How to Core an Apple Without an Apple Corer

updated Sep 15, 2023
How to Core an Apple
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apple being cored on a cutting board, one step of process
Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Olivia Mack McCool

Do you need an apple corer to core an apple? Sounds obvious, but the answer is actually … no! You can definitely core an apple without a specific coring tool. In fact, by using a paring knife, you will have greater control over the task. You can even use a paring knife to core an apple in two different ways — something a one-trick pony, like a corer, can’t do. 

How to Core an Apple with a Paring Knife

Apple corers are quick and easy to use. But they don’t do much more than core apples. If you don’t have an apple corer, or don’t want to use one, you’ll need a cutting board and a sharp paring knife to get the job done. 

There are two different methods for removing the core, stem, and seeds of an apple. The first method keeps the bottom intact, so you can stuff and bake the apples. The second removes the entire core, from top to bottom; this technique is helpful for apple rings or pieces. Once you’ve removed any stickers from your apple and given them a rinse, you can proceed to the next steps.

Method One: How to Core an Apple for Baked Stuffed Apples

Use this method to hollow out the apple for stuffing and baking. First, set the apple on its side and slice off a 1/4-inch-thick piece of the bottom. Set that piece aside. 

Turn the apple upside-down on a cutting board. The wider top actually makes a more stable base, which is helpful for keeping the apples upright while they bake. Use your paring knife to carve away at the center of the apple, being sure not to cut all the way through to the board. You can use a small spoon to help you scoop out the center.

It’s up to you to determine how much of the apple you want to scoop out. The more you remove, the more room you’ll have for filling (like oats, nuts, and brown sugar). To smooth the cut edges of the apple, run the side of your spoon around the center, like you were scraping out a jack-o’-lantern. 

You’re now ready to stuff the apple and bake it. You can discard the center, but keep the bottom portion you sliced off — it makes a nice hat for your apples!

Method Two: How to Core an Apple All the Way Through

This method does the work of a traditional apple corer: It removes the entire core, all the way through.

Set the apple upright on your cutting board. Next, hold the apple steady with your non-dominant hand. Use the other hand to make four incisions around the center of the stem. Each cut should be equidistant from the center, about 1/4 inch, depending on the size of the apple. As you make the cuts, wiggle the blade of the knife straight downward, so you’re slicing deep into the apple.

Turn the apple upside-down and repeat the process on the bottom. As you slice into the apple, try to make contact with the existing cuts. You’ll know you’ve met them when the knife slides easily through on each side.

Set down the knife and use your thumb to push the core up from the bottom. If it doesn’t budge, reinsert the knife to complete the cuts. Once the core is loose, it will easily pop up and out of the apple. You can use the paring knife to clean up any rough edges. Now you’re ready to slice the apple into rings, or cut it into pieces.

Tips for Coring an Apple with a Paring Knife

Before you core your apples, take a moment to review the recipe you plan on using. Sometimes, the core should be fully removed, as in the second technique — this is the case for recipes that require apple slices, rings, or chunks. (In this instance, you could use an apple coring tool instead of a paring knife; either one works.)

If you’re planning on stuffing and baking the apples, however, be sure to keep the bottom intact by using the first method. If you cut all the way through, the filling will seep out of the apple as it bakes. 

It also helps to have a very sharp knife. This not only makes the task easier and quicker, but it’s safer, too. A sharp knife won’t get stuck in the flesh of the apple, so you don’t need to saw or hack at the fruit to get the job done. Keeping an electric knife sharpener in your cabinet or pantry is a good idea for maintaining sharp blades. This knife sharpener is small but powerful, and incredibly easy to use. 

Baking Recipes for Cored Apples

  • Cheesecake Stuffed Baked Apples: This recipe contains many of our favorite words, and it delivers big-time on flavor. The graham cracker crumble tastes like a homemade crust, and has the added bonus of covering up any imperfect knifework.
  • Baked Apples 5 Ways: Can’t choose a favorite baked apple? This recipe contains five dessert-worthy spins on a classic baked apple. For the best result, use crisp and firm apples, like Jonagold or Fuji.
  • Microwaved Baked Apples: Nope, you don’t need to turn on the oven to make baked apples. Once you’ve cored and stuffed your apples, it’s as easy as turning on the microwave. Well … almost. This recipe contains seven smart tips for the ultimate fall dessert. 
  • Oven-Dried Apple Rings: If you’ve cored your apples all the way through, you’re well on your way to homemade apple chips. Use this recipe to dry them in the oven — no dehydrator required.

How to Core an Apple

Prep time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • Apples

Equipment

  • Paring knife

Instructions

Show Images

Method 1: How to Core an Apple for Baked Stuffed Apples

  1. First, set the apple on its side and slice off a 1/4-inch-thick piece of the bottom. Set that piece aside.

  2. Turn the apple upside-down on a cutting board. Use your paring knife to carve away at the center of the apple, being sure not to cut all the way through to the board. You can use a small spoon to help you scoop out the center.

  3. To smooth the cut edges of the apple, run the side of your spoon around the center, like you were scraping out a jack-o'-lantern.

Method 2: How to Core an Apple All the Way Through

  1. Set the apple upright on your cutting board. Next, hold the apple steady with your non-dominant hand.

  2. Use the other hand to make four incisions around the center of the stem. Each cut should be equidistant from the center, about 1/4 inch, depending on the size of the apple. As you make the cuts, wiggle the blade of the knife straight downward, so you’re slicing deep into the apple.

  3. Turn the apple upside-down and repeat the process on the bottom. As you slice into the apple, try to make contact with the existing cuts. You’ll know you’ve met them when the knife slides easily through on each side.

  4. Set down the knife and use your thumb to push the core up from the bottom. If it doesn’t budge, reinsert the knife to complete the cuts. Once the core is loose, it will easily pop up and out of the apple.

  5. You can use the paring knife to clean up any rough edges. Now you’re ready to slice the apple into rings, or cut it into pieces.