Baked apples scented with cinnamon, brown sugar, and earthy walnuts are so easy to make. Core the apples and stuff them or keep this baked apple recipe super simple and just slice, toss in the seasonings pop it in the oven. Both versions are weeknight-friendly and so delicious!
When it comes to easy, beautiful, recipes full of fall flavors baked apples are at the top of my list. It's such a simple dessert recipe and works for both holiday gatherings and to wrap up weeknight dinners with my family.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for apple pie or warm apple strudel, but when I'm looking for something easy that will give me all the apple pie vibes with less work this baked apple recipe hits the spot. They are delicious served as is or you can dress these apples up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a touch of sweetened Greek yogurt, or even a dollop of whipped cream.
I make these apples two ways. If I'm feeling fancy I core the apples and stuff them with the brown sugar and walnut filling, but if I'm running short on time, I just slice the apples, toss them with sugar and spice, then pop them in the oven. If you opt for the stuffed baked apple route, just know they will take an extra 10 to 15 minutes in the oven, but they are so pretty stuffed and really deliver the wow-factor! So for me, it's worth it.
Sliced and baked or cored and stuffed — either way I know you will love this baked apple recipe as much as I do.
Ingredients for Easy Baked Apples
This recipe really couldn't be easier. It takes only 7 ingredients and it's endlessly flexible and adaptable to what you have on hand.
- Apples: I use large baking apples, such as Honeycrisp, Jonagold, or Pink Lady. These apples hold their shape well when baked and have a pleasantly sweet flavor.
- Brown Sugar: You don't need much. Just a little to amplify the sweetness in the apples. Light or dark brown sugar will work here.
- Nuts: I like to use a combination of walnuts and pistachios, but really you could use all of one kind of nut, or swap in almonds or pecans. Really whatever you have around will do just fine here.
- Dried fruit: I almost always use raisins (black or golden both work) in this recipe but have also used dried cranberries and those add a nice pop of color.
- Cinnamon and Cardamom: Apples, cinnamon, and cardamom go together like hummus and pita. One makes the other sing. Thanks to these warming spices your house will smell amazing while this recipe is in the oven and they make the apples taste like cozy feels.
- Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil, a mild and fruity olive oil such as Italian Nocellara works well here, just to give the apples a little richness.
What are the Best Apples for Baked Apples?
When it comes to baking, select apples that are large and firm. The best apples for baking are ones that can hold up under the heat and won't turn mushy when cooked. Depending on how tart or sweet you like your apples, here are a few good options for baking:
- Honeycrisp: These are perfect raw, but because of their firm, super crisp structure, they are also great for baking and my first choice in this recipe. Honeycrisp apples are also balanced in flavor, although more on the sweeter side.
- Jonagold: These are classic baking apples. Jonagolds are a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Jonathan apple. They are juicy with a honey-sweet taste and will hold up well to baking.
- Pink Lady: These are crisp and balanced in flavor between sweet and tart, although they can be more on the tart side.
- Granny Smith: Known as go-to baking apples, Granny Smith apples are green and quite tart. They will hold up under the heat, so if tart is your thing go ahead and use them in this recipe. I, however, tend to prefer tart green apples in salads like my Orange and Beet Salad or this Red Cabbage Salad, both use green apples to add color, crunch, and sharpness.
How to Make Baked Apples
Both the slice-and-bake method and the stuffed method create flavorful, tender apples. It really just depends on the presentation style you're after and how much time you have as the stuffed apples require about 10-15 additional minutes in the oven.
The Slice and Bake Method
If coring apples isn't something you can or want to do that's OK. You can still enjoy all the flavors of baked apples, in this sliced apple version. Just follow these steps:
- Prepare your apples. Peel and slice your apples into ½-inch thick slices and place them in a 9 x 9 baking dish.
- Toss with brown sugar mixture. To the baking dish with the apples, add brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, raisins, and chopped nuts. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water or orange juice.
