Classic French Caramelized Apples

Caramelized apple recipe

The Spruce

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
178 Calories
6g Fat
33g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 178
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 33g 12%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Protein 1g
Calcium 16mg 1%
*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.)

Sometimes, you may want to rustle up a dessert in a very short time, then look no further than these Classic French Caramelized Apples, so simple you will be making them often.

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 crepes or homemade ice cream. They’re equally at home as an unexpected garnish for mildly spicy grilled chicken or a tropical menu from Martinique.

For a super-fast dessert, you can fill a store-bought tart shell with these apples for a delicious "cheater" dish with the homemade goodness of the apples and apple cider reduction sauce; nobody will guess your secret!


  • 3 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
  • 5 spicy-sweet crisp apples (like Jonagold, Crispin, Honeycrisp; peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup apple cider (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch (as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon water 

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 and become an apple puree instead. 

    Saute the apples
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  5. Sprinkle the apples with the remaining sugar, 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 from the skillet to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon.

    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 slightly.

    Reduce the heat
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  9. If you want a thicker sauce, dissolve the cornstarch in a teaspoon of water and stir it into the sauce. Allow it to thicken by cooking the sauce for a few minutes. 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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Kitchen Notes

  • You can, of course, easily buy a bottle of apple cider at the market—but if you want to go all out, make your own for that final touch. It can take a little time, usually about an hour, but do it a day or two ahead when you have time. Just boil some extra apples in water and sugar, cinnamon, and allspice to taste. Strain the apple mixture after cooking and discard the solids. Voila—apple cider. And you can always make more than the 1/3 cup you'll need for this recipe to sip and enjoy.