Darn easy apple strudel with homemade apple filling and extra flaky crust, thanks to the use of phyllo dough (a shortcut you'll love!) The perfect dessert for a small crowd.
Be sure to watch my video below for how to make this apple strudel.
If you've been following for a while, you probably already saw one of my favorite desserts this Italian Apple Olive Oil Cake. I was about to bake it again last week as a little fall treat, but I decided to try my hand at this apple strudel recipe instead...and I'm so glad I did!
We all know we have Austria to thank for the delightful idea of apple strudel. Such a tasty pastry, no wonder it's been adapted throughout central and eastern Europe, including Northern Italy.
What makes a strudel a strudel?
Very simply put, a strudel is a delicious sweet or savory layered pastry with a filling nestled in. Apple strudel is definitely the most popular strudel out there.
And the obvious two components that make this easy apple strudel recipe are the crust and the filling.
- The perfect apple strudel crust!
In doing a bit of research, I've not found two apple strudel recipes that are exactly alike when it comes to the crust. Some favor a dough that's more of a buttery crust (similar to what you'd make for your apple pie). Others use puff pastry, while some use flaky phyllo crust, which is the version I favor most.
I've been in love with phyllo dough for quite sometime, blame it on my Mediterranean heritage and all the baklava and spanakopita baking!
Using phyllo here may seem like cop-out, but it's the perfect shortcut! If you really want that crispy, flaky crust and don't have the time to make the dough from scratch and roll it out until it's perfectly thin, phyllo dough is your ticket!
Phyllo dough is light, fat-free, and cholesterol-free. You'll need 10 to 12 sheets of phyllo, and once baked, they crisp up perfectly, creating just the right nest for my homemade apple filling!
- Homemade apple strudel filling
When it comes to texture and flavor, homemade apple filling is far superior to the store-bought stuff, and it's fairly easy to make!
What kind of apples to use? Any apples you have on hand will likely work here. But I like to use a combination of one Granny smith apples, which are super crispy and tart, along with a couple of gala apples, which are mildly sweet. This gives me just the right nuanced flavor.
To make the apple filling, slice the apples thinly and heat them up along with a little bit of ghee, extra virgin olive oil, brown sugar, and orange juice. The goal is not to cook them all the way through, they will maintain a good bite while releasing their juices and gaining flavor from the brown sugar and warm fall spices like Throw in some warm fall spices--cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Throw in some walnuts for extra crunch.
How do you make apple strudel
Once you've made the apple filling, assembling the strudel is fairly easy:
- Lay the phyllo sheets, one at a time, flat on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
- Brush each sheet of phyllo with a mixture of the juices from the apple filling + extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on top.
- Once you have all 10 to 12 sheet nicely layered, add the apple filling on top and fold the edges of the phyllo then roll like you would a jelly roll.
- Bake at 375 degrees F for about 35 minutes phyllo turns a nice golden brown.
- Cool for a bit, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Slice and serve!
A few tips
- Be sure the phyllo dough is properly thawed in the fridge overnight. Take the package out of the fridge and set at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour before use (see more in the recipe notes.)
- When assembling the phyllo dough, work right in the sheet pan that you will use to bake the strudel, that way you don't have to risk breaking the strudel when transferring
- Work fast so that the phyllo does not dry out and begin to break. You will work with one phyllo sheet at a time, if you need to, cover the rest of the sheets a kitchen towel as you work, this will help.
- When you roll the dough to enclose the apple filling, don't do it too tightly so it doesn't crack and burst open in the oven. And be sure the seam is down as indicated in the recipe.
Can this apple strudel be prepared ahead?
You can prepare the filling the night before; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For best results, and so that the phyllo dough does not get soggy, it's best to bake this apple strudel on the day you plan to serve it.
If you really need to, you may bake the strudel the night before, but only part-way (about 70% or so), then finish baking the next day before serving. (I highly recommend to bake it fresh though.)
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Easy Apple Strudel with Phyllo
- 2 tsp ghee clarified butter
- 2 tbsp Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil, more if needed later
- 3 apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced (1 Granny Smith and 2 Gala apples worked well)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- 4 tbsp orange juice
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ⅓ cup raisins
- 10 thawed phyllo dough sheets
- Confectioner's sugar for garnish optional
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Make the filling. In a large skillet heat ghee and extra virgin olive oil. Add the sliced apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and orange juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring as needed, for about2 minutes or so (you are not looking to cook the apples all the way, just a little bit to allow some juice to release.) Stir in walnuts and raisins. Remove from heat and set aside briefly.
- Prepare a large sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Pour the juices from the apple filling in a small bowl and mix with a little more extra virgin olive oil (you'll use this mixture to brush the phyllo sheets).
- Lay 10 to 12 sheets of phyllo flat on a clean surface (you can cover with a clean towel to keep the phyllo from drying, although this should be a quick process.)
- Take 1 phyllo sheet and lay it in the sheet pan. Brush with the mixture you prepared (apple filling juice and olive oil). Sprinkle a little brown sugar on top. Repeat the process with the remaining phyllo sheets.
- Now, with the sheet pan placed horizontally (one long edge of phyllo facing you), spoon the apple filling somewhat towards the middle leaving about a 2-inch boarder of phyllo all around. Fold the short edges of phyllo to cover 2 -inches of apple mixture on each end. Brush ends with extra virgin olive oil. Starting at the long edge closest to you, fold the phyllo over the apple filling and roll towards the other end (jellyroll fashion, but do not roll the phyllo too tightly). Keep the seam on the bottom.
- Brush the strudel with extra virgin olive oil. Bake in the heated oven on the middle rack for 35 minutes or until the phyllo turns a nice golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the sheet pan. To garnish, sprinkle the apple strudel with confectioner's sugar, add any walnuts or raisins remaining. Slice and serve.
- Where to find phyllo? I use The Fillo Factory organic dough which is available in most grocery stores in the freezer section next to pie crust and puff pastry.
- Pro Tips for Phyllo. 1. Thaw phyllo overnight in the fridge. Take out of fridge about 30 minutes before using. 2. This recipe only uses 10 sheets, once you set those out for use, go ahead and roll the rest in plastic wrap and put back in the box and return to freezer for later use. 3. To assemble the phyllo dough, work right in your sheet pan that you will use to bake the strudel, that way you don't have to risk breaking the strudel when transferring. 4. If you don't have enough juice from your apple filling to brush the phyllo sheets, simply use extra virgin olive oil. You only need to brush the sheets very lightly with the EVOO and sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar and cinnamon on top for flavor. 5. Finally, when you roll the dough to enclose the apple filling, too tightly so it doesn't crack and burst open in the oven. And be sure the seam is down as indicated in the recipe.
- Pro Tip to Prepare Ahead. For best results, bake the phyllo apple strudel on the day you plan to serve it so that the dough does not turn soggy on you. Now, you can prepare the filling the night before, cover and refrigerate until ready. If you need to bake the strudel the night before, you can go ahead and bake but only part-way through (about 70% or so), then finish baking the next day before serving.
- Recommended for this recipe: Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil. And from our all-natural spice collection: nutmeg and ground cardamom
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*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2018 and has recently been updated with new information and media for readers' benefit. Enjoy!