Dehydrated Apple Crisp Apple crisp is one of my favorite desserts and I was dying to make a dehydrated apple crisp. It took a lot of trial and error to come up with this recipe. I initially removed the sugar from the apples, but they were too tart for me. So, I opted to replace the sugar with brown sugar instead. This made the apples nice and slightly sweet, which were covered in a delicious crumble topping!
Apple Crisp Backpacking Dessert
After a long day of backpacking, nothing hits the spot quite like a sweet treat! This DIY apple crisp is lightweight and quick cooking in camp.
When it comes to backpacking, it’s all about the small things: a fresh pair of socks, switching into a new t-shirt or preparing our favorite meal at the end of the day.
And one thing, in particular, can really pick us up after a long day: dessert!
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Most hikers tend to overlook dessert as a meal because they don’t want to carry any more weight than absolutely necessary.
Especially for gram counting ultralight hikers – who look at food exclusively as fuel – dessert just doesn’t factor into the equation.
Additionally, prepackaged freeze-dried meals can be expensive, so including desserts into the meal plan just isn’t in the budget for many.
However, this apple crisp is both cheap, lightweight, and—in our opinion—totally worth it.
By using ingredients we found at the grocery store—dried apples, granola, brown sugar, and spices—this two person dessert came out to about $2 a serving. You could do it for less if you dehydrate your own apples!
As for weight, it came in around 5.2 ounces total. Now, it might not be a trade everyone is willing to make, but at the end of a long, hard day, we would happily carry extra 5.2 ounces and pay a few bucks for the chance to enjoy a warm, cozy dessert like this.
So for your next overnight trip, consider treating yourself to this quick and easy dessert. It’s cheap to make, light to carry, and takes less than 5 minutes to cook on site. Life’s short, eat dessert!
Backpacker’s Apple Crisp
An easy backpacking dessert, this Apple Crisp is a fun way to end a day of hiking.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
- 1 ½ cup (1 oz) freeze-dried apples
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅓ cup granola
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- Place the freeze-dried apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in a sealable bag. In a second bag, place the granola and the walnuts.
- Empty the apple mix into your cookpot. Add about 3 oz water to the pot and stir. Light your stove, then cook over a medium-low flame until the apples have softened, the sugar dissolves, and the liquid thickens a bit, stirring often and adding more water if needed.
- Once the apple mixture is ready, remove the pot from the heat and sprinkle the granola and walnuts over the top. Grab your spork and dig in!
We used a package of freeze-dried Fuji apples from Trader Joe’s for this recipe. If you don’t have access to a Trader Joe’s, you could sub with oven dried apples (just reduce the water a bit when cooking).
2 zip top baggies Cook pot Spoon Backpacking stove
Nutrition (Per Serving)
*Nutrition is an estimate based on information provided by a third-party nutrition calculator
HOW TO DEHYDRATE APPLES (DEHYDRATOR, OVEN, AND AIR FRYER APPLE CHIPS)
How to dehydrate apples three ways: oven-baked or dehydrator apple chips (or leathery dried apple slices in a few hours) OR air fryer apple chips (in under 15 minutes)! Dehydrated apple chips are a delicious and nutritious snack and lunchbox addition!
Whether you have access to an apple tree, a cheap source of apples, or simply love the idea of these dried apple chips, this method for how to dehydrate apples is the perfect way to preserve this fruit. Plus, it makes for a delicious homemade dried apple chips snack, too (and encourages more fruit-eating!)
In fact, these dehydrated apple chips will last up to a year when stored properly, and thanks to the process of reducing their size, you can make tons of dehydrated apple chips with a relatively small amount of storage space required. Plus, using any of the methods mentioned below (baked apple chips, dehydrator apple chips, and air fryer apple chips) allows you to enjoy crispy or slightly leathery dried apple rings (if cooked/dehydrated for less time)!
Best of all, these dehydrated apple chips are healthier than many snacks with no added sugar (unless you want to), no oil, and tons of flavor. It helps that they’re super diet-friendly too: gluten-free, low carb, paleo, whole30, vegan, sugar-free, keto, etc.!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Apples: you can use any variety of apple you like to make this dried apple chips recipe, but I prefer to avoid super juicy apples. However, if you want to avoid adding extra sugar, I recommend using naturally sweeter varieties like Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala, and Golden Delicious apples. For sharper flavors, use varieties like Jonagold’s, Granny Smith, McIntosh, etc. The flavor will concentrate as it dehydrates.
