♫ Listening to: Colors in My Dreams by Qwiet Type ♫
Dried apples are easy to make in the dehydrator or the oven. I bought my dehydrator 15-20 years ago when I lived in Florida and had a mango tree in my yard. This dehydrator has moved with me cross country from Florida to California and then again all around the bay area to my 10 houses I’ve lived in. I love it so much and if you don’t have one, I recommend getting one. However, most things you make in the dehydrator can be made in the oven (or even in some air fryers if it’s a small batch), so this dried apples recipe will give you instructions for both.
Dried apples are a perfect way to use up old apples that have lost their crunch. The mealy consistency of old apples disappears when you dehydrate them, and the result is a chewy and crispy sweet treat. You can even use apples with bruises: just cut off the bad spot before slicing the apple. The result won’t be perfect dried apple rings, but it will still be delicious and less wasteful than if you had composted the whole apple.
Why would you want to dehydrate your own apples? Here are some reasons to dry your own fruit.
- it’s cheaper than buying dried fruit from the store (especially if you have fruit trees or know someone with fruit trees)
- it’s healthier than store-bought dried fruit (oftentimes, dehydrated fruit from the store has added ingredients like sulphur dioxide and even added sugar)
- you can make custom shapes and colors to make them more fun
- if you have kids, they LOVE dried fruit so much that they’ll even offer to help you make them
- they make an excellent treat to share with family, friends, and neighbors
- you can even make fruit roll-ups if you blend your fruit and use teflex sheets with your dehydrator
This recipe makes anywhere from 2-9 apples worth of apple chips, depending on how thick you slice them and how many trays your dehydrator has.
Ingredients for Dried Apples
If you just want dried apples and don’t care about making them colored, the only ingredient you need is apples.
- 2-7 clean apples (for the variety of apples, see the FAQ section below)
- vegan food coloring (optional)
Directions for How To Make Dried Apples
Remove the core from the apples. I use a corer that I’ve had for years. I pretty much only use this tool for coring apples and pineapples. I know some people skip this step because they like the way the apple slices look with that star in the middle, so it’s up to you if you want to core them.
Slice the apples with a mandoline slicer or a large knife if you don’t have one. The mandoline slicer makes this process so much faster! The thickness you choose to slice the apples will have an effect on not only how many apples you need, but also the time it takes to dry the apples, as well as the consistency of those dehydrated apples (crunchy apple chips vs chewy dried apples). Here is what I learned from my tests.
- 1/16” (1.5mm): these are thin like paper, and I found it too difficult to get a complete apple slice - TOO THIN
- ⅛” (3mm): these come out very thin so you only need a couple apples - choose this thickness if you like crispy apple chips, but I advise using parchment paper on your baking trays (or teflex sheets on your dehydrator trays) to keep them from sticking when they dry
- 3/16” (4.5mm): this is my favorite thickness - they come out thin like apple chips, but you don’t have to worry about them breaking because they’re too thin
- ¼” (6mm) - this uses up the most apples so if you’re making these because you have lots of apples to use up, this is the thickness you should go with
Directions for How To Dry Apples in the Oven
Preheat the oven to 225°F (105°C).
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (this will make the apples easier to remove without them breaking).
Fill the parchment paper lined baking sheets with apple slices. They should be touching, but not overlapping. You want to fit as many slices as possible, especially since making these in the oven is already limiting you to the amount of racks your oven has.
This is the point in the recipe when you can flavor or color your dehydrated apples, so if you want to know how to do that, see that section below.
Bake in an oven set to 225°F (105°C) for 1-2 hours, depending on the thickness of your apples and depending how crispy or chewy you like your apple chips.
Flip the apple chips halfway through baking, to make sure the side that was on the parchment paper gets dry too. Return them to the oven after flipping.
Turn off the oven, and check on the apple chips. Taste one. If they’re as crunchy or as chewy as you like them, remove them from the oven. If you’d prefer your apple chips to be crunchier, leave the trays in the oven for another hour while they slowly come to room temperature.
Transfer the apple chips to a jar or tupperware or ziplock bag, only after you’re sure they’ve completely cooled down.
Directions for How To Make Dehydrated Apple Chips in a Dehydrator
Line your dehydrator trays with teflex sheets if you cut your apples ⅛” (3mm) thick or thinner. If you don’t have teflex sheets, you should be able to use parchment paper or any silicone mats. If you cut your apples 3/16” (4.5mm) or ¼” (6mm), you can skip this step.
Fill the dehydrator trays with apple slices. They should be touching, but not overlapping. You want to fit as many slices as possible. I used an excalibur dehydrator and was able to fit one apple per tray when I sliced them 1⁄4” (6mm) thick. When I sliced them 3⁄16” (4.5mm) thick, I fit one and a half apples on each tray. This also depends on the size of your apples–I bought mine from costco, so they were quite large.
This is the point in the process when you can season or color your dehydrated apples, so if you want to know how to do that, see that section below.
Slide the dehydrator trays filled with apple slices back into the dehydrator and set it on the fruit setting: 130ºF (55ºC). If you are trying to preserve the enzymes or you want these dehydrated apples to be considered “raw”, see the FAQ section below for modified instructions.
