The holiday isn’t complete without at least one treat featuring autumn’s favorite fruit
As soon as the first gust of cold air comes in and the leaves start to turn, we start to crave our favorite autumn flavors. We want the warm, hearty and comforting bites from pumpkin spice to casseroles. The robust spices of cardamom, cinnamon, clove and pumpkin spice shine in almost every seasonal recipe, and by the time Thanksgiving comes around, we are ready for a last hurrah of these delightful flavors. Thanksgiving has grown to mark the end of fall and the true beginning of the holiday season. However, with Christmas commercials starting the day after Halloween now, this unspoken rule may soon change. Regardless, we Southerners will never stop serving fall favorites on Thanksgiving especially when it comes to apple dishes. From fried apples to the classic apple pie, apple dishes have always been a staple of the season and nearly every fall menu.
The crisp, seasonal fruit has a versatility that allows for it to truly be the star of autumn. You can use apples in more savory dishes or go simply sweet with desserts from fresh apple cake to caramel apples. We have pulled some of our favorite sides, desserts and other dishes that will make apples the highlight of your Thanksgiving table, carrying the warm seasonal flavors of fall into the holiday season.
Easy Skillet Apple Pie
Recipe: Easy Skillet Apple Pie
Everything’s better when it’s made in a cast-iron skillet, and this recipe is a testament to that Southern belief. This relatively classic pie uses two kinds of apples, Granny Smith and Braeburn, for a bright, crisp flavor that everyone in your family will love.
Apple Dumplings With Bourbon-Caramel Sauce
Recipe: Apple Dumplings With Bourbon-Caramel Sauce
Maybe you’re just a little tired of the traditional Thanksgiving desserts. These apple dumplings might just be the elegant, grown-up dessert you have been looking for! Paired with an indulgent bourbon-caramel sauce, these dumplings made with refrigerated pie crusts are sure to please.
Fresh Apple Cake
Recipe: Fresh Apple Cake
Topped with fluffy cream cheese frosting and toasted pecans, this apple cake is the ultimate fall treat. Our recipe for the delightful dessert has been a Southern Living staple since it was first published in 2001, and we plan on making it for years to come.
Slow-Cooker Apple Butter
Recipe: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter
At Southern Living, we are firm believers in the transformative power of apple butter. You can slather it on just about anything and it will taste good. On our Thanksgiving table, we will be serving apple butter to be paired with homemade biscuits and rolls, but a little bit could get on our greens or turkey and we wouldn’t complain.
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
Recipe: Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
When you’re planning to be a guest at someone else’s Thanksgiving table, you can’t show up to the party empty-handed. These Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars are a just the thing to bring to any sort of big gathering. The pretzel-graham cracker crust adds an extra element of fun that kids of all ages will love.
This recipe is what we like to call a showstopper. Even though the tart has an intricate design, we have made it with pre-made pie crust so it is an impressive-looking dish without an impressive amount of effort.
Apple Butter Cobbler With Drop Biscuits
Recipe: Apple Butter Cobbler With Drop Biscuits
Cobbler is one of the most delicious ways to enjoy apples. This recipe with homemade drop biscuits and a cup of slow cooker apple butter has a little bit of extra apple flavor baked in.
Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake
Recipe: Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake
One bite and you’ll fall in love with this seasonal Bundt cake. With a cream cheese filling and praline frosting, it’s also a uniquely Southern take on a bake-and-take dessert.
Salted Caramel-Apple Hand Pies
Recipe: Salted Caramel-Apple Hand Pies
Personalized desserts are perfect for any holiday buffet, and these Salted Caramel-Apple Hand Pies just scream Thanksgiving. A pinch of sea salt takes this recipe to the next level.
Recipe: Apple-Bourbon Pie
In search of a pie that is just as pretty as it is delicious? You will love this Apple-Bourbon Pie, made with liquor, raisins, apricot jam and other flavorful surprises. It is a true masterpiece inside and out.
Salted Irish Cream Apple Crostata
Recipe: Salted Irish Cream Apple Crostata
The combination of apples and Irish cream liqueur make this deceptively simple dessert shine. If you’re still a beginner baker, a crostata is much easier to whip up for a crowd than a double-crust pie.
