19 Ways to Use Old, Mushy, or Bruised Apples

updated Sep 20, 2023
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Photo of brown sugar apple pan dowdy.
Credit: Kelli Foster

If you find yourself with a less-than-stellar bunch of apples, or extra-soft apples that have been sitting around for a few too many days, don’t worry — it happens to the best of us. Don’t toss them away — not even the ones with the nasty bruises.

Apples that are past their prime might not be great for biting into as an afternoon snack or for a recipe with visible apple slices, but they’ve still got plenty of flavor. Older apples are great for baking (especially if they’re one of the varieties best for baking). As the apples break down during cooking, the remaining liquid is released and the natural sugars concentrate, transforming them into something remarkably delicious. Here are 19 smart uses for your not-so-shapely apples.

Recipes for Bruised Apples

1 / 19
Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars
With three impressive layers, plus a double dose of caramel sauce, these pie bars are a fall dessert you don’t want to miss out on.
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2 / 19
Apple Delight
Packed with five creamy layers of spiced apples, cream cheese, fluffy whipped cream and sweet caramel, this no-bake dessert will make everyone forget all about pie.
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3 / 19
Apple Fritter Cake
Apple fritter cake takes everything you love about the classic donut and turns it into a decadent dessert.
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4 / 19
Applesauce Muffins
These muffins are naturally sweetened and have the most incredible soft, tender texture.
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5 / 19
Brown Sugar Apple Pan Dowdy
Brown sugar-sweetened apples baked under a pastry crust that's been broken into syrup-coated pieces.
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6 / 19
Mini Apple Pies
Just when you thought apple pie couldn't get better, these individual miniature apple pies — baked up in muffin tins — came through to change the game.
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7 / 19
Glazed Apple Fritters
How to make light, pillow-soft deep-fried donuts, stuffed with fresh fall apples.
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8 / 19
Apple Cinnamon Toaster Strudels
These toaster strudels will remind you of the ones you ate growing up, except they're homemade and full of fresh apples with a tangy icing drizzle.
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9 / 19
Apple Crisp
This one-bowl apple crisp recipe is packed with lightly sweetened, warmly spiced apples and finished with a buttery oat topping.
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10 / 19
Apple Pie Granola Bars
These chewy, buttery granola bars are packed with grated apples, warming spices, and toothsome oats — perfect as a lunch-box treat or as breakfast.
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11 / 19
Oatmeal-Brown Sugar Baked Apples
Dressed up with a scoop of ice cream, baked apples are a crowd-pleaser — a good one to have in your back pocket for gluten-free and vegan guests, too.
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12 / 19
Applesauce in the Slow Cooker
Turning apples into apple sauce is easier than you might think — especially when your slow cooker does most of the work for you!
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13 / 19
Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

If you think applesauce is great, just wait until you try apple butter. It’s absolutely amazing! Apple butter is made by slow cooking apples past the point of applesauce, until it becomes a thick, glossy, glorious spread.

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14 / 19
Apple Turnover
A flaky and buttery treat, apple turnovers are simple and delicious. When made with store-bought puff pastry, they work up in no time.
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15 / 19
Steel-Cut Oats with Maple-Roasted Apples and Cheddar

Stirring chunks of apple into oatmeal as it cooks is a nice way to add some extra flavor to your breakfast. Bonus: The apple acts as a natural sweetener. If you’re feeling motivated, we recommend roasting the apples beforehand!

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16 / 19
Classic Double Crust Apple Pie

Fall is not complete without apple pie! This just might be my personal favorite way to use up old apples.

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17 / 19
Apple Zucchini Muffins

Grating apples into muffin batter adds texture to them as well as makes them incredibly moist and tender.

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18 / 19
Apple Dump Cake
For the easiest fall dessert, just dump apple pie filling, cake mix, and butter into a dish and bake!
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19 / 19
Chunky Pork and Apple Stew

Apples pair well with so many different kinds of soups and stews. They play especially nice with parsnips, butternut squash, and even kale. This savory pork stew gets a moment of sweetness from apples.

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What’s your favorite way to use up less-than-perfect apples?