Oh-So-Comforting Apple Dumplings

Apple dumplings are the ultimate homemade dessert, and we've got a custard topping that takes them to the next level.

Updated December 29, 2023
Apple dumplings with sugar syrup

All it takes is one whiff of apple dumplings baking in your oven to know you're making the ultimate comfort food. Our apple dumpling recipe doesn't skimp on any of the good stuff either. We're talking a simple homemade pastry, tender and tempting apples, and a bonus custard sauce for added sweetness.

Classic Apple Dumpling Recipe

Grab your rolling pin, some apples, and a few other ingredients and tools. This simple recipe makes six dumplings.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12⅔ tablespoons (⅔ cup + 2 tablespoons) cold butter-flavored shortening or unsalted butter
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice cold water (for pastry crust)
  • 6 (three-inch diameter) stemmed, peeled, and cored baking apples like Granny Smith, Rome Beauty, Braeburn, or Gala
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons dark or light raisins
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1⅓ cups water (for filling)


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. 
  2. In a food processor or large bowl, whiz together flour and salt to start making the dough for the crust. Cut in the shortening or butter by pulsing or using a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles small peas.
  3. Sprinkle the dough with 1 tablespoon cold water at a time, mixing and adding more water as necessary until you can form the dough into a clump. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
  4. Rub lemon juice on the outside of each peeled and cored apple and set aside. In a small bowl, mix raisins and nuts and set aside.
  5. Remove the pastry crust from the refrigerator. Sprinkle a work surface lightly with flour. Roll dough to ¼-inch thickness and cut it into six squares (each measuring 3½ inches on a side).
  6. Place one apple on each of the squares. Fill the center of each apple with reserved raisin-nut mixture.
  7. Dab the corners of the pastry squares with a small amount of water or egg white. Bring two opposite corners of dough up over the apple without tearing the dough and press together. Repeat with the remaining corners until the apple is fully encased. If desired, use pastry dough scraps to make small leaves and adhere to the top of the apple with a dab of water or egg white.
  8. Place apple dumplings in a 13x9-inch baking dish (preferably glass so you can see when the bottom is fully baked) and refrigerate while you make the sugar syrup.
  9. In a small saucepan, heat the light brown sugar and 1⅓ cups water until it comes to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove the dumplings from the refrigerator and pour the sugar water in the pan around the dumplings carefully so they don't topple over.
  10. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, spooning syrup over apples at least twice during the baking. When the crust is browned and the apples are tender when pierced with a thin-bladed knife (not a butter knife), remove them from the oven.
  11. Serve warm with pan syrup or custard sauce (see below) or garnish with vanilla ice cream, cinnamon ice cream, or whipped heavy cream.
Quick Tip

Instead of using pastry dough to encase the apples, try homemade or purchased puff pastry or phyllo dough (we're all for saving time with purchased dough). If wheat is a problem, try a gluten-free apple dumpling recipe.

Easy Custard Sauce for Apple Dumplings (Optional)

We're not telling you you have to make this custard sauce for the dumplings, but we do think it's a pretty great addition. Don't stress if you haven't made a custard before; it's simple.


  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 4 large room-temperature egg yolks
  • 4 ounces sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla


  1. Heat the half-and-half in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until bubbles form around the edges.
  2. While the half-and-half is heating, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 4 ounces of sugar until they are pale yellow and have thickened to the ribbon stage. Add cornstarch and vanilla, whisking until smooth.
  3. In a steady, slow stream, pour the heated half-and-half into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat over low, still whisking constantly, until the custard coats the back of a spoon.
  4. Remove from the heat and, if lumps are present, strain into a heatproof bowl. Serve warm or cold.

Comforting and Tasty Dumplings for Dessert

A good apple dumpling recipe and a little time are all it takes to make this ultra-comforting and oh-so-tasty dessert. It's the perfect thing to make for family, but we won't tell anyone if you make it just for you. Consider it self-care.

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Oh-So-Comforting Apple Dumplings