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The Perfect Gluten Free Apple Strudel

|| byKat

The days of missing the cosy deliciousness that is apple strudel just because you can’t eat gluten are officially a thing of the past. This gluten free apple strudel is 100% the real deal. From the golden, crisp, paper-thin gluten free filo pastry to the sweet, spiced apple filling that’s perfectly soft without being mushy – this recipe ticks every single box. It’s honestly difficult to believe that it’s gluten free… and it’s surprisingly easy to make!

Slices of gluten free apple strudel, dusted with powdered sugar.

Ever since I figured out how to make proper, paper-thin gluten free filo pastry (honestly, that still feels like a total dream come true!!), making gluten free apple strudel has been at the very top of my to-do list.

I adore apple strudel. I grew up eating it and I missed it so, so much when I couldn’t eat gluten. Well, I’m here to tell you that the days of missing the cosy, comforting deliciousness that is apple strudel just because you can’t eat gluten are officially a thing of the past.

Because today, I’m sharing with you the recipe for THE MOST AMAZING, real-deal gluten free apple strudel. It’s incredibly close to the wheat-based version I remember from my childhood – and it’s honestly difficult to tell that it’s gluten free at all (as confirmed by my non-gluten-free taste testers).

This gluten free apple strudel recipe has it all:

  • The golden, crisp pastry that shatters as you cut into it.
  • That gorgeous buttery flakiness that you get from layers of pastry created by rolling up the strudel after it’s been brushed with melted butter.
  • A perfectly juicy and just-sweet-enough cinnamon apple filling that’s soft without being mushy.
  • And a dusting of powdered sugar on top that makes the whole dessert feel like a sweet, cosy hug.

A slice of gluten free apple strudel, dusted with powdered sugar, on a small white dessert plate.

What is apple strudel?

Apple strudel (Apfelstrudel in German) is a traditional Viennese pastry or dessert that’s popular in Austria, Germany, Bavaria and many other European countries. It uses an unleavened paper-thin dough (filo pastry, phyllo dough or strudel dough) that’s traditionally made from wheat flour, water and a small amount of oil or melted butter. Sometimes, a small amount of vinegar is added into the dough as well. It’s first rolled out and then stretched by hand into very large, extremely thin sheets.

The apple filling is arranged in a small section of the dough, which is then folded over the filling and rolled up to make a long log. The strudel is then baked in an oven until golden and usually served warm. It’s typically served in slices with a dusting of powdered sugar. 

Although apple strudel is the most widely known and the most popular variety of strudel, numerous other strudels with different fillings exist, such as cherry strudel or walnut strudel.

Hands holding a slice of gluten free apple strudel.

Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this amazing gluten free apple strudel – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!

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Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.

How to make the PERFECT gluten free apple strudel

Once you master gluten free filo pastry (and there’s nothing difficult about making it at all, promise!), preparing this gluten free apple strudel seriously couldn’t be easier. Here, I’ll walk you through the whole process step by step – and as per usual, I’ve included plenty of process photos and tips to help you along the way.

Ingredients for homemade gluten free apple strudel

  • Gluten free filo pastry (phyllo dough). For this recipe, you’ll need one batch of my homemade gluten free filo pastry, which makes three about 12×16 inches (30x40cm) sheets. The exact dimensions of the filo pastry sheets will depend on how thin you roll them out. Aim for a thickness of about 0.5mm, though if you manage to roll them out even thinner, they might be slightly larger, up to about 14×16 inches (35x40cm).
  • Apples. For the best flavour and texture, I recommend using slightly tart, firm eating apples, such as Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Jazz or Braeburn.
  • Lemon juice. This serves two purposes: it gives the filling a bit of freshness and also prevents the sliced apples from oxidising and browning too quickly.
  • Granulated sugar. The amount of sugar is optimised to give a filling that’s not too overwhelmingly sweet, especially if you serve the strudel dusted with powdered sugar. You can increase or decrease the amount of sugar in the filling slightly (by about 25g either way at the most), depending on your preferences.
  • Cinnamon. Feel free to use whichever warming spices you like – ginger or cardamom might work well, though cinnamon is always my go-to spice when it comes to apple desserts.
  • Raisins or sultanas. I usually use sultanas in my baking (rather than raisins) though if you’re not a fan of them, feel free to skip them. You could use chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, instead. The trick to bringing the best out of sultanas or raisins is to soak them in hot water for about 5 minutes – this rehydrates them and plumps them up, making them lovely and juicy.
  • Melted unsalted butter. You’ll use the melted butter for several things: to “stick” the three filo pastry sheets together into one larger one, to brush over the sheets before filling and also to butter the rolled-up apple strudel before baking.
  • Almond flour or ground almonds. Although many use breadcrumbs in their apple strudel recipes to absorb some of the moisture released by apples during baking, I actually prefer almond flour (or ground almonds) for this. They give a richer flavour and, as we’re making a gluten free apple strudel, you also don’t need to worry about getting your hands on gluten free breadcrumbs. If you want to play around with other flavours, you could use ground hazelnuts instead (either toasted or raw, completely up to you).

