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Southern Fried Apples

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My deliciously warming Southern Fried Apples are made with tart Granny Smith apples fried in a nutty brown butter with brown sugar and a warming blend of apple pie spice.

Pan with fried apples and a closeup of the apples on a wooden spoon and whole green apples set alongside

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Full Recipe Ingredients/Instructions are available in the 
recipe card at the bottom of the post. 
You can find important tips/tricks in the
blog post.

Fall always has me thinking about apples and spices and how I can combine them. The thing I love about these fried apples is just how versatile they are. These versatile fried apples make a great sweet option and taste great served alongside savory main dishes.

Apples pair beautifully with pork, making a great sweet side for a savory dish. However, I’m just as happy serving them as they are with a scoop of my favorite ice cream or whipped topping.

For this recipe, I chose to stray from most fried apples recipes and browned my butter before adding the remainder of the ingredients. This gives this quick dish an elevated depth of flavor. Feel free to skip browning the butter if you’re in a hurry, but we find browning the butter well worth it.

What are Southern fried apples?

Southern fried apples are apples that have been cooked in butter with brown sugar and warm spices like ground cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. They can be served both sweet and savory.

Ingredients

Recipe ingredients for Southern fried apples including 3 green apples and other ingredients set out in bowls on a marble surface

You can find these simple ingredients in your local grocery store. Here is what you will need for this recipe.  

  • Unsalted butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Apple pie spice blend
  • Kosher salt
  • Granny Smith apples – You will need to peel, core, and slice the apples.

If you don’t have apple pie spice, it’s easy to make it yourself using the ground spices in your pantry. My Homemade Apple Pie Spice recipe is what I like to use.

How to make Southern fried apples 

Melt butter in a large pan over low heat and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the butter becomes brown and toasty (see image above). This should take about 8-10 minutes.

 I like to take this time to prepare my apples by peeling, coring, and slicing them. Just be sure to watch the butter to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Add brown sugar, apple pie spice, and kosher salt to the browned butter and whisk until combined. Slowly add the sliced apples and stir to coat the apples in the spiced butter mixture. 

Cover the pan and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until the apples have softened. You will notice that the liquid has increased in the pan. 

Top down image of a pan with cooked Southern fried apples

Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high heat, and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring until the liquid has reduced about halfway and becomes syrupy. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Pan with fried apples and a closeup of the apples on a wooden spoon

Expert Tips

These tips will help you make the best Southern fried apples you’ve ever tried. 

  • You can use peeled or unpeeled apples in this recipe; however unpeeled apples will take longer to cook.
  • The thinner the slices are cut, the quicker they will soften while cooking and vice versa.

Variations 

I love serving these deliciously sweet and spicy fried apples just as they are. However, this recipe is easily adapted to suit your tastes, and here are a few suggestions.  

  • Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the brown butter before adding the apples.
  • Alternatively, add a whole vanilla pod, split it in half first, and scrape the seeds into the butter along with the whole pod. Just remember to remove the pod before serving.
  • If you don’t have apple pie spice, add some ground cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg instead.
  • If using a sweeter apple, add a splash of lemon juice to balance the sweetness.
  • Swap the brown sugar for some runny honey.
White bowl of fried apples and a hand holding a spoon of apples

What type of apple is best for frying?

I use Granny Smith apples because they have a nice tart flavor and a firmer texture, making them ideal for cooking with as they hold their shape. You could also use Pink Lady apples. They are slightly sweeter but have a similar firm texture.

How to adjust this fried apple recipe  

This recipe serves four but can be easily adapted to make a bigger or smaller batch. Here are the best ways to do this. 

Double: Double the ingredients to make a large batch of fried apples. Just make sure to use a big enough pan or cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a big sauté pan, you can use a large dutch oven instead.

Halve: If you’re only serving one or two people and don’t need as many servings, you can cut the ingredients in half.

Southern fried apples in a white bowl with a scoop of ice cream and a dessert spoon

How to serve Southern fried apples

These apples are great served just as they are for a quick dessert. I like to top the apples with a scoop of my favorite ice cream, whipped topping, or my Blender Whipped Cream.

They make a great filling for apple pies, crumbles or crisps. If you love cooked apple, try my Baked Air Fryer Apples, which is another great tasting recipe for fall.

Southern fried apples work just as well with savory dishes. Pork and apple make a great flavor combination, they make a great side for my Air Fryer Pork Chops or Mustard Glazed Air Fryer Pork Tenderloin.

Leftover fried apples are great for spicing up breakfast the day after, try topping waffles, pancakes and porridge.

How to store 

To refrigerate: Keep any leftover apples in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. You can reheat it in a small pan on the stove until warm all the way through.

To freeze: These fried apples can also be frozen. Allow to cool and place in a freezer-safe bag before storing in the freezer. Use within three months. I recommend undercooking the apples, so they don’t become mushy when you thaw and reheat them.

To meal prep: This is a great recipe to prep ahead of time, then all you need to do is warm the apples through before enjoying them.

Pan with fried apples and a wooden spoon

FAQs:

When should I cut the apples?

Cut the apples just before you are ready to cook with them. This will stop the apples from oxidizing and turning brown.

How do I stop apples from turning brown?

If you have cut the apples, but don’t have time to cook with them immediately, cover the raw apple in lemon juice to stop them oxidizing and turning brown. You then just need to rinse the lemon juice off the apple before continuing with the recipe.

Can I freeze fried apples?

Yes, once the apples have cooked, allow them to cool and place in an airtight container in the freezer for 3-6 months. Just be aware that the apples can become soft and break down once they have been frozen.

Does it matter if I use unsalted or salted butter?

I like to use unsalted butter with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, if using salted butter simply leave the salt out.

If you have tried this Southern Fried Apples recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below!

Pan with fried apples and a closeup of the apples on a wooden spoon and whole green apples set alongside
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Southern Fried Apples

Southern Fried Apples are made with tart Granny Smith apples, before being fried in brown butter, brown sugar and a warming blend of apple pie spice.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword air fried apples, southern fried apples
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 380kcal
Author Tanya

Ingredients

  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 tsp apple pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and sliced – about 6 cups

Instructions

  • Melt butter in a large pan over low heat until the butter becomes brown and toasty. This should take about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add brown sugar, apple pie spice, and kosher salt to the browned butter and whisk until combined. Slowly add the sliced apples and stir to coat the apples.
  • Cover the pan and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until the apples have softened. You will notice that the liquid has increased in the pan.
  • Remove the lid and increase the heat to medium-high heat and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring until the liquid has reduced about halfway and becomes syrupy. Remove from heat. Serve with ice cream or whipped topping.

Notes

You can use peeled or unpeeled apples in this recipe. Unpeeled apples will take longer to cook.
The thinner the slices are cut, the quicker they will soften while cooking and vice versa. 
These apples are great alone for dessert or topped with ice cream. You could also serve them alongside your favorite dinner recipes.

Nutrition

Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 158mg | Potassium: 196mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 776IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg
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