Fried Apples

This Fried Apples recipe is gonna be your Fall BFF boos. Fresh apple slices get sautéed up in a mix of rich butter, warm spices and sweet brown sugar making them super tender and caramelized to perfection. And the best part is these fried apples will be ready to devour in less than 20 minutes! Get at it!

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A close up of a fried apples recipe just after being cooked in the skillet

My big mama made the best fried apples. In Mississippi, she would mix together butter, sugar, a little nutmeg and some vanilla over the stove and get those apples deliciously silky. That was good eatin y’all. This recipe has all of those amazing notes. If you are a fan of the Cracker Barrel fried apples, you will definitely get down on these!

What are Fried Apples?

Fried apples aren’t exactly fried y’all. I know, the title is super misleading. Instead, they are slowly cooked until softened and beyond tender.  When we toss in that sugar with the butter, it creates such a wonderful caramelized texture. All the ingredients literally melt into the apples making them taste like heaven boos. It’s a great recipe to make all year round especially during the Fall when those good apples are ready to pick. Dora Charles, who is from Georgia, gave the bones for this recipe.

A close up of fried apples in a large skillet after being cooked with lemons and brown sugar in the background

The Lowdown on the Best Fried Apple Recipe

Cuisine Inspiration: Southern Comfort
Primary Cooking Method: Sautéing
Dietary Info: Vegetarian, Gluten-Free (can be made vegan with one simple swap!)
Key Flavor: Sweet, tender, buttery, warm, fall spiced
Skill Level: Easy y’all

  • Simple Ingredients: Just a few simple ingredients, mostly in your pantry, are all you need boos.
  • Ready in minutes: So quick and easy! You can have this ready in less than 20 minutes, prep included. It’s perfect for a last minute craving or when guests pop over.
  • Versatile: This is great for breakfast, a dinner side dish or even served over ice cream or cake for dessert.

Ingredients Needed to Make the Best Fried Apples Recipe

Fresh apples, a lemon, warm spices, butter and brown sugar on a wooden board against a gray background
  • Granny Smith Apples: Their firm and crisp texture is gonna hold up to the heat when we cook the fried apple recipe up! I love their distinct citrusy-tart essence too! It holds its own with all of the recipe components.
  • Butter: Ain’t nothing richer or more delish than butter. It’s creamy nature pairs with the apples perfectly. I use salted here to balance the sweetness.
  • Light Brown Sugar: This is gonna sweeten the fried apples and create a syrupy caramel coating on them. Dark brown sugar is all good if you want more molasses flavor! 
  • Cinnamon and apples are the ultimate duo boos. The citrusy, spicy notes are gonna cut through the acidic sweetness of the apple balancing everything out.
  • Nutmeg stays giving slightly nutty and woody vibes. Just a pinch is all you need to make a real difference here.
  • Lemon Juice always brightens up everything giving some complexity. It’s also gonna prevent oxidation from happening too fast so the apples won’t turn brown ya dig?

How to Make Fried Apples

Step 1: Prep the Apples and Butter Them Up

  1. Quarter those apples up, but don’t bother peeling them unless you want to (do you boo). Cut out the cores, slice ’em up longways into thick pieces, like 3 or 4 slices per quarter.
  2. Next get the butter melting in a big skillet (I love a cast iron) over medium heat. Once it’s all bubbly, toss in the apple slices and give them a good flip so they get coated in the buttery goodness.

PRO TIP: Need to cook the apples faster? Throw the lid on. That steam will get those apples all tender in no time.

A collage of apples being cored and sliced on a wooden cutting board then added to a skillet to cook

Step 2: Sweeten and Spice the Fried Apples

  1. After about 10 minutes of softening up the apples, sprinkle in the brown sugar. Flip those babies letting that sugary coating get on every apple.
  2. Finally sprinkle in the spices and gently stir it all up.
  3. Once the apples are ready, squeeze a lil’ lemon juice on top and serve em up hot!
A collage of apple slices in a skillet frying with brown sugar then caramelized with spices added

How to Serve Southern Fried Apples

  • Easy Dessert: Fried apples are just so fantastic drizzled with some caramel sauce and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
  • Parfait it up!: Serve these over creamy yogurt and your fave granola for a delish snack.
  • Southern Side Dish: Y’all know that Cracker Barrel serves this as a side dish for supper so you know you can create an amazing meal with these. Serve them up with smothered pork chops (pork and apples are chef’s kiss) or glazed ham.
  • Breakfast: Let me tell ya, ain’t nothing more comforting than rise and shining with a buttery biscuit and some fried apples. Skip the jelly boos. That’s such good eatin. You can also spoon these on top of fluffy pancakes or buttermilk waffles.
A spatula lifting a fried apples recipe after being cooked from a skillet