Proper paper-thin gluten free filo pastry (phyllo dough)

I know it might sound too good to be true, but proper paper-thin GLUTEN FREE filo pastry is both possible and surprisingly easy to make!! In fact, it’s so extremely thin that you can actually read through it. It’s really a total game-changer in the world of gluten free baking (if I do say so myself!) and I’m really super proud of this recipe.

Leafing through the sheets of gluten free filo pastry.

A sheet of gluten free filo pastry, so thin that you can read through it.

In my Homemade Gluten Free Filo Pastry blog post, you’ll find plenty of step-by-step photos and all my top tips for gluten free filo pastry PERFECTION: from how to make the dough and the correct way to roll it in order to avoid tearing, to storage instructions so you can prepare it in advance.

To make the filo pastry, you need just 7 ingredients (plain gluten free flour blend, sugar, xanthan gum, salt, psyllium husk, water and melted butter) and the dough comes together in no time. You don’t need any special equipment (no mixers or rolling machines) and there’s honestly nothing difficult about the recipe at all. You just need a rolling pin and a bit of patience to roll the pastry carefully and slowly until it’s about 0.5mm thin.

Assembling the gluten free apple strudel

To assemble the gluten free apple strudel, you’ll need to work on a fairly large work surface, as you’ll need to lay out the three 12×16 inches (30x40cm) gluten free filo pastry sheets side by side. This can be a kitchen counter, a large kitchen island or just your dinner table – so long as it’s a large, smooth work surface, you’re good to go.

  1. Lay out the three 12×16 inches (30x40cm) filo pastry sheets on your work surface, so that their longer (16 inches/40cm) sides are next to each other.  You’ll need to overlay the filo pastry sheets partially, so as to effectively make one large sheet. To do this, fold back about 1-1¼ inches (2.5-3cm) of two of the filo pastry sheets along one of their longer sides. Make sure that the sheets are close to each other so that when you unfold the folded pastry, the sheets will overlap.
  2. Brush melted butter along the long edge of the filo pastry sheets where you’ll overlap them – this will act as “glue” to stick the sheets together.
  3. Unfold the filo pastry sheets to overlap them,
  4. and press down gently to stick them together.
  5. Then, lightly drizzle approximately half of the melted butter all over the filo pastry sheets and use a soft-bristled pastry brush to spread it into a thin, even layer. Don’t worry about measuring out the butter very precisely – you want to use just enough to evenly brush across all of the filo pastry without being left with large puddles of butter.
  6. Sprinkle the almond flour (or ground almonds) over half of the filo pastry, leaving a 1-1¼ inch (2.5-3cm) border around the edges. The almonds will absorb some of the moisture released by the apples during baking, which prevents a soggy strudel.
  7. Toss the sliced apples with the sugar and cinnamon (you want to do this just before assembling, otherwise the apples will start releasing their juices) and arrange them in an even layer on top of the almond flour.
  8. Sprinkle the rehydrated (and thoroughly drained) raisins or sultanas evenly on top of the apples.

The first 4 steps of the 8-step process of assembling and filling gluten free apple strudel.

The last 4 steps of the 8-step process of assembling and filling gluten free apple strudel.

Rolling & baking

  1. Fold the 1-1¼ inch (2.5-3cm) border over the apple filling on both the shorter 
  2. and the two longer sides. This will hold the apple filling inside the strudel and prevent it from escaping as you roll it up.
  3. Roll up the strudel starting from the shorter edge on the filed side, rolling or folding it over itself like you would with cinnamon roll dough. Don’t worry if a few apple slices initially tear through the thin filo pastry – just keep on rolling and on the next roll, the tears will be covered up by the next layer of pastry anyway.
  4. Continue rolling it until you’ve used up all of the pastry. Make sure that the end of the pastry is positioned under the strudel, to prevent it from unfolding during baking.
  5. Gently slide your hands underneath the strudel
  6. and transfer it carefully onto a large lined baking sheet.
  7. Brush the strudel all over with melted butter. Don’t worry if you have some butter left over, use just enough to make a thin, even layer of butter on top of the pastry.
  8. And then, bake the gluten free apple strudel at 375ºF (190ºC) for about 38-40 minutes until it’s evenly golden on top. Don’t worry if some of the juices from the filling end up escaping onto the baking sheet during baking, that’s perfectly normal.

The first 4 steps of the 8-step process of rolling and baking gluten free apple strudel.

The last 4 steps of the 8-step process of rolling and baking gluten free apple strudel.

What’s the best temperature for baking gluten free apple strudel?