WAYS TO FLAVOR THE DRIED APPLE CHIPS
- Cinnamon: dried cinnamon apples and cinnamon apple chips are a favorite of mine. Sprinkle the slices fairly liberally with cinnamon (amount needed will vary based on batch size). Start with ¼ teaspoon and increase if needed.
- Nutmeg: a tiny pinch of nutmeg alongside the cinnamon makes for wonderfully “warm” nutmeg-cinnamon apple chips!
- Pumpkin pie spice: I use homemade pumpkin spice for warming autumnal flavor.
- Caramel apple chips: use a small amount of caramel sauce (or vegan caramel sauce), watered down slightly, to brush over the apple slices. I have only tried this with baked apple chips (so air fryer apple chips should also be fine), but I haven’t tried it with dehydrator apple chips yet.
- Other spices: ginger powder, cardamom, or some cocoa powder could also be interesting with these homemade apple chips (either alone or added to the cinnamon apple chips).
- Sugar: I find the dehydrated apple chips sweet enough on their own, but it really depends on what type of apple you’re using. If you have a sweet tooth, feel free to toss the apple slices with a bit of sugar (regular, brown sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, maple sugar, etc.) before dehydrating.
HOW TO MAKE APPLE CHIPS?
FIRST, PREPARE THE APPLES
First, wash and dry the apples well. Then, using either a sharp knife or mandoline, thinly slice the apple into 1/8 inch rounds.
Optionally core any slices with seeds or leave them be; it’s up to you. You could also core and cut the rounds into smaller slices. That way, you’ll be able to add more to the dehydrator/oven tray.
It’s important to cut them at an even thickness to dry evenly. So I recommend using a mandolin slicer when possible.
If you’re using any seasoning, add that now too and toss with the apple slices. It can help to add the spices/sugar to a bit of lemon juice, so they coat the slices better.
DEHYDRATOR APPLE CHIPS
I love making dehydrated apple chips when I have a large batch to make (since my machine has multiple shelves) and want a reasonably hands-off method.
Arrange the apple slices onto the dehydrator tray/s in a single layer, avoiding overlapping.
Dehydrate the apple chips at 125ºF/52ºC for 4-6 hours for leathery/pliable dried apple OR up to 8-10 hours (up to 12 depending on the batch size and individual machine) for crisp apple chips (remember they will crisp up even more as they dry and cool outside of the dehydrator).
If you’re making several shelves, I recommend rotating the trays once halfway.
The exact time will vary based on the thickness of the slices, if you soaked them in a citrus pre-treatment, the climate where you live, how big of a batch you’ve prepared, etc. I recommend checking on them once every 40 minutes after the 3-hour mark.
BAKED APPLE CHIPS
Spread the sliced apple on parchment-lined baking trays in a single layer, avoiding overlapping.
Dry in the oven for between 2-3 hours at 180ºF/80ºC, flipping the pieces every 30 minutes and blotting them with a paper towel.
It can help to keep the door cracked open slightly (with a wooden spoon, for example) to allow the steam to escape as the apples dry. However, this will cause the process to take longer.
The dehydrated apples in the oven should be fairly dry already at this point but will crisp up even further when cooled. If, after cooling, the baked apple chips still have a slight bend to them (rather than snapping), return them to the over in 20-minute increments.
AIR FRYER APPLE CHIPS
Air fryer apple chips are similar to baked but in smaller batches, and in far less time as we’re cooking rather than slowly dehydrating the apples.
First, allow your air fryer to preheat (check the temperatures below). Then place the apple slices in the bottom of your basket without overlapping. Then cook the apples at:
- 350ºF/180ºC for 8-10 minutes, flipping twice during the process.
- I’ve also tried a method at 300ºF/150ºC for 14-16 minutes, flipping 3 times (every 4 minutes), that worked really well with slightly less heat.
