Apple chips: the very first thing we ever dehydrated! Back when I was in grad school, living in Providence, we got our first food dehydrator. True to New England style, we set out to celebrate the fall with some leaf-peeping and apple-picking at local farms. Armed with a bushel of fresh organic apples, I was wicked-excited to come home and make my first DIY dried fruit snacks to enjoy!
I have always loved dried apples in trail mix, but hated all the preservatives and added sugar. Thus, our first apple chip efforts were driven by the desire to eat pure, whole, unprocessed real foods. Now, drying apples is not only a fun and healthy hobby, but a bit of a necessity! Our mature backyard Anna apple tree unloads pounds and pounds of fruit on us each June and July. Aside from making apple cider vinegar (see the tutorial for that here), drying apple chips or apple rings is our go-to way to preserve our homegrown apple harvests.
Come along to learn how easy it is to create simple, no-fuss, naturally-sweetened apple chips or soft rings at home. I keep saying “apple chips OR rings”, because you can tweak these instructions to create either! Some like them crunchy, some like them soft and chewy… we like them somewhere in between. Let me share some tips and tricks we’ve learned over all these years dehydrating apples.
Before we get started with the instructions…
FAQs and Tips for Drying Apples
- Dried apple chips or rings do not need extra sweetener! They’re plenty sweet on their own. Enjoy nature’s candy.
- To peel or not to peel? That is totally up to you! We leave our apple skins in tact. I don’t know about you, but I find peeling things to be a tedious pain in the butt! Plus, there is additional fiber and nutrients within the skins!
- Homemade apple chips do not need to be soaked prior to drying, though they can be if you wish. Soaking the apple slices in lemon water before placing them in the dehydrator will help them stay slightly more white in color. Like peeling, I personally find this step to be unnecessary!
- The length of time you dry your apples will dictate their consistency, and also their shelf life. The drier they are, the more crunchy and chip-like they are, and the longer they’ll last stored at room temperature. Though, softer rings should last for several weeks to months. The more moisture that is left within the apples, the shorter their shelf life will be.
- Despite your best efforts, homemade apple chips will never stay crunchy for as long as store-bought apple chips. Likewise, your apple rings probably won’t be quite as pillowy and chewy as those commercially-made ones. That is because we aren’t adding preservatives and chemicals. In my book, this is not a bad thing – and a worthy trade-off! I am simply trying to temper your expectations.
1) Wash & Slice Apples
Wash your apples, and peel them to remove the skins if you wish. We don’t! You can also core the apples, and then cut them across their equator to create fancy apple rings. Again, I am all about quick and easy here, and coring doesn’t really fall into that category for me. I simply cut chunks away from the core, then cut those into even slices. Try to avoid creating wedge-shaped slices as much as possible, because those will dry less evenly.
The thickness of your apple slices will also influence their texture, how quickly they dry, and how long they’ll last in storage. We usually aim for about ⅛ inch thick, as shown below. For a more chewy, supple apple ring, you could cut them a tad thicker.
2) Fill Dehydrator Trays
Place all the cut apple slices onto your food dehydrator trays. Or, if you are going to use the oven, lay the apple slices on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. I find it easiest to add them to the trays as I prep the apples, creating more space on the cutting board as I go. The apple slices can touch on their edges, but shouldn’t be overlapping. We need a little space for air flow between them! I keep mine pretty close to maximize space, and also to make the next step (optional cinnamon sprinkles) a little less messy.
Curious about our dehydrator? For years, we used a really basic Nesco food dehydrator like this one. It got the job done! Yet over time we knew we wanted to upgrade to something a bit more efficient and larger capacity. An Excalibur fit the bill! Made in the USA, stainless steel, BPA-free, quiet, faster, has a timer – all that good stuff.
3) Season With Cinnamon (optional)
Once all of the trays are filled with apple slices, dust them with a sprinkle of cinnamon! If you’re not a cinnamon fan, feel free to skip it. In my book, cinnamon is always a welcome addition. Did you know that cinnamon helps to stabilize and reduce blood sugar spikes? Being a type 1 diabetic, this makes these already very healthy snacks that much better for me!
To do the dusting, lay one tray of apple slices on a clean, dry, smooth surface – like your kitchen counter. Sprinkle a few shakes over the tray until you’ve reached your desired cinnamon-y-ness. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, add a teeny sprinkle of nutmeg too, but far less than the cinnamon. Repeat with the next tray. Once I get down to the last remaining tray, I stop to gather the cinnamon that has fallen through the apple-cracks and onto the counter to use as dusting for the rest. After all – waste not, want not!
4) Dry Apples
If you are using a dehydrator, load it up with trays full of apples and kick it on! Most dehydrators will specify a setting for drying fruit, around 130 to 135°F. The apple chips should be done drying within 8 to 12 hours, depending on your dehydrator.
To dry apples in the oven, bake them on 200°F until they’re nice and dry. Honestly, we haven’t made apple chips this way… but I have read it should take around 6 hours. It may be helpful to flip the apple slices over half-way through.
Before moving on to the next step (storage), make sure that the apples are dried to your liking! We usually aim for quite dry, but not necessarily snap-in-half crispy.
Allow the finished apple chips or rings to cool slightly, and then put them away in an air-tight container. If they’re adequately dried, they should last for many months stored in the pantry this way! We keep ours in a half-gallon mason jar with tight fitting lid, or another glass container with a swing-top clamping lid. Despite the fact that we don’t dry our apples to utter crisps or crunchy “chips”, they have never molded on us!
However, if you cut your apple rings into thicker slices and stop the drying process when they’re still quite moist and chewy, they could go bad on you faster. The higher the moisture content, the greater the risk of mold. Apple rings are totally delicious this way! You’ll simply want to use them quicker.
Now you can enjoy your own homemade, totally natural, simply delicious dried apples! Of course, they’re great to eat on their own. You can also throw a handful into the pot or bowl while heating oat bran or oatmeal, or chop some up to add to granola. My personal favorite way to enjoy our apple chips is mixed with almonds or other nuts and seeds, like a homemade trail mix. It makes the perfect healthy, energy-packed work snack!
Another neat idea I heard recently is that if you dry them out completely, the apples can be ground into apple powder using a blender or food processor! I know. Mind, blown. The friend that suggested this says she adds apple powder to granola, plain yogurt, oatmeal, or other fitting dishes. Yum!
Done! It is really that simple.
I hope you enjoy making (and eating!) homemade apple chips as much as we do. Please use the comments to let me know if you have any questions or feedback! If you are curious about growing your own apples, you may find this article helpful.
Love dehydrating food? Yeah, me too. You may like these articles as well:
- How to Make Homemade Garlic Powder
- Preserving Onions: How to Make Onion Powder in 6 Easy Steps
- How to Grow, Harvest, Dry, & Use Calendula Flowers
How to Make Homemade Dried Apple Cinnamon Chips (or Rings)
- Food Dehydrator, or Oven
- Storage container, such as a mason jar with lid
- Nutmeg (Optional)
- Wash and slice the apples into 1/8th inch thick rings or slices.
- Fill the dehydrator trays full of sliced apple, make sure that the slices aren’t overlapping though it is okay if the apples edges are touching.
- Next lightly season the apple slices with cinnamon and nutmeg (optional) if you choose to do so.
- Dry in the dehydrator around 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 12 hours or until they are dried to your preference of texture. (If using an oven, bake the apples on 200 degrees Fahrenheit for about 6 hours)
- Once dried, allow the apple rings or chips to cool before placing them in an airtight container for storage. Enjoy!