Classic French Caramelized Apples Recipe

Crepes with caramelized apple slices and cream
Dave King/StockFood Creative/Getty Images
  • 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: Serves 6
Ratings (13)

Sometimes, you may want to rustle up a dessert in a very short time, then look no further than these Classic French Caramelized Apples, so simple you will be making them often.

The apples are meant to be just ever so slightly sweet, not overpowering and sugary, so they’re versatile in nature. Spicy-tart and thoroughly warming, they make a fabulous addition to crepes or homemade ice cream. They’re equally at home as an unexpected garnish for mildly spicy grilled chicken or a tropical menu from Martinique.

For a super fast dessert, you can fill a store-bought tart shell with these apples for a delicious "cheater"dish with the homemade goodness of the apples and apple cider reduction sauce; nobody will guess your secret!


What You'll Need

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 spicy-sweet crisp apples (Jonagold, Crispin, Honeycrisp), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup apple cider***
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, as needed

How to Make It

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the apples to the pan and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Sauté the apples, frequently stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes until they just begin to turn tender. Be careful not to overcook, or the apples will begin to fall and become an apple puree instead. 

Sprinkle the apples with the remaining sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest. Toss the mixture gently and cook over medium heat for an additional 2 minutes until the sugar begins to caramelize, and the apples are crisp-tender.

Transfer the apples from the skillet to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon. Turn the heat up to high and add the apple cider to the skillet, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce the heat slightly and allow the cider and the pan juices to simmer for 1 to 3 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Pour the finished sauce over the warm apples and serve immediately.

Cook's Note: If you want a thicker sauce, dissolve the cornstarch in a teaspoon of water and stir it into the sauce, then allow it to thicken by cooking the sauce for a few minutes. Taste before serving to make sure the cornstarch is cooked through, if not it will have a raw, grainy unpleasant taste. 

***You can, of course, easily buy a bottle of apple cider at the market -- but if you want to go all out, make your own for that final touch. It can take a little time, usually about an hour, but do it a day or two ahead when you have time. Just boil some extra apples in water and sugar, cinnamon and allspice to taste. Strain the apple mixture after cooking and discard the solids. Voila -- apple cider. And you can always make more than the 1/3 cup you'll need for this recipe to sip and enjoy.