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How to Dehydrate Apples

Dehydrated apples are one of the most delicious and healthy apple snacks. They bring all the flavor of apple pie and all the texture of potato chips—no wonder kids and adults both love them!

Here you’ll learn everything you need to know to make your own apple chips, from the supplies and ingredients necessary to the different ways to make them.

And if you need a dehydrator, the Nesco Snackmaster has been an absolute workhorse for my family. One of my kids loads it every day during apple season and it’s all-you-can-eat apple chips for everyone!

Dehydrated Apple Chips

Why Dehydrate Apples?

Dried apples are delicious and chewy. They’re a healthy alternative to chips or granola bars, a perfect after-school snack for children. While they might seem like a fancy treat, they’re actually quite simple to prepare.

If you have extra apples that you need to use up, dried apple chips are the perfect option for you. Drying apples is a straightforward process, and you can make a large batch all at once, so it’s time efficient, too! They can keep at room temperature for several months, and will last in the freezer even up to a year.

Furthermore, it’s much more cost-effective to dehydrate your own apples than to buy a small bag of apple chips from the grocery store. You can make a crowd-pleasing snack, use up your produce, and save money all with one project!

If you have a dehydrator, making dried apples is a very easy project. If you don’t, no worries. Here you’ll learn everything you need to know to make dried apples in the oven. If you want to try making apple chips the old-fashioned way, you can learn how to make air-dried apple chips as well!

The Best Apples to Dehydrate

Before you start making dehydrated apples, you’ll want to know what variety of apples to choose. The truth is that almost any apple variety can be dehydrated. However, there are a few varieties that tend to yield the most consistent results.

The best apples for dehydrating are firm and dense with a rich flavor. Very juicy or crisp apples don’t always lead to the perfect dried apple texture. The flavor of a dried apple is slightly more concentrated and intense than the flavor of a fresh apple.

The juicier and less firm an apple is, the less it will hold its shape when dried. Apple rings in particular can look less appealing if they shrivel up during the drying process. If you want to avoid the shriveled-apple look, choose a very firm and dense apple variety to dehydrate.

Sweet apples taste almost like a piece of candy when dried. All the sugar and sweetness in a sweet apple becomes even more concentrated during the dehydration process. If you want very sweet, almost candy-like apple chips, choose a sweet apple variety, like Fuji apples, Gala apples, and Cortland apples.

More tart or acidic apples tend to have a tangy apple flavor when dried. Granny Smith apples will make tart and fresh-tasting apple chips. Braeburn and Honeycrisp apples are also tart varieties that will give you less sugary-tasting apple chips.

Overall, if you like the taste of an apple when fresh you’ll probably like the taste of it dried. The main thing to consider is how you want your apple chips to look. A firm apple will hold its shape better than a very juicy apple during the dehydration process.

If you’d like a more detailed list, check out our suggestions for the best kinds of apples to dehydrate.

How to Dehydrate Apples Infographic

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How to Dehydrate Apples Infographic

Should You Peel Apples Before Drying Them?

One common question is whether you should peel apples before dehydrating them. It’s really a question of personal preference. There are pros and cons either way.

Dried apple skins can be slightly harder than the actual apple, so if you want your apples to have just one texture, peel the apples before dehydrating them. Some people do not prefer the look of apple skins on apple chips. If that is you, go ahead and peel away, as well.

However, just keep in mind that most of the nutrients and vitamins in apples actually come from the skin. According to Healthline, an apple with skin has over 100% more vitamin A and calcium than a peeled apple. If you want to dehydrate apples for a healthy and nutritious snack, consider leaving the peel on.

Apples, apple peels, and a knife on a cutting board.

Dried Apples vs. Apple Chips

Dried apples, apple chips, apple rings, and chewy apples are all basically versions of the same thing. The main differences are in how the apple is sliced and how long it is dried.

Dried apples are the classic chewy apple slices. To make dried apples, you usually slice and core an apple traditionally and dry it until it is slightly leathery and still a little bit soft. Dried apple slices aren’t as crisp as apple chips and they don’t usually have the circular shape of apple rings.

Apple chips are the crunchy, crispy version of dehydrated apples. They may be sliced traditionally or sliced across into rings. Make your apple slices as thin as possible before dehydrating so that they become crisp. Dry the apple chips until they are hard and crunchy. The thinner your slices are, the more crispy and potato chip like the final texture will be.

Apple rings can be crunchy or chewy. The only distinction is that apple rings are cross-sections of an apple so that you can see the star shape or core ring in the middle. Apple rings are a favorite with children. They make a perfect addition to any picnic lunch.

Chewy apples are just any version of dehydrated apples that has been dehydrated for a shorter amount of time. If you want to make chewy apple slices, dehydrate apples until they are just beginning to get leathery and are not yet crunchy.

Any one of these dehydrated apple versions is a delicious and nutritious snacking choice. If you want your dehydrated apple slices to be harder or more crunchy but don’t want to put them back on the dehydrator, just freeze them for an hour or two, and enjoy them straight out of the freezer.

How to Dehydrate Apples in the Oven

If you have an oven and apples, it’s a simple process to dehydrate the fruit. First, decide how crispy you’d like your dried apples to be. If you like the texture to be more like chips, you’ll bake the apple slices in the oven for a longer amount of time. If you like chewy dried apples, pull them out a little bit sooner.

