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Apples are a reliable grocery store staple year round, which makes them a reliable option when you want to make a fruit dessert.
During apple-picking season, it’s easy to come home with more apples than you know what do with.
Here, then, is a collection of some of my favorite apple recipes.
If you’re baking with apples, it’s good to look for options that hold up well in the oven. Good baking apples include Braeburn, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, Haralson, Jonathan, Mutsu, Spy, and Winesap. There are plenty more varieties that work well, too. So if you’re at an orchard or farmers market ask for a recommendation from folks who work there.
To prevent apples from browning, put them in water with a squeeze of lemon juice. The acid helps to slow the enzymatic browning.
This dessert is incredibly simple: just carefully layered slices of apples brushed with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar arranged in a dome that looks a bit like a beehive. But the flavor is incredibly complex. I couldn't resist tweaking Prueitt's version a little. I browned the butter because apples and brown butter are delightful together, but you can skip that step and just use melted butter if you prefer. I also reduced the sugar a bit--from 3/4 of a cup to 2/3 of a cup--because that felt like plenty. You'll want to use an apple that doesn't turn to mush in the oven. Prueitt calls for Granny Smith's; I like it with Empires. I used an apple corer like the one linked below to remove the cores, and my favorite peelers are also linked below. If you don't have a corer, feel free to peel and slice the apples in any way that preserves their lovely round edges. The apple jelly gives the beehive its lovely shine, but you could leave it off if you don't want to bother--the flavor won't suffer.
This apple pie is everything I look for in a classic apple pie. The crust is flaky, the filling is sturdy enough to slice but gooey enough to feel rich. It's got a mix of white and brown sugar for depth of flavor and a generous amount of cinnamon to keep the flavor profile simple and classic.
My favorite apple pies are made with a mix of apple varieties like Empires, Cortlands, Liberty, and Northern Spy. But if you are limited in what apples are available to you, Granny Smiths are a solid option.
Don't use Honey Crisp or other extra sweet and juicy apples—they're too sweet to handle extra sugar and their texture is too soft to hold up in baking.
The apples in this pie retain a bit of a firm bite. I like them that way, but if you want your apples totally soft, slice them thinner than I do here.
I love the way this soup balances sweet squash and tart apples. It’s a marriage of two of fall’s most iconic vegetables and fruits, and it really works. Use any orange-fleshed winter squash you like. Red kuri is one of my favorites, and it’s what I used here, but butternut, Kabocha, delicata, acorn, carnival would all be good here as well. Choose a tart apple for this–empire was my choice. This can be made with either chicken or vegetable stock, and it’s vegetarian if you use the latter (I’ve had good experience with the Swanson brand for both chicken and vegetable stock). I highly recommend making the spicy maple pepitas–they add a great crunchy texture to the soup. This soup is gluten free as is. If you avoid dairy, you could swap in olive oil for the butter, coconut milk for the half and half, and skip the creme fraiche garnish (then the soup would be vegan). This calls for 5-6 cups of stock. I know most stock comes in 4-cup packages–feel free to use 4 cups of stock and add water for the rest of the liquid. This freezes well, but squash soup that’s been frozen tends to think out a little after it thaws. If you plan to freeze this, make it slightly thicker than you want it so you have the right texture later. Oh, and while you can do this in a standing blender, it’s so much easier with a stick blender.
I love these as individual cakes baked in molds like they're pictured here, but you can also bake it as one big cake in 9- or 10-inch round cake pan with at least 2-inch sides. The most widely available almond pastes are Odense, which comes in a 7-ounce tube, and Solo, which comes in an 8-ounce box. This recipe is flexible enough that either 7 or 8 ounces will work–so if you get the Odense, don’t feel the need to buy or open a second tube for the extra ounce. [EDIT: It’s just come to my attention that Odense almond paste is not gluten free–celiacs should use Solo brand or, like I did use Mandelin. A lesson to always read the ingredient list.] I like to brown the butter with a vanilla bean, which infuses the whole cake with an incredible vanilla essence, but if you don’t have a vanilla bean you can feel free to brown the butter without it. Use any sturdy baking apple you like–I used Ida Reds from Nichols Farm. I also like to use Calvados (apple brandy) to boost the apple flavor here, but you can definitely leave it out and have wonderful cakes without it if you don’t have any on hand. I used an all-purpose gluten free flour mix here. I’ve also made these successfully with extra-fine Thai rice flour. There are enough eggs in the batter to create structure without the need for xanthan gum. If you don’t have problems with gluten, you can also make these with all-purpose flour. This pushes the limit of the capacity of a 7-cup food processor, but it works. It will have plenty of room in a larger model, but won’t work in anything smaller.
These poached apples are smoky and sweet with ginger and allspice. Cranberry juice brings out their tartness and turns them a gorgeous dark red color. They work well as an appetizer paired with rich cheeses on toast, but they also make a sophisticated dessert paired with vanilla or caramel ice cream. They are easy to make ahead of time and keep well in the refrigerator for several days.
These brown butter apple bars occupy the space between a tart and a cookie. Their base is one of my all time favorite shortbread crusts, that’s buttery, crisp, easy and has never let me down. You can brown the butter for the crust as well if you want more of that nutty brown butter flavor. The brown butter custard layer is infused with a cinnamon stick and has caramel-molasses notes from the brown sugar. When most home cooks need to slice apples, they start by slicing them down the middle through the core and then quarter them and remove the core from each wedge. One thing I’ve observed through watching many chefs in action is that most professionals slice apples by cutting the apple on each side close to the core leaving a square core and four pieces of apple that are easy to slice. Not surprisingly, the professional way is more efficient, and it’s the method I recommend for slicing the apples for this recipe. You can use any firm baking apple you like for these. I used Fuji apples here. These are best the day they are made, but can keep well in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
This recipe works best in 2 cup stovetop and oven safe cookware (such as these mini enameled cast iron dutch ovens), but if you wish to make these in large ramekins or other small baking dishes, you may skip the stove top caramelization step and simply bake them for an extra ten minutes or so. It won’t give you that deep caramel flavor, but it will still be delicious. You may of course, use these techniques with other fruits or with your own favorite crumble or crisp topping. This works best with slightly tart apples that work well for baking. I like to use a mix of apples and in this case used a spigold, a spuree rome, and a macoun, but feel free to use any apples you like.