Fruit for Thought: 25 Creative Ways to Enjoy Apples


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Though not indigenous to North America, apples have become a symbol of American cuisine, hospitality, and prosperity. Before sugar was cheap and widely available, apples were a primary source of sweetness, and considered a special delicacy. Fall is apple season, an ideal time to stock up at low prices and indulge in all things apple, from do-it-yourself cider to cheese-crusted pies and nouveau apple nachos. Check out these 25 apple recipes to make the most of apple season.

Related: 28 Fall Recipes That Showcase Seasonal Produce
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This popular twist on an American favorite is quickly becoming a classic in its own right. The cheese goes right into crust to enhance the savory butteriness that envelopes the sweet-tart apple filling. A recipe from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food calls for a small amount of cheese (6 ounces), which means you can spend a little extra on a high-quality sharp cheddar to make sure the flavor comes through.
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A simple recipe for caramel apples from Chowhound can be turned into a fun group activity for people of all ages. The ingredients are basic household staples, and the only special equipment needed is a candy thermometer (starting at $5) for gauging precise temperature, helping ensure smooth and luscious caramel.
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A cousin of the doughnut and a welcome addition to any pastry spread, apple fritters are an often overlooked seasonal treat. A recipe from the blog Half Baked Harvest takes the venerable fritter to the next level with a maple glaze. But even without it, the combination of a sweet yeast dough and apple filling infused with vanilla and butter is one of the best ways to enjoy apples.
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A French pastry classic, this elegant tart makes an impressive statement at parties. The key to a recipe published in The New York Times is to cut the apples evenly and layer them in an appealing way, since the ingredients themselves are rather basic.
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Apples and oatmeal are a naturally delicious and nutritious combination, and these muffins make a satisfying grab-and-go breakfast or anytime snack. A recipe from the blog Cookie and Kate is easily adaptable and yields delicious muffins with any type of flour or milk, so there's no need to purchase extra ingredients if you have a similar substitution.
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A luscious apple butter recipe posted on with warm spices, a deep color, and concentrated flavor is one of the easiest things to make with apples -- owing to the use of a slow cooker. This inexpensive and delicious condiment has a ton of uses, and can be canned in decorative jars to make homemade holiday gifts.
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Turnovers are essentially hand pies, tasty single-serving treats that are easy to pack in a lunch or grab on the go. A Betty Crocker recipe uses store-bought puff pastry, which reduces prep time. Just add apples, spices, and butter, and bake.
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Tangy and sweet, this breakfast and snack bread is a welcome twist on classic coffee cake and apple cake. A rich and indulgent version posted on Allrecipes is a crowd-pleaser, and an easy choice when craving something both sweet and savory.
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Adding apples makes ooey-gooey homemade cinnamon rolls an even more special treat. The basic yeast dough in a recipe from Midwest Living is simple but does take a few hours to come together. The apples add a bit of fiber and nutrients to each serving.
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The trend of dressing up apple slices with sweet and savory toppings and serving them nacho-style can be taken in virtually any direction. A chocolate-and-peanut-butter-topped version from the blog Trial and Eater is particularly appealing for its simplicity, classic flavor combination, and visual appeal. The topping options are limited only by imagination.
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Crunchy and sweet, baked apple chips can be enjoyed solo, or added to trail mix and granola for a pop of natural sweetness. The key to getting them crisp is to slice them very thinly and evenly. The blog Sally's Baking Addiction recommends using a mandoline slicer (starting at $10).
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For those who enjoy a regular morning smoothie or occasional afternoon refreshment, a recipe from the blog Family Fresh Meals is a must-try for apple season. Bursting with all the flavor of apple pie without the fattening butter and crust, this guilt-free indulgence makes a nutritional breakfast or decadent dessert.
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Infusing a simple roasted chicken with apples and herbs lends seasonal flair to a household staple. Those who prefer less sweetness in a savory main dish can opt to use tart apples and dry hard apple cider in a recipe from chef Michael Smith.

Related: 10 Cheap and Easy Chicken Recipes
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Apple quesadillas come in all flavors, from savory barbecue chicken and smoked cheese to sweet cinnamon and cream cheese versions. A gouda and apple version posted on Allrecipes caters to those looking for a simple way to add apples to quesadillas. To dream up your own creations, think of classic grilled cheese combinations to fill tortillas.
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Brussels sprouts have a natural sweetness that is drawn out when caramelized by roasting or sautéing, and apples help to draw that out while highlighting also earthy flavors. Apples are an easy addition to roasted or sautéed Brussels sprouts. A recipe from Southern Living goes a step further, adding crumbled bacon for even more flavor.
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A slightly unconventional recipe from The Kitchen Prep blog is a refreshing departure from the same old apple-flavored baked goods, and ideal for those who don't have much of a sweet tooth. The process is straightforward but does take a while, which makes this a project for a leisurely weekend at home.
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Adding apples to a classic squash soup enhances the sweetness and tartness, adding dimension and flavor as well as volume and nutrition. Spices typically used in squash soup, such as cumin and ginger, complement apples, too, so it's easy to simply add apples to a favorite squash soup recipe, such as this one from Martha Stewart.
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Pork and apples have been a favorite combination throughout Europe and the Americas for centuries, if not longer. A simple one-dish meal from Cooking Light is baked in the oven to tenderize both the meat and the apples while combining the flavors into a flavorful gravy that is soaked up by the onions. Use hearty apples such as Mutsu or Honeycrisp so the slices retain shape while cooking.
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Quinoa can be enjoyed year-round is a base for salads with the addition of fresh seasonal ingredients. An apple quinoa salad from Martha Stewart Living is full of fresh and crunchy apples and tossed with a curry dressing for added heat during chilly weather, although any basic dressing works on the base of apples and quinoa.
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Even those who aren't wild about the addition of sweet fruits to savory dishes can get on board with apples and arugula tossed with a mustardy vinaigrette. A recipe from the blog Baker by Nature raises the bar with the addition of nuts and cheese, but neither is necessary.
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An apple and cabbage slaw recipe from the blog Picture the Recipe takes advantage of the delicious flavor and crispness of uncooked apples, and makes a healthy and filling snack or condiment alongside heavy barbecued meats and roasts. Consider using a mandoline or food processor (starting at $14) to make chopping quick and uniform.
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Flatbread is a trendy alternative to crackers for serving enticing combinations of food to a variety of guests. Scattered over any kind of flatbread, apples and goat cheese make a tangy, sweet, and crisp dish with a recipe from the blog A Saucy Kitchen. Serve it as a seasonal appetizer for a crowd or an elegant lunch. Other soft cheeses, like ricotta or burrata, can be substituted for goat cheese.
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Ham and cheese is a popular combination that seemingly can't be improved, except perhaps with the addition of caramelized apples in a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. Their sweet earthiness bolsters the natural savory and salty flavor of the ham and cheese.
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Making this popular breakfast meat yourself is a simple process with simple ingredients including fresh local apples, resulting in a cheaper and more delicious apple sausage than store-bought versions. A recipe from EatingWell uses ground chicken, but ground turkey can easily be subsituted.
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A cool-weather treat, apple cider can be expensive when bought from a market. Making it at home is cheap and easy with an how-to guide from The only special equipment needed: jars and pots to sanitize, which are basic canning supplies (available on Amazon) that can be reused again and again.