Recipes

apple dumplings

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, my first cookbook, turns 10 years old in a few weeks, and inside it is what I call one of the best summer desserts I’ve ever made, peach dumplings with bourbon hard sauce. These were a whim that occured to me one morning before dawn when my then-baby (and, as of 11 days ago, a Bar Mitzvah) woke up early and lacked interest in going back to sleep and my mind drifted, as it does, to things I’d like to cook.


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The peach dumplings were modeled on old-fashioned apple dumplings and I’m not sure why it took me so long to reverse this process for fall, but now that I have, I don’t want to bake anything else. I’m absolutely obsessed with these perfect packets of apple pie. Everything I loved about the peach dumplings is true here too: The crust, unhindered by a heavy filling, expands and flakes like puff pastry. When you cut into each, a trickle of buttery brown sugar caramel floods your plate. And the best part of it is actually the mess — chunks of spiced baked fruit, buttery layers of dough, a mingled puddle of juices. And should you like a splash of whiskey with your apple desserts, you are going to swoon over it in the sauce, melting over the sides. Please make these soon. You’ll be so glad you did.

apple dumpling

Updates

I did not mean to disappear on you, or the newsletter. As you might have guessed, I was thrown off course by that aforementioned Bar Mitzvah [“what’s a Bar Mitzvah?“] and 13th birthday — which seem impossible as he was just born, right? — and a few other exciting things. Smitten Kitchen Keepers, my third cookbook, will be out in 48 days, and a week earlier than originally planned. We are working on putting the final details together for the Fall 2022 Book Tour — I’ll have everything for you next Thursday, 10/6. I might even have another new recipe before then, since I was behind in posting, not cooking, hooray. Did I cover everything? I probably forgot something so away in the comments!

Previously

6 months ago: Simple Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 year ago: Big Apple Crumb Cake
2 years ago: Homemade Cream Cheese
3 years ago: Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan
4 years ago: Flapjacks
5 years ago: Tomato Bread + A Bit About Spain
6 years ago: How to Julienne and Plum Squares with Marzipan Crumble
7 years ago: Caponata and Zucchini Rice and Cheese Gratin
8 years ago: Chocolate and Toasted Hazelnut Milk and Herbed Tomato and Roasted Garlic Tart
9 years ago: Baked Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
10 years ago: Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella and Fig Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah
11 years ago: Peach Butter, Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint, and Red Wine Chocolate Cake
12 years ago: Grape Foccaccia with Rosemary and Linguine with Tomato-Almond Pesto
13 years ago: Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies
14 years ago: Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee, Bourbon Peach Hand Pies and Raspberry Breakfast Bars and Braised Romano Beans
15 years ago: Hoisin Barbecue Sauce and Lemon Layer Cake
16 years ago: Silky Cauliflower Soup and Summer Squash Soup

Apple Dumplings

  • Servings: 6
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

Here is a video where you can watch me make pie dough. What apples are good to bake with? King Arthur has a guide here, but I’d say anything fresh and crisp is good here; these are more forgiving than a full-sized pie or crisp. I’m using here my forever favorite white baking dish (I have 3 and have told friends not to return them and buy another, because I think everyone needs one); you can find some shopping links to it and most items I use regularly on the Shop page.

    Crust
  • 2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) fine sea or table salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces or 225 grams) unsalted butter, very cold
  • About 1/2 cup cold water
  • Filling
  • 3 large apples (about 3″ across), any kind you like to bake with
  • Half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A few gratings of fresh nutmeg, or a couple pinches of ground
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) butter, cut into 6 pieces, kept cold
  • 1 large egg, for glaze
  • Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounces or 30 grams) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey, milk, or lemon juice
  • A dash of vanilla extract (optional)

    Make the crust:
  • By hand : In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. (Some people like to do this by freezing the stick of butter and coarsely grating it into the flour, but I haven’t found the results as flaky.) Add cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible silicone spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add another tablespoon of water.
  • With a food processor: In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and pulse machine until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. Turn mixture out into mixing bowl. Add cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add the last tablespoon of water.
  • Both methods: Wrap dough in a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours, or you can quick-firm this in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Longer than 2 days, it’s best to freeze it until needed.
  • Heat your oven: To 375°F

    Assemble the dumplings: Peel and halve your apples. Use the large side of a melon baller, if you have one, or a tablespoon measuring spoon, to scoop the core out of each half. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the apples. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mound a heaped tablespoon of the mixture in the scooped-out center of each apple half. Dot the top of each with a piece of the cold butter.

