Old-Fashioned Apple Dumplings
These homemade apple dumplings are easier than you’d think – Granny Smith apples are peeled and cored, stuffed with butter and cinnamon-sugar, wrapped in a pastry crust, and covered in a buttery brown sugar sauce. Baked until golden, they absolutely melt in your mouth!
Apple dumplings are classic comfort food that dates back to the 1700s; when a recipe has been around that long, you know that it’s something extra special.
These perfectly portioned individual desserts consist of a peeled apple that has been cored and stuffed with butter, cinnamon, and sugar, and then wrapped in a pastry crust and drizzled with a buttery brown sugar sauce and baked until golden brown.
In a word, these are phenomenal and so much less fuss than you might think. Serve the apple dumplings with a drizzle of extra sauce (try subbing in apple cider or rum for the water in the sauce for extra oomph!) and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you’ll have friends for life!
How to make them from scratch
In order to make these, all you need to do is gather up some good Granny Smith apples (or the tart apple of your choice), mix together an easy one-bowl pastry crust and a boiled sauce.
The apples are peeled and cored and their center is stuffed with a bit of butter and a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Each apple is wrapped up in pastry crust, which can be as perfect or rustic as you like.
The pastry-covered apples are drenched with a boiled butter and brown sugar sauce.
They are baked for nearly an hour until the apples are soft and tender, and the pastry crust is golden brown.
The Best Apples to Use
The types of apples most preferred for baking need to be firm enough to hold their shape during the baking process and not turn to mush. While Granny Smith is a natural first choice, all of these other apples are fantastic (and delicious!) substitutes:
- Golden Delicious
- Pink Lady
Whole Apples vs Slices
All traditional apple dumpling recipes use a whole apple wrapped in a pastry crust, however. you could also slice the apples, divide them up and wrap up bundled slices in the pastry crust.
And while I’ve never done it, you could try baking this up crisp-style – toss sliced apples with the butter and cinnamon/sugar and place in a baking dish, pour the syrup over top, then lay the pastry crust over the top of the whole mixture and bake.
Tools for the Job
Using the right tools makes peeling and coring much easier! Here are the ones I recommend:
Pastry crust alternatives
While I think the pastry crust recipe included below is an absolutely phenomenal pairing with the apples, you can use other options, if you’d like:
- All Butter Pie Crust
- Flaky Vodka Pie Crust
- Store-bought pie crust
- Crescent roll dough
- Frozen puff pastry for a super short cut!
Prepping ahead of time
There are a few different ways that you can prep the apple dumplings ahead of when you plan to bake them:
- Prep the Dough – You can make the dough and keep it wrapped in plastic wrap, refrigerated, for up to 3 days in advance.
- Assembled Dumplings – You can stuff the apples, wrap them in the pastry dough, and place them in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Take out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
- Freeze Assembled Dumplings – Follow directions above but place in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours until completely frozen. Keep in an airtight container or bag for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then proceed with the recipe.
These can be served as-is (oh my gosh is that sauce phenomenal!!), but consider these for something extra-special:
Storing and reheating
Leftover apple dumplings can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To capture that just-baked flavor and texture, reheat in a foil-covered pan at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
You can also microwave the leftover dumplings, but the crust will be soft.
More amazing apple recipes
- Apple Fritter Doughnuts
- Salted Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- Easy Apple Crisp
- Jewish Apple Cake
- Apple Hand Pies
- Apple Turnovers (From Scratch)
If you make this apple dumplings recipe and love it, I would so appreciate it if you would take a moment to leave a rating below. Thank you so much! ❤️️
For the Pastry:
- 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (184 g) vegetable shortening, chilled
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) ice water
For the Apples:
- 8 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
- 8 teaspoons (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 8 teaspoons (3 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) ground cinnamon
For the Sauce:
- 1½ cups (298 g) light brown sugar
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- ½ cup (113 g) salted butter, cubed
- Make the Pastry Dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the shortening until the mixture is crumbly. Gradually add the ice water, tossing the mixture with a fork, until the dough forms a cohesive mass. If the dough needs more water to come together, add it 1 teaspoon at a time. Divide the dough into eight equal portions, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
- Assemble the Apples: Roll each portion of dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 7-inch square. Place an apple in the center of each square. Place 1 teaspoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture in the center of each apple.
- Gently bring up the corners of the pastry to the center of each apple; pinch the edges to seal. Place the pastry-encased apples in a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Make the Sauce: In a large saucepan, combine the brown sugar, water and butter over medium-high heat until it just begins to boil, stirring occasionally. Pour the sauce evenly over the apples.
- Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the apples are tender and the pastry is golden brown, basting occasionally with the sauce. These are best served warm immediately after baking.
- Pastry Crust Alternatives: All-Butter pie crust / Flaky vodka pie crust / Crescent roll dough / Store-bought pie crust / Frozen puff pastry
- Best Alternative Apple Varieties: Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, Braeburn, Cortland
- Apple Tools: Peeler / Corer
- Sauce Suggestions: To amp up the flavor, replace the water in the sauce with apple cider or rum!
- Prep Ahead: The dough can be made and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Assembled apple dumplings can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking.
- Freezing Instructions: Freeze unbaked, assembled apple dumplings for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, remove 30 minutes before baking, and proceed with recipe.
- Serving Suggestions: Vanilla ice cream / Butter pecan ice cream / Homemade whipped cream
- Storage: Leftover apple dumplings can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Reheating Instructions: Reheat the dumplings in a foil-covered pan at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. You can also microwave the leftover dumplings, but the crust will be soft.
- Recipe adapted from Taste of Home
[Photography by Ari of Well Seasoned]