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Appetites: 6 recipes to make the most of your apples

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Apple desserts sit on a plate
Spice up your apple game this fall.
Courtesy of Beth Dooley

As the leaves fall and the air cools, Minnesotans head to apple orchards to pick their favorites while cooks are busy in the kitchen whipping up their favorite apple dishes. 

Many think of apple pies or apple turnovers as the best apple delights, but apples can be used in dishes other than the typical deserts. 

“Apples are such a balanced fruit. They have a lot of tartness in them,” local cookbook author Beth Dooley said. “They add so much to the roasting pan.”

Dooley said apples are particularly good in savory dishes such as roasted turkey, chicken or other hunted fall fowls. 

“They have enough acid in them that they can cut through some of the dark meat in a way that's a little bit different than other fruit,” she said.

Here are some apple recipes to get you started: 

Elderberry cider fizz

Serves 1

  • 1/2 cup apple cider

  • 2 tablespoons elderberry syrup

  • 1/2 cup ounces sparkling water

  • Ice optional

Stir together the cider and elderberry syrup in a glass and then add the sparkling water. Serve over ice or at room temperature.

Maple glazed rosemary-apple chicken

Serves 4 to 6

  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

  • 2 tablespoons hazelnut oil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tart apples, cored and quartered

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rub the chicken thighs with the hazelnut oil and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Set the apple quarters in a roasting pan and lay the chicken over the apples. Sprinkle the chopped rosemary over all.

Roast the chicken until the juices run clear when pricked with the point of a sharp knife and a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the meat, about 45 minutes. Remove and brush the thighs with the maple syrup. Return the thighs to the oven for another 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tangy-sweet apple-elderberry sauce

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds mixed varieties of apples, quartered and cut into 2-inch dice

  • 1/2 cup apple cider

  • 1/4 cup elderberry juice

  • 1 to 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup to taste

Put all the ingredients into a large pot. Set over medium heat and bring to low boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently until the apples are very soft, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick before serving warm or at room temperature.

Note: To create a tart apple jam that’s delicious spread on scones or toast or to use to fill thumb print cookies or a tart, reduce the mixture, stirring often, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, another 15 to 30 minutes.

Savory apple sauce

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 pounds tart apples, Haralson, Keepsake, etc, peeled, cored, chopped

  • 1/2 cup apple cider

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

  • 1 teaspoon honey, to taste

  • Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put all of the ingredients into a large pot, set over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples begin to fall apart, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Stuffed baked apples

Serves 4

This features a variety of different stuffing; try them all to see what you like best.

To start, get four small apples — chestnut crabapples, Keepsake apples, etc., — cored and about 1/4 inch of the stem end remove to create a flat surface. Here are two versions of how to prepare

Oatmeal crumble apple

Recipe is for a single apple

  • 2 tablespoons granola

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

Mix all of the ingredients together and fill the cavity of one apple; place on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until the apple is tender and the filling is toasty, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Ginger almond apple

Recipe is for a single apple

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger

  • 2 tablespoons blanched whole almonds

Mix all of the ingredients together an fill the cavity of one apple; place on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until the apple is tender and the filling is melting and the almonds are toasted, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Savory apple crisp

Serves 4 to 6

This savory crisp is great with pork, sausages, chicken and lamb. Serve with a wild rice pilaf for a light fall meal. We leave the peels on the apples, for color, texture and flavor.

  • 2-1/2 to 3 pounds tart, hard apples, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

  • Generous pinch coarse salt

  • Generous pinch freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

  • 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the rosemary, nutmeg, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.

Scatter the walnuts over the apples then drizzle the butter over all. Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake until the apples are tender and the walnuts are toasty, about 30 to 40 minutes.

To hear Dooly’s recommendations on the best apples and other apple sidekicks, click on the audio player above.