    On a well-floured counter, roll your dough out to a 12-by-18-inch rectangle and divide into six 6-inch squares. If dough gets too soft or warm while you’re rolling it, continue to the square stage, but then transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill them in the freezer for a couple minutes, until they’re semi-firm again.

    Place a filled apple half, cut side-up, in the center of each dough square. Bring corners up to meet each other over the center – if it feels tight, or as if you’re short of dough, make sure that the dough underneath is flush with the apple curve; it holds a lot of slack – and seal the seams together, pinching with your fingertips.

    Bake dumplings: Arrange dumplings in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Whisk egg together with one teaspoon water to form a glaze. Brush glaze over the tops and exposed sides of dumplings. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until pastries are puffed and bronzed on top.

    To finish and serve: While the dumplings bake, beat butter, powdered sugar, and whiskey, lemon juice, or milk together with vanilla until smooth. When dumplings come out of the oven, dollop each with a heaping tablespoon of the sauces, which will melt over the sides. Serve right away.

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92 comments on apple dumplings

    1. Marni

      Mazal tov!!! Just went apple picking so that I could make your Apple & Honey Challah for Rosh Hashanah, and now I know what to do with at least three of the remaining apples! Thanks as always!

  1. JenS

    Lovely! How fitting to revamp a classic recipe in time for the 3rd book. I enjoy the peach version and excited to try an apple one with warming Fall spices.
    Congratulations on your son’s Bar Mitzvah and Shanah Tovah!

  2. Kathleen

    ohhhhh my gosh YES the peach dumplings from your first book are my dinner party secret weapon!

    Question – if prepping this in advance (or to gift to a host), can you freeze the dumplings once assembled? Or can the separate parts (dough, apples) be prepped in advance, but only assembled immediately before baking? Thank you!

    1. Joy

      I have frozen the assembled peach dumplings many times with great results. I say go for it! What is better than orchard dumplings on demand?

  3. SallyT

    MAZEL TOV!

    The peach dumplings are UNREAL and one of my favorite recipes from the first book! I use a half recipe of crust and it’s still wonderful although not as decadent.

  4. First off – Mazel Tov on your son’s Bar Mitzvah!!! They do grow up quickly. Our son will be 50 in April. His Bar Mitzvah still seems like yesterday!

    I can’t wait to make these Apple Dumplings. They look amazing and I’m sure taste as good or better.

  5. Kathryn Q

    Oh, Mazel Tov to your family! I remember when that cinnamon roll with chicken legs was still in the oven, and yes, it does seem like yesterday.
    Now: I hope I’m not repeating a question already asked, but can I just use frozen puff pastry for the dumpling crust?

  6. Sarah Pinckney

    Our eldest children were born around the same time (my guy turned 13 yesterday), and it wasn’t long after that I started reading your blog. I have lots of memories of reading your words and recipes while nursing in the middle of the night, planning what I could cook/bake during nap time. It’s been fun to watch our boys (and SK!) grow up “together.” Happy belated birthday to Jacob!

  7. Adina Glickman

    2 things:
    1. At some point (for you probs not for another 15 years or so) you will want to make enough for only the two people who remain in your empty nest. My husband and I are pie-adorers. If you could occasionally give a recipe for two for treats like this I would be grateful.

    2. I am in love with your galette dough. Can that be used in this dumpling situation?

    Thank you. I love your flog.

  8. Z Freehling

    Where have you been all my life? Lol. Mazel Tov on the bar mitzvah. I’m going to love perusing all your wonderful recipes, and even trying a few! Thank you for your love of cooking/baking.

  9. Lauren

    Mazel Tov! Can’t believe that little guy is now a bar mitzvah! Time sure flies. On that note I have repeatedly made the cover photo from the first cookbook…it is fantastic, and so gorgeous to present. I have made several from the second book, but in my mind that first cookbook reigns supreme. I know the third will be great too, and I hope to find as many gems in it as I have found it the others, and on the site. Thanks so much for all you do to make us better cooks!

  10. Laura

    I am so excited about this recipe and want to try it for a dinner party. Could I assemble everything up until the egg wash and then cover and put it in the fridge for a few hours so I can bake during dinner (assuming I bring it to room temp for about an hour first and then brush with the egg wash) and serve immediately as suggested. Thank you as always and congratulations on the Bar Mitzvah!

