This Fried Apples Recipe starts with fresh apples softened in creamy butter that are coated in warm spice and light brown sugar, then pan-fried to crisp and caramelized perfection! This is a deliciously classic southern treat made in just under 30 minutes! If you love this recipe, you will also love my Baked Crumble Apples, Butterscotch Apple Bars and Caramel Apple Pound Cake!
What are fried apples?
Fried apples aren’t exactly fried. They are really slowly cooked for a long period of time until softened and tender. By adding sugar to the fold, it creates a delicious caramelized texture as well because the sugar and butter if using melts into the apples.
This is a traditional Southern recipe which is quite easy to make. I love this recipe especially in the fall when apples are plentiful and apple picking season has begun.
If you don’t know Dora Charles by name, you might know her by her intensely satisfying and delicious food. Dora was a revered former cook at one of Savannah’s most renowned restaurants.
This fried apples recipe comes from her wonderful cookbook A Real Southern Cook: In Her Savannah Kitchen. Each one of these recipes is full of history and outstanding flavor.
What apples should we use?
This recipe uses granny smith apples. Granny smith apples are also a popular choice for baking pies, tarts and crumbles because of their firmness. It keeps its shape as it continues to cook down so it doesn’t break down too much.
They tend to be more tart but the sugar helps to balance that giving it the sweetness it needs to offset it.
Golden Delicious is also a nice substitution here as well.
Ingredients for Fried Apples Recipe
Don’t sweat it! You only need 6 ingredients to make this fried apple recipe.
Here’s a little more info on what we’re using:
GRANNY SMITH APPLES have a distinct citrusy-tart flavor that make them a great partner for richer ingredients. Their crisp, firm texture holds up well when cooked. Cortland and Braeburn Apples are great replacement options.
BUTTER OR BACON GREASE can both be used in this recipe. Go with the grease if you’re looking for a smoky, meaty flavor. Use butter if you want a smooth, creamy taste.
LIGHT BROWN SUGAR sweetens the apples and forms a syrupy caramel coating over everything. Dark brown sugar works too if you want more molasses flavor!
CINNAMON and apples go together like peanut butter and jelly! The citrusy, spicy notes cut through the acidic sweetness of the apple and create a complex, delicious flavor.
NUTMEG is slightly sweet, nutty, and woody. A little goes a long way so start with a small pinch and work your way up from there.
LEMON JUICE helps to brighten flavor, balance sweetness, and prevent oxidation from happening too quickly.
How to make fried apples
This process can take a bit of time so patience is key.
Tip 1: Don’t peel the apples. Sure, you can peel them if you would like to but you’d be getting rid of lots of fibrous nutrients. The skin also helps retain structure so the slices don’t get too mushy.
Tip 2: Use an apple corer/slicer. If you’ve got one on hand, an all-in-one apple slicer and corer is a great way to make things easier and save time. It will also ensure that each slice is evenly cut.
Once apples are quartered and cored, you will want to pull out a very large skillet because the best way to do this is if the apples are in one layer resulting in even cooking of each individual piece.
We will begin with butter or if you would prefer, bacon grease. My preference here is butter because I personally like the richness of the butter and it makes it ok for those that aren’t pork eaters.
TIP: to speed up the process a bit more, you can add a lid to the apples. This will make the apples tenderize much faster due to the steam.
Once the apples have softened we add the brown sugar. Brown sugar here is much better than just using granulated sugar because the molasses adds a bit more depth and flavor.
Finally a bit of nutmeg and cinnamon along with a hint of citrus flavor really brightens the entire dish in the end. Super easy and super delicious!
What to serve with southern fried apples?
In the South, folks love to serve these with pork chops or even a ham. Pork and apple flavors are a wonderful combination. A
You can also serve these in the morning with biscuits for a lovely replacement for jam or jelly. Spoon them over french toast or pancakes as well.
TIP: Looking for an easy, large batch dessert? Serve these apples while warm with a big dollop of ice cream or whipped cream on top!
How to Store Them
The cooked fried apples can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. I recommend reheating them using a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. The microwave tends to make them mushy.
I wouldn’t recommend freezing this Fried Apple recipe: they’re texture is never quite the same after that.
MORE OF GRANDBABY CAKES’ BEST APPLE RECIPES
Apples are such fun to cook and bake with; their versatility makes for some incredibly unique and delicious recipes!
Check out a few my personal favorites:
Fried Apples Recipe
- 3 crisp apples such as Granny Smith
- 3 tbsp butter or bacon grease or a combo of both
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon or more to taste
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg or more to taste
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice or more to taste
- Cut the apples into quarter and cut out the cores but don't peel them. Slice the quarters the long way so you get 3 or 4 thick slices out of each one.
- Melt the butter or bacon grease or combo in a large skillet over medium heat.
- When bubbling, add the apples slices and turn them with a spatula to coat with the butter.
- If you cover them with a lid for a couple of minutes, they will steam and cook a bit faster. However, uncovered they will turn a lovely golden brown even though they cook slower.
- Once the apples are soft, about 10 minutes, sprinkle the sugar over them or add more if you would like then turn them over again to be sure they have sugar on both sides.
- Sprinkle the spices on top and stir them a little.
- When the apples are smelling amazing and looking caramelized they are done and ready to serve. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top and serve up hot.