A big, soft, lightly spiced sugar cookie topped with frosting and homemade apple pie filling is the perfect apple-season dessert recipe. These iced apple cookies are a perfect fall treat!
Jumbo cookies are having a moment and I am here for it! Whether they’re stuffed, iced, or just big and puffy, there’s something so FUN about big cookies. Baking them and coming up with ideas is so much fun, and I’m thrilled to share this apple cookie recipe today! Especially since so many people have asked after these made an appearance in a fall cookie box this year.
What are iced apple cookies?
These cookies are styled after the current trend in bakery cookies (i.e. – like Crumbl). They’re big, with unique details that make them stand out from your everyday cookie.
In the case of this recipe, the cookies have three distinct parts. You start with a soft sugar cookie base, add a smear and a swirl of creamy vanilla frosting, then fill the top with homemade apple pie filling.
The resulting cookie is just the right mix of textures and fall flavors. Everyone kept calling them apple pie cookies even though there’s not a bit of pie crust in the recipe! The flavors are all there though between the vanilla, fresh apple, and cinnamon.
I almost turned them into caramel apple cookies, taking inspiration from this caramel apple cake. And I’m totally going to encourage a little caramel drizzle if you’re feeling it, but classic is definitely the way to go here.
How to make frosted cookies…
We start by creating just the right cookie base. There is an art to the base cookie because the texture needs to be just right. You want a soft cookie that’s easy to bite, but has enough structure to support the icing and pie filling on top. This is especially important with cookie recipes like this one with a “wet” topping.
To help the cookies bake evenly and stay puffy, it’s a good idea to let the dough chill a bit in the refrigerator before baking. You can even let it rest in the fridge overnight! Just cover it with a little plastic wrap and make sure it isn’t near any strong-smelling foods.
Cookies baked straight away will still turn out, but they have slightly more spread than those that are chilled. If you don’t mind that, great!
Once you have your cookies set, you want to prepare your toppings. The buttercream used for this recipe is a scaled version of my American buttercream recipe. It’s a classic, tastes great, and has the perfect texture for these cookies!
Notes about the apple pie filling topping…
It felt wise to give the apple pie filling its own section because you have options. There’s also some flexibility in this recipe depending on your apples. We’re going to cover all of that here, so if you’ve never made apple pie filling before (or anything like it), this is important to read.
First, this is a quick recipe more like thicker sauteed apples. We don’t want anything with a heavy gel to keep the moisture level and sweetness in check. Remember, the apples also add a bit of texture to the cookie bite, so balance is the goal.
Peel the apples before dicing for the best texture. I like to use a serrated peeler and then cut the apples by hand into small cubes. But if you have an apple corer and peeler, that also works well. You can cut the sliced apples into 6-8 sections to get smaller wedges. Cooking time will vary slightly depending on the shape of your apple pieces.
Can you use a canned apple pie filling? Probably. But try to scoop out mostly the apples and
If you are using a tart apple variety like Granny Smith, or early season apples that aren’t as sweet, use the full amount of sugar called for in the recipe. If, on the other hand, you have sweeter apples, Feel free to decrease the sugar a little, test, and adjust as needed. Remember, you can always add sugar during the cooking process.
What are good apple varieties to use for cookies?
With apple season running several months each year, there are a lot of apple varieties to choose from! Some apples are better for baking than others.
You are looking for an apple variety that will hold its shape after heating. Some will become too soft and mushy once you add heat.
Additionally, the best apples for baking are those with a balanced, not too sweet flavor. That doesn’t mean you have to have a tart apple! Just one that has a balanced flavor. It’s easy to adjust sugar levels in your recipe if your apples are on the sweet or tart side.
Growing up, I was always told Granny Smith apples were the only good option for baking. Years of experience have taught me otherwise! Of course, Granny Smith apples are a solid choice, but you have options.
Personally, I look for apple varieties that are good for anything – eating and baking! That way, I’m prepared to bake something on a whim, or cut up a fresh apple to enjoy as a snack!
Here’s a good reference list of apples that are good for baking:
- Granny Smith – a classic. Tart, firm, easy to find pretty much year round.
- Braeburn – This variety is one of my favorites. It stays firm with baking, but the flavor is sweet, and the apples have a satisfying crunch when eaten fresh.