  11. Anna

    Sorry for the stupid question, but when you say “dollop each with a heaping tablespoon of the sauces” is sauces (plural) a typo, or is there more than one sauce? I re-read the recipe twice, but I only see one

  12. Donna c

    Yum! Ordered the new book months ago as an early b-day present for myself. Now that it’s going to be early, perhaps I need something else too! Can’t wait to make these!!

  13. Elizabeth

    Mazal tov to your entire family on the simcha!
    Perfect dessert for Sukkot especially as we make “stuffed” things.
    Looking forward to receiving my copy of the new book.
    Shana tova metukha.

  14. JRS

    How much can you make ahead? Can you cook them then freeze and bake frozen and then cover with glaze? Or assemble and not cook but freeze uncooked and bake frozen? Would like to make ahead one day ahead if not more. Thanks

  15. Debby N

    Oh my gosh Deb, it seems like he was a brand new big brother and now they are growing so fast. Mazel tov on your simcha! Now onward to trying these apple dumplings. They look absolutely divine.

  16. Jill

    Hi there! I just wanted to say that apparently I must be a long-time reader, because I remember when you first announced you were pregnant with the Bar Mitzvah boy! Your blog was the first one I began reading regularly when I was a college student and unable to cook much outside of toasting a bagel. I now feel much more confident in the kitchen, and I think your blog was the beginning of that journey. My favorite all-time recipe, made enough times that it’s somewhat of a family signature dish, is your sesame turkey meatballs with smashed chickpea salad. We throw the whole thing over arugula. Anyways, thanks from a long-time fan and can’t wait to read your third book!

    1. Brendy

      Mazal tov! I kept checking for a new recipe before Rosh Hashanah, and now I know you had bigger celebrations to think about. I hope you’ll let us know the menu for the party with matching recipes. Looking forward to baking this!

  17. zill

    “then-baby (and, as of 11 days ago, a Bar Mitzvah) ”

    I screeched. Mazel tov! That’s wonderful! where has time gone, oh no.

    MAZEL TOV!

  18. Holly

    This looks like a must try.. thank you. Quick question- I want to share with friends but need this to be alcohol free, any recommendations for substitution?

    1. elyse

      I’ve made this crust with all earth balance parve butter and it worked great. It melts faster than butter so I cube it and freeze for about 15 min before adding to the flour mixture.

  19. Charlotte M

    Oh, how I wish I would have had this recipe two weeks ago! I made some caramel apple hand pies that were so fiddly and frustrating. We still ate them, of course, but these look like they would have saved me a lot of time and mess, and tasted better too!

  20. Susie

    Mazel tov! I was excited when Jacob was born, and here I am 13 years later feeling … proud of a kid I never met. Kudos to his mother for keeping me here, and for making all of you part of my life. Happy new year!

  21. Tone

    I distinctly remember the post you did when your son was born and the cinnamon bun swirl of his hair. I haven’t made the peach or this apple dumpling but you very rarely steer me wrong and I will be making them ASAP. The weather here in NorCal is also barely turning. It is 90 degrees right now! Summer temps be damned, I’m popping these in the oven this weekend.

  22. Anna

    So delicious and a perfect little project for a rainy fall weekend! A couple exploded but they were still great, nothing burned or anything. Turbinado sugar worked fine, was out of brown. Whiskey sauce was great and the whiskey taste was subtle.

    1. Sara

      These were amazing! My apples were smaller so I made 9 instead of six. I ended up with smaller holes in the apples so didn’t use all the sugar/cinnamon mix and they were definitely all a little coming apart but the crust was so flaky and they were the perfect sweetness.

  23. Magdalen Dobson

    These looked soooo amazing, but unfortunately for me they kind of missed the mark. The structure was beautiful but I just didn’t like the ratio of apples to pastry when I actually ate them. Looking back at the recipe, I realize that it’s using about 1/3 of an entire pie crust per half apple (for comparison, a pie would be something like 1/8-1/10 per ONE apple), which didn’t taste right to me. I wonder if it would be possible to roll the dough thinner to get a ratio closer to that of a pie, or if this would be too likely to fall apart?

    1. Bethann Snyder

      If you want more apple, peel but don’t halve the apples. Then use an apple corer to get the insides out. Use small apples. Then put the filling down the hole. My grandmother’s PA German (aka PA Dutch) cookbook has you put a mix of brown sugar, spices, and raisins in the hole before wrapping in the dough. We used crasina last year and my kids loved them. Just don’t use huge apples and you should be fine. But, as someone else noted, dumplings are about the dough.

