old fashioned apple dumplings

by jenna on November 1, 2011

Before yesterday afternoon, I was an apple dumpling virgin….and let me just tell you, life is so much sweeter on the other side.

This is another one of my great grandmother’s recipes. If you weren’t around on Saturday, I explained I was starting a new fun project of baking through my great grandmother’s recipe collection in it’s entirety and blogging about every Crisco smeared moment of it.  I’m calling this project “The Recipe Box Challenge” and in the future, there will be a special page just dedicated to the cause. I’m doing this to honor my great grandmother and learn more about my own family history (something I’ve always been very interested in!).

But oh my word….these dumplings!

I sort of thought they might be a little “so-so”. Like…I’m making this recipe because I committed myself to the project but I’m not too crazy excited about it. I think apple pie is just “okay” and will opt for cake when given the choice.

However, these totally blew.me.away.

I hope no one is afraid of Crisco around here. Because great grandma sure wasn’t.

In keeping her recipes as authentic as possible, I won’t be attempting to sub out ingredients or make anything “healthy” that clearly should just be left alone. However, I will be making slight changes to ingredients (like clabbered milk or “cakes” of yeast) if something doesn’t work or just isn’t feasible for a modern day kitchen.

Random sidenote: whenever I think of Crisco now I think of the book, The Help, when Minny teaches Celia on the importance of it:

“Crisco ain’t just for fryin’. It will remove gum from your hair and cure diaper rash. You can use it as a moisturizer or to soften your husbands scaly feet. It can clean the goo from a price tag and even take the squeak out of a door hinge. If your lights get cut off, stick a wick in it and burn it like a candle. And after all of that, it will still fry your chicken!”


You can core the apples or just peel them, then all you do is wrap ’em up in the dough, pour the syrup over and let them bake away. I found a great deal on tiny gala apples at Trader Joe’s, so that’s what I’m using here. You’ll want to stick with a small apple or slice them up so they fit in the pastry dough.

The sauce bakes right along with the apples and turns into a magical caramel syrup that I was tempted to suck through a straw post baking. The dumplings themselves have the perfect combination of crispy and chewy corners of crust….so good that they will make a dumpling believer out of just about anyone.

And on that note, can someone please come over to my house and remove the spoon from my grubby little hand? I can’t seem to stop cracking open the fridge and drowning myself in cinnamon sugar syrup.

You think I’m kidding…..but I’m totally not.

Old Fashioned Apple Dumplings

makes 4-5 dumplings

Print this recipe!


for the sauce:

1 cup water

2/3 cup sugar

2 tbsp butter

1/4 tsp cinnamon

for the dumplings:

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup shortening

4-5 tbsp milk

4-5 small apples


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a small saucepot, combine the water, sugar, cinnamon and butter. Bring to a boil and stir until the butter melts completely. Remove from heat and let cool while you make the dumplings.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and shortening. Mix with your fingers until dough has a grainy texture (will look sort of like cornmeal). Add the milk and mix until combined.

Roll out dough to 1/8th inch thick on a well floured surface. Cut into 4-5 large squares.

Peel and core your apples then place one apple on each square of dough. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over top of the apple then gently wrap dough around apple, sealing edges with a little water. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t completely enclose around the apples—just do the best you can.

Place the dumplings in a greased pan and pour the sauce over the dumplings and around the sides of the pan.

Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown.


1.5 hours



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{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

Khushboo November 1, 2011 at 3:49 am

These sound like a perfect alternative to apple pie…the only thing missing is vanilla ice cream!


jenna k November 1, 2011 at 3:59 am

there’s an apple farm in my hometown, and their kitchen sells apple dumplings. we ate them ALL the time in high school, along with the best apple cider you’ve ever had. yum!


chelsey @ clean eating chelsey November 1, 2011 at 4:01 am

I’m coming over the next time you cook something from your great grandmother. I’ll totally make the trip from Chicago.


Molly @ RDexposed November 1, 2011 at 4:41 am

Carpool with me-I’m right on 90!


jenna November 1, 2011 at 6:47 am

Okay…well then I better expect you over in three hours? Is that enough time to catch a flight? 🙂


Molly @ RDexposed November 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Takes 4 hours out. That gives you an extra hour for baking and Dexter an extra hour to get his mice in tip top shape for company.


Andrea November 1, 2011 at 4:02 am

Oh my! My grandmother makes the best apple dumplings also. I think it’s a grandma thing! She makes them at church as part of the apple dumpling gang. Isn’t that cute? 🙂


jenna November 1, 2011 at 6:47 am

I love that!


