The Best Apple Recipes for Your Orchard Haul

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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!

A table filled with apple-based recipes to inspire your fall apple picking harvest.


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.

Meggan Hill picking apples in an orchard with her brother and sister in 2009.

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.

Seven apple cider donuts on a gray round plate.


Apple Cider Donuts

Overflowing with the flavors of fall, these homemade Apple Cider Donuts are baked, not fried, and then rolled in a cinnamon-sugar mixture for extra crunch.
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More apple breakfast ideas

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.

Someone scooping apple walnut salad out of a serving bowl.


Apple Walnut Salad

This refreshing Apple Walnut Salad is the perfect combination of crisp lettuce, sweet apples, crunchy walnuts, salty feta cheese, and a lightly sweetened Balsamic Vinaigrette.
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More apple salads and sides

A bowl of applesauce with apples behind it.


Applesauce Recipe

This classic homemade Applesauce Recipe is super easy to make and can last for a long time by freezing or canning (we included instructions for both). The sugar is optional depending on the sweetness of your apples, too.
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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.

A paper food boat with a pulled pork sandwich and potato chips.


Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

It doesn't get much simpler than this 2-ingredient Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe. Ideal for busy weeknights and party menus, my best pulled pork recipe also happens to be one of my easiest dinner ideas ever.
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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.)

Bacon wrapped pork tenderloin surrounded by roasted fennel and onions.


Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

This fabulous Bacon-wrapped Pork Tenderloin with roasted fennel is the sheet pan dinner of your dreams. The pork is tender, the bacon is salty, and the fennel soaks up the juices from both! It's also fancy enough for "company" and ready in an hour.
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Or, if you’re just looking to add some apple flavor to your life, try my delicious Apple Glaze. It’s perfect on Roasted Cornish Hens, Rotisserie Chicken, and Turkey.

Brushing apple glaze on a Cornish hen.


Apple Glaze

This easy, delicious Apple Glaze is just 3 ingredients (apple juice, honey, and mustard) and perfect brushed on any protein, especially pork and poultry.
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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!

Decorated caramel apples on a cooling rack.


Caramel Apples

This easy Caramel Apple recipe will make anyone feel like a kid again. Starting with a homemade caramel sauce, these customizable, homemade Caramel Apples will make you forget all about the store-bought kind.
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More apple sweets

Apple pie a la Mode on a gray plate.


Apple Pie a la Mode

The best apple pie recipe comes topped with a scoop (or two!) of ice cream, if you ask me. Learn how to make apple pie from scratch just like grandma made, plus score additional ice cream inspiration.
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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.

Apple cider in a clear glasses.


Apple Cider Recipe

Invest 10 minutes of prep time and you can transform fresh apples into a classic Apple Cider. This big-batch homemade cider is sensational party drink idea.
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More apple beverages

Brandy Apple Cider Slush

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.

10 hours 8 minutes

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Cider

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Cider is simple to make, sweet, and delicious. This welcoming, spiced hot beverage makes the whole house smell amazing, too.

3 hours 10 minutes

Mulled Cider

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…

40 minutes

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!

An apple being dipped in caramel apple dip.


Caramel Apple Dip

This is the Caramel Apple Dip recipe of your childhood, the one made with cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Mix up a giant batch and serve with a pile of fresh apple slices.
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More dips and toppings for apples

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!

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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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  1. Thanks for all these great recipes! I have been making your apple pie for years, for family, friends and my church craft bazaar! People are always asking me to bake them a pie! Is there an apple butter recipe hidden in all those recipes? Lori (fellow mid-westerner)

  2. This seasonal collection is motivating! There is a cider mill about five miles from our house, and now I want to visit since we haven’t been since we moved back to Michigan. Recipes seem perfect paired with outstanding pics. Thanks!

  3. I love seasonal collections like this that make me drool, trash the kitchen, and shove the scales to the way-back of the closet. These so remind me of my childhood and my bakes-fantastic grandmother.