It's easy to see the changing of the seasons just by looking at the fruit vendors at your local market. This is time of year when peaches, cherries, and strawberries fade away and are replaced by pears, persimmons, and—of course—apples. As a kid I always knew fall had hit when it was time to go apple picking. The sweet fruit is delicious raw, but there's so much more that you can do with it. It's not fall without apple pie, and we have tons of variations for you to choose from. But apples are just as good in other desserts, plus savory dishes like baked Brie en croûte and toasted-bulgur salad. We've rounded up all the sweet and savory recipes you need to keep eating apples all season.
Perfect Apple Pie
Perfect apple pie starts with perfect apples, and we find that Golden Delicious or Braeburns have the best flavor. They're a little soft, though, so we par-cook them in boiling water to help set their pectin and keep them from falling apart too much. This recipe makes for a juicy pie—if you want a firmer, gooier filling, we have you covered.
Apple-Pecan Bourbon-Caramel Pie
I'm a huge fan of pecan pie, but I recognize that its sweetness can be a little much. This recipe gives you the flavor of pecan pie in a more restrained form by using a pecan-bourbon caramel as something of a top crust for an apple pie. We cook each part of the pie—the bottom crust, apples, and caramel—separately, then simply layer them together to finish.
Cranberry-Apple Slab Pie
Standard pie recipes don't scale well (ask anyone who has tried to bake two pies at once), so they can be a pain for a large group. This slab pie, on the other hand, fills up an entire jelly roll pan and can serve up to 16 people. We fill the pie with a pectin-rich mixture of apples and cranberries and top with an oatmeal crumble.
Rustic Apple-Cranberry Pie
Even simpler than a slab pie is a galette—a rustic, freeform pie shaped by hand and cooked on a baking sheet instead of in a pie pan. Because so much of the filling is exposed to the air, a lot of moisture evaporates from it, concentrating the flavor of the apples and cranberries and ensuring that the crust doesn't get soggy.
The Best Apple Crisp
For the flavor of a pie without any of the work of making a crust, crisps are the way to go. The filling is made of apples, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and whiskey (the booze adds complexity to the fruit) and the crumb topping is made with toasted pecans, raw sugar, butter, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Have access to mace? Use that instead of nutmeg for a more intensely flavored dessert.
Lots of strudel recipes cheat by calling for store-bought phyllo dough, but the truth is that proper strudel dough isn't that hard to make. The trick to nailing the flour, water, and oil dough is not to overwork it before pulling it out thin enough that you can read through it. Once the dough is done it's just a matter of laying on the simple apple and raisin filling, rolling it up, and baking until golden.
Gluten-Free Apple Fritters
These fritters aren't a quick project, but if you take the time to mix the dough, cook the apples, and fry it all up, you'll be rewarded with wonderfully crisp, apple-studded fritters. To make them gluten-free we turn to white rice flour, sweet rice flour, Chebe mix, and a little xanthan gum.
Made-From-Scratch Caramel Apples
Not just any caramel works for caramel apples—you want it to be thin enough to bite through but thick enough to coat the apples. Fortunately, our two-step technique lets you get the perfect consistency while still having control over how dark the caramel is. As for the apples themselves, we like smaller ones because they're easier to eat.
German Apple Pancake
So rich that it's as much a dessert as it is a breakfast, this pancake is luxuriously custardy and packed with caramelized apples. We make the batter with milk and yogurt, but it's forgiving enough that you can use sour cream instead of yogurt; you can even just go with all milk. Let the pancake sit for about five minutes to set before trying to invert it onto a plate.
Making homemade applesauce is so easy that once you try it you'll never buy a jar again. All you need to do is cook down apples with lemon peel and juice, cinnamon, light brown sugar, and apple juice. We like using a mix of soft Golden Delicious and firm Fuji apples for textural contrast.
Baked Brie en Croûte With Apple and Pear Compote
A simple baked wheel of Brie already makes for an impressive centerpiece, but homemade Brie en croûte is a total show-stopper. This version uses the cheese to sandwich an easy apple and pear compote, all of which gets wrapped in puff pastry and baked. Go with a triple cream Brie here, which will get extra gooey in the oven.
Prune and Apple Stuffing With Sausage and Chestnuts
This stuffing is studded with sweet chestnuts, savory sausage, tart apples, and sherry-soaked prunes. Chicken stock and egg give the stuffing its custardy texture, while nutmeg and clove warm it up a little. You can use stale bread if you have it, but fresh bread dried in the oven works perfectly.
Toasted-Bulgur Salad With Smoked Trout, Radishes, and Green Apple
Proving that grain salads don't have to be bland, this bulgur dish is packed with smoked trout, radish, green apple, and candied lemon. The apple and radish give the salad some crunch, the smoked trout adds meatiness, and the candied lemon has a lovely citrus flavor without the harshness of raw lemon.
Beet and Wheat Berry Salad With Pickled Apples and Pecans
Sweet beets, earthy wheat berries, and crunchy pecans serve as the base for this hearty make-ahead salad. It's an intense mix that needs something acidic to balance it out. We find that acidity in the form of quick-pickled apples, which are pleasantly tart and have the added advantage of retaining their color as the salad sits.
Tangy Apple Coleslaw
A good creamy coleslaw should be sweet and tart, and here we reinforce both of those flavors by adding grated Granny Smith apples to the standard mix of cabbage and carrot. The dressing is made with sour cream in addition to the more conventional mayo to add complexity.
Bright Lentil Salad With Apples, Fennel, and Herbs
By starting with canned Puy lentils, you can make this bright salad with just five minutes of active time. We combine the lentils with a diced Pink Lady apple, fennel, plum tomatoes, and fresh herbs and dress it all with a simple vinaigrette. Let the salad sit before serving so that the flavors have a chance to meld.
The Best Pumpkin Pizza
This recipe isn't here by mistake—it really does feature apples, albeit in a supporting role. Sautéed pumpkin alone doesn't have a ton of flavor, and the sweetness of the apples actually makes the pizza taste more pumpkin-y. The technique works just as well in our squash lasagna.