Katrina November 1, 2011 at 4:29 am

I’ve wanted to make this old recipe for a while (well one similar). Thanks!


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga November 1, 2011 at 4:36 am

I know you said your great grandma was from MN in another post. Omg these apple dumplings look and sound JUST like what my grandma (from MN) made. Crisco and all. I wonder if everyone in the church basement swapped their recipes b/c it sounds and looks so familiar!

“drowning myself in cinnamon sugar syrup” <— Nice. Can I try that too? That is so me!


Lauren at Keep It Sweet November 1, 2011 at 4:40 am

I love that you are baking through your grandmother’s recipes! Great idea.

These look amazing. I haven’t had an apple dumpling in years!


Jenna @ The Paleo Project November 1, 2011 at 4:47 am

Some things are just better left un-healthified. I hope someday your great granddaughter is baking her way through your “old” blog haha


Heather (Heather's Dish) November 1, 2011 at 4:56 am

my mom used to make these! i can’t believe i forgot about them…they look and sound amazing!


kathleen @ the daily crumb November 1, 2011 at 4:58 am

perfect timing! i just bought a box of crisco at fresh market yesterday because… um, well there was no reason other than the fact i thought to myself “crisco is probably damn good in baking” and threw it in the cart. maybe that’s why i have grocery bill issues? regardless, can’t wait to try these!


Marla November 1, 2011 at 4:58 am

Hi Jenna,
Just a special request ….

any chance you would consider doing more posts about
you and your yoga journey? Would love to read about it
a few times (or even once if preferred) a week!

Miss your “yoga talk”!
Thanks 😉


nickee November 1, 2011 at 7:08 am

Not related to this post but I had to second this! I’d love to hear too. Plus I miss your fashion posts..boohoo… If you dont get out of your yoga pants you can do a fashion post with those. Yoga clothes are cute and comfortable 😀


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat November 1, 2011 at 5:21 am

LOL I love that quote from The Help! I remember laughing out loud when I read it. I too am an apple dumpling virgin… but not for long!


Rachel November 1, 2011 at 5:23 am

I really love the new project! The throw-back recipes are great! It’s like having your great-grandmother right there with you.


Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count November 1, 2011 at 5:28 am

This looks just delicious!


Stephanie Murphy November 1, 2011 at 5:48 am

ooh gosh I love apple dumplings! I had one recently at a fall festival and it was just heaven. I definitely agree with the others in that they need to be served hot with vanilla ice cream!!! mmmmm


Amanda November 1, 2011 at 5:55 am

You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had an apple dumpling. But I did just bake a pie!
No crisco in mine, but I do remember my mom having a big tub of the stuff in our cabinet growing up. 🙂


Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray November 1, 2011 at 6:01 am

Wow–these look great. I love how rustic they are. They look perfect for fall.


amy walters, aDESIGNdock November 1, 2011 at 6:04 am

Haha…I’m totally intimidated by crisco! My mom uses it to bake all the time, but for some reason, I’ve never bought a box. These look amazing though, so I may just have to pull myself together and go for it!


Christine @ Oatmeal in my Bowl November 1, 2011 at 6:05 am

I’ve never heard of apple dumplings. But i can see that i am clearly missing out! Thank you for sharing the recipe. And what a fun ‘challenge’.

BTW, love the importance of Crisco!


Lauren @ What Lauren Likes November 1, 2011 at 6:07 am

These.look.fantastic!! So perfect!! Love it 🙂


Amy @loveAmyx November 1, 2011 at 6:25 am

These sounds yummy, can’t help but think they might be even better with apple quarters or wedges rather than whole apples. Delicious!! But another thing, please make the creamed pea dish – you can’t do all of them, except one. Oh and I wonder if the egg toast bread is like the dish my Dad used to make us for breakfast, it’s basically a savoury french toast I think.

love Amy x


Liz November 1, 2011 at 6:30 am

These look delicious! I’ve always loved apple dumplings (and apple pie – I would ALWAYS pick pie over cake! 😉 ) and these look a wonderful, simple recipe.


Cat @Breakfast to Bed November 1, 2011 at 6:30 am

I posted my MawMaw’s recipe for applesauce cake with butterscotch frosting. It has crisco in it, and people thought I’d posted some sort of blasphemous statement. LOL. These look wonderful. Where I am from, we do this with peaches as well. It’s so comforting and beautiful. Nothing makes me happier than handwritten recipes.


kerry Mcgee November 1, 2011 at 6:51 am

These look incredible. Can’t wait to give it a go! 🙂


Gina @ Running to the Kitchen November 1, 2011 at 7:20 am

I remember laughing out loud reading that passage in the book. Gotta love Crisco!


