From morning to night, almost every day of the year, Cracker Barrel serves buttery skillet-fried apples scooped into cafeteria-style side dishes to weary travelers along America's highways. The sweet and warmly spiced pie-style filling stands alone without the crutch of the crust.
But even if your highway exit doesn't have the rocking chair-flanked brown barn and country-kitsch retail store, you can make a hot skillet of fried apples in less time than it takes to beat me in a round of checkers.
Skillet Fried Apples: Watch the Video
The Best Apples for Skillet Fried Apples
Golden Delicious apples are a supermarket mainstay, winning high marks for their soft flesh and honey-like flavor. This all-purpose apple holds its shape better than a traditional cooking apple, such as McIntosh or Rome, but doesn't have the structure or crispness that a Granny Smith or Pink Lady does. So it's not surprising that Cracker Barrel uses this classic apple variety, considering its fried apples have been on the menu for over 35 years and haven't changed one bit.
How to Make Cracker Barrel's Skillet Fried Apples
Leaving the peel on and slicing the apples into thick 1-inch wedges helps Golden Delicious apples keep their shape when cooked. I like to use a 12-inch cast iron skillet for this recipe, which, thanks to its wide surface area, keeps the apples from piling onto one another and ensures they cook evenly. The wedges simmer in sweetened and spiced apple juice, and once they're soft you'll thicken the juice with a cornstarch slurry until it coats the apples.
Better-Than-Cracker-Barrel Skillet Fried Apples
Prep time: 5 minutes ; cooking time: 18 minutes
(1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds
Golden Delicious apples (about 3 large), cored and sliced 1-inch thick
packed light brown sugar
freshly grated nutmeg
plus 2 tablespoons apple juice or apple cider, divided
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Toss to coat the apples in the butter and spices. Pour in 1/4 cup of the apple juice.
Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very tender but not falling apart, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a serving bowl, leaving any liquid in the skillet.
Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons apple juice together in a small bowl until smooth. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the skillet, and whisk until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Pour the syrup over the apples, toss to coat, and serve warm.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.