20 Unexpected Ways to Use Apples

Piles of apples in wooden crates at a market

Namthip Muanthongthae / Getty Images

Apparently we've forgiven the once-forbidden apple for its tempting ways and have learned to fully embrace the sweet pomaceous fruit.

Apples are the second most popular fruit (after bananas) in the country. They are grown in every state (meaning they can be local for everyone), and we eat on average 46 pounds of apples and apple products per person annually. How 'bout them apples?

With all those apples, you may need relief from the apple glut and rut while continuing to support your local apple orchard. Apple pie is a treasure, but there's a much bigger world out there -- so when life hands you apples, get adventurous with these fresh spins on the classic.

1. Stack an Apple with Peanut Butter

Peanut butter on apple slices
AlexPro9500 / Getty Images

Apples and peanut butter are a match made in healthy-snack heaven. Sweet, savory, crispy, fat – all the good stuff. You can core an apple and stuff the center and slice it, or you can trick it out like a fancy layer cake.

2. Make a Vegan Apple Berry Crumble

Close up of an apple berry crumble
mtreasure / Getty Images

Baked apple desserts are all too often defined by copious amounts of butter and mountainous dollops of dairy, which is why this Vegan Apple Berry Crumble is a blessing for those who prefer their confections sans animals.

3. Decorate a Tree

Dried apple rings
mike / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

There's something undeniably magical about eschewing plastic baubles on the tree in favor of homemade ornaments. Add in the fragrance and charm of using dried fruit on the tree, like this apple garland from A Smart Mouth, and you may not feel too bad about leaving decorations up until March, again.

4. Add Snap to a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled cheese sandwich with blueberries and apple
Helena Jacoba / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 

There are grilled cheese sandwiches, and then there is this: Grilled Brie Sandwich with Apple and Red Onion Confit. Not much else to say.

5. Use Them to Stamp Things

A halved apple covered in blue and yellow paint being used to stamp paper
Shangita Bose / EyeEm / Getty Images

Ditching the rubber stamp for stamps of the organic variety, like the classic potato stamp, is seriously fun. But who wants a stamp of a potato circle? Behold the apple stamp. Mommy Coddle shows how easy it is to make cute apple shapes of your own.

6. Ripen Unripe Fruit

Several bunches of green bananas
Peter O'Connor aka anemoneprojectors / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Apples give off ethylene, a gas which accelerates ripening. (You can read a more comprehensive account here, one that talks about metabolic pathways, hormones, and synchronized fruit ripening, oh my.) In the meantime, place unripe bananas, avocados, tomatoes, etcetera in a paper bag with an apple and it will take you from green and hard to sweet and tender.

7. Live Longer

Apples in white fruit bowl
Des / Getty Images

The old adage was right, an apple day very well might keep the doctor away. A recent study shows that an apple a day significantly helps the heart.

8. Tweak Traditional Apple Pie by Adding Maple and Cheddar Cheese

Apple pie with latticed pastry on the kitchen counter
Ashley Corbin-Teich / Getty Images

If you'd like to throw caution to the wind and are ready to forget about the vegan apple berry crumble, step on over to the maple-and-cheddar-pie side with this wicked Maple, Apple, and Cheddar Pie.

9. Refresh Your Face

Cheese grater sitting on a plate with grated an apple
Михаил Руденко / Getty Images

Said to reduce inflammation and the appearance of fine wrinkles, apple's pectin is a natural boon to the beauty routine. For a quick way to brighten up your face, grate a peeled and cored apple and apply to skin; let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

10. Revel in Upside-Down Caramel-Apple Muffins

Upside down caramel apple cupcakes
Glory Foods / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

I've always said that muffins are just cupcakes for grown-ups, and this recipe for Upside-Down Caramel-Apple Muffins is absolute proof of my theory. The amount of butter, sugar, and sour cream guarantee that this won't be on any diet lists, but the pound and a half of apples and the walnuts do make it a tad healthier than an insipid cupcake!

11. Keep Cakes and Baked Goods Moist

Apple cut in half
Image Source / Getty Images

By storing cakes and baked treats with half an apple, the moisture of the apple keeps the cake fresh longer. Just be sure to use an airtight container, and voila.

12. Make a Vegan Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Vegan caramel apple cheesecake
Mattie Hagedorn / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 

Kick the Cheesecake Factory monstrosity to the curb and welcome this wholesome, yet decadent, vegan Caramel Apple Cheesecake into your home. It's also gluten-free!

13. Create Cute, Creepy Shrunken Heads

Happy shrunken apple head sitting on a table
TinkerJulie / Getty Images

Tap into your inner headhunter, without having to lop off any heads. Yes, we're not supposed to play with our food, but come on, making shrunken heads once in a while is such a noble art.

14. Make an Apple Oatmeal Face Mask

Rolled Oats in a Bowl
creativeye99 / Getty Images

As mentioned before, the pectin in apples is great for inflammation and wrinkles, but the fruit's alpha-hydroxy acids also work wonders on skin. For a fab face mask, that also employs the moisturizing properties of oatmeal, try this: Grate half a peeled and cored apple and mix with one tablespoon rolled oats, one teaspoon yogurt, and one teaspoon honey. Slather on face and let sit for 10 minutes, rinse with warm water.

15. Bake a Gluten-Free Walnut Apple Cake

Toasted walnuts
magnez2 / Getty Images 

Whoever said gluten-free desserts weren't any fun never had a cake like this gluten-free Walnut Apple Cake. Who needs flour? Pshaw.

16. Make Dried Apples and Apple Chips

Drying apple slices with cinnamon
Cindy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Apples last in cold storage for a very long time so they may not be first priority for drying, but that said, they are excellent candidates for the results they provide. Dried apples retain some chewiness, apple chips are crunchy and make for a fine, fine garnish on desserts and salads. See the how-to here.

17. Flip Some Upside-Down Apple Pancakes

Upside-down apple pancake
Eric Schmuttenmaer / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Apple pancakes? Great idea. Upside-Down Apple Pancakes that are all oozy and gooey and caramelized? A necessity.

18. Make Tealight Holders

several lit tealightcandles
Rinelle / Getty Images

Cored-out apple tealight holders. Why? Because they are really cute and all of your friends will think you are clever.

19. Soften Brown Sugar

Close-Up Of Brown Sugar In Measuring Cup On Wooden Table
Michelle Arnold / EyeEm / Getty Images

Brown sugar loves to transform itself from soft and crumbly into a hard impossible brick. But if you place a slice of apple in a sealed bag with hardened brown sugar and it will be soft again in a few days as the sugar absorbs the moisture of the fruit.

20. Make Apple Infused Vodka

alcohol shot topped with an apple slice covered in cinnamon
5PH / Getty Images

Apple infused vodka means Fuji martinis, Crispin cosmos, Golden Delicious gimlets...to your health!