Blackberry-Apple Butter Pie Bars
Recipe: Blackberry-Apple Butter Pie Bars
While we love apples on their own, combining fall’s finest with other fruits like blackberries always proves to be a winning formula. These butter pie bars use refrigerated crust which will simplify your Thanksgiving-day prep. Technically, this recipe makes 12 servings, but we could eat the entire pan in one sitting.
Apple-And-Pear Cornmeal Galette
Recipe: Apple-And-Pear Cornmeal Galette
The combination of apple and pear is distinctly fall in our minds, and this dessert really amplifies the unique flavors of those fruits. Additionally, this rustic galette has a signature Southern flavor with a cornmeal crust. While it does not look or eat like your classic apple pie, you might find yourself making this recipe year-after-year.
Recipe: Apple Muffins
Snack on these apple treats while you are making your Thanksgiving feast or have them as a little sweet breakfast to pair with coffee. It’s hard to turn down a homemade muffin (or two!) on a brisk fall day.
Recipe: Caramel-Apple Cookies
If caramel apples were a big part of your childhood, it’s likely that you never outgrew your love for the sticky snack. These Caramel-Apple Cookies are the slightly elevated, more adult version of this nostalgic treat. Serve these cookies as an extra dessert for those who are not the biggest fans of pumpkin pie.
Instant Pot Applesauce
Recipe: Instant Pot Applesauce
Applesauce is a welcome addition to any meal, and this recipe takes just over an hour instead of all day to make. A little bit of fresh lemon juice makes this a favorite side for people of all ages.
Apple Pie Cake
Recipe: Apple Pie Cake
We love apple pie and we love cake so we decided, why not combine the two? This recipe uses white cake mix, which makes it easy to assemble on Thanksgiving Day.
Apple Pie With Rye Crust And Cider Caramel
Recipe: Apple Pie With Rye Crust And Cider Caramel
One of the reasons why we love apple pie is that there are so many ways to make it. While most Southerners wouldn’t put a slice of cheese on pie, that doesn’t mean that we are afraid of branching out when it comes to flavor combinations. This recipe highlights the true versatility of the autumn dessert by using a rye flour crust and apple cider caramel to add depth.
Recipe: Cranberry-Apple Cider
Apples are not just for side dishes, desserts and spreads. You should be sipping on some apple cider during Thanksgiving, too. This recipe, which uses fresh or frozen cranberries and a whole lot of warm spices feels especially perfect for the holiday. Add a little bit of brandy or bourbon for a boozy beverage that adults will love.
Spiced Apple-Pecan Swirl Bread
Recipe: Spiced Apple-Pecan Swirl Bread
If you are looking for something that will wow everyone joining you for Thanksgiving, you might want to give this Spiced Apple-Pecan Swirl Bread a spin. While not made for Thanksgiving dinner, this celebratory loaf is wonderful to bring a host as a fall-flavored gift.
Apple-Almond Spice Cake With Brown Butter Frosting
Recipe: Amanda Mack’s Apple-Almond Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
This recipe is a quintessential fall treat that your family will want to see every Thanksgiving. Honeycrisp apples give this cake the best, classic apple flavor that makes this such a crowd-pleasing dessert.
Caramel Apple Cake
Recipe: Caramel Apple Cake
This Thanksgiving confection marries two of our favorite Southern sweets, caramel cake and fresh apples into one beautiful dessert. The stunning presentation alone is reason enough to try this recipe.
Beet, Fennel, and Apple Salad
Recipe: Beet, Fennel, And Apple Salad
Thanksgiving and Christmas are all about the sweets. We have pies and cookies coming out of our ears by New Years, so this year, why not have a little salad to help counter all the sweet stuff? Granny Smith apples give this recipe tartness to cut the bitterness of beet and fennel.
Apple Cinnamon Bread
Recipe: Apple Cinnamon Bread
We love eating apples throughout the fall and this love truly comes in all forms. Our Apple Cinnamon Bread will be a welcome addition to your Thanksgiving breakfast or use it to make sandwiches out of leftover turkey.
Warm Cinnamon Apples
Recipe: Warm Cinnamon Apples
Few things in life are better than baked apples. Throw together apples and spices into a large top-zip bag to toss and ensure that every part of the apple is covered in sweetness and spice.