I recommend baking this gluten free apple strudel at 375ºF (190ºC) for about 38-40 minutes. This gives an apple strudel that’s fully baked through and that’s beautifully golden and crisp on the outside. At the same time, the apples in the filling will get nicely soft without being mushy.

Note that the oven temperature of 375ºF (190ºC) refers to the conventional/non-fan oven setting. I don’t recommend using a fan/convection oven for this, but if it’s the only available setting for your oven, you’ll need to decrease the oven temperature by about 25ºF or 20ºC.

Also, if you like your pastry extra-crisp, you can prolong the baking time by about 5-10 minutes.

How do you prevent the apples in the filling from being too mushy?

The are two things that ensure the perfect texture of the apple filling – one that has just the right balance of being soft without being mushy, and with just the slightest amount of bite to the apple slices:

  • Firstly, the correct combination of oven temperature and baking time. As I’ve mentioned above, baking the strudel at 375ºF (190ºC) for 38-40 minutes gives a strudel that’s golden brown and crisp, without over-cooking the apple filling.
  • Secondly, keeping the apple slices on the slightly thicker side. Don’t slice the apples too thinly – I like to make the slices about 5-6mm thick. If you cut the apples into very thin slices, they will soften more quickly in the oven and they will end up much softer, borderline mushy. So, keep your apple slices thick!

Slices of gluten free apple strudel on a wooden board lined with parchment paper.

Is apple strudel best served hot or cold?

Honestly, I love my apple strudel at all temperatures – well, so long as it’s not so hot that it will burn my tongue. Be it warm or at room temperature, you bet I’ll be back for seconds… and possibly thirds.

In general, apple strudel is at its very best when it’s still slightly warm. At this point, the pastry is at its crispest and a warm slice of apple strudel with a scoop of vanilla ice cream at the side has to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. 

However, feel free to enjoy this strudel whichever way you like best. You’ll find no judgement here.

Can you make the strudel in advance?

I don’t really recommend making this gluten free apple strudel in advance. While it’s still delicious a day or two after baking, it’s definitely at its most scrumptious on the day it’s made and baked. That’s not so much because of the flavour but rather because of the textures – with time, the filo pastry will soften slightly and lose its crisp, shatter-y texture. 

That said, you can definitely make the gluten free filo pastry (phyllo dough) in advance!! You can keep it (stored correctly, see the filo pastry blog post for details) in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to about 2 months. If you’re freezing your filo pastry, make sure to thaw it fully and to bring it to room temperature, until it’s perfectly pliable, before you use it to make the strudel.

Slices of gluten free apple strudel, dusted with powdered sugar, on small white dessert plates.

And that’s it! This is everything you need to know in order to make the most delicious gluten free apple strudel that’s guaranteed to have you coming back for seconds and (very likely) thirds.

You can easily double or even triple the recipe if you’re baking for a larger number of people. Though, in that case, I recommend making two or three strudels (or strudel logs, if you will) rather than just one large strudel. You can definitely bake them all at the same time (so long as your oven and baking sheet are large enough), but they will be much easier to handle than just one big strudel, especially when it comes to transferring it onto the baking sheet.

I hope I’ve shown you that there’s nothing difficult or scary about making gluten free apple strudel – in fact, it’s really surprisingly easy to make. And the results are just ridiculously good.

As I’m writing this, I’ve just finished off the very last piece from the apple strudel that I’ve made yesterday… and I’m already thinking of baking a new batch ASAP. Yes, it’s *that* good. So, fair warning: once you have that first bite and you get to experience the magic that is the combination of perfectly crisp, flaky gluten free pastry with the juicy, aromatic apple filling, you’ll want to make it over and over (and over) again.

Happy baking!

Signature of the author, Kat.

Slices of gluten free apple strudel, dusted with powdered sugar, on a wooden board.

More can’t-believe-it’s-gluten-free recipes

If you’re interested in even more AMAZING gluten free recipes that don’t taste (or look) gluten free at all, you’re definitely in the right place! Here are a few gluten free reader favourites:

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The Perfect Gluten Free Apple Strudel

The days of missing the cosy deliciousness that is apple strudel just because you can’t eat gluten are officially a thing of the past. This gluten free apple strudel is 100% the real deal. From the golden, crisp, paper-thin gluten free filo pastry to the sweet, spiced apple filling that’s perfectly soft without being mushy – this recipe ticks every single box. It’s honestly difficult to believe that it’s gluten free… and it’s surprisingly easy to make!
Print Rate
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook/Bake Time 38 mins
Total Time 1 hr 38 mins
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 50 g (⅓ cup) sultanas or raisins
  • 650 g (about 1½ pounds, 4 medium apples) slightly tart, firm eating apples, cored and peeled  (Such as Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Jazz or Braeburn.)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 batch gluten free filo pastry (phyllo dough) (One batch of filo pastry makes three 12×16 inches (30x40cm) filo pastry sheets, about 0.5mm thin.)
  • 56 g (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 50 g (½ cup) almond flour or finely ground almonds
  • 115 g (½ cup + 1 tbsp) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • powdered/icing sugar, for serving