Once ready, transfer the air-fried apple chips to a drying rack and allow them to completely cool (they’ll crisp up further as they do). With this method, they may still look a little “wet” when you remove the slices from the air fryer. However, they should crisp up as they cool. If they aren’t to your liking, you can return them to the air fryer for slightly longer.
HOW TO STORE DRIED APPLES?
Store: first, allow the homemade apple chips to cool entirely (otherwise, they can cause steam and early spoilage). Then, transfer the dried apple chips to an airtight container (I use a glass jar), and store them in a cool, dark location out of direct sunlight for 6-8 months! If you’ve made a large batch, we recommend storing them in several containers so you don’t expose the entire batch to oxygen/liquid (in the air) each time you want to use any.
Store Air Fryer apple chips: this is slightly different since the apple is cooked rather than dehydrated. Store in an airtight container for up to a week at room temperature or slightly longer in the fridge.
In the first week after drying the apples, check for moisture in the container (condensation, etc.) and shake them often. If there is, then repeat the drying process for a little longer. Otherwise, the entire batch of dried apples will become moldy.
Freeze: while freezing is possible, it’s ESPECIALLY important to avoid any moisture coming into contact with the dehydrated apple chips. First, I recommend placing them in an airtight Ziplock bag and then placing that bag within an airtight freezer-safe container. This way, you can store the homemade apple chips for 12+ months!
HOW TO USE DEHYDRATED APPLE CHIPS?
- As a snack, straight from the jar
- Crumble over smoothie bowls or oatmeal/ overnight oats
- Rehydrate to add to recipes like pies and bread
- Rehydrate to make dried applesauce
- Crush into granola bars and add to homemade granola
- Mix into no-bake snacks
- Use to make a healthy apple trail mix
- Add to yogurt bowls (dairy or coconut/almond/soy yogurt) with granola
- Add to tea for extra flavor – like ginger tea or green tea
- Grind into a powder to use as a sweetener or to roll energy balls in, etc.
Let me know how you enjoy these homemade dried apple chips in the comments!
Are apple chips healthy?
Absolutely (when eaten in moderation)! Especially if you don’t add any extra sugar to them. When dehydrating, they also retain almost all of their nutrients too! (less so for the air fryer apple chips, but even those are a great way to encourage extra fruit-eating!).
Do you have to peel apples before dehydrating them?
Can I avoid the apple browning?
You’ll need to pre-treat the apples in a solution with either citric acid or lemon juice to avoid oxidization. Combine 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or ¼ teaspoon citric acid powder) per cup of water and allow the slices to soak for 10 minutes. Then pat dry (rinse the slices first if you used citric acid). Note that this method adds extra liquid to the slices, affecting the dehydration time.
Can you air dry the apple slices?
While it is possible, I don’t recommend it unless you live in a warm, dry climate. You can thread the apple slices onto string (with space in between) and hang somewhere warm in the house (near a fireplace, if you have one/are using it) but away from direct sunlight. This method can take several days to dry the apples, though, and they’ll need to be pre-treated to reduce the amount of browning.
How do you rehydrate apple slices?
Use 1 cup of boiling water (or juice if you want extra flavor) per cup of dehydrated apple chips and allow them to soak until fully rehydrated (between 30-60 minutes).
Why have my dried apple chips shriveled up?
This is pretty normal for dried apples. However, it will happen more with softer, juicer apple varieties. I recommend using firmer, denser apples to avoid this, like Pink Lady, Fuji, or McIntosh.
What is the yield of fresh to dry apples?
I’ve found that between 2.5-3lbs of fresh apples will fill a quart jar.
What is the best method for dehydrating apples?
There are pros and cons to all the methods included (As well as air drying the apple slice). For example:
Air drying: this is a simple, hands-off method that requires no equipment (or electricity). However, it relies on the heat and sun, which can be variable and will be impacted by weather and climate (And can take between 3-7 days to fully dry), meaning there’s a higher chance of apple spoilage.
Dehydrator: Great for those wanting to maintain the nutrients in the apples while controlling the environment (i.e., taking away ‘guesswork’). However, it obviously requires having a dehydrator, which can take up quite a bit of space and can take between 5-12 hours (based on machine, batch size, etc.).
