Easy Scalloped Apples

By Ann Fulton

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An easy-to-make alternative to applesauce that can be enjoyed as a side dish, over oatmeal, mixed with yogurt, or even as a cheater version of apple crisp. (Just sprinkle with granola!)


The inspiration for this recipe goes all the way back to 5th grade and THE BEST after-school playdates.

In the dwindling days of summer that year, I received a phone call that sowed the seeds for a lifelong friendship.  The caller identified herself as the friendly lady who waved to me every morning as she drove by my bus stop on her way to work.  She mentioned that her daughter, Christine, would be transferring to my school in the fall and would be in my grade.  She was hoping that we could meet.

The long and the short of it is that Christine and I became fast friends and enjoyed countless after-school playdates and weekend sleepovers throughout our school years. We needed only our vivid imaginations to fuel the fun as we devised the craziest ways to entertain ourselves.

Without a doubt, my favorite activity involved her family’s laundry chute.  One of us would stand at the top of the chute in Christine’s second floor bathroom, and the other positioned herself beneath the chute opening where it entered the basement.  The girl on the bottom would forcefully bounce a super ball on the floor, directly under the chute, in an attempt to bounce the ball clear up to the girl in the second floor bathroom.  Typically, the ball would ricochet back and forth like crazy, only to fall back to the basement.  But every once in a while, a perfectly straight bounce would float the ball all the way to the second floor where a waiting hand would catch it.  And that was it.  But it was SO MUCH FUN!

Another highlight of playing at Christine’s house after school was the snacks.  They were completely different than the cookie jar basics at my house.  Homemade congo bars and air-popped popcorn were staples.  I was so impressed with Christine’s air popper that I made a deal with my mom.  If I licked all of her Green Stamps and affixed them to those little paper books, I could use as many as needed to buy our family an air popper.  I did it and loved that popper for many years to come.

I also learned to drink tea at Christine’s house and was forever ruined to plain black tea by the milky, sweet version her mom prepared for us.  On really special days, there was a box of scalloped apples stowed in the freezer for us to microwave and enjoy.  The tender, syrupy slices were so different than the typical snack fare in my house.  I considered them a real treat.

With that memory in mind, I make a version for my family that can be enjoyed straight up or as a topping for Greek yogurt or stovetop oatmeal.  For the slightly more adventurous, the warm flavors work well in autumn-inspired overnight oats.  Or simply sprinkle with granola for a shortcut apple crisp.  True to the version Christine and I enjoyed years ago, my recipe is cooked to tender, sweet perfection in the microwave.  This speedy method also eliminates the tendency to scorch associated with the stovetop option.

An easy-to-make alternative to applesauce that can be enjoyed as a side dish, over oatmeal, mixed with yogurt, or even as a cheater version of apple crisp. (Just sprinkle with granola!) Enjoy these tender apples as an option to applesauce, or make a cheater version of apple crisp by sprinkling some of your favorite granola on top.  For a tasty breakfast, we often add a dollop of creamy Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of crunchy granola.
Easy Scalloped Apples
For a little extra spice, try adding 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice or 1/8 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg, and then enjoy these flavorful apples with yogurt, granola, oatmeal--or all by themselves.

Yield: approximately 1 quart or 8 (1/2 cup) servings
  • 8 cups apples* (5-7 apples, depending on size)
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder (leveled off, not rounded)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
  1. Peel and slice or chop the apples, and then place them in a large, microwave-safe bowl. (I use an inexpensive microwave popcorn popper with a vented lid. It’s handy for so many things besides popcorn–and great for that, too!)
  2. Combine the sugar, cornstarch or arrowroot powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples, and toss to thoroughly coat. Dot with the butter, and then cover the bowl and microwave on high for 10-12 minutes or until the apples are tender, stirring every 4-5 minutes. Check for doneness a little early and extend the cooking time if needed to account for differences among microwaves. The apples should be very tender but not mushy–sort of like apple pie filling.
  3. Leftover apples may be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to one week. You may eat them cold or room temperature, although I like to reheat them gently in the microwave.
  • I typically use a mix of sweet apples that are good for baking, like Gala, Honeycrisp, and Golden Delicious. Fuji, Jonathan, and Rome Beauty are other excellent choices. If you use less sweet apples, like Granny Smith, Cortland, Baldwin, and/or Stayman Winesaps, you may want to increase the sugar to 1/3 cup or to taste.
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    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Jan, I grew up hearing both and actually looked into what is “correct” some time ago. Interestingly, both terms are acceptable and widely used. Thanks for your interest.

  1. Phyllis Matheson

    Thanks so much for types of apples used!! The first recipe I found that provided this information. Am so looking forward to trying this recipe. My family loves scalloped apples.

  2. Judy Watson

    Hi Ann,
    I love your Sunday column and today for the first time I am exploring your website, which is amazing. Thanks for sharing.
    In regards to this recipe for Scalloped apples, I prefer not to cook in the microwave as I question how it impacts the nutritional value of foods. Would it be too much of an imposition to request alternative cooking methods in recipes in which you use a microwave?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Judy, I’m delighted you enjoy my column and found your way here as well! Your question is a good one, and I try to offer variations and choices whenever I can. In this case, the microwave version has had the most consistent results but there are options. The recipe can be made in a skillet over low heat. In this case, you may need to add a little water or juice if the apples seem dry. You could also try to bake the apples, tightly covered and stirring once or twice until tender. I was thinking a double boiler might even work well. Cooking times will vary, but if you check occasionally and stop when tender, the apples should turn out beautifully.

  3. Mary Smith

    These apples are also delicious when layered with gingerbread cubes and whipped cream in a trifle bowl. A nice showy fall dessert for just a little effort!

  4. Jill Post author

    I appreciated your memories, Ann — pasting green stamps into their little booklets, fascination with laundry shoots (we didn’t have one at our house either), and my mom’s “stewed” apples!

  5. Alexis M

    Thank you! I have an over abundance of Honey Crisp apples from local orchard. Fairmount Orchard if anyone is interested, located off Goods Rd in Ephrata. I’ve been looking for apple dessert recipe that did not call for cup or more of sugar. Looks like this fits the bill! Can’t wait to try it out.