Caramelized Apples

Caramelized apple recipe

The Spruce

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
113 Calories
6g Fat
16g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 113
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 10mg 48%
Calcium 11mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 114mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Whether you need a quick dessert or want a flavorful topping for crepes or homemade ice cream, caramelized apples are the perfect recipe. The apples are meant to be just ever so slightly sweet, not overpowering and sugary, so they’re versatile in nature. Spicy-tart and thoroughly warming, they make a fabulous addition to a variety of dishes, from French toast to pork chops.

The apples are sautéed in butter, sugar, and cinnamon until tender and caramelized, and then apple cider is added to make a thick sauce. This mixture is the ideal filling for a "cheater" version of a tarte tatin or even an apple pie.


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 5 crisp apples, such as Jonagold, Crispin, or Honeycrisp, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 1/3 cup homemade or store-bought apple cider

  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, as needed, optional

  • 1 teaspoon water, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for caramelized apples
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  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

    Melt the butter in skillet
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  3. Add the apples to the pan and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.

    Add apples to pan
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  4. Sauté the apples, frequently stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes until they just begin to turn tender. Be careful not to overcook, or the apples will begin to fall apart and become mushy. 

    Saute the apples
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  5. Sprinkle the apples with the remaining sugar, the cinnamon, and lemon zest. Toss the mixture gently and cook over medium heat for an additional 2 minutes until the sugar begins to caramelize and the apples are crisp-tender.

    Add spices
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  6. Transfer the apples with a slotted spoon from the skillet to a serving bowl.

    Transfer the apples to bowl
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  7. Turn the heat up to high and add the apple cider to the skillet, scraping up any browned bits.

    Turn heat up high
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  8. Reduce the heat slightly and allow the cider and the pan juices to simmer for 1 to 3 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

    Reduce the heat
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  9. If you want a thicker sauce, dissolve the cornstarch in a teaspoon of water and stir the slurry into the sauce. Cook the sauce for a few minutes, allowing it to thicken. Taste before serving to make sure the cornstarch is cooked through; if not it will have a raw, grainy, unpleasant taste. 

    Dissolve cornstarch
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  10. Pour the finished sauce over the warm apples and serve immediately.

    Caramelized apples in bowl
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How to Use

These tender caramelized apples are delicious on their own, but also make a spectacular topping for a wide range of dishes. Serve at breakfast or brunch on top of oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, or yogurt, or at dinner spooned over roasted turkey, chicken, or pot roast. They are, of course, perfect to dress up dessert time when placed on top of pound cake and puff pastry, or used as a filling for pies and tarts.

Make Your Own Apple Cider

You can easily buy a bottle of apple cider at the market, but if you want to go all out, make your own for that special touch. You do need to plan ahead as it can take a little time, usually about an hour. Just boil some apples in water and sugar, cinnamon, and allspice to taste. Strain the apple mixture after cooking and discard the solids. Make more than the 1/3 cup called for in this recipe so you can sip and enjoy it as a beverage.