- Bake. Bake in a 375°F oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the apples are tender.
The Stuffed Apple Method
- Core the apples. Use an apple corer or a small paring knife to cut around the stem and scoop out the seeds, but keep the bottom ½-inch of the apple intact. It will act as a dish for the filling.
- Stuff the apples with the brown sugar and nut mixture. In a medium-sized bowl, add a packed ¼ cup of brown sugar, crushed nuts, cinnamon, cardamom, and raisins. Stir to combine then stuff the apple cavity with the brown sugar mixture all the way to the top.
- Bake. Arrange the stuffed apples in a baking dish. Drizzle with a couple of teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil, and pour ¾ cup of boiling water from the side of the dish. Bake on the center rack of your oven at 375°F for about 45 minutes or until the apples are tender and cooked through.
How to Core an Apple
For this recipe, I recommend using a small paring knife and a spoon instead of an apple corer because it allows you to make a wider hole to hold the filling.
- Stand your apple on a clean cutting surface with the stem facing you.
- Use a small paring knife to cut around the stem and remove the core, creating a hole that’s about 1 inch wide. Then, use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh leaving the bottom of the apple intact. You only need a small amount of filling for each apple.
How Long Does It Take Apples to Cook in the Oven?
Cooked apples can be whole, chopped, or sliced. You'll need an oven set to 375°F.
- Sliced apples take about 25-30 minutes to get soft and tender in the oven.
- Stuffed whole apples require a little more time and you should plan on 45 minutes or better depending upon the size of your apples. You want the apple to be soft but retain its shape.
- Don't leave apples in the oven too long or they become mushy and you'll end up with apple sauce. Still delicious, but not what you're going for!
- Baked apples are ready when they are tender but still have a little bite to them. To be sure, carefully use a fork to check for doneness. It should slide through easily.
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Baked Apples Recipe (Two Ways)
- 3 to 4 large baking apples, such as honeycrisp, jonagold, or pink lady
Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Mixture
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup lightly crushed nuts, I used ¼ walnuts and ¼ cup pistachios
- ¼ cup raisins, cranberries, or other chopped dried fruit of your choice
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- 1 to 2 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil, a milder and fruity olive oil such as Italian Nocellara EVOO
- Heat the oven. Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F.
- Make the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, nuts, raisins or dried fruit of your choice. Add the cinnamon and cardamom. Mix well.
Stuffed Baked Apples
- Core the apples. Using an apple corer or a sharp paring knife, remove the core being careful to leave the bottom ½-inch of the apples intact. I like using a paring knife to cut around and remove the core, creating a whole that’s about 1 inch or so wide. Then, use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds and make room for the brown sugar filling.
- Stuff the apples. Arrange the apples, cavity side up, in a baking dish. Spoon the brown sugar and nut mixture into the apple cavities to fill them up all the way.
- Add the EVOO and hot water. Pour about 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil all over the stuffed apples. Pour ¾ cup to 1 cup of boiling water from the side of the dish.
- Bake! Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the apples are fully cooked through and tender (be careful not to over-bake them, you do not want the apples to be mushy).
Sliced Baked Apples
- Peel and slice the apples. Core, peel and slice your apples into ½-inch slices. And arrange the apple slices on a baking dish or pan.
- Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture, and drizzle with 2 tablespoon olive oil and a little hot water (start with ¼ cup). You can also add a little orange juice in place of the water. Toss to combine.
- Bake. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring the apples halfway through.
- Remove the baked apples from the oven and baste them with the brown sugar sauce from the bottom of the pan. Serve as is for a vegan dessert or add your favorite vanilla ice cream (or even a dollop of labneh)!
- Do not overcook the apples or they may turn too mushy. Baked apples are ready when they are tender but still have a nice bite to them. Use a fork to determine doneness, you should be able to slide the fork through easily.
- This recipe will serve up to 6 people, assuming ½ apple serving per person with the cinnamon brown sugar mixture included.
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