  24. Christy

    This was a fun project with my 12 yo. And super delicious. The pastry was perfect for the apple half. We like both the apple and the crust in our house, so this felt like a gift. Ours weren’t as beautiful as the picture, but I know what we’ll do different next time!

  25. Jeanie

    I made these *not* in my own kitchen, and ran out of flour. The host kitchen had tons of expired alternatives, but I went with half a cup (also no scale) of almond flour. Also, I added the water without really looking, which resulted in an insanely wet dough. After freezing and rolling it out on parchment paper, it became obvious I would have to scrape the damp dough off the paper and pat it into a pathetic wrapper for my tiny apples. I used nine tiny apples, and smooshed them into a 9×9 glass pan. Baked as recommended at 375. I write all this because the recipe is clearly foolproof: they tasted f*cking amazing! I did the math after consumption: over two tablespoons of butter per apple. Everything is better with butter.

  26. nina

    Well, these were delicious. I didn’t make the glaze, but despite that, my husband gave me a Paul Hollywood handshake for them. And I just polished off another one for breakfast.

  27. Florence “Flambè” Garcia

    Dumplings exploded in my oven, left a massive mess. It was like the 4th of July in my kitchen, and my husband has PTSD and I could hear him yelling to “Hit the deck”. I had to put him outside but it only got worse when the whiskey in the sauce caught fire and wouldn’t go out. That’s when my poor husband must have seen the flames through the window and rushed in to swat the pan off the stove onto the clean floor, spilling sticky, flaming sauce over the linoleum. Fortunately the whiskey burned off quickly, otherwise the whole house might have gone up (there are some scorch marks on the cabinets and the tablecloth is badly singed and needs to be replaced). The spot where it landed is still a little soft and just won’t get clean! I won’t be baking these again since they caused a little too much excitement for one afternoon in the Garcia household! I haven’t seen you since the McDonalds drive through the other week! I honked and shouted but I guess you didn’t hear me or maybe it wasn’t you at the drive through? Love you, Dear and your recipes!

      1. Bethann Snyder

        Prick the top of the crusts (per my grandmother’s PA German cookbook for apple dumplings, which are a fall cultural staple in PA. Either that or leave a tiny vent in the top so they can release steam. Just like you prick or cut marks in the top of a 2 crust pie.

      2. deb

        Oh no! I made these so many times with peaches and apples and this didn’t happen, but I’ll add the suggestion that people make a little slit on top for steam release. I hope the cleanup wasn’t too bad.

    1. TM

      Oh dear, mine also exploded, and the noise frightened my new rescue puppy, who ran out of the house when I opened the door for the smoke.

      Fortunately, my elderly neighbor’s nephew was bringing him bagels and saw the puppy heading out. He yelled, threw an everything bagel with cream cheese at Reese (my puppy), which stunned him for a second. Being a beagle with a nose for a nosh, he gleefully sought out the bagel, allowing Joshua’s arms to gently pull in the pup.

      Me, sobbing thank yous, got to the curb in time for Joshua to deposit sweet doggo into my arms.

      While I wanted to say thank you, I disolved into tears and hiccups.
      Joshua’s yoga training kicked in, and he guided me in a box breathing exercise to restore me to wholeness.

      We laugh about this now.

      The wedding is in two weeks.

  28. Donna

    New follower here .. 😻love the way the recipes are explained, easy to follow & excited to try them.
    Thank You for your hard work.

  29. Mallory

    Deb- these were wonderful (as your recipes always are)! I almost skipped the glaze, but didn’t because I always try to follow your recipes 100% your way the first time I make them (and rarely make deviations after that because as we say in our family “Don’t doubt Deb!”) I went for the lemony option and it was such a nice complement to the dumpling itself. Mine took much longer to bake than yours did….I did prep them about two hours before dinner and then baked them off from the fridge so I’m thinking that is probably why? I’m also wondering if maybe I didn’t roll out my dough quite thin enough…regardless these will be made again!

    Also, I wanted to let you know that your street cart style chicken and rice from your second book is what my husband has deemed “a perfect meal.” Literally, any time I ask him what he wants me to cook for dinner, or a special occasion even, that is his response! Thank you for all of your great recipes!

  30. Pam McG

    Delicious, but rolling out dough to 12” x 18” and refrigerating/freezing such a massive piece of dough was cumbersome. Better to roll out 3 separate pieces or scale to make only 4.

