For The Best Spiced Southern Fried Apples, Choose A Tart Variety

Do you need to use those apples in the back of your fridge but don't want to bake a pie or make applesauce? Then make spiced Southern fried apples, a comforting and delicious dessert that takes minimal effort to get on the table. If you've never tried this Southern delicacy, it consists of apples cooked in butter with sugar and spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg. It's delicious on its own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The key, however, is to choose a variety of apples with the right consistency and flavor profile so the dish is well-balanced.

"You will want to use apples that are firmer and those which have a more tart, flavorful quality to them," says Jennine Rye, the Tasting Table recipe developer who came up with this recipe for warm spiced Southern fried apples. "For this specific recipe I used Pink Lady apples, as I believe those are fairly widely available," says Rye. Avoid sweeter and softer varieties like Red Delicious, Gala, or McIntosh. Sure, they're delicious on their own, but they don't work well in this context. They have a soft texture and cook faster, so they will be mushy by the end of the process. They're also sweeter and this dessert has enough sweetness from the other ingredients.

Selecting and preparing the apples

If you can't find Pink Lady apples, you have a few other options. Granny Smith is the go-to apple for baking because it has a sour, tart flavor, which pairs well with the sweetness of brown and white sugar. You should be able to find this variety at most grocery stores as it's very common. If not, other types like Honey Crisp, Winesap, Braeburn, and Fuji also work well with this delicious dessert. You can use a combination of them too if you want to experiment or already have a couple of each in the fridge. Remember, you'll need about four apples for every two servings because they release a lot of liquid and cook down during the process. 

Once you've got the apples, the next step is to wash and peel them. Some recipes suggest keeping the peel on because the skin contains a lot of nutrients and provides more texture. However, part of the magic of fried apples is the way they almost melt together with the butter, sugars, and vanilla, so we suggest peeling them first. You'll also need to core and slice the apples before it's time to fry them up.