Gluten Free Caramel Apple Trifle

When my Mom or I are asked to bring dessert to a gathering of friends or family, we enjoy bringing a trifle. Usually I stick to a Fresh Fruit Trifle, using a variety of in season fruit, or a sinfully-delicious Chocolate-Chocolate Trifle. However, after seeing a version of this Caramel Apple Trifle on Pinterest, I decided to put my own spin on it and make this perfectly Autumn trifle instead. So delicious! Like, still-tasty-after-3-days delicious. This recipe makes a lot, I would say it would be enough to serve approximately 30 people. But, it is so easy to put together, makes a nice presentation, and can be/should be made in advance, so it is perfect for any group get-together.

This dessert can be made using a gluten-free cake mix, making it a quick dessert to put together too. I opted for a cake from scratch, apple pie filling from scratch, and cooked pudding from a mix. So, a bit of both worlds.

Gluten Free Caramel Apple Trifle
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20
*For the cake, I used Simply...Gluten-Free's Birthday Cake recipe. It worked wonderfully, and I baked it in a 9x13-inch pan. Bake according to directions, and allow to cool completely.
*1 package of cooked butterscotch pudding, cooked according to package directions (the package I used required 3 cups of milk)
*Apple Pie Filling - canned or homemade. Below is the recipe that I used, adapted from
  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 8-ounce container whipped topping, defrosted
  • Caramel sauce for drizzling over the top of the trifle
  1. In a large bowl, toss the apple slices with the lemon juice and set aside (this will prevent them from browning).
  2. In a large saucepan, stir to combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add the water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the apples and return to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover with the lid, and continue cooking for 6-10 minutes, depending on the apples you are using. Stir in vanilla. Cool for 30 minutes before using.
  4. Cut the cake into 1-inch cubes.
  5. Arrange a layer of cake cubes along the bottom of a large serving bowl.
  6. Top the cake with half of the butterscotch pudding.
  7. Top with nearly half of the chopped pecans.
  8. Add half of the apple pie filling, spreading it around to cover all of the pudding/nuts.
  9. Next, spread half of the whipped topping over the apple pie filling.
  10. Repeat. Cake. Pudding. Pecans (keep 2 Tbsp for sprinkling on top). Appel pie filling. Whipped Topping.
  11. Sprinkle the remaining pecans on the top of the trifle, and drizzle with some caramel sauce.
  12. Put trifle together at least 8 hours before serving. This allows the pudding to soak into the cake. Refrigerate until serving.
I was still eating leftovers 3 days after putting this trifle together, and it still tasted fantastic.

23 Responses to Gluten Free Caramel Apple Trifle

  1. Tamara November 3, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    Oh my goodness gracious! This looks/sounds/smells (in my imagination) heavenly! I think I’ll have to make some for this weekend for the harvest dinner at the senior’s center…thanks for the great idea!

    • Jeanine November 3, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

      Definitely a great idea, Tamara. Glad I could help you out! :)

  2. Marisa November 3, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Looks so delish Jeanine

    • Jeanine November 3, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

      Thanks, Marisa! It was really good. And a great way to serve a large crowd dessert too. :)

  3. adele+cooking=luv November 3, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    SCRUMPTIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A PERFECT GF DESSERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Cook It Allergy Free November 3, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    I do not even know what to say except…HOLY MOLY!! This sounds absolutely divine. And what a beautiful presentation, Jeanine!! That would be a show stopper at a dinner party for sure.

    • Jeanine November 4, 2011 at 6:53 am #

      Thank you so much, Kim! :)

  5. Betty Reimer November 3, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    When you gave us a peek yesterday I thought it was pumpkin..this sounds every bit as good! Bet you were one popular gal bringing such a delicious dessert.

    • Jeanine November 4, 2011 at 6:53 am #

      It does sort of look like pumpkin, doesn’t it? I bet a pumpkin version would be very tasty too…Hmmm…Maybe with a spice cake…now the wheels are spinning. 😉

  6. Carol, Simply...Gluten-Free November 4, 2011 at 5:49 am #

    Gorgeous!!! I agree with Kim – a show stopper! And those flavors – perfcet for fall! Thanks for the link love, xo

    • Jeanine November 4, 2011 at 6:52 am #

      Thanks, Carol, and thank you for the wonderful cake! I’ll make a confession…I tried one cake recipe, it totally bombed. Failed. Flat & gummy. Knowing I only had time for one more shot at it, I wanted to go with a recipe I KNEW would work, so I went to your website. :) Sure enough, you did not disappoint! Thanks for the fantastic cake recipe!

  7. InTolerant Chef November 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    I would never have thought of using apples in a trifle, thanks for helping me gain a new perspective on an old favorite :-)

    • Jeanine November 10, 2011 at 6:36 am #

      It’s nice to be able to change up a trifle every now and then. Now I’m eyeing a gingerbread trifle recipe, wondering if/how to change it up and make it GF. :)

  8. Heather Porrill November 9, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    You know I love all things caramel! This looks especially yummy.

    • Jeanine November 10, 2011 at 6:32 am #

      You know…you could melt a handful of those Buttery Bites into the cooked pudding. Would have a nice, rich, caramel-y flavour. :)

  9. Brittni November 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    Thanks for the recipe, seems so perfect for Thanksgiving. I just got done making it, although I didn’t use gluten free cake mix. I just used a regular french vanilla flavored cake and I couldn’t manage to find a proper sized dish in my cupboards so I had to put it in two separate bowls with only one layer of each thing in each. Should still be good, though. I cannot wait to try it! :]

    • Jeanine December 3, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

      Yeah, it is definitely enough to serve a crowd. lol So, how was it??

      • Jen_lyn December 22, 2014 at 6:52 am #

        I just wanted to say that I made 2 portions of this last Christmas for a dinner of 20 people, and there was absolutely nothing left. Everyone was raving about it and asking for seconds. The response was so good that I am going to make it again this year. Thank you!

  10. baker#1 December 3, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    what size of pan should the storebought cake mix be able to go in? 9×9? 9×13?

    • Jeanine December 3, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

      I baked a 9×13 cake, but used about 3/4 of it for the trifle.

  11. Shirley @ gfe & All Gluten-Free Desserts September 22, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    Jeanine, this one is a winner for sure! Oh my goodness! Just shared on All Gluten-Free Desserts so everyone else can appreciate it, too! :-)


    • Jeanine Friesen September 23, 2013 at 11:51 am #

      Thank you so much for sharing with your readers, Shirley! I appreciate it!


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