  31. Sarah

    These were wonderful, and my ideal ratio of apple to pasty. I used honey crisp apples and they stayed nice and firm, which I really liked. I didn’t quite pinch the pastry closed enough so my first round opened in the oven but I just poured the juices from the baking dish over them once I plated them, didn’t feel like it lost anything. I didn’t make the glaze, since I had vanilla ice cream in the freezer, but clearly that was a misstep. I found the dough so so easy to work with. The best news, however, is their make-aheadability. I only baked 4/6 because I wanted to see how these would fare if I assembled them ahead of time and baked the next day, as a potential holiday dessert. Unfortunately “next day” became 3 days later, oops. DIDN’T MATTER; BAKED UP BEAUTIFULLY. I definitely wouldn’t recommend assembling 3 days ahead of time, since there was some juices at the bottom of the dish, likely from the sugar drawing out liquid from the apple. However, they were outstanding regardless, and I would have no qualms about assembling the night before.

  32. Sierra

    Made these. I made the dough on Tuesday when I had time and intended to make the whole thing that night but ran out of willpower for most of the week. Made them this morning and they are amazing. Didn’t change anything but did cook things just about five minutes longer because my apples (envy) were kinda large and I like my baked apples a bit soft. All in all, not too hard, totally worth it. Will do this again.

  33. Anne-Marie King

    Deb. You never disappoint. I’ve used your recipes for years but never commented before. THIS WAS AMAZING! I assumed that the pastry would just be pie crust-ish…I was so wrong. It was so good. SO GOOD! I actually chopped the apples instead of just halving them, mostly to make them easier for my toddlers to eat. I used a combo of mystery apples from an apple festival yesterday. Thank you Deb for everything!!!

  34. Shayna

    Wow these are good!! Also great to make with my 5 year old, she had a blast pinching them shut. Half of them split open because she did them and it made no difference, just a nice apple-y caramel in the pan. I forgot to put lemon on the cut apple halves so I made the lemon glaze a little more lemony and it was perfect. No notes, will definitely make on repeat.

    1. Camille

      Well I guess my pinching is worse than a 5-year olds! All mine split open and spilled out the sauce. Likely the apples were too large as I had to stretch the pastry a bit to get it around the apple. They still tasted great, just not pretty. I will try to moisten the seam next time to help with the seal and maybe chill them first before baking?

  35. AddictedToDesserts

    Can you make this with sliced apples inside instead of a half apple? Sliced like in your “even more perfect apple pie?”

  36. Evelyn

    How can your baby already be 13?!
    I remember following and falling in love with you before you were even pregnant. I adored you then and admire that you haven’t changed at all during these years. You have been a constant in my life … thank you ❤️

  37. Pam P

    I struggled a bit to get the dough around each apple half so they weren’t beautiful! I used honey crisp apples and whisky in the topping. They are sooooo delicious! After they baked, they were less funny looking but next time I’ll make a better effort to make nice seams. Also I’ll scoop out a bit more apple to make room for more filling, I had a lot of filling left over.

  38. Laura Davis

    I tried the recipe with gluten free flour. I had a hard time working with the dough. I ended up forming it around the apples. It cooked alright but had a grainy texture. I’ve made your crust before and not had any problems. Is there anything that can be done when working with gluten free flour?

    1. deb

      I haven’t tested any, but I know there are gluten-free pie crust recipes around the web that might be better optimized for the flour. Definitely look for one with many reviews. Maybe King Arthur has one?

  39. Thomas Holifield

    I enjoyed how easy you made it look to make these fruit filled delights. I enjoyed your step by step instructions on. How to make the peach and apple dumplings. I had been look for these recipes since I was a kid. My mom use to make them for us all the time. I am going to run out tomorrow and get the ingredients to make me a couple of batches of these to share with my family and friends. I will also let them know where I found the recipes at.
    Have a blessed day.

  40. Sarah

    Oh. My. Goodness. There is absolutely no way that your son, who I promise was only just born a few years ago, when I was reading Smitten Kitchen on Google Reader, is now a Bar Mitzvah. Mazel tov to all of you!!

  41. janetinbeantown

    These were a hit. I used a 100% whole wheat crust with a tablespoon of sugar in the dough, brushed them with a little heavy cream I had on hand, and sprinkled them with decorating sugar which gave them a nice crunch. Served with blackberry ice cream. Will definitely make this recipe again.

  42. Jennifer

    I totally forgot about the sauce, but these were amazing! Wonderful flavor to the crust and the apples are flavorful but not too sweet. Definitely saving this one!