Most people already have an oven at home; making dehydrated apples in the oven a simple method without the need for extra equipment. However, oven temperatures often won’t go as low as your dehydrator, meaning there will be some nutrient loss and risk of cooking/burning the apples. Not to mention, this method usually takes several hours of the oven being on.
Air fryer: This method ‘cooks’ rather than dehydrates the apples meaning it causes the highest amount of nutrient loss, and they must be eaten within a week. More so, it’s best for small batches since there is limited space in an Air Fryer, and they need to be placed in a single layer. However, this method takes under 15 minutes to cook, which is a big bonus if you want to enjoy the dried apple chips as soon as possible!
RECIPE NOTES AND TOP TIPS
- Cut even slices: 1/8 inch is perfect for making crispy apple chips. I recommend using a mandoline to cut even slices; that way, they’ll all cook/dehydrate evenly, too! Don’t slice the apples too thin, though, or they can stick to your dehydrator tray and/or burn (depending on which method you use).
- Don’t overlap the apples: the more you try to cram onto your dehydrator/oven trays, the more likely that they’ll simply steam and won’t dehydrate properly.
- Cook in batches: For the same reason as above. Crowding the apple slices will negatively affect the cooking/dehydrating time.
- If you’d prefer leathery dried apple (rather than apple chips): Remove them from the oven when they are dry to the tough and, when torn, no moisture builds up at the tear marks. Note that these will have a shorter shelf life (4-6 months). For dried apple slices, you can also slice them slightly thicker if preferred.
- Save the scraps: The apple peels and cores can make apple cider vinegar.
- If your apples are waxed: Rub them with a little vinegar to help remove the wax.
- Adjust the dehydrating time: The time the dried apples require will depend on whether you want leather dried apples, crunchy apple crisps, or somewhere in-between. Feel free to experiment to find your perfect level!
HOW TO MAKE DRIED APPLES CHEWY VS. CRISPY
You can easily learn how to make dried apples in the oven! You should slice your apples very thin and sprinkle cinnamon to make these healthy snacks. You can either make these dried apples chewy or crispy!
I made dried apples first almost 2.5 years ago and I should tell you that drying apples in the oven couldn’t be easier! Once you see how easy it is, I am sure you’ll want to make these healthy snacks again and again.
These dried apples don’t contain any sugar but when you eat them you may think some sugar is added. They are sweet as I used Gala Apples.
How to Make Oven-Dried Apples
HOW LONG TO DEHYDRATE APPLES IN THE OVEN
When you make dried apples you have two options. You can either make them chewy or crispy.
If you like them chewy, you can slice them really thin and have them ready in an hour. The thickness of the slices affects the baking time.
I slice them very thin. After I keep them in the oven for an hour, they are chewy and a little bit crispy. This is how I like them.
If you want them all crispy without any chewiness, you should bake for 2 hours. Then you should keep in the turned-off oven for an extra hour. You should check the oven to give the final decision as I said the thickness of the slices is a factor.
THE INGREDIENTS FOR DRIED APPLES
Apples-I use Gala but you can use any other sweet apple as well or use Granny Smith to make tart dried apples.
Cinnamon-perfect with apples
HOW TO MAKE OVEN-DRIED APPLES
First core the apples with an apple corer. Then, slice the apples very thin as circles. I suggest no more than ⅕ inch (5mm) thick slices.
Once you cut more than half of the apple, it will be hard to hold and cut as whole circles, then you can cut as half circles.
If you have a mandoline with a hand guard and you find it safe to use, you can use it instead of using a knife.
Place the slices onto the baking sheet that is covered with parchment paper. Finally, sprinkle ground cinnamon on top and dry the apples in the oven.
After 35-45 minutes (depending on the thickness of the slices) when the slices start to dry and the edges curl up, flip them over and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. This time is enough if you are looking for some crispiness and chewiness.
If you don’t want any chewiness, you need to bake for an additional hour. Let them cool in the turned-off oven for crispiness for almost an hour.
The apples on the left side are crispy ones, and the ones on the right side are chewy with a slight crispiness.
You can keep this dried fruit in an airtight container.
Enjoy these delicious dried apple slices!