Apple Dumplings (Grandma’s Recipe) – A Couple Cooks

This apple dumplings recipe is truly the best! Tender, cinnamon-spiced apples are baked in a flaky pastry crust.

Apple Dumplings

Want to make dumplings? Have we got the recipe for you. Introducing…Grandma’s Old Fashioned apple dumplings recipe! Yes, this really is Grandma’s recipe: we worked with Alex’s mom to adapt her famous fall favorite for your home kitchen. Tender, cozy-spiced apples are baked up in a flaky pasty crust with a spiced brown sugar syrup. The result is a revelation: there’s a reason Grandma is famous for these! Here’s what you need to know to make the very best apple dumplings.

About this apple dumplings recipe

Apple dumplings are a dessert of apples that are baked or boiled wrapped in pastry crust. They originated in England in the early 1700’s, then later spread to America where they become popular. Each cook has their own way of making an apple dumpling. A common method is to core apples, place sugar and cinnamon inside, wrap them in pastry crust, and bake in a spiced sugar syrup.

This apple dumplings recipe is truly Grandma’s famous recipe: Alex’s mom makes these dumplings every fall in huge batches and sells them to the surrounding farm community. People come from far and wide to get ahold of them! So we were excited to work with her to share the secret family recipe! Here we’ve adapted her original recipe for 26 dumplings to make a pan of 6.

Apple Dumplings

How to make apple dumplings: an overview

Here’s the basic outline of what you’re getting yourself into with this apple dumplings recipe. The process takes about 2 ½ hours total. This recipe makes a pan of 6 dumplings; you can multiply it as desired. You can refrigerate or freeze leftovers. Here’s an outline of what you’ll have to do (jump to the recipe for full details):

Mix the pastry dough15 minutes active
Rest30 minutes to 1 hour, hands off
Make the apple filling~30 minutes active (during rest time)
Assemble the dumplings20 to 30 minutes active
Bake the dumplings1 hour

Best apples to use

This apple dumplings recipe works with many different types of apples. Because it’s a rustic family recipe, Alex’s mom has made it with just about every variety from any tree in the surrounding area. This is a great recipe for apples from apple picking, and it works with most types of purchased apples. However, here are a few things to note:

  • Crisp tart apple varieties work best. They hold their texture inside the pastry crust, and a tart finish makes for the best flavor (in our opinion). Varieties we like are Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and Jonathon or Jonagold.
  • Soft apple varieties are harder to work with. Stay away from apple varieties like Gala or Red Delicious, which can fall apart when you’re working with them.
Apple Dumplings recipe

How to cut apples for apple dumplings

The only part of this apple dumpling recipe that requires a little technique? Peeling, coring and slicing the apples. An apple peeler-corer-slicer is the quickest and easiest way to accomplish this. There are many manual versions of this tool, and also a type that connects to a stand mixer (which we used here).

You can also peel and cut the apples manually with a vegetable peeler and knife. The trick to cutting the apples is to cut around and pull out the core, then cutting the apples into 1/8th inch slices width wise. See the photos below! We tried it both ways and it worked with either. The machine makes it look very professional, but you won’t notice in the finished dumpling.

Apple Dumplings
Apple preparation methods: peeler-corer-slicer vs vegetable peeler and knife (background). Either works!

How to form apple dumplings

The other tricky part of apple dumplings: how to form them! Here are a few tips:

  • Fill: Take the apple and place spiced sugar and a small pat of butter inside the hole where the core was.
  • Roll: Roll out the dough to a circle about 8 inches in diameter and place the apple on top.
  • Fold: Fold up the sides to wrap the apple in pastry. Gently press the top to seal. This apple dumplings recipe is very rustic, so don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. See the photos below!
Apple Dumplings
Apple Dumplings recipe

Multiply the recipe as desired

This apple dumplings recipe is adapted from Grandma’s original recipe that makes 26 dumplings: intended for giving away, selling, or freezing the leftovers. The recipe below makes 6 dumplings, but you can double, triple, or quadruple it as needed to make 12, 18, or 24 dumplings.

Storage info for apple dumplings

Got leftover apple dumplings or using them to give away? These dumplings are delicious cold, room temperature, or warm. (We actually loved eating leftover refrigerated dumplings cold!) Here’s what to know about dumpling storage:

  • Refrigerate dumplings for up to 1 week. To reheat, place in a 250 degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes until warmed through.
  • Freeze dumplings for up to 6 months. Place the dumplings in a freezer safe container, wrap it in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and then plastic wrap again. Per Grandma, this should last for up to 1 year (though we suggest 6 months to be on the safe side). Reheat frozen dumplings in a 250 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes until warmed through. Or, you can microwave them!

Dietary notes

This apple dumplings recipe is vegetarian. But it can easily be made vegan by using vegan butter! This type of butter works well as a substitute in vegan pastry crusts and desserts. For gluten-free, you can certainly try 1-for-1 gluten-free flour, but we haven’t tested this swap.

Serving apple dumplings

Last up: serving apple dumplings! This recipe is perfect for a fall dessert or winter dessert, great for Thanksgiving, Christmas or other family gatherings. These little balls of goodness are so tasty, you don’t need any toppings. However, serving with a bit of vanilla ice cream takes it to the next level. Or, you can add other toppings! Here are some ideas:

More apple desserts

The fall and winter are perfect for tasty treats with apples! Here are a few more apple desserts you’ll love:

This apple dumplings recipe is…

Vegetarian. For vegan, use vegan butter.


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This apple dumplings recipe is truly the best! Tender, cinnamon-spiced apples are baked in a flaky pastry crust.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter*
  • ½ cup milk


  • 6 medium crisp tart apples 
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter


  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork until a pebbly texture forms (with butter chunks about the size of peas). Add the milk and stir to combine, adding more milk by the tablespoon until the dough comes together (we usually add about 2 more tablespoons). Divide the dough into 6 equal balls (about 100 g each). Place in a covered container and refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  3. Peel the apples, then cut out the cores with a knife. Slice the apples into 1/8th thick rings width-wise, so the apple can stack after being cut (see the photos above). You can do this with an apple peeler-corer-slicer, or by hand. Check to make sure there are no extra seeds left inside the apple slices. 
  4. In a small bowl, mix the filling ingredients: granulated sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. Cut the 3-tablespoon piece of butter into 6 small stick shapes that fit inside the hole in the center of the apple. 
  5. Remove the dough from the fridge. Roll out one piece of dough wide enough to cover the apple when folded, about 8 inches in diameter. Place an apple in the center. Place 1 butter pat and 1 tablespoon of spiced sugar into the center of the apple. Wrap the dough up and around the apple from each side. Pinch the top gently to seal. Repeat for each dumpling, placing the finished dumplings in an ungreased 9 x 13” pan. 
  6. Bake the dumplings for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the syrup: bring the brown sugar, water, cinnamon and butter to a boil, stirring often, then remove from the heat. 
  7. After the first 15 minutes of bake time, spoon a few tablespoons of the syrup over each dumpling, using about half of the syrup. Bake for another 30 minutes, then spoon the remaining syrup over the dumplings. Bake for a final 15 minutes (to make a total of 1 hour bake time). Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream.


*For vegan, substitute vegan butter, which works well as a substitute in pastry crusts and desserts. 

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Apple dumplings, apple dumpling recipe, apple dumpling, apple dumplings recipe

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