Apple Tarte Tatin
With only 5 ingredients you can have a classic French dessert. Tarte tatin is made with caramelized apples and a flaky crust. It’s essentially an upside down apple tart!
Some of my favorite desserts are those that are simple and, better yet, French. They sound fancy, but couldn’t be easier to make (just try my cherry clafoutis). This apple tarte tatin meets those expectations and then some.
Tarte Tatin is named after the woman who created it: Stéphanie Tatin. In the late 19th century, she and her sister owned the Hôtel Tatin. Stéphanie was head of the kitchen and one day she forgot she was cooking apples on the stovetop. Instead of throwing out the overcooked apples, she tossed pastry dough on top of the skillet and put the whole thing in the oven. Once baked, she flipped the tart over onto a plate and served it. People loved it!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Only 5 ingredients. You only need a few ingredients to make this dessert!
- Beautiful presentation. The reveal when the pan is removed is truly satisfying.
- Perfect dessert for entertaining. The dish tastes as good as it looks! Serve it on a crisp fall afternoon or for dessert on Thanksgiving.
- Seasonal ingredients. Great use of apples when they are in season this fall.
- Apples: Use crisp apples that will hold their shape while baking. I suggest Honeycrisp or Braeburn.
- Lemon juice: To bring out the flavor of the apples, use fresh squeezed lemon juice.
- Pastry dough: You can use either a pie crust or puff pastry.
- Butter: To help make the caramel, use unsalted butter that is cold and cubed.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar is cooked and caramelized in the pan before the apples are added.
Refer to the recipe card for ingredient details and measurements.
Use different fruit. Tarte tatin is also made with pears and stone fruit, such as peaches or plums. Keep in mind softer fruit will cook more quickly on the stovetop.
Add some spices. When tossing the apples in lemon juice, add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. A little nutmeg or cardamom would also taste delicious!
Try some toppings. I personally love any apple dish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. However, you could also serve with crème fraîche, custard or chopped nuts.
How to Make Tarte Tatin
- Prep the apples. Peel, core and slice the apples into thirds. Toss in lemon juice and set aside.
- Caramelize the sugar. Whisk sugar in a pan over medium-high heat until dark amber.
- Add the butter. Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter and stir until melted.
- Add the apples. Return the pan to medium-heat. Cook the apples until slightly soft, stirring occasionally.
- Arrange apples so the rounded side is down. Form a concentric circle with apples overlapping each other.
- Place pastry dough on top of the apples and bake the tart at 375 F for 25 to 30 minutes.
Choose the right apples. Crisp apples are best for baking since they stand up to the heat of the oven. This is especially important for this recipe since the apples are partially cooked before baking. I suggest Granny Smith, Honeycrisp or Braeburn apples.
Use cold pastry dough and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. Cold dough means a flaky crust for the fruit to sit on.
Wait 30 minutes before flipping the tart. If it’s too hot, it may fall apart; too cold and it won’t release from the pan. Place a plate on top of the skillet and carefully flip it over. Let the skillet sit for a minute before lifting it up. This will allow gravity to do its thing and the apples will release from the pan.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Tarte tatin is best when served the day it is baked. As it sits, the crust will start to become soggy.
Freeze tarte tatin for up to 1 month. After it has cooled, wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.
Reheat at 325 F for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through.
Make sure the caramel is thick and coats the apples well. Also, use cold pastry dough, which will result in a flaky texture.
Simply cook the apples on the stovetop, then transfer them to a greased 9 or 10-inch round cake pan. Top with the pie dough and bake according to the recipe.
They may have been overcooked. You want them just turning soft on the outside when cooked in the caramel. Be sure to use crisp apples, like Braeburn, which keeps its shape with the high heat.
If you enjoyed this recipe, try these desserts next!
Did you love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and if you REALLY loved it, consider leaving a comment further down the page.
Get the Recipe: Apple Tarte Tatin
- 1 homemade pie dough (half recipe), or defrosted puff pastry
- Juice of half a lemon
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed, very cold
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 8 to 9 small Honeycrisp or Braeburn apples, 3 pounds
- Crème fraîche or softly whipped cream, unsweetened, for serving (optional)
- Roll the pastry dough out and cut into a circle about one inch larger than the pan (11 inch diameter). Place on a lightly floured plate in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Peel and core the apples. Cut into thirds and scoop out any seeds. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apples and toss to coat.
- Sprinkle sugar into an even layer on a 10-inch skillet (ideally nonstick metal). Cook over medium-high heat until sugar starts to liquify, about 3 to 4 minutes. Start whisking the sugar, and turn heat to medium-low. As soon as the sugar is dark amber, 1 to 2 minutes longer, remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the butter. Whisk until butter is melted.
- Return the pan to the heat and add the apples cut side down. Cook over medium heat, occasionally stirring the apples until they are partially softened, about 10 minutes. During this step, the caramel might seize a bit at first, but it will thin out after a minute or two.
- Once the apples are starting to soften, remove the pan from the heat and use tongs to turn the apples so the rounded side is down. Arrange them in a concentric circle with each apple slightly overlapping the one next to it. Be sure to crowd the pan since the apples will shrink a bit in the oven. You might not use all the apple pieces and that’s okay.
- Place the chilled pastry dough on top of the fruit and tuck in the edges slightly. Cut a couple vents in the center.
- Put the skillet on a baking sheet in the preheated oven. Bake at 375℉ for 25 to 30 minutes. Tart is done when the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.
- Let the tart cool in the pan for 30 minutes (you want the caramel to solidify a bit). Run a butter knife around the edge, then invert the tart onto a serving plate (use oven mitts if the pan is still warm). If any fruit stuck to the pan, gently remove and put it back in its place in the tart. Serve warm with creme fraiche or soft whipped cream.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen and NYT Cooking.