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When fall rolls around, I take any excuse I can get to work more apples into my baking. Apples are just so versatile – they add moisture, a tender crumb, warmth, and subtle sweetness to all kinds of baked goods. These soft and chewy apple cookies are a perfect example.
Chunks of fresh apple get folded into a simple dough flavored with fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. A hint of lemon brightens up the apples’ flavor. The result is a cookie that’s part cake, part cookie – soft, moist, and chewy.
I top them with an easy homemade caramel sauce that puts them over the top. The sweet, buttery caramel plays so nicely with the warm spices and apples. It takes these cookies up a notch to gourmet status with very little effort.
These apple cookies get gobbled up incredibly fast around my house, especially once the kids get home from school. I’ve taken to doubling or even tripling the recipe when I make them because they disappear in a flash!
Why You’ll Love These Apple Cookies with Caramel
They’re soft, moist, and chewy
- Thanks to fresh apples, the texture lands somewhere between cookie and cake. So comforting!
They’re packed with cozy fall flavor
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and apples say fall in the best way. Warm and nostalgic.
The caramel takes them up a notch
- Simple homemade caramel is next-level over just a sprinkle of sugar on top.
They’re fun to customize
- Swap out the spices, apple variety, nuts, or caramel for your own twist.
They satisfy any sweet tooth
- Chewy and softly spiced with sweet, buttery caramel – bliss!
They make your kitchen smell amazing
- Baking apples spiked with fall spices will make the whole house smell heavenly.
Kids and adults both love them
- Soft, nostalgic cookies topped with caramel? Yes, please!
Tips for Making Irresistible Apple Cookies with Caramel
Don’t overmix the batter
Just until the flour disappears. Overmixing makes them tough.
Chill the dough
Chilling firms up the batter, making them easier to roll and handle.
Use cold butter
Grating chilled butter into the flour coats it evenly and leaves chunks to melt later for flakiness.
Pick the right apples
Look for softer baking apples like Gala or Golden Delicious vs crisp apples like Honeycrisp.
Prep the apples properly
Peel, core, and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch chunks. They’ll soften as they bake.
Sprinkle with Demerara sugar
The large sparkling grains of this sugar make for a pretty, crunchy topping.
Upgrade the spices
Splurge on fresh grated nutmeg and high-quality cinnamon for the best flavor.
Cool cookies before topping
Let cookies cool before drizzling with warm caramel or it may melt off.
Butter gives these cookies incredible richness and moistness. Use high-fat European style for best results.
White sugar sweetens the dough and helps achieve a soft, chewy texture when baked.
Eggs add moisture and give the cookies structure so they hold their shape when baked.
This aromatic extract boosts the other flavors without overpowering.
All-purpose flour gives the right balance of structure and tenderness.
Choose sweet, soft baking apples like Gala or Golden Delicious for the best texture.
Brown sugar packs a slight molasses flavor that enhances the other warm spices.
This classic baking spice pairs perfectly with apples and evokes cozy fall vibes.
Nutmeg & Ginger
A pinch of each adds another layer of warmth and spice flavor.
Lemon Juice & Zest
A touch of lemon juice keeps the apples from browning and zest brightens the flavors.
How to Make Soft & Chewy Apple Cookies with Caramel
Step 1 – Prep Ingredients
Peel, core, and dice 2 crisp apples. Zest and juice 1 lemon. Set aside. Leave butter and eggs out to soften.
Step 2 – Mix Dry Ingredients
Whisk together 2 cups of flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg, 1⁄2 tsp ginger and 1⁄4 tsp salt.
Step 3 – Cream Butter & Sugar
Beat 1 cup softened butter and 3⁄4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla.
Step 4 – Combine & Chill
Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir just until combined. Fold in apples and lemon zest. Chill 1 hour.
Step 5 – Scoop & Bake Cookies
Roll dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Sprinkle lightly with Demerara sugar. Bake at 350°F for 15-18 minutes.
Step 6 – Cool & Drizzle with Caramel
Let cookies cool completely then drizzle with prepared caramel sauce. Enjoy!
What to Serve with Apple Cookies with Caramel:
- Warm spiced apple cider
- Pumpkin spiced lattes
- Mugs of hot chocolate
- Bowls of vanilla ice cream
- Fall fruit like pears or persimmons
- Slices of apple pie or crisp
Substitutions for Apple Cookies with Caramel:
Instead of apples:
- Peeled, chopped pears
- Diced, roasted sweet potato
- Pumpkin or winter squash puree
Instead of all-purpose flour:
- Whole wheat flour
- Almond flour
Instead of cinnamon & nutmeg:
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Ginger & cloves
Instead of caramel:
- Vanilla or cream cheese frosting
- Chocolate ganache
- Peanut butter
Instead of Demerara sugar:
- Turbinado sugar
- Sanding sugar
- Coarse sparkling white sugar
How long do the cookies keep for?
Store in an airtight container at room temp up to 1 week. Freeze for longer storage.
Can I use apple pie filling?
Yes, drain it first and pat dry with paper towels before folding into the batter.
What if my cookies spread too much?
Chill the dough for the full hour to help them hold their shape better during baking.
How do I make the caramel topping?
Find an easy homemade salted caramel sauce recipe. Most just need butter, cream, sugar, and salt!
Can I freeze the unbaked cookie dough?
Absolutely! Portion dough into balls and freeze on a baking sheet. Transfer to an airtight container once frozen. Bake frozen.
Apple Cookies with Caramel
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Rolling Pin
- Baking sheets
- Cooling racks
- Parchment paper
- 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 medium apples peeled, cored, diced (about 2 cups)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- Demerara sugar for topping
- Caramel sauce store-bought or homemade, warmed
- In a bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
- In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. Fold into butter mixture.
- Fold in apples and lemon zest. Chill 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment. Roll dough into balls and coat in brown sugar. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle lightly with Demerara sugar.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
- Once fully cooled, drizzle cookies with warm caramel sauce.