Instructions

  • Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC) and line a large baking sheet with parchment/baking paper.
  • In a small bowl, pour boiling hot water over the sultanas or raisins until completely covered. Set aside for about 5 minutes, until the sultanas/raisins have plumped up and re-hydrated.
    Drain the water, making sure to squeeze out any excess water from the sultanas/raisins. Set aside until needed.
  • Slice the peeled and cored apples into 5-6 mm slices, transfer them into a large bowl and toss them with the lemon juice. Set aside until needed.
    Tip 1: 5-6mm is the optimal thickness that will give you pleasantly soft apples that still have a small amount of bite to them after the strudel is fully baked. If you cut the apples into very thin slices, they will soften more quickly in the oven and they will end up much softer, borderline mushy.
    Tip 2: The lemon juice slows down the oxidation and browning.

Assembling & filling:

  • To assemble the gluten free apple strudel, you’ll need to work on a fairly large work surface, as you’ll need to lay out the three 12×16 inches (30x40cm) gluten free filo pastry sheets side by side. This can be a kitchen counter, a large kitchen island or just your dinner table – so long as it’s a large, smooth work surface, you’re good to go.
  • Lay out the three 12×16 inches (30x40cm) filo pastry sheets on your work surface, so that their longer (16 inches/40cm) sides are next to each other.
    You’ll need to overlay the filo pastry sheets partially, so as to effectively make one large sheet, about 16x34 inches (40x86cm) in size. To do this, fold back about 1-1¼ inches (2.5-3cm) of two of the filo pastry sheets along one of their longer sides. Make sure that the sheets are close to each other so that when you unfold the folded pastry, the sheets will overlap. (See blog post for detailed step-by-step photos.)
  • Brush melted butter along the long edge of the filo pastry sheets where you’ll overlap them – this will act as the “glue” to stick the sheets together. Unfold the filo pastry sheets to overlap them, and press down gently to stick them together.
  • Lightly drizzle approximately half of the melted butter all over the filo pastry sheets and use a soft-bristled pastry brush to spread it into a thin, even layer.
    Tip: Don’t worry about measuring out the butter very precisely – you want to use just enough to evenly brush across all of the filo pastry without being left with large puddles of butter.
  • Sprinkle the almond flour (or ground almonds) over half of the filo pastry, leaving a 1-1¼ inch (2.5-3cm) border around the edges.
    Tip: The almond flour or ground almonds will absorb some of the moisture released by the apples during baking, which prevents a soggy strudel.
  • Toss the sliced apples with the sugar and cinnamon until evenly coated and arrange them in an even layer on top of the almond flour. Sprinkle the rehydrated (and thoroughly drained) raisins or sultanas evenly on top of the apples.
    Tip: It's best to mix the sliced apples with the sugar just before you arrange them on top of the almond flour, otherwise the apples will start releasing their juices.

Rolling it up:

  • Fold the 1-1¼ inch (2.5-3cm) border over the apple filling on both the shorter and the two longer sides. This will hold the apple filling inside the strudel and prevent it from escaping as you roll it up.
  • Roll up the strudel starting from the shorter edge on the filed side, rolling or folding it over itself like you would with cinnamon roll dough. Don’t worry if a few apple slices initially tear through the thin filo pastry – just keep on rolling and on the next roll, the tears will be covered up by the next layer of pastry anyway. Make sure that the end of the pastry is positioned under the strudel, to prevent it from unfolding during baking.
  • Gently slide your hands underneath the strudel and transfer it carefully onto a large lined baking sheet.
  • Brush the strudel all over with melted butter.
    Tip: Don’t worry if you have some butter left over at the end, use just enough to make a thin, even layer of butter on top of the pastry.

Baking:

  • Bake the gluten free apple strudel at 375ºF (190ºC) for about 38-40 minutes until it’s evenly golden on top. Don’t worry if some of the juices from the filling end up escaping onto the baking sheet during baking, that’s perfectly normal.
  • Allow to cool until warm, then cut into slices, sprinkle with powdered/icing sugar and serve.

Storage:

  • The strudel is best enjoyed on the day of baking. However, it can be kept in a closed container at room temperature for 2-3 days, just note that with time, the pastry will lose its crisp texture.

Scaling up the recipe:

  • You can easily double or even triple the recipe if you’re baking for a larger number of people. In that case, I recommend making two or three strudels (or strudel logs, if you will) rather than just one large strudel.
    You can definitely bake them all at the same time (so long as your oven and baking sheet are large enough), but they will be much easier to handle than just one big strudel, especially when it comes to transferring it onto the baking sheet.
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