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Crisp fall air. Rosy cheeks. Cozy flannel shirts and jeans. Wool mittens. Frost crunching under the heels of your boots. This is fall, friends, and this is prime apple picking season!
Every Midwestern fall when I was growing up, my family would drive to a local orchard and pick bushels of apples to enjoy for the coming weeks. (Oh yes, and to devour one too many Apple Cider Donuts while we did so. No regrets!)
As great as fresh apples are to snack on as-is, the possibilities are nearly endless for showcasing them in sweet and savory recipes all autumn long. Ahead, your complete guide to the best apple recipes for every course and occasion.
Table of Contents
Breakfast: Apple Cider Donuts
Remember those cider donuts I mentioned? Well I adore them so much to this day, that I recreated a homemade Apple Cider Donut version this year. Baked instead of fried and infused concentrated apple cider, these might be even better than the ones we’d order at the orchard.
Lunch: Apple Walnut Salad
Studded with sweet-tart fresh apple slices, hearty walnuts, and salty feta cheese, this fall salad idea is satisfying enough to act as a mid-day main course. Or top with Rotisserie Chicken, Grilled Shrimp Skewers, or Baked Salmon for extra protein.
Dinner: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Quite possibly the best apple main dish recipe I’ve ever created, this slow-and-low pulled pork recipe scores a hint of natural sweetness from applesauce. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the savory pork shoulder! The entire apple entree recipes calls for just 3 ingredients, plus pepper and olive oil.
If you’re craving a main dish with fresh apples, try them in place of the fennel in my succulent Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin recipe. (By the way, for any of the apple recipe ideas here, this should come in handy; here’s how to cut and core apples.)
Dessert: Caramel Apples
Now that I’m a mom, I’m keen on keeping my most beloved family traditions alive with my brood. This is one of them: Homemade Caramel Apples!
Unlike the kind I made as a kid, this recipe doesn’t require unwrapping dozens of candy caramels. Instead, I’ll teach you how easy it is to make caramel sauce from scratch. Then comes the most fun part: topping any which way you desire!
Drink: Apple Cider
Yes, there’s a difference between Apple Cider and juice! Cider starts with cut apples that are ground into a “mash” of sorts, then simmered and strained into a flavorful beverage. Juice is filtered to remove the pulp, then often pasteurized to extend its lifespan.
Apple cider is great on it its own, spiked with a shot of booze, or stirred into warming family-friendly drinks for the holidays.
Who says all fall cocktail recipes must be warm? My easy and festive Brandy Apple Cider Slush recipe can act as an after-dinner drink and dessert all in one.
Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Cider is simple to make, sweet, and delicious. This welcoming, spiced hot beverage makes the whole house smell amazing, too. In my house, cinnamon and clove-spiced cranberry apple cider is THE…
Mulled Cider is warmed apple cider infused with brandy and spices. It’s the perfect hot beverage for a cold day, especially around the holidays. Hot Mulled Cider Day is officially September 30, but I usually…
Snack: Caramel Apple Dip
If you don’t feel like cooking whatsoever, I’ve got you covered! To make this easy apple dip (a classic from my childhood) stir together a block of cream cheese with brown sugar, white sugar, and a splash of vanilla. Serve with sliced apples. That’s it!
So schedule your own apple-picking excursion then come back and pull up this story. The only tough part: Deciding which of these best apple recipes to try first!
Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.