The 40 Best Apple Recipes For Thanksgiving

The holiday isn't complete without at least one treat featuring autumn's favorite fruit

Apple Pie Cookies
Photo: Micah A. Leal

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.

01 of 40

Easy Skillet Apple Pie

Easy apple pie recipe, best apple pie recipe, apple pie
Photographer: Luca Trovato; Prop Stylist: Buffy Hargett Miller, Food Stylist: Rori Trovato

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.

02 of 40

Apple Dumplings With Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

A large apple dumpling covered in bourbon-caramel sauce sits on a slate plate next to a copper fork
Greg Dupree

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.

03 of 40

Fresh Apple Cake

Fresh Apple Cake
Hannah Zimmerman

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.

04 of 40

Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

Slow Cooker Apple Butter
Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

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.

05 of 40

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Melissa Gray Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

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.

06 of 40

Apple Rose Tart

Apple Rose Tart
Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Melissa Gray Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

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.

07 of 40

Apple Butter Cobbler With Drop Biscuits

Apple Butter Cobbler with Drop Biscuits
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

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.

08 of 40

Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

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.

09 of 40

Salted Caramel-Apple Hand Pies

Salted Caramel-Apple Hand Pies
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Katie Jacobs

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.

10 of 40

Apple-Bourbon Pie

Apple-Bourbon Pie Recipe
Hector Manuel Sanchez

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.

11 of 40

Salted Irish Cream Apple Crostata

Jerrelle Guy's Salted Irish Cream-Apple Crostata
Johnny Autry; Prop and Food Styling: Charlotte L. Autry

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.

12 of 40

Blackberry-Apple Butter Pie Bars

Blackberry-Apple Butter Pie Bars
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

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.

13 of 40

Apple-And-Pear Cornmeal Galette

Apple-and-Pear Cornmeal Galette
Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

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.

14 of 40

Apple Muffins

Apple Muffins
Stephen Devries; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

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.

15 of 40

Caramel-Apple Cookies

Caramel Apple Cookies
Photographer: Alison Miksch Food Stylist: Erin Merhar Prop Stylist: Prissy Lee

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.

16 of 40

Instant Pot Applesauce

instant pot apple sauce
Jennifer Causey

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.

17 of 40

Apple Pie Cake

Apple Pie Cake
Photography: Caitlin Bensel, Food Styling: Rishon Hanners

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.

18 of 40

Apple Pie With Rye Crust And Cider Caramel

Apple Pie with Rye Crust and Cider Caramel
Johnny Autry; Food Styling: Keia Mastrianni; Prop Styling: Charlotte L. Autry

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.

19 of 40

Cranberry-Apple Cider

Cranberry-Apple Cider
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Melissa Gray; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

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.

20 of 40

Spiced Apple-Pecan Swirl Bread

Spiced Apple-Pecan Swirl Bread
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner

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.

21 of 40

Apple-Almond Spice Cake With Brown Butter Frosting

Amanda Mack’s Apple-Almond Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
Gabriela Herman

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.

22 of 40

Caramel Apple Cake

Caramel Apple Cake
Hector Manuel Sanchez

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.

23 of 40

Beet, Fennel, and Apple Salad

Beet, Fennel, and Apple Salad
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: William Smith

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.

24 of 40

Apple Cinnamon Bread

Apple Cinnamon Bread
Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Melissa Gray Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

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.

25 of 40

Warm Cinnamon Apples

Warm Cinnamon Apples
Southern Living

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.

26 of 40

Fried Apple Pies

Fried Apple Pies
Photographer: Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Karen Ranking; Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

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.

27 of 40

Ultimate Apple Pie

Ultimate Apple Pie from Buxton Hall
Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Torie Cox

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.

28 of 40

Apple Bread Pudding

Apple Bread Pudding
Helen Norman

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.

29 of 40

Apple Pie with Salted Pine Nut Streusel

Apple Pie with Salted Pine Nut Streusel
Ann Pittman

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.

30 of 40

Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie

Apple Cinnamon Roll Pie
Antonis Achilleos

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.

31 of 40

Arkansas Black Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce

Arkansas Black Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

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.

32 of 40

Caramel Apple Sangria

Caramel Apple Sangria
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Katie Jacobs

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.

33 of 40

Apple Butter-Pecan Quick Bread

Apple Butter-Pecan Quick Bread
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

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.

34 of 40

Chewy Apple-Cran-Oatmeal Cookies

Chewy Apple-Cran-Oatmeal Cookies
Photographer: Greg DuPree, Food Stylist: Emily Neighbors Hall Prop Stylist: Audrey Davis

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.

35 of 40

Apple and Goat Cheese Salad with Candied Pecans

Apple and Goat Cheese Salad with Candied Pecans
Sheri Giblin

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.

36 of 40

Caramel Apple Coffee Cake

Caramel Apple Coffee Cake
Photo: Jennifer Davick

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.

37 of 40

Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Cider Glaze

Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Cider Glaze
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

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.

38 of 40

Apple Spice Cake

Apple Spice Cake
Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Kathleen Varner

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.

39 of 40

Apple Chess Pie

Apple Chess Pie in a brown pie dish
Photo: James Ransom; Food Styling: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

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.

40 of 40

Apple Pie Cookies

Apple Pie Cookies
Micah A. Leal

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.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles