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.
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. It's just 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.
Recipe: Martha Stewart
A simple recipe for caramel apples can become 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 under $5) for gauging precise temperature, helping ensure smooth and luscious caramel.
A cousin of the doughnut and a welcome addition to any pastry spread, apple fritters are an often overlooked seasonal treat. This 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.
Recipe: Half Baked Harvest
Apples and oatmeal are a naturally delicious and nutritious combination, and these muffins make a satisfying grab-and-go breakfast or anytime snack — not to mention an easily adaptable one that yields delicious muffins with any type of flour or milk, so there's no need to buy extra ingredients if you have a similar substitution.
Recipe: Cookie + Kate
A luscious apple butter 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.
Recipe: Genius Kitchen
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 is particularly appealing for its simplicity, classic flavor combination, and visual appeal, but options are limited only by imagination.
Recipe: Trial and Eater
For those who enjoy a regular morning smoothie or occasional afternoon refreshment, an apple-pie smoothie is a must-try this 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.
Recipe: Family Fresh Meals
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 caters to those looking for a simple way to add apples to quesadillas. To dream up other creations, think of classic grilled cheese combinations to fill tortillas.
Brussels sprouts have a natural sweetness that is drawn out when caramelized by roasting or sautéing, and apples — an easy addition to roasted or sautéed Brussels sprouts — help to draw that out while highlighting also earthy flavors. Crumbled bacon adds even more flavor.
Recipe: Southern Living
A slightly unconventional but refreshing departure from the same old apple-flavored baked goods, this is 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.
Recipe: The Kitchen Prep
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.
Recipe: Martha Stewart
Pork and apples have been a favorite combination throughout Europe and the Americas for centuries, if not longer. A simple one-dish meal is baked in the oven to tenderize the meat and the apples while combining 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.
Recipe: Cooking Light
An apple and cabbage slaw 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 around $15) to make chopping quick and uniform.
Recipe: Picture the Recipe
Flatbread is a trendy alternative to crackers for serving enticing combinations of food to guests. Scattered over any kind of flatbread, apples and goat cheese make a tangy, sweet, and crisp dish. Serve it as a seasonal appetizer for a crowd or an elegant lunch. Other soft cheeses, such as ricotta or burrata, can be substituted for goat cheese.
Recipe: A Saucy Kitchen