Copycat Cracker Barrel Fried Apples Recipe

Sometimes going out to eat isn't about the main course, but about a flavorful side or extra that makes the entire experience more delicious. Anyone who's enjoyed a meal at Cracker Barrel has hopefully experienced the rich sweetness of their fried apples, which is served as a side but is tasty enough to warrant a visit all by itself. While you can buy a jarred version made at the restaurant, the cost adds up fast once you realize how perfectly compatible the sauce is with a number of dishes (or simply eaten by the spoonful!) and you find yourself buying jars of the stuff all the time. 

That's why Susan Olayinka, recipe developer at The Flexible Fridge, set out to create this decadent copycat recipe so that you can enjoy Cracker Barrel fried apples at home. Olayinka is always on the lookout for easy recipes that can be quickly prepared, and these fried apples are no exception. She's no stranger to similar preparations, and as far as creating this recipe goes, she had no problem recreating the original. "It was pretty easy to guess," she says. 

Once you see how straightforward the recipe is, you'll always have a container of fried apples in your fridge. You can even keep extras stored in your freezer, or give them out as gifts. Your friends will surely ask for the recipe once they get a taste! 

Gather the ingredients for these copycat Cracker Barrel fried apples

With fewer than 10 ingredients, you'll soon be ready to make your own version of the famed Cracker Barrel fried apples. To start, you'll need six apples. Olayinka recommends Royal Gala or Golden Delicious for the ideal combination of sweetness and texture. Next, you'll need some butter to fry the apples in the pan to a nice golden hue. Using a combination of white and brown sugar allows the apples to sweeten and brown in the mixture, while adding caramelized aromas from the molasses in the brown sugar. Next, apple juice provides plenty of moisture for the apples to simmer in, while enhancing the apple flavor. 

A touch of apple cider vinegar balances out the flavors while boosting the aromas of the other ingredients. Lemon juice has a similar effect in case you're out of vinegar. Cinnamon and nutmeg are delicious warm spices that seem to be made for pairing with apples. Finally, some cornstarch helps to thicken the sauce created from the apple juice and apples as they break down. By adding cornstarch you'll be able to spoon these fried apples over any dish without dribbling sauce all over the place. 

Core and slice the apples

First things first, you'll need to prepare the apples. Start by removing the cores, then slice them into 1-inch pieces. Leaving the peel on adds texture and is certainly nutritious, but if you prefer a smoother consistency, then go ahead and peel the apples as well. When you've cored and sliced all of the apples, set the slices aside in a bowl while you prepare the mixture that you'll be adding them to.  

Heat the butter and sugars in a cast-iron skillet

Place a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop at low to medium heat. You'll need a pan sufficiently large to hold all of the apples, but they can be piled up on top of each other. As the pan heats up, add the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Cook the mixture for two to three minutes, allowing the butter to melt as the sugar begins dissolving into it. Gently stir the butter and sugar with a spatula or wooden spoon so that the ingredients combine uniformly. 

Add the apple juice, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sliced apples

After a few minutes, pour in most of the apple juice and the apple cider vinegar. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg and add the sliced apples to the pan. Give everything a good stir so that the apples are well coated with the sugar and butter mixture and the spices. Cover the pan with a lid to simmer the apples in all of the juices that will be released. The apples need about 20 minutes to cook. 

"Burning is 100% one thing to watch out for," says Olayinka. "Home cooks need to keep an eye on the pan, as the sugars in the apple and in the sauce could make it burn quickly." If you notice the mixture is boiling vigorously or sticking to the pan, try lowering the heat. 

Mix the apple juice and cornstarch in a small bowl

While the apple mixture is cooking on the stovetop, add the remaining apple juice and the cornstarch to a small bowl. With a fork, stir the mixture until the cornstarch has dissolved and a milky liquid has formed. Make sure there are no clumps, so that the mixture can blend into the apples smoothly. It will play an important role in thickening the fried apples to give them a rich consistency — perfect for dolloping into a serving bowl. If you're hoping for a shortcut by just adding the cornstarch directly, Olayinka cautions, "Do not be tempted to just put the cornstarch in, as it will go lumpy!"

Add the cornstarch mixture to the apples

Once the apples have cooked for 20 minutes, they'll have softened, and the excess liquid from the apple juice will have reduced. Add the cornstarch slurry to the apples in the pan and give everything a gentle stir with your spatula or wooden spoon. Keep cooking the mixture for another five minutes to give the cornstarch time to thicken the sauce and properly combine into the apples. You definitely don't want to be tasting the cornstarch!

Serve the fried apples or store them in an airtight container

The fried apples are now ready to devour. If you're not going to eat them immediately (either directly from the skillet or on individual plates or bowls), store the apples in an airtight container and allow them to cool before placing the container in the refrigerator. Olayinka recommends keeping them for "two to three days in the fridge," and if you're making a large batch, "up to three months in the freezer."

Whether you eat them now or later, Olayinka loves this recipe for its many uses. "This is so versatile — in a pie [it] is great!" If you're not up to making a pie, she adds that it's also delicious "with pancakes, oatmeal, cake filling, etc." We'd definitely eat it as a sweet treat with ice cream. For a sweet and salty combination, try it as a side with ham, pork chops, chicken, biscuits, or other Southern dishes. 

Copycat Cracker Barrel Fried Apples Recipe
5 from 42 ratings
This decadent and versatile copycat Cracker Barrel fried apples recipe is so easy, you'll always want to have a container in your fridge or freezer.
Prep Time
Cook Time
fried apples on a plate
Total time: 31 minutes
  • 6 apples
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons apple juice, divided
  • ⅛ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  1. Core the apples and slice them into 1-inch pieces. Set the sliced apples aside.
  2. Heat a cast-iron skillet over low to medium heat.
  3. Add the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup of the apple juice, the apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and the sliced apples.
  5. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. While the apples are cooking, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of apple juice and the cornstarch in a small mixing bowl.
  7. Mix the contents together with a fork until they are well incorporated.
  8. After the apples have been cooking for 20 minutes, pour in the cornstarch slurry and gently mix everything together. Cook the mixture for 5 minutes.
  9. Transfer the apples to a serving dish or into an airtight container.
  10. Serve immediately or allow the apples to cool before storing them in the fridge.
Calories per Serving 159
Total Fat 3.2 g
Saturated Fat 1.9 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 7.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 34.7 g
Dietary Fiber 3.5 g
Total Sugars 28.2 g
Sodium 4.8 mg
Protein 0.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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