These sliced baked apples are a dreamy year-round dessert option and can also double as an easy side dish complementary to pork or brats. How you enjoy them is entirely up to you.
You can bake them in individual dishes or ceramic ramekins or family style in a larger baking dish. There is no difference in the preparation method.
How to Make Sliced Baked Apples
The process is beautifully simple and it is very likely that you will enjoy making these easy baked apples as much as the smell wafting from the oven.
Besides your oven and a baking dish (or several individual baking dishes, ceramic or cast iron for best results) you’ll need a large bowl for tossing. That’s it.
Line up your ingredients:
- apples (see below for variety recommendations)
- sugar (we recommend dark brown sugar)
- nuts (optional, but strongly recommended if making for dessert). We favor walnuts, especially if you can find them fresh and in shell and crack them yourself. Their mild bitterness complements the caramelization of the apples perfectly.
- corn starch or arrowroot starch (to thicken the sauce in which the apple slices will bubble)
- a flavorful liquid – both apple cider or apple juice work really well, but when in season consider a pumpkin ale and you will be justly rewarded for your good sense!
TIP: The great thing about using pumpkin ales is that they are sweet and exquisitely spiced with all the best loved fall spices and add a beautiful layer of aromatics to the baked apples.
Since you will not use all of it you can reserve the rest to make our Roasted Pumpkin Dip.
Step by Step
Peel and slice the apples and place them in a bowl. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, walnuts (if using) and corn starch.
Pour the pumpkin ale (or your choice of liquid) on top…
… and toss to combine.
Next place a piece of butter at the bottom of each individual baking dish (or several pieces at the bottom of a large baking dish) and fill with the tossed apples and walnuts (if using).
Divide the liquid (ale mixed with corn starch etc) equally between individual baking dishes or if using a single baking dish pour it over evenly.
Finally, top with brown sugar and bake.
NOTE: If using individual baking dishes it is very helpful to place them all on a baking sheet as in the picture below. Makes handling them in and out of the oven much easier.
Once the apples get caramelized and are soft when pierced with a fork they are done baking. They will be bubbling in the combined caramel goodness of the butter, sugar and the ale.
If you’d like to get a rustic looking char along the edges of the apple slices and walnuts on top, broil for a couple of minutes right before you take them out of the oven.
This easy dessert dish doubles as a decadent side. Apple slices are coated in brown sugar and baked with butter until beautifully caramelized on the outside. The inside texture is pleasantly soft, but not mushy. Use of walnuts optional but recommended for the dessert version.
- 5 apples, large, such as Gala, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 stick butter
- 5 tbsp brown sugar plus extra to sprinkle on top
- 2 tsp cinnamon (add another one if you really like cinnamon)
- 2 tbsp corn starch or arrowroot starch (to thicken cooking liquid)
- 1/4 cup pumpkin ale OR apple cider OR apple juice
- 1/2 cup walnuts (or other nuts, optional)
Turn the oven on to 350 F.
In a large bowl combine the sliced apples, the brown sugar, cinnamon, corn starch and walnuts (if using). Add the pumpkin ale (or liquid of choice) and toss very well to combine and coat the apple slices.
Place a piece of butter at the bottom of individual baking dishes or dot a large baking dish with butter pieces. Add the apples and pour over all the resulting liquid from the previous step.
Sprinkle brown sugar on top and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until apples are soft when pierced with a fork. Bake uncovered. After 15 minutes it is a good idea to stir and turn around the apple slices, then continue to bake.
As a final touch consider broiling for a couple of minutes right before you take the apples from the oven.
The thinner you slice the apples, the faster they will cook. We recommend half an inch thick slices as the perfect size.
See post for choice of apples, make ahead tips, topping ideas and savory twist tips.
This recipe yields 4 generous dessert portions or 6 smaller portions. If you make it as a side dish in combination with other sides you can serve up to 6 people.
What Variety of Apples to Choose?
A great baking apple is one that will maintain a good texture even as it softens from the oven heat and strikes a good balance between sweetness and tartness.
For this post we used Gala apples precisely for these reasons. They are moderately juicy with a mild sweetness and firm flesh that holds up well during baking and does not turn into mush.
If you prefer a tarter apple go with Granny Smiths – also an excellent choice for baking or you can consult this chart for baking and cooking with apples.
Whole vs Sliced Baked Apples
It really is a matter of preference, but I’ll take crispy, caramelized apple slices over decidedly mushier baked whole apples any time. When the apples are sliced there is a lot more surface to get coated with sugary buttery goodness and caramelize.
Of course, you could bake whole, halved or quartered apples, but most certainly the best results will come from sliced ones. The only exception are stuffed baked apples. In this case hollowing out the apples eliminates the mushiness issues, but we are talking about an entirely different dish.
Sliced Baked Apples Topping Ideas and Twists
- For this post we went classic and topped our sliced baked apples with vanilla ice cream. Watching a scoop begin to melt as soon as it touches the hot surface of the apples on top makes for a great prelude to digging in.
- Other sweet options to consider are salted caramel ice cream, caramel sauce, dulce de leche or warm vanilla sauce.
- Want to make a decadent boozy dessert? Forget about pumpkin ale and cider. Brandy. Add a shot of brandy and a bit of water as the liquid.
- If you will be making sliced baked apples as a side dish consider adding a teaspoon or two of cumin along with the cinnamon, some red onion sliced medium thin and maybe a pinch of black pepper. These flavors will add a very desirable savory dimension.
You can definitely prepare these ahead of time and bake right before serving. Toss the apples, place in the baking dish(es) of your choice as shown above and refrigerate covered with plastic until it is time to bake them (up to 6 hours).
Between tossing the apple slices in brown sugar and a sweet liquid and covering them browning due to oxidation will be minimal and of little significance given the magic that is to follow in the oven.
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