Apple Recipes for Kids and Families - Making the Most of Apple Picking Adventures

Apple Recipes for Kids and Families

What to do with all those apples… Whether I’ve brought home a bushel or two from an apple picking excursion or been tempted by one of those handy tote bags full of of fresh apples from the grocery store, there comes a time each fall when I feel like I’ll never make a dent in our apple harvest.

So each year, we go in search of a new apple recipe in hopes of adding to our list of favorites. This year's find—inside out caramel apples—definitely makes the list. Instructions for these and some of our other favorite apple concoctions follow. Kids can even help with some of them; just be careful with the sharp knives.

Inside Out Caramel Apples
Prep: 30 minutes

3 Granny Smith (or any firm) apples
1 lemon
2 cups caramel squares
2T corn syrup


  1. Cut your apples in half. Use a melon baller to scoop out the insides, leaving about 1/4 inch around all edges.
  2. Squeeze the juice from the lemon onto the apples while you prepare the caramel. (This keeps them from turning brown.)
  3. In a microwave-proof bowl, melt the caramels and corn syrup. Try 30 seconds, then 15 seconds - just enough to melt them.
  4. Stir to mix.
  5. Allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Wipe the apples with a paper towel to remove as much lemon juice as possible. (Caramel won't stick to a wet apple.)
  7. Spoon the caramel into the hollowed out apples until just below the top. (This can be a very sticky stage, so you may want to wipe your fingers with some vegetable oil first.)
  8. Set the apple halves in muffin tins to keep them steady.
  9. Chill in the refrigerator until the caramel has set, about 20 minutes. Cut into slices (spray the knife with cooking spray for easier cutting; a serrated or tomato knife works well).

Cinnamon Apple Chips
Makes approximately 40 chips
Prep: 15 minutes; Bake 30-40 minutes

2 cups unsweetened apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
2 apples


  1. Heat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Combine apple juice and cinnamon stick in a pot; bring to a low boil while preparing apples.
  3. Core the apples. With sharp knife, slice off 1/2-inch from top and bottom of apples and discard (or eat!). Saw gently crosswise into very thin (1/8-inch) rings, rotating the apple as necessary to get even slices.
  4. Drop the apple slices into boiling juice; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until slices appear translucent and lightly golden.
  5. With a slotted spatula, remove the apple slices from juice and pat dry with a paper towel.
  6. Arrange the slices on cake-cooling racks, being sure none are touching.
  7. Place the racks on the middle shelf in oven; bake 30 to 40 minutes until apple slices are lightly browned and almost dry to touch.
  8. Let chips cool on racks completely before storing in airtight container.


Apple Crumb Bars       

Makes 24 bars
Prep: 40 minutes; Bake 35-40 minutes

Base ingredients
1 cup quick or old-fashioned (rolled) oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 large egg, beaten

Filling ingredients
6 apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping ingredients
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup quick rolled oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 13x9 baking pan.
  2. Prepare topping: In medium bowl, combine flour, oats, and sugar. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
  3. Prepare base: In medium bowl, combine oats, 1 cup flour, the brown sugar, baking powder, and salt; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in beaten egg. Spread mixture evenly in pan.
  4. Prepare filling: Toss apples with sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and cinnamon.
  5. Assemble bars: Spread apples over oatmeal layer. Sprinkle topping over apples.
  6. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until apples are tender. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting.

Crockpot Applesauce
Serves 4
Prep: 5 minutes; Cook 4-6 hours

4 large apples
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup water


  1. Peel and core apples; cut into quarters
  2. Add apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, brown sugar and water to crockpot.
  3. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours, until apples are very tender.
  4. Mash with the back of a fork or potato masher.

Individual Baked Apples
Serves 1
Prep: 5 minutes; Bake: 3-5 minutes

Ingredients for each serving
1 firm apple
2 tablespoons jam or fruit preserves
1 tablespoon apple juice or water


  1. Core apple.
  2. Peel top 1/3 of apple; place, peeled end up, in microwave-safe baking dish
  3. Fill center with jam.
  4. Pour the juice in bottom of baking dish; cover with vented plastic wrap or wax paper.
  5. Microwave on high 5 to 6 minutes or until apples are tender.

Note: cooking time will vary by apple and oven; be prepared to try a couple of times to get it right.

Mini Puff Pastry Apple Pies
Easy as...
Serves 6
Prep: 15 minutes; Bake: 18-22 minutes

1/2 package puff pastry (one sheet of Trader Joe's)
4 baking apples
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp flour
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger


  1. Thaw pastry sheet as directed
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Peel, core, and chop apples into very small pieces
  4. Combine with sugar, flour, lemon juice, and spices
  5. Cut the pastry into 6 rectangles
  6. Place one rectangle inside each of 6 cupcake tins, filling the tin and letting any edges rest on edge of pan
  7. Place approximately 1/3 cup of the apple mixture in each of the tins
  8. Fold the overhanging corners into the middle of the tin, pinching points gently
  9. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until pastry is golden
  10. Let sit in tins for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and remove to serving plate.

Apple Crisp
Serves 6
Prep: 15 minutes; Bake 40 minutes

4 green apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
6 tablespoons butter


  1. Heat oven to 375. Grease bottom and sides of square, 8x8 pan.
  2. Arrange apples in pan. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Sprinkle over apples.
  4. Bake about 40 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender.

In part to prove that our kids don’t live on sugary sweets alone, and in part because this is one of our family’s favorite fall meals, we’re including our Apple Squash Soup, with the warning that not all kids will go for it.

Apple Squash Soup
Servings: 4
Start to finish: 1 hour

2 tablespoons butter
2 cups onions, chopped
3 teaspoons curry powder
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed (6 cups)
2 each granny smith apples, peeled, cored, cubed
3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
pepper, freshly ground


  1. In a large pot, melt the butter. Add onion and saute until tender. Stir in curry powder.
  2. Add squash, apples, chicken stock and salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until squash and apples are tender
  3. Puree the soup, return to pan.
  4. Pepper liberally.

Thanks to one of our favorite cookbooks, the Gaining Ground Cookbook, for this recipe. And if you have a no-fail apple recipe to share, please post it in the comment section below.

Originally published August 2013; updated September 2015