Julie November 1, 2011 at 7:22 am

These look amazing! Love the simplicity of just wrapping an apple in pastry. It sounds delicious. Plus I absolutely LOVE that you are making all of her recipes! What an amazing way to honor her!!
Can’t wait to see what else she had up her sleeve!


Cait's Plate November 1, 2011 at 7:30 am

Wow an entire apple goes in the middle!?!? That is incredible. And yeah – I would be in the same boat with the cinnamon sugar syrup. HOW can you say no to something so delicious?


Liz @ Southern Charm November 1, 2011 at 7:48 am

These pictures make me not afraid of Crisco at all!!! WOW! Yea, that’s all I can say 🙂


jenna November 1, 2011 at 7:50 am

mmmmm…there is something so fall and cozy about apple dumplings. they look perfect in everyway.


Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food November 1, 2011 at 7:51 am

My grandma is all about the Crisco as well! 🙂


cathy b. November 1, 2011 at 7:53 am

hi jenna……just wanted to let you know I’m loving this idea..of cooking your great-grandmothers recipes… So often we get caught up in the latest saltedcaramel/truffleoil/quinoa/beetandgoatcheese/ foodie fad…and forget how many great recipes came out of a grandma’s kitchen. Not that I have anything against (!!!) new foodie adventures, but there is something so deliciously comforting about heritage recipes. I come from a long line of Pennsylvania Dutch cooks and I’m continually amazed at the old recipes I run across that are so scrumptious…and yet we’ve nearly forgotten about them… These apple dumplings struck a cord with me, as they are something I grew up with and still make…and your recipe is indeed very similar to my own grandmothers! 🙂
Keep up the beautiful work.
cathy b.


Laurie @SimplyScratch November 1, 2011 at 8:03 am

Ditto everything Cathy B. said! These look delicious!


Rachel @myurbanoven.com November 1, 2011 at 8:03 am

Oh my, where was this recipe last week! I bought a whole bag of small green apples from the local farmers market for $1 and made apple crisp with them. They were so tedious to cut up. This would have been perfect for them! Looks like I need another bag of those! YUM!


Deva @ Deva by Definition November 1, 2011 at 8:49 am

I dont’ think I’ve ever had an apple dumpling. Turnover, yes. Pie, yes. Cobbler? Yes. Dumpling? No.

these look devine.


Casey @ Pocket Full of Sunshine November 1, 2011 at 8:50 am

Yum! Gorgeous pictures. 🙂 I agree—no need to try to make these “healthy”! Your great-grandma clearly had this recipe covered!


Imwaytoobusy November 1, 2011 at 8:53 am

Hooray for another Grandma recipe! Your dumplings sound wonderful!


Ashley November 1, 2011 at 8:53 am

That looks so delicious! I am a big fan of apple-cinnamony type deserts. I used to work at a breakfast restaurant that was famous for it’s Big Apple, which was a giant flour-type crepe filled with cinnamon drenched apples, it was served with a choice of vanilla or cinnamon-flavored ice cream. And people would order this for breakfast! Apple pies are also my favorite. I like to take my apple-cinnamon desserts with a nice cup of tea or coffee. Your grandmother’s apple dumplings look scrumptious!


Moni'sMeals November 1, 2011 at 9:03 am

I am totally 100% an Old Fashioned Apple Dumpling virgin too! I must change this as soon as I can and bring the vanilla ice cream too.

Never even seen one, this looks SO AMAZING! SO creative and no better time than now with Fall here and all.

Thanks Jenna for a great recipe. 😉


Urban Wife November 1, 2011 at 9:09 am

I’m so looking forward to all the goodness from this Recipe Box Challenge! You’re so lucky to have written recipes from your great-grandmother. 🙂


Claire @ Live and Love to Eat November 1, 2011 at 9:33 am

That recipe card looks just like my 94 year old grandmother’s writing… I wish I had picked up that beautiful handwriting!


meagan November 1, 2011 at 9:43 am

Those recipe cards remind me of my grandmother’s. What I also remember is she used a fat called oleo–I guess another term for Crisco or margarine? Anyway, I love those old cards.


amanda November 1, 2011 at 9:44 am

yum, jenna these are so good! made them with granny smiths and accidentally forgot to peel them, but they still tasted fabulous. yours are, of course, much prettier than mine! thanks for sharing g-ma’s recipes!