- Golden Delicious – We’ve picked some of these every year we head to an orchard. I like to mix them with a firmer apple for apple pie, and always throw a few in to my no-sugar added applesauce for sweetness.
- Honey Crisp – Like their name, these apples are on the sweeter side, without being too much. They keep their shape well for baking, but are also delightful to eat on their own! This is another family favorite and a good apple to use in my bourbon apple butter recipe.
- Pink Lady – I’ll admit to trying these 100% for the name, but they’re really good! Nicely balanced, pretty, and good for snacking or baking.
- Jonagold – Another family favorite for snacking or baking.
Iced apple cookie assembly tip!
Before I leave you with the recipe, I wanted to share my super important tip for keeping these cookies from getting soggy! You can absolutely keep these cookies (refrigerated) for a couple days after assembly if you follow this assembly tip. Since it was easier to just explain than type it out, I made a quick little video showing how I assemble the iced apple cookies here.
I really hope you enjoy this iced apple cookies recipe, darlings! Happy baking!
- 1/2 pound unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 large eggs
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Apple Pie Topping:
- 1 lb Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
- 4 tbsp butter
- 4-6 tbsp brown sugar (see notes)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
- 1/2 lb unsalted butter
- 2 1/2-3 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Start by making your apple pie filling. Peel and dice your apples while you melt the butter in a wide skillet over medium-low heat.
- Add the sugar, apples, and cinnamon. Stir to combine well, then increase the heat to medium. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often until the apples have softened and look slightly translucent. They shouldn't be completely soft.
- Remove from the heat and transfer the filling to a heat-proof bowl to cool. You may make the filling in advance and refrigerate for up to 2 days until needed.
- Bake your cookies! In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer with a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 batches, stirring until just combined after each addition.
- Weigh out the dough into 3-ounce balls (see notes on measurements) and place on a parchment sheet-lined baking sheet or cutting board. Refrigerate the dough while you preheat your oven.
- While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 375 F.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and place 4-6 cookies per sheet. Allow room for expansion, you may need to work in batches depending on the size of your cookies.
- Bake the cookies for 11-13 minutes until the edges of the cookies are a light golden brown. Rotate the pans halfway through the cooking time.
- Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks with a spatula to cool completely.
- While the cookies are cooling, make your buttercream frosting.
- To make the frosting, beat the softened butter until it starts to look smooth, then scrape the sides of the bowl, add the salt and vanilla, and the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until your desired consistency is reached.
- If you find your frosting is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, thin with milk, 1 teaspoon at a time.
- Once your cookies are cool and it's time to assemble: Remove the apple pie topping from the refrigerator and give it a quick stir. Place a dollop of frosting in the center of each cookie and spread over most of the top of the cookie in a thin layer.
- Using a piping bag fitted with your choice of piping tip design, pipe a circle around the edge of the cookie to help hold your filling in place.
- Use a spoon to scoop some of your cooked apple topping onto the cookie.
- Enjoy! Refrigerate leftover cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- You can scale the size of the cookies to suit your preference. My preference and the most popular size with testing was 3 ounces of cookie dough and this is what you see pictured. Measuring each cookie at 4 ounces each will yield about 9 cookies. 5 ounces will give you about 7 cookies. 3 ounces was considered a "jumbo" cookie for one by most adults or split between 2 children or 2 people with smaller appetites. This is just for the cookie alone, the frosting and topping have even 3 ounces of dough coming in at about 5 ounces each.
- If you find one of your cookies didn't bake perfectly round you can use a butter knife to scoot in the uneven edge. This can happen if you don't sift your dry ingredients well like some people. I am "some people" and don't sift ingredients unless I'm feeling extra motivated. Real-life baking.
- Shortcut Note: If you are in a rush, you can always substitute canned apple pie filling (store-bought or homemade) for the apple pie topping in the recipe.
- Adjust the sugar in your apple pie topping based on the tartness of your apples. If you are using a sweeter apple variety, use less sugar.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 857Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 122mgSodium: 209mgCarbohydrates: 132gFiber: 2gSugar: 101gProtein: 5g
These nutrition values are estimates. Exact values will vary depending on the ingredients, brands, and quantities used.