These Sausage Stuffed Apples are the perfect sweet and savory dinner. Maybe you just finished going apple picking in the fall. Or, perhaps you're just looking for a fun, easy, and unique way to enjoy apples. This recipe fits the bill. Naturally sweet and savory with plenty of fresh herbs and flavor.
Disclosure: This recipe originally appeared on our Instagram page earlier this year, as a paid partnership with Yes! Apples. We loved this recipe so much that we had to bring it to the blog. Thanks for supporting brands that make A Full Living possible!
Not every baked apple is filled with sweet cinnamon sugar streusel, some of them are filled with flavorful ground pork.
We absolutely love making this sausage mixture filled with ultra-savory ingredients like fresh sage, thyme, garlic, and onions. There's also a kick of heat from red pepper flakes, a little added sweetness from honey, plus plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
❤️Why we love this recipe
- Made with simple ingredients - This easy recipe is made with plenty of pantry and kitchen staples. No fresh herbs? No problem, just use dried! Anything else you can find at most grocery stores.
- Delicious complex flavor - Sweet and savory, aromatic, light yet hearty, fresh and filling, this dish has it all, but made with common household items and fresh ingredients.
- Great for meal prep - These little beauties reheat super well, and almost get better and more juicy the next few days after. A dream come true!
- Easy to portion - These are really great to portion out. Each serving is one whole apple (two pieces or halves), but obviously the apples are split in half, right down the middle. Eat one half at a time for a side dish or substantial snack. As a main dish, eat two pieces.
- Feed a crowd - Do you have an upcoming fall party to celebrate Autumn? Maybe you're looking for a unique and filling idea for Halloween or Thanksgiving even. You'll love these savory baked apples!
Here are the ingredients you'll need for these yummy roasted apples with pork. You can find full quantities and nutritional information in the recipe card.
- Apples - Medium to large apples. Choose something that will stand up well to roasting, like honeycrisp, cortland or braeburn. We used KORU apples, which are sweet, crunchy and great for cooking. You want an apple that will retain its shape well.
- Ground pork - We use plain ground pork for this, but you could also use breakfast sausage or some kind. Just be aware, that breakfast sausage that comes in a loose texture will have some added salt, and vinegar, so go easy on the added salt. We'd recommend adding about ½ the salt the recipe calls for, but it truly depends on the brand and we can't make any guarantees!
- Unsalted butter - Olive oil can also be used but butter just contributes to the richness in this dish.
- Onion, garlic & celery - This trio makes a great base to the flavor. Garlic and onion powder can be used instead if you prefer.
- Fresh thyme & sage - Adds a whole new layer of earthiness to the dish. You can use dried herbs here as well.
- Nutmeg - Adds a bit of sweetness that just pairs so well with all of the other flavors.
- Red pepper flakes - Optional, we promise it doesn't make the pork sausage "spicy" but just adds a little extra something.
- Kosher salt & black pepper
- Parmesan cheese - Freshly grated over top, as well as mixed into the pork sausage meatballs!
- Honey - Technically optional and very much to taste, but we love a little drizzle of sweet honey over top just before adding parmesan. Maple syrup could also be used.
- Flaky sea salt - A sprinkle of flaky sea salt is highly recommended to tie everything together!
- Fried sage - Really want to impress someone or go the extra mile? Try frying sage in a little bit of olive oil for a few seconds on medium-low heat in a skillet on the stove. Then, remove the sage from the oil, and set it aside. Add a light sprinkle of salt and let the leaves dry completely.
- Mince garlic, fresh thyme, and sage.
- Finely chop onions and celery. You want small pieces since these are going inside the pork mixture.
- Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.
- Prepare a baking sheet or large baking dish with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
Step 1 - Prepare the apples
- Very carefully, starting at the very top of the apples and through the stem, cut each apple in half lengthwise. Make sure to use a very sharp knife.
- Core the apples, & remove seeds in the middle. We used a small cookie scoop. You can use a small spoon or melon baller as well.
- Remove apple flesh from the center, leaving about a ½-inch “shell” on the apple. You want to remove the entire core of the apple, but not make the remaining apple too thin. It should be able to support the pork mixture.
- Cut a small piece of the apple off the back of it so it can lay flat while it bakes.
- Dice the apple flesh from the inside of the apple as well as the backs, we will add these to the meat mixture.
Step 2 - Sauté the onion, garlic & aromatics
In a hot skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add in the finely chopped onion and celery with a pinch of salt, and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
Add in the chopped apple pieces, garlic, fresh thyme & sage, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and another good pinch of salt.
Cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes, then remove from the skillet to cool.
Step 3 - Assemble the meat mixture
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a large bowl, combine ground pork with parmesan cheese, the remaining salt, and pepper, plus the onion, celery, and apple mixture.
