what was crystal clear

baked apples

This was supposed to be a recipe for an easy version of apple pie, or at least that was my intent when I started peeling and coring four Granny Smith apples at the counter last Wednesday night.

As part of my mission to avoid yet another kitchen disaster, I had been taking every possible easy route: choosing a simple recipe, peeling all the required apples in one step, doing that peeling while I was sitting down so as not to exert any unnecessary effort for something that might not turn out and not even using a printed recipe because I had memorized the basic steps from looking at them for so long, really analyzing whether or not I could trust this new combination of ingredients and steps and would it be worth the trouble? In most of life, this fragile attitude would be something to work through, but in this case, it really worked to my advantage.

Each time I’d finish peeling one of the apples, its curly green skins spread out on the cutting board in front of me, I’d plop its little body into the adjacent round casserole dish, keeping it from rolling away while also leaving the counter clean. And thing is, once I set that final apple into the dish, the four of them lined up next to each other like they were meant to stay that way, ready to be poached or roasted or something, it became crystal clear to me that these apples weren’t for a pie, but instead they had a different fate. I should bake them, bake them whole, stuffed with some sort of sugar and oats mixture that could get all hot and gooey inside and bubble on top and down the sides. It was so obvious.

baked apple

Have you ever had baked apples? I know there’s really nothing novel about the idea, as there are hundreds of Web sites and blogs with their own versions (I know because I searched!) but, listen, the process of making them is so! insanely! simple! you almost can’t believe the results can be so good.

And what I didn’t tell you when I said I was peeling the apples last Wednesday night is that it was already late Wednesday night, and I knew I had to work the next day, and, I swear, I am genuinely not the kind of crazy who tries new recipes late at night when I am already tired (well, not anymore) but, even with all that baggage I was bringing into the recipe, I still ended up loving it.

open apple

So here is how it works: After you’ve peeled and cored the apples (sitting down if you’d like! I won’t judge!), you mix up brown sugar and rolled oats with things like raisins and chopped walnuts and cinnamon and nutmeg, and then you stuff this mixture, along with bits of chopped butter, as tightly as you can into the centers of the cored fruit. Stick it in the oven for about 40 minutes and boom: you have amazing fork-tender apples loaded with flavor better than the inside of any apple pie, I am so serious. And as we near the end of fall and beginning of the holidays, I can’t think of anything more perfect.

Baked Apples
Adapted from Rachael Ray

The original recipe calls for sweeter apples, unpeeled, and suggests 20 minutes of bake time. Because Granny Smith apples are a little tougher, they took double that time, so if you went with, say, MacIntosh instead, you’d probably want to start checking on them sooner.

Also: my sugar/oats filling made quite a bit more than I needed, so you could feel free to use the same proportions for six or more apples, or you could reduce the amount. Or you could do what I’m going to and make these apples again, sooner the better, because, oh my gosh, wow.

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
lemon juice

for the filling:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, a healthy grating
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ounces, 1/8 cup, golden raisins, chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
4 Tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place apples in oven-proof container with high rims (like an 8 X 8 pan or a casserole dish) and sprinkle them with lemon juice. In a small bowl, mix all the other ingredients but the butter, and overstuff this mixture, layering it with butter (bit of butter, more mix, bit of butter, more mix, etc.) into the center of the apples, as packed in as you can.

Bake for 40 minutes or until fork-tender. Baste with juices in the pan and serve!

Additional note: These also can be reheated the next day, no problem, in the microwave. I put a paper towel on top of the very ovenproof container that I’d used the day before and reheated it for 30 or 40 seconds, and it was just as gooey and delicious. (Thanks, Niki, for the question!)


  1. says

    Wow. OMG wow.

    I really think these are gonna be made tonight. I am just… wow. I’ve seen some baked apples before, but none quite as yummy looking. They look all caramelized and sugary and cinnamony and sweet and… yeah, wow. I kinda want to leave work now and go make them…

  2. says

    The apples look GREAT! I can almost smell the sugar and cinnamon caramelizing. I have never thought of baking them without the skins, but I am going to do it this way in the next couple of days and can’t wait!

    Thanks for the great idea.

  3. says

    I love baked apples with a passion. Lately, if we’re having a fire outside we’ve been wrapping them in tin foil with all the toppings and placing them in the fire pit. They come out somewhat charred, but really smoky and delicious. And leftovers can be chopped up and eaten on yogurt, or oatmeal. *sigh*

  4. Celeste says

    Hey Shannalee,
    I have done a similiar recipe, using pears instead.
    Both are great.
    Your dish looks amazing.

