Enjoy that sweet, fresh fall taste any time.

Su-Jit Lin

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Recipe Summary

hands-on:
30 mins
total:
30 mins
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Nature's health food disguised as candy, apples are chock-full of fiber, B-vitamins, potassium, iron, and a host of antioxidants. They keep for a while in cool, dark conditions, but dehydrating apples helps you hold onto those flavors for even longer. Plus, dried apples are much less likely to spoil than canned ones, and the process requires less equipment and less storage space due to their shrinkage.

When dehydrated properly, apples can last about six months in small-batch airtight containers, and they can be frozen for up to an entire year—just enough time for the next harvest to roll around. Best of all, they can be rehydrated easily for like-fresh use. Just steep your dehydrated apple slices in hot apple juice or even just water, same as you would tea, and they're ready for snacking.

Just as easy as reconstituting your apples is drying them out in the first place. Even if you don't have a formal dehydrator, you can still make dehydrated apple chips in the oven or in the air fryer. How long it takes to dehydrate apples varies on the method and the thickness of the slices, but the process can be as quick as 20 minutes or as low-maintenance leisurely as 12 hours.

The best apples for dehydrating don't need much embellishment. If you want crisp dehydrated apple chips for snacking, choose tart types of apples like Granny Smith, Macintosh, Cortland, or Jonagolds. They're lower in sugar and thus have a sharper flavor and hold their shapes well. If you prefer something to use as a topping for yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes, part of a granola mix or other breakfast treats, or just want dehydrated apple slices that you can perk back up, sweeter species are the way to go. These will shrink up a bit, but their higher sugar content will concentrate their flavor. Seek out Gala, Golden and Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Envy apples if this is the case.

As for a dehydrated apple chips recipe, it doesn't get any simpler than what's in our how-to guide below. You can choose to add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice before you dehydrate your apple slices, or let the varietal type you choose dictate the flavor.

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

How to prepare apples for dehydration
  • As soon as cut apples are exposed to the air, the process of oxidation begins and their structure begins to soften. To avoid this, you’ll want to have an acidic pre-treatment bath at the ready. Measure either 1 teaspoon of citric acid, ¼ cup of lemon juice, or 1 tablespoon of vinegar per quart (4 cups) of water. Stir your acidic ingredient and water together in a large bowl.

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  • Clean off the surface of the apples with a soft brush, then slice them horizontally into pieces no thicker than ½-inch and preferably thinner, if possible, with the aid of a mandolin slicer. Coring is up to you, but peeling and coring are not necessary.RELATED: How to Wash Apples

  • Add the apple slices to your pretreatment bath. After 10 minutes of soaking, drain the apple slices into a colander. If you used citric acid, give it a rinse. Otherwise, go ahead and lay the apple pieces out flat and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel.

  • Assemble your apples for dehydrating. If you're seasoning your apple chips, add your spice of choice now. Otherwise, you can begin laying your sliced, soaked apples out on whatever platform best fits your apple dehydration method (below). Do not let them touch if possible, and don’t stack them. You want to encourage open air flow and separate, individual pieces at the end of the process—not a sticky clump. If you're dehydrating apples with an air fryer you can stack your slices, but more on that later! To dehydrate apples in the oven, skip to step 6. To dehydrate apples in an air fryer, skip to step 9. To dehydrate apples in a dehydrator, skip to step 12.

Dehydrating apples in the oven
  • Preheat your oven to the lowest setting possible—as low as 150°F if it allows it.

  • Follow steps 1-4 above, arranging apple slices on a metal cooling rack that fits over a large rimmed cookie sheet for best results. This will allow the air to circulate all around your apple chips in the oven allowing for uniform dehydration. If you don’t have one, line your cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper to avoid getting your pan syrupy or your apple crisps stuck.

  • Depending on the thickness of your slices, how juicy your apples are, and the amount of humidity in your home, dehydrating apples in your oven may take 2-3 hours. Make sure to keep the oven door cracked to allow moisture to escape—you want to dry the apples, not really bake them. Flip your apple slices over after about an hour to help them dry evenly, and don’t be afraid to shuffle their placement to make up for cooler spots in your oven. Make sure to keep a watchful eye on them—burning or crisping can happen in a matter of minutes.

  • You’ll know your apples are done when they’re dry to the touch, but double-check by folding a sample slice in half. If your oven-dried apples are done, they won’t stick when you fold it; if not, it will, due to remaining sugar and moisture. You can also tear one in half and see if any remaining juices bead up along the torn edge. If so, it needs a little more time. Finally, if you’re trying to make chips, you’ll know you’ve done so successfully if it snaps pleasantly at the bend. When finished, skip to finishing dehydrating apples, below.

Dehydrating apples in an air fryer
  • Follow steps 1-4 in the first section on preparing apples for dehydration. In an air fryer, you have considerably less space to work with. But because the high-power convection tech will be moving them around, this is the only instance you can stack your apple slices. Don’t go overboard, though! You still need to give the air in your fryer room to circulate. Be advised that although this method takes less time per batch, you’ll likely have to dedicate more attention to each batch and run several, depending on how many apples you're dehydrating.

  • Place a small metal rack over your apples to keep them from running amok, then run your air fryer at 300°F for roughly 15 minutes. Rotate, flip, and stir every five minutes to help your apples dehydrate more evenly. If you choose to remove them now for cooling, be aware that they won’t look immediately dry using this method. They’ll appear shriveled and even a bit soggy, but will get crunchier as they cool.

  • For crispier apples, increase the heat to 325°F for 4-8 minutes or as preferred. Make sure to watch your fryer carefully and increase the frequency of your flipping and shaking. Do it every minute or so at this stage. When finished, skip to finishing dehydrating apples, below.

Dehydrating apples in a dehydrator
  • Follow steps 1-4 in the first section on preparing apples for dehydration. Take your patted-dry apple slices and arrange them in your tray in a single layer, avoiding overlap.

  • Start your dehydrator. Set it at 145°F to evaporate any remaining pre-treatment solution and run it at this temperature for about an hour.

  • Bring the dehydrator down to 135°F and let it do its job! This no-supervision workhorse will take about 12 hours to complete the process. However, the result of letting it take its time will be the reward of perfectly, evenly dehydrated apple bites, no matter how you slice it!

Finishing dehydrating apples
  • Remove your dehydrated apples from the oven, air fryer, or dehydrator and let them cool on the pan or rack for about 30 minutes—this is called conditioning. Then, place them in airtight packaging—preferably a glass jar—in a dark location right away. For the first week, feel free to shake them often to help them continue to stay dry. If any condensation builds up, give them another run in your appliance of choice.

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