Recipe Substitutions

  • Apples: Honeycrisp or Pink Lady Apples are great replacement options y’all. Just select another apple that’s firm so it can stand up to the cooking.
  • Butter: No salted butter? Use unsalted and sprinkle in a pinch of salt. You can also go for ghee if you want a nuttier flavor. Heck even some bacon grease is bomb if you’re looking for a smoky, meaty flavor. If you wanna make this vegan, grab some coconut oil or margarine to sub in.
  • Lemon Juice: Lime juice, orange juice or even apple cider vinegar will give you that brightness and acidity if lemons ain’t your thing.
  • Brown Sugar: Granulated sugar is totally cool to use here. You can even grab the coconut sugar if you wanna bring the glycemic index down a bit.
  • Spices: No nutmeg or cinnamon lying around? Grab some allspice, cloves, ginger, cardamom or pumpkin spice for a unique aromatic alternative.

Recipe Variations and Additions

  • Use Pears: While they have a slightly different flavor profile, they have similar textures so they will cook up about the same.
  • Grab some Peaches: Same as the pears boos! Peaches can give you the same vibes due to similar firm textures. And its a great way to make this recipe in the summer when they are in season.
  • Booze it up: For my grown ups, a splash of bourbon or rum will really get the party started.
  • Vanilla: I sometimes add a hint of vanilla bean paste or extract to develop those aromatic vibes.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • You don’t have to peel the apples. Sure, you can peel them if you want 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. 
  • Grab an apple corer/slicer. If you’ve got one around, an all-in-one apple slicer and corer is the truth! It’s gonna save so much time! It also ensures that each slice is evenly cut so they cook up evenly too!
  • Don’t Overcrowd: Make sure you don’t pile a bunch of apple slices on top of each other. Work in batches if you must so the apples don’t unevenly cook.
  • Pop the Lid On: If you need to speed up the process a bit more, add a lid to the apples. This will make the apples tenderize much faster due to the steam.
  • Adjust the Sugar: Apples ain’t all the same so sometimes you gotta let them guide you. Adjust the amount of sugar based on how sweet the apples are y’all.
A Southern fried apple recipe on a white plate with a fork serving some up to eat

How to Store Fried Apples

  • Fridge: This fried apple recipe can be stored in an airtight container then popped in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer: I wouldn’t recommend freezing these y’all! They’re texture is never the same after that.  It’s a no!
  • Reheating: Place the fried apples in a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. Forget the microwave. It tends to make them mushy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What apples are best to use in this fried apples recipe?

This recipe gets great results with granny smith apples.  Granny smith apples are a super popular choice for baking pies, tarts and crumbles because of their firmness.  It keeps its shape not breaking down too much as it continues to cook. Sometimes they can be a lil’ tart but we add enough sugar to offset this.

Do I need to peel the apples in this recipe?

Totally up to you boo! I suggest keeping it on in order to keep the apples in tact. The peel also adds a bit of color and texture if that’s your thing. But if you want more of a smooth texture, go ahead and peel.

Can I make fried apples ahead of time?

Yep you sure can boos! Just store in the fridge and when you are ready to serve, reheat gently on the stove until warmed through before serving up. Avoid the microwave since it makes them mushy.

More of my Best Apple Recipes

A close up of a fried apples recipe just after being cooked

Fried Apples Recipe

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 20 minutes! 
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course: Dessert, Side Dish, Snack
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 crisp apples such as Granny Smith
  • 3 tbsp salted butter
  • 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

Instructions

  • 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 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 em up hot y'all.

Notes

How to Store Fried Apples
  • Fridge: This fried apple recipe can be stored in an airtight container then popped in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer: I wouldn’t recommend freezing this Fried Apple recipe y’all! They’re texture is never the same after that.  It’s a no!
  • Reheating: Place the apples in a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. The microwave tends to make them mushy. 

Nutrition

Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 0.5g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 73mg | Potassium: 171mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 337IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 0.3mg
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Filed Under:  Fall Recipes, Seasonal Recipes, Side Dishes, Stovetop

Comments

  1. Also fried apple shortcake! I make sweet biscuits and split then layer on the apples and whipped cream. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

  2. Yum-liscious!! Very easy. I used butter, the next time I cook some bacon I will try that! I also used honey with a little cinnamon instead of sugar.

  3. Awesome recipe! I made these fried apples for a big family breakfast. They were delicious and very easy to make.

  4. I used just fry up grannies with not a lot of thought of added ingredients. This is a keeper. Works wonderfully with German pancakes.

  5. Oh wow! You had me at creamy butter and warming spices. These fried apples look absolutely fantastic.

  6. I love apple season for recipes just like this! So easy and delicious; quite possibly the best way to enjoy apples, indeed!

  7. My grandmother made these, I probably had them the first time about 1942. Easy and delicious. Additionally Cracker Barrell makes a pretty decent version.

    Love your recipes

5 from 8 votes

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