  5. says

    I was just wondering what to do about an abundance of apples that I have returned from display. This recipe will solve that problem, as I am sure my staff would love this as a dessert.
    Thank you for the idea!

  6. says

    I have some crumble topping from the pumpkin muffins I made…could it be re-purposed with butter and nutmeg and oats for these apples? Would the flour/baking powder mess it up? And most importantly, if the crumb topping leftovers have been sitting in the fridge for a week or two, will they still be ok to re-use? I could just toss ’em, but that seems so wasteful! :)

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    3 Tbsp light brown sugar
    2 Tbsp granulated sugar
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp cinnamon
    Pinch of salt
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  7. Elizabeth says

    Fantastic! I will try this tonight. I’ll probably have it baking while Joshua and I run, so that way when we come back home it will be sooo yummy!! Can’t wait!

  8. says

    Yep, it was meant to be. Funny, that’s how I approach most dinners – get a bunch of stuff out, start prepping, and eventually it turns into what it wants to become. Quite handy!

  9. says

    Isn’t nice when it just comes together like that? I love it. These baked apples look so tasty, I’m going to have to make them soon.

  10. says

    Niki, Did you make them? Did you make them? Oh, I hope so, and I hope you loved them like we did. You are right – it’s the caramelized goodness that really makes it. And PS: YES they reheat well! I’ll add that to the instructions – great question. I microwaved one the next day and it was fab.

    Fran, I know, I probably would have left the skins on if I had been planning to make baked apples from the beginning, but in the end, it was so nice to just have the fleshly insides to enjoy!

    Antonietta, Thank you so much!

    Kate, Would you believe that is the first way I ever had baked apples? It was in college, and we did it just like you said!

    Celeste, Oh, with pears would be marvelous! I’d want honey involved there. For sure.

    Jason, So glad to help! I hope you and your staff love them!

    Kim, Well, here is my very unscientific opinion: try it! Maybe try it with just one apple and stuff the heck out of it with some extra butter in there and see what happens. Can’t hurt, right? I have a feeling it would work.

    Elizabeth, “while Joshua and I run” – you are AMAZING.

    Kristen, I’d love to hear what you think!

    Allen, Thank you!

    Caitlin, Right? I’m learning to release expectations and go with it. Sometimes it turns out well!

    Hannah, Yes, it is!!! It happens so rarely lately that I am especially thrilled now!

    Jessica, Ha! Right? And what’s so nice with these is you can easily just make one or tons if you want, just by adjusting how much filling you make. Love that.

  11. says

    I did!!!! It was soooo good! I have a ton of recipes I have to catch up on, but it’ll be posted soon!
    My only changes were I nixed the nutmeg (not a fan of nutmeg) and added dried cranberries instead of raisins b/c I didn’t have raisins. Yum!

  12. says

    YUM!!! i will have to make this. i’ve not peeled my baked apples before , but then you have to deal with the skin. brilliant. and sitting down – yep. i’m right there with you.

  13. says

    Niki, Yay! So glad you liked them and your changes sound great!

    Jessie, Good, I hope you do, and I’d love to hear what you think!

  14. says

    Wow, thanks for reminding me of an old favorite!! I use to make these all the time! It’s been years! Funny how the simplest of things get forgotten. I’ll make these tonight!! Wonderful! -Chris Ann

  15. Janet says

    I was apple’d (sp?) out when I came back from the East Coast and eating two a day while walking around. At least they were different varieties but still I had apple fatigue. Your post came along at the right time – I had tried all combos of apples – with peanut butter, with granola, plain, with oatmeal and tea.

    I like that this recipe fits the season and temperatures. It’s getting colder even in SF! I’m giving this recipe a stab and will let you know if it gets me eating apples again!

  16. says

    Janet, I think it’s definitely that time of year – but I hope these baked apples help a little with the overload! At least they’re as simple as can be, right?

  17. Janina says

    Oh, I just love this receipe! I tried many ones for baked apples, with cream or eggs or hazlenuts, but they all didn’t work out for me. The apples just didn’t taste like I imagined them to taste. Now I tried this one and it just fitted my imagination.

    And like Janet said, they’re great in yogurt, too.

    I just found your Blog and allready made me a list of your cookie-receipes that I need to try. I love your way of writing. Hope to hear lots more of your tales tha include fooood!

    Greatings from Germany,



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