Freshly sliced tender-crisp apples coated in cinnamon and sugar, fried in a sweet buttery sauce make these fried apples the best, most delicious syrup-y dessert topping!

Overhead view of fried apples in two bowls and a frying pan.

It’s an irresistible combination of sweetness from the sugar, and tartness from the apples that make it almost impossible to resist having a bowl of these fried apples all by itself just like you would at Cracker Barrel. Except you don’t have to leave your house and can make them in minutes from scratch at a fraction of the price!

About this recipe

This popular Southern treat is cozy, comforting, and delightful. Eating a bowl of it is like eating the best part of an apple pie. The filling!

With simple ingredients and an hour’s time, you can make your own fried apples.

Apple slices are mixed with cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar and sautéed in butter until the mixture becomes gooey and saucy. They make the best topping for ice cream! Warm fried apples over cold vanilla ice cream is heavenly!

Have it for breakfast as a special topping for pancakes, waffles, and crepes, and save some more for dessert later on. Top off your cakes, pies, or use them to fill turnovers, Danishes, and more.

This delicious dessert topping is super simple to make so it makes sense to make a big batch. Plus leftover apples freeze well if you’ve sliced more than you need!

Fried apples in a small white bowl.

What you need

  • Unsalted Butter – Using unsalted allows you to control the amount of salt you add to this recipe.
  • Apples – Peeled, cored and sliced into about 1″ slices. You want to use apples that hold their structure during cooking and won’t become mushy. Granny Smith are nice and tart. Golden Delicious are also a good choice, but a little sweeter. Braeburns are also great.
  • Granulated (White) Sugar – Added sweetness from the sugar also helps cook down the apples, making them softer and sweet.
  • Cinnamon & Nutmeg – Both are warming spices that are signature flavors of any apple crisp, apple pie, fried apple combination. If you’ve never tried grating your own nutmeg, you have to try it!
  • Salt – A little salt helps to bring out the flavors and balance the sweetness.
Overhead view of ingredients needed to make fried apples.

How to make them

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat; then add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and stir to combine.

Apples, sugar, spices, and butter in a white frying pan.

Stir and cook for 5 minutes then reduce the heat to low-medium.

Continue stirring every 2-3 minutes as the apples cook down for 15-20 minutes or until they are soft enough to your liking.

Cooked apples in a frying pan with butter, sugar, and cinnamon.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the apples cool for 5-10 minutes before serving as is or over ice cream or pancakes.

Fried apples and ice cream on a spoon.

FAQs

How do you thicken cooked apples?

Add a cornstarch slurry (cornstarch and water) to the pan while it’s hot and stir to combine. This will thicken them up but keep in mind they will continue to thicken as they cool.

Can I freeze fried apples?

Absolutely, you can freeze them! Fried apples can be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container. If you have cut up more apples than you need you can also freeze them fresh. Lay them on a baking sheet for a flash freeze before transferring them to a ziplock or freezer-friendly container. This way they won’t freeze in a clump.

How do you peel apples?

If you’re peeling a whole apple, a peeler usually does the trick (the same one you’d use for carrots). Otherwise, if you’re peeling individual slices, it’s easier to use a paring knife. Carefully, from one tip of the apple slice, run it along the inside of the peel close enough to the flesh of the apple to get a nice thin layer of peel off.

How to keep my apples from turning brown?

The first way would be to slice them as close to the time you’ll be frying them, giving them the least amount of time to oxidize and turn brown. If you find you’ve cut them and aren’t quite ready to use them, squirt a little lemon juice over them. But don’t worry if your apples turn brown before you fry them because once you heat them up, the brown-ness disappears.

Cooked apples in a frying pan with a wooden spoon.

How to make these your own

  • Skip the nutmeg if you prefer.
  • Add a splash of lemon juice at the end for a nice citrus finish. Or use it to squirt on the apple slices to prevent browning. Either way, the bright flavor is there and it’s fantastic.
  • Swap brown sugar for the white sugar to give the apples a bit of a darker color and deeper molasses flavor like this apple compote.
  • You can also omit the sugar completely and use honey or maple syrup for a change.
  • Wondering what goes with fried apples? All the pancakes! Top these oatmeal pancakes, Dutch baby pancake, pumpkin pecan pancake, and cinnamon apple skillet pancake with fried apples. Not to mention ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce, and yogurt! Some people enjoy them alongside biscuits and toast and to top off French toast.

Storage Suggestions

These fried apples can be stored once cooled completely, in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Reheating Tips

To reheat, you can use either the stovetop on low until warmed through or use the microwave for 30-second intervals.

Other recipes that are perfect for topping pancakes:

Overhead view of fried apples in two bowls and a frying pan.

Get the Recipe: Fried Apples

Freshly sliced tender-crisp apples coated in cinnamon and sugar, fried in a sweet buttery sauce make these fried apples the best, most delicious syrup-y dessert topping!
5 from 1 vote

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5-6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 12-16 slices each (about 1 ½ pounds)
  • 2/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and stir to combine.
  • Stir and cook for 5 minutes then reduce the heat to low-medium.
  • Continue stirring every 2-3 minutes as the apples cook down for 15-20 minutes or until they are soft and cooked to your liking.
  • Remove pan from heat and let the apples cool 5-10 minutes before serving as is or over ice cream or pancakes.

Notes

  • Fried apples can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Calories: 324kcal, Carbohydrates: 65g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 23mg, Sodium: 149mg, Potassium: 249mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 57g, Vitamin A: 387IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 22mg, Iron: 1mg