.
  3. Place the dough between two pieces of unbleached parchment paper, and roll until is no less than 1/4 inch thick. With the small end of a large, plain piping tip, cut rounds out of the dough (see photo). Press the round out of the tip through the top onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough, and place less than an inch apart on the baking sheet (they won’t spread during baking). Gather scraps and reroll as necessary.
  4. With either a toothpick or a plain #2 piping tip, press a small hole in the center of each round of dough. If using a toothpick, move it in a tight circular motion to widen the hole or it will seal up during baking.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 20 grams chopped freeze-dried apples and the cinnamon sugar mixture. Sprinkle the mixture generously over the top of the dough on the baking sheet.
  6. Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven, and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the pieces are puffed and pale golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. If any of the centers have closed during baking, gently prod them back open with a toothpick.
  7. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet. They will crisp further as they cool.

A bowl of Apple jack style cereal


P.S. If you haven’t yet, please pick up a copy of My Cookbooks!

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  • tammy
    March 23, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    Can I hug you? Thank you! I made your fruit loops this week and my celiac 3 yr old declaired I was a cereal rock star! We live in Panama and cannot buy gf or gf ingrediants. I used a smooched banana as my flavor base will apple babyfood in these! I dreampt of peanut butter bases and cocoa powder for my next try.

    • March 23, 2012 at 6:26 PM

      Hi, Tammy,
      You’re gonna need some long arms, but we’ll make it happen. Let’s hug! You are a cereal rock star! I can’t believe you were able to make do with a banana and apple babyfood. What did you use for flour??
      Way to go rock star mom!
      xoxo Nicole

      • Tammy
        March 24, 2012 at 8:49 AM

        My GF flour blend is rice flour from local Chinese market, corn starch and yucca starch/flour and smuggledtee hee (read imported) X gum. Works for most baking, but is crumbly due to the rice flour. FYI – our Panama Pueblo has 100,00 and only 8 (yes eight) celiacs. I “heart” your site for inspiration!

        • March 25, 2012 at 8:20 AM

          Hi, Tammy,
          So glad I’ve been useful. Rice flour shouldn’t be gritty, by the way, if it’s superfine. Is there any chance you could find yourself some finer grain rice flour? It’s actually not even easy to come by in the States (there’s only one source I know of, and it’s not cheap), but if you can’t find it finely milled, I would suggest giving it a turn in a blender or food processor before adding it to your blend. That might make a difference.
          xoxo Nicole

  • March 23, 2012 at 12:53 AM

    I love that you made these from scratch AND that you managed to make them entirely gluten free! What an accomplishment and they turned out amazing… I am featuring this post in today’s Friday Food Fetish roundup (with a link-back and attribution), but please let me know if you have any objections. It’s a pleasure following your creations…

  • Marie
    March 22, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    My boys would love it if I made this cereal! I am going to have to try it out on them. I also wanted to share where I buy freeze dried apple chips and banana chips. They come in handy 10 can sizes, and it’s so nice to have on hand when I decide to whip up muffins!

    • March 22, 2012 at 10:04 PM

      Hi, Marie,
      Thanks so much for sharing that resource! I’ve been using a lot of freeze-dried fruit, and that looks like a great place to get it. Love it. Cheers to that!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Pamela G
    March 22, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    astro-NUT, maybe…
    thanks for the recipe! Scott loves to eat as ‘normal’ as possible, and these cereal recipies help!

    • March 22, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      I know, Pam. You’re so right. And the space program, well, isn’t … any longer. So I’ll just have to eat my freeze-dried gluten-free ice cream sandwiches right here on earth. :)
      So glad Scott likes the cereals!
      xoxo Nicole

      • Karen
        March 22, 2012 at 1:43 PM


        Our 10yo daughter LOVES your cinnamon toast crunch recipe so much that I think I’ll try this one as well. They look great. CTC is her fav cereal prior to being GF and now that I can make it she’s in heaven! She’ll probably love this one as well. Thanks for all your hard work.


        • March 22, 2012 at 2:37 PM

          Hi, Karen,
          How great! CTC is a favorite of mine, too. I love hearing about how a great mom making her kid a recipe made the kid so happy. Thanks for telling me!
          xoxo Nicole

  • Margaret Penhorwood on Facebook
    March 22, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    I have made the cinnamon toast crunch a couple times now…..they are soooooo good. My youngest (who doesn’t need to be GF) keeps eating it all on me though…..lol.

  • Krista Barber
    March 22, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    Just Tomatoes is a company that specializes in freeze-dried fruit and vegetables. They carry sizes up to 4 lbs (at least for apples). Here is a link to their apples. http://www.justtomatoes.com/jtstore/pc/Just-Apples-4p52.htm

    • Jannyjo
      March 22, 2012 at 10:17 AM

      LOL Krista, I posted an Amazon link for the same brand!

    • March 22, 2012 at 10:20 AM

      Thanks, Krista.
      I love that brand. I hadn’t seen that they had freeze dried apples, though. Thanks!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Barb Minutillo on Facebook
    March 22, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    My sister brought me some Cinnamon Toast Crunch back from Canada and I loved it! My son wanted to try it so badly. I just looked at your recipe and want to try it but I am not sure we have the same ingredients as you guys!

  • Jannyjo
    March 22, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    Never understood the appeal of Apple Jacks, but I may try them anyway for the kids.
    But I do have a link to some freeze-dried apples that come in larger packaging. ;) These are made from Granny Smith apples rather than Fuji.


    • March 22, 2012 at 10:19 AM

      Hi, Jannyjo,
      I haven’t had Apple Jacks in, like, 100 years, but I remember them very fondly.
      Thanks so much for the link to Just Tomatoes freeze-dried apples! I hadn’t seen those on amazon, and I love that brand. Much better!
      xoxo Nicole

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