Emmy (Wine and Butter) November 1, 2011 at 9:46 am

I wish I had a grandma to impart such amazing recipes onto me! My grandma was insanely cool but NOT much of a cook. My lasting memory of her is that she ALWAYS had Entmanns coffee crumb cake at her house – which is like the best storebought cake IN THE WORLD, for anyone who hasnt eaten it , but which isnt exactly homemade.
omg I have an entmanns coffee cake craving now though…


Leslie Means @ Her View From Home November 1, 2011 at 9:47 am

Yum!! Great idea for Thanksgiving too! I love old recipes – and cherish the ones from my mom.


Sabrina @ Radioactive Runner November 1, 2011 at 9:48 am

love the idea of the “recipe box challenge”.. what a great way to honor your great grandmother. these dumplings look delicious!


Lauren from Lauren's Latest November 1, 2011 at 9:55 am

Holy smokes! These look amazing. A.MAZ.ING.


Ella, RD November 1, 2011 at 10:23 am

I love this challenge – I have some great recipes from my grandma, but great-grandma takes it to a new level! I smell a cookbook coming on…


Erin November 1, 2011 at 10:47 am

I cannot believe you’ve never had them before! You should put a scoop of vanilla ice cream over the top too, soo good!


Judy November 1, 2011 at 10:52 am

That recipe sounds so delicious! I am going to HAVE to try it! The best recipes are always the ones passed on from generation to generation. Can’t wait to see what else you make 🙂


katie @KatieDid November 1, 2011 at 10:55 am

ohhhh my I’ve never seen anything like these! I cant believe a whole apple can be cooked right in there without ripping the dough. I can only imagine how good these tasted if the pictures do even a touch of justice.


Rachael @ FreshlyMinted November 1, 2011 at 11:03 am

Love it, and love that you’re into family history. So many treasures, huh? I feel like a learn a little more about what makes me tick every time I have a conversation with one of my grandparents 🙂


Nicole @ Giraffelegs November 1, 2011 at 11:38 am

mhmm dumplings are the best.


Joelle (on a pink typewriter) November 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Excellent photos! I love this little history project idea. 🙂


Maria November 1, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Love everything about this dessert! Perfect for apple season!


Samantha November 1, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I love that you are baking through your grandmas recipes ! that’s so great
These look delicious !


Sarah @ The Cyclist's Wife November 1, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Wow! What a great idea with Grandma’s recipes. I love it, and these look amazing!


Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen November 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Those are incredibly gorgeous!


Heidi - Apples Under My Bed November 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

hurrah! Ridiculously good. Loved that quote from The Help 🙂
Heidi xo


Audra November 2, 2011 at 3:41 am

This is such an awesome idea. I can’t wait to see all the the different recipes she made so long ago! I love my south Alabama Grandmother’s home cooking and just wish she actually used recipes I could follow. Instead it’s always, “a little of this” and “oh about that much of that” which is a bit difficult to replicate.


Theresa November 2, 2011 at 10:19 am

I told my Mom about this recipe and your challenge because I knew she would love the idea. And she said she has this recipe and used to make them all the time but hasn’t maybe since I was born (27 years)! so we are going to make them soon! It was her grandmothers recipe too. I love this new challenge and I can’t wait to see how all of these turn out!


Tina @ Everyday Decisions November 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I really really would like to try these!! Your pictures look gorgeous and I wish I was there helping you finish off the sauce so it would no longer be a temptaion!


Cat November 3, 2011 at 9:08 am

Totally bringing these to my sister-in-law’s baby shower on Saturday! Not gonna tell the uber healthy Mom ’bout the Crisco though 😉

P.S. My mom ALWAYS had a can of Crisco in our kitchen while I was growing up and I’m only 30. So it’s not thaaaat old fashioned? I’ve never bought a tub, but I’m totally not opposed to it either.


Ali November 4, 2011 at 7:59 am

My 3-year old and I had 2 apiece. I could have eaten all of them right there. I agree the syrup was so good. I am going to link this recipe on my blog. MMM…


Jessica November 6, 2011 at 1:30 pm

We have an old cookbook of my hubby’s grandma’s. Lots of recipes call for suet. Not sure what that is, but I know we can’t find it.


nicole spaz November 12, 2011 at 10:59 am

I love apple dumplings! I love seeing your great grandmother’s card. so sweet


Taylor Smith November 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm

My roommate just made your great grandmother’s recipe and it was the sweetest evening treat! Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your family with us. This is a recipe I know I want to share with my family, too.


Kathy October 16, 2013 at 12:26 am

Just a thought for all you just discovering the goodness of homade apple dumplings…try these with cinnamon ice cream (seasonal flavor in some places). This is what they have at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, and is the one splurge I allow myself whenever I go there!! Will make you want to slap yo mama!!


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