Dried Apple Chips in the Oven

Supplies to Dehydrate Apples in the Oven

Here’s what you need to dehydrate apples in the oven:

Steps to Dehydrate Apples in the Oven

  1. Preheat the oven to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Wash your apples and if you’d like, peel them.
  3. Core the apples and slice them into either rings or traditional slices. Keep the slices pretty thin. The thinner the slice, the crispier your dehydrated apples will be.
  4. Blot the apple slices or rings with a kitchen towel. This is just to remove any excess juice before the baking process.
  5. Brush the apples with lemon juice to prevent browning.
  6. Cover your baking trays with parchment paper. Place the apple slices on the trays. You can really pack them on since they will shrink a little bit as their juice evaporates. However, keep the slices in one layer.
  7. Put the trays in the oven. Dehydrate apples in the oven for between one and a half hours and three hours. Three hours will yield very crispy apple chips, and less than two hours will yield softer chewy apples.
  8. Let the apple chips cool completely. Place them in a sealed container.
  9. Enjoy!
round apple chips and a spatula in the background.

How to Air-Dry Apples

Supplies to Air-Dry Apples

It is possible to make dried apples without an oven or a food dehydrator. It takes more time and has less consistent results, but if you have a fairly cool and dry area in your house you can dehydrate apples by air-drying them.

Air-dried apples tend to be softer and chewier. If you hang apples to dry somewhere too warm or humid, they may mold or rot before they dry. However, there’s a way to speed up the process a little bit. If you place a fan near your apple slices, they will dry faster and more consistently because of the air circulation.

Here’s what you’ll need to air dry apples:

Steps to Air-Dry Apples

  1. Wash the apples. Peel them if desired.
  2. Core the apples and cut them into thin cross-section slices. The thinner the better since air drying takes a longer time than drying apples in the oven or in a dehydrator.
  3. Brush slices with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
  4. Hang the slices on a string in a dry area of your house. Make sure none of the slices are touching, or the liquid in the slices will not be able to evaporate.
  5. Direct an air fan toward the sliced apples and turn it on. Air circulation will help the liquid in the apples to evaporate more quickly.
  6. Depending on the humidity of your home, the apple slices will be dried and chewy about 3 days to 1 week after you hang them up.
  7. Store the apples in a sealed container. It is best to refrigerate apples that are air-dried since they aren’t as consistently dry as those dehydrated in the oven or a dehydrator.
  8. Enjoy!

How to Dehydrate Apples with a Dehydrator

Little Girl With Dehydrated Apples

Supplies You Need to Dehydrate Apples With a Dehydrator

If you have a food dehydrator, drying apples is very easy. A food dehydrator is probably the top choice for making dehydrated apples. That’s because it keeps warm, dry air circulating around the sliced apples so that they dry very consistently and quickly.

Here’s everything you need to dehydrate apples in a food dehydrator:

Steps to Dehydrate Apples with a Dehydrator

  1. Wash the apples. Peel them if desired.
  2. Slice the apples. They shouldn’t be too thick. About 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch thick is a good guideline.
  3. Brush the apples with lemon juice or dip them in saltwater. Either method will prevent the apples from browning in the dehydrator.
  4. Place the apple slices in your dehydrator. It is fine if the slices are touching, but try not to let them overlap.
  5. Turn on your dehydrator to the recommended setting. Usually, it is somewhere around 135 degrees Fahrenheit, but different models will have different recommendations.
  6. Dehydrate apples for about 12 hours. Try a slice and see if you want it more crunchy after 10 or 11 hours.
  7. Cool the slices completely and store them in a sealed container.

Here are some of my favorite dehydrators.

Best overall:

Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator

Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator, For Snacks, Fruit, Beef Jerky, Gray

Best on a budget:

Elite Gourmet EFD319 Food Dehydrator

Elite Gourmet EFD319 Food Dehydrator, 5 BPA-Free 11.4

Best for large quantities of food:

Colzer Food Dehydrator

Colzer Food Dehydrator 12 Stainless Steel Trays, Food Dryer for Fruit, Meat, Beef, Jerky, Herbs, with Adjustable Timer and Temperature Control

Which Method Should You Use to Dehydrate Apples?

Whether or not you have a food dehydrator, it’s good to consider all the options for how to dehydrate apples. If you have a food dehydrator, making apple chips in one of these is easy and yields consistent results. Dried apples made in a dehydrator tend to be more chewy or crunchy than crispy.

However, if you like crispier apple chips, dehydrate apples in the oven. The heat of the oven will make the apples more crispy like a potato chip. Just be sure not to over-bake the apple chips or they may have a slightly bitter, burnt flavor.

If you like your dried fruit to be chewy, dehydrate apples the old-fashioned way. While air-drying apples takes more time, this method yields the chewiest apples. Air-dried apples have a texture like soft fruit leather. These are sure to be a hit with people who like chewy candy.

Woman with Dried Apples

How to Use Apple Chips

Once you know how to dehydrate apples, you may wonder what to do with them. Apple chips are a great snack out-of-hand while on the go or watching a movie. Kids love them since they taste like candy, and parents love them since they are healthier than candy. If you’ve made a large batch of apple chips and are looking for other ways to use them, try some of these ways to use dried apples:

  • Put them on ice cream
  • Top a salad
  • Include them in trail mix
  • Sprinkle on a yogurt
  • Stick them in cookie batter

Now You Know How to Dehydrate Apples!

Now you know all about how to make dried apples in three different ways! Dehydrate apples next time you bring a bag home from your local orchard or grocery store. It’s a fun project and a delicious snack.

Excited for more apple content? Visit my apple trees page to learn more about apple planting, growing, picking, cooking, and more!