Dehydrate the apple slices for 7-8 hours. This is how long I dehydrated my thin apple chips (the ones I cut to 3⁄16” or 4.5mm). If you make thicker apple chips, you’ll want to dehydrate them longer. If they’re not as crunchy as you want them after 7-8 hours, check on the apple chips every couple of hours for doneness. It’s important that they dehydrate all the way through for food safety issues. However, the good news is that if you have to go to sleep and have a period of time where you can’t keep checking on your apple chips, that’s ok. I’ve forgotten about my apple chips so many times because I keep my dehydrator in the garage, making it easily forgettable. “Too dry” isn’t really a problem. The apple chips just get crunchier the longer they’re in the dehydrator.
Transfer the apple chips to a jar or tupperware or ziplock bag, only after you’re sure they’ve completely cooled down.
Directions for How To Flavor Dried Apples
Sprinkle your favorite apple spice all over your apple slices after you line your trays with apple slices. You can try pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, or anything else you have that you think would be a good dried apple seasoning. I prefer mine plain, but my daughter liked hers with cinnamon.
Paint your apple slices with lemon juice or pure cranberry juice if you’re using a sweet apple and you want the apple chips to taste more tart. You can use a silicone basting brush for this.
Directions for How To Make Rainbow Colored Dried Apples
Paint your apple slices with all-natural vegan food coloring using food-safe vegan paint brushes (you can use any art paint brush you have, but just make sure you wash it really well first). Do this step once all your apple slices are on their trays ready to be dehydrated. I used 2 brands of vegan food coloring for mine to make sure that I used all the colors of the rainbow, and they both came out great: TruColor and Exberry. You can also use highly pigmented fruit juice, like pomegranate, if you just want to make them all one color, but I really wanted mine to be rainbow colored.
If you make this recipe, snap a pic, post to instagram, and tag me @vegandollhouse. I love to see your creations! You can also message me through instagram or email me if you have any questions about the recipe.
Tip 1: How to Use Your Apple Chips
If you have kids helping you take the apple chips out of the dehydrator (sometimes you have to peel the apple rings off the dehydrator trays), there’s a chance some of the dried apples may break when they’re being removed from the dehydrator trays. Don’t worry though. There are lots of ways to use those broken pieces of dehydrated apples.
- add them to trail mix
- take them on a hike, a run, a picnic, or when you go camping
- add them to oatmeal
- add them to vegan yogurt
Does it matter what kind of apples I use for dehydrating?
Honestly, no. I mean, different varieties of apples will of course affect the flavor of your apple chips. For instance, my favorite kind of apple is pink lady because it’s the perfect mix of tart and sweet. But, the nice thing about dried apples is that you can even use an apple that’s normally not a good eating apple (like gross red and golden delicious apples) because the mealy consistency of those apple varieties disappears when you dehydrate them, and the result is a chewy or crispy sweet treat.
If you want pretty pink apple rings without having to color them, look for pink pearl or rosetta apples. Those apple varieties are both naturally pink inside and very pretty.
What about the enzymes? Isn’t it true that if we dry our apple chips at a temperature above 115º that the enzymes die?
Yes, that is true. If you are trying to preserve the enzymes in the dehydrated apples or are making these for someone on a raw food diet, follow the instructions for using a dehydrator instead of an oven, but reduce the temperature on your dehydrator to 110º just to be safe, and increase your drying time from 7 hours to 10 hours.
How long do they keep?
Once your dried apples are in an air-tight tupperware, they can stay good for a couple of months, however, I notice my apple chips start to lose their crunch within a few days. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat them quickly enough, you can always keep them in the freezer for a year. This freezer method might work well if you have an apple tree and are trying to preserve a large amount of apples at once.
I forgot about my apple chips in the pantry for over a month, and they’ve started to get soft and lost their crispiness. Is there anything I can do?
We’ve all forgotten about food in the fridge or pantry when it gets pushed behind something, amiright? There are a couple of options for how to get them crispy again. You can either return them to the dehydrator or oven to recrisp up, or you can stick them in the freezer for a couple of hours and eat them frozen (with the freezer method, you have to eat them right away though).
Can I eat these If I’m on a special diet?
I vote yes, but I guess it depends on your diet! This recipe is gluten free, egg free, dairy free, nut free, soy free, corn free, vegan, and plant based. I believe it’s also allowable for the following commercial diets: slimming world, weight watchers, whole30, and paleo. If you’re on a raw food diet, follow the dehydrator instructions above (not the oven instructions), but change the temperature to 110º and dehydrate them for an additional few hours.
Can I peel my apples before I slice them?
Your apples, your rules, haha. Seriously though, apple skins are good for you, so if you’re making this snack because you want to have a healthy snack, I recommend leaving the skins on. If you’re making these because you want a pretty snack and you think the peels are taking away from that aesthetic that you’re going for, by all means, you do you. Who am I to stand in the way of art?
Can I make apple chips in my air fryer?
Certainly! I’m always a proponent of using your air fryer instead of your oven when possible, because it cooks things faster, and therefore uses less energy, and is therefore better for the environment (unless you get all your power from solar energy). The problem for me with making apple chips in the air fryer is that my air fryer basket is small, so I could only make a few apple chips. It hardly seems worth the effort, but I guess if you have a toddler who leaves a lot of leftovers on their plate, this could be a good way to preserve some old leftover apple slices. Set the temperature of your air fryer to 325º and leave the apple chips in the air fryer for 10-20 minutes, depending how thick you sliced them.