Fried Apple Pies
Recipe: Fried Apple Pies
These fried apple pies fit in the palm of your hand, meaning you’ll have room for at least one after the feast. Tossed in a generous coat of cinnamon sugar, this recipe is an absolute delight.
Ultimate Apple Pie
Recipe: Ultimate Apple Pie
Yes, there is such thing as the ultimate apple pie, and we have made it. This recipe takes a little bit of extra work, but the flakey pie crust and delightful filling make it all worth it.
Apple Bread Pudding
Recipe: Apple Bread Pudding
We are all about bread pudding in the South, and this recipe is truly special. If you haven’t already had enough bread on Thanksgiving day from the dressing to the rolls, this dessert is sure to be devoured by your guests.
Apple Pie with Salted Pine Nut Streusel
Recipe: Apple Pie with Salted Pine Nut Streusel
This recipe uses gluten-free flour so your gluten-intolerant family members can enjoy dessert with everyone else. The pine nuts in this recipe add an extra layer of depth and warmth to the already inviting pie.
Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie
Recipe: Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie
Cinnamon rolls are one of the best ways to start or end a fall day. This recipe is so simple we are going to start saying, “bless your heart,” to people who bother making their crust instead of using pre-made, refrigerated cinnamon buns to top their pies.
Arkansas Black Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce
Recipe: Arkansas Black Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce
Have you ever had an Arkansas Black apple? If not, you are missing out. This dark apple has a freshness and tartness to it that makes it stand out compared to other heirloom varieties. If you can’t get your hands on one, you can use classic Granny Smith apples for this delicious pie recipe that truly celebrates the season’s finest fruit.
Caramel Apple Sangria
Recipe: Caramel Apple Sangria
Just two steps and a total of 30 minutes chilling time are between you and a refreshing fall sip of sangria. Pecan flavored vodka, like Cathead, really make this recipe stand out and perfectly enhances the apple flavor.
Apple Butter-Pecan Quick Bread
Recipe: Apple Butter-Pecan Quick Bread
Whether we’re serving a house full of overnight guests or taking a homemade gift to a Thanksgiving host, every Southerner could use a go-to recipe for quick bread. You can put this one together early on Thanksgiving morning to enjoy while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Chewy Apple-Cran-Oatmeal Cookies
Recipe: Chewy Apple-Cran-Oatmeal Cookies
Dried fruits are our friends, especially when it comes to the holidays. Fruitcake would simply not be possible without it, but we also love it because it makes us feel healthy. We love these cookies because they let us indulge our sweet tooth in a guilt-free way.
Apple and Goat Cheese Salad with Candied Pecans
Recipe: Apple and Goat Cheese Salad with Candied Pecans
Serving an elegant side salad with your Thanksgiving meal is a smart way to get some fresh greens onto your table. Candied pecans and Granny Smith apples add sweetness to the salad that makes us want to lick our plate clean.
Caramel Apple Coffee Cake
Recipe: Caramel Apple Coffee Cake
This is not the first caramel apple combination on this list, but it might just be the one we want to sink our teeth into first. If you are attending a Friendsgiving or a Thanksgiving potluck, bring this cake and see how many people ask you for the recipe.
Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Cider Glaze
Recipe: Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Cider Glaze
What’s the best way to take your cinnamon rolls to the next level? Our slow cooker apple butter. Apple butter is the hero in a lot of these apple-based recipes, but the apple butter really shines in this breakfast treat as you spread it on the dough just like you would butter in a classic cinnamon bun recipe.
Apple Spice Cake
Recipe: Apple Spice Cake
No icing, no layers, and no fuss make this recipe a hostess favorite during the busy holiday season. Without the extra details, this recipe focuses on two delicious things: apples and spice.
Apple Chess Pie
Recipe: Apple Chess Pie
There is nothing wrong with adding a little autumnal twist to a well-known favorite. We are by no means dissing the classic chess pie, but apples create a different flavor and texture we can’t resist.
Apple Pie Cookies
Recipe: Apple Pie Cookies
Cuteness comes in cookie form with these Apple Pie Cookies. Your kiddos will love these little treats that are not as intimidating or large as a piece of pie and are topped with a delightful cinnamon glaze.
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