Gently fold ingredients together to combine.
Step 4 - Stuff the apples
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll the meat into eight balls. They should be roughly 3 - 3.5 ounces in size. Gently place the meat mixture inside of the cored apples.
Step 5 - Roast
Roast the apples for 20-25 minutes, to soften the apples slightly, as well as cook the meat all the way through. The pork must reach an internal temperature of 160°F to be safe to consume, according to USDA regulations.
Step 6 - Garnish and enjoy!
Now, simply top with a drizzle of honey (optional), with more fresh herbs, parmesan cheese, flakey sea salt, pepper, and crispy fried sage if desired.
✨Tips & tricks
- Use firm yet sweet apples. Make sure your apples will stand up well to roasting before making this recipe. Also, you'll want to make sure they aren't too tart, but more on the sweet side. You'll need some natural sweetness in this dish for best results.
- Don't overcook the pork. Make sure the internal temperature reaches at least 160°F before taking it out of the oven, but don't cook it for too long after that. You want the meatballs to retain their juices, as well as allow the apple to hold up well.
✏️Substitutions & variations
The ingredients are pretty straightforward, but here's a few simple swaps you can make.
- Dairy free - Use a dairy free or vegan butter and parmesan here if you don't eat any dairy.
- Vegan - Follow the swaps for dairy free, and just make sure you're using your favorite ground pork or sausage substitute.
- Spicy - Love spice? Add hot italian sausage and extra red pepper flakes!
- Use chicken or turkey instead - If you don't eat pork, no problem, ground chicken or turkey are absolutely perfect for this recipe.
- Maple & brown sugar - You can use equal amounts of maple syrup in place of honey to garnish the apples. You could also add a sprinkle of brown sugar, or brown sugar replacement to add a lovely additional flavor to the apples.
💭Frequently asked questions
Since there are only a few basic ingredients in this recipe, we highly recommend using fresh garlic and onion if possible.
However, you can use garlic or onion powder if that is all you have on hand. One garlic clove is equivalent to ¼ of a teaspoon of garlic powder, for example, so keep this in mind.
Yes, absolutely! This is one part of the recipe that is a simple swap. Simply use about 1 teaspoon of each dried thyme and sage in place of fresh.
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Luckily, this recipe is pretty standard and you really don't need much to make it.
- We love our enameled cast iron skillet, as it's super easy to clean, but you can use any skillet you'd like to bring this dish together.
- If using enameled cast iron, make sure to use silicone or wooden utensils, so you don't scrape the bottom of the pan.
- We love this self-sharpening knife set we gifted ourselves recently. Sharp knives are a must!
- An oven-safe meat thermometer is such a great tool to have. Never under or overcook meat again, always take it out at the right time.
- A microplane is nice to have for grating parmesan perfectly.
🥣Storage & reheating
Store leftovers in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 5 days. We don't recommend freezing these.
Reheat gently at 60% power in the microwave, to avoid drying out the pork.
You could also reheat in the oven or air fryer by placing the apple halves in an oven-safe dish with a few tablespoons of water. Heat until warmed all the way through at roughly 325°F. This will take about 15 minutes.
On the stovetop, simmer in a skillet, covered with a few tablespoons of water until heated through.
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Sausage Stuffed Apples
- 4 medium apples, halved lengthwise (used something firm and sweet, like koru apples, honeycrisp, or braeburn)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 16 ounces ground pork or sausage (could use ground turkey or chicken instead)
- 2 ounces parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Honey, fried sage, thyme, parmesan, pepper, sea salt for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment. Core the apples, & remove seeds in the middle. Remove apple flesh from the center, leaving about a ½ inch “shell” on the apple. Cut a small piece of the apple off the back of it so it can lay flat. Dice the apple flesh & set it aside.
- To a hot skillet, melt butter, then add onion, & celery with a pinch of salt. Cook until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes, then add in apple pieces with garlic, sage, thyme, nutmeg & red pepper flakes. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- After the mixture has cooled, add to a large mixing bowl with ground pork, parmesan cheese, & the remaining salt and pepper. Mix until well combined. Separate the pork mixture into 8 equal-sized balls, & place in the hole in the center of the apples. (Each pork meatball should weigh about 3.25 ounces).
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until pork reads at least 160°F inside. Garnish with a drizzle of oil, honey, flakey sea salt, fresh pepper, thyme, fried sage, & parmesan. That’s it! Enjoy!
- A serving is 2 apple halves, for a total of 4 servings. This recipe makes 8 apple halves.
- For substitutions, please see the body of this post.
These nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy and are only estimates. We cannot guarantee the accuracy.