This winning dessert is my grandma's recipe for the perfect apple strudel! It's a delicious, tart pastry that makes a stellar dessert along with a huge dollop of vanilla date ice cream. And it's super easy to make – it uses pre-made phyllo dough and a small number of ingredients.
Why this Recipe Works
Nothing beats the crisp and crackle of pastry with the perfectly baked apples inside. This pastry combines flaky layers of rich buttered pastry with sweet jam and apples coated with a cinnamon sugar topping.
Simple ingredients come together to make a quick and easy pastry that will always be a hit. Cinnamon, sugar, and apples were meant to be together.
This recipe is a winner is because it uses pre-made phyllo dough, which is easy to find and easy to work with to create a great pastry dessert. And it produces the perfect texture every time.
Ingredients & Substitutions
apples - you can easily make this a different kind of fruit strudel by subbing out apples for cherries or peaches. My grandma uses Granny-Smith apples only, but I've made this recipe with everything from honeycrisp to Asian pears with success.
phyllo dough - thin sheets of pastry that you can find in the freezer section next to puff pastry. This recipe is delicious with puff pastry, too.
egg - used as a wash on top of the pastry to get that wonderful golden brown color. You can leave it out and the pastry will still be delicious, but not golden. Similarly if you use butter instead of egg wash.
How to Make Easy Apple Strudel
The first step is to prepare your apples. Peel, core, and slice the apples into similar sized slices (photo 1). Next, toss the apple slices in a bowl with the juice of half a lemon until all the slices are lightly coated to prevent them from browning (photo 2).
Next, melt the stick of butter, and set the oven to 350F.
Note: Prepare your working surface by laying a clean towel over it. Cover your unused phyllo dough with a damp towel in between uses so it doesn't dry out.
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Take one sheet of your phyllo dough, lay it out on the towel, and brush the dough evenly all over with the melted butter. Place another sheet of phyllo dough over your buttered first sheet, and likewise brush melted butter over that sheet.
Repeat this process six times so that you have a stack of six phyllo dough sheets, each layered with melted butter, including the top.
Note: I have tried making this recipe with more than 6 sheets on multiple occasion and it becomes too thick for it to cook all the way through evenly.
Next, brush a quarter cup of apricot jam across the bottom four inches of your phyllo dough, (photo 3).
After that, stack your apple slices neatly in rows across the bottom of the phyllo dough, on top of the jam layer (photo 4). Top the apple filling layer with three tablespoons of brown sugar and one teaspoon of cinnamon (photo 5).
Using the towel underneath the pastry, carefully roll from left to right to envelop the apple and cinnamon filling, and keep rolling until you have a closed parcel. Transfer the strudel parcel to your baking tray, seam side down.
Note: As you can see in the photo above, I added my filling to the shorter side of the rectangle. My preference is actually to add it to the longer side of the rectangle.
With a sharp knife, cut slits across the top of the parcel about one inch apart. Brush the pastry with melted butter or an egg wash, whichever you prefer, to help brown in the oven. It browns better with egg wash, but butter is a great egg-free option. Mix one tablespoon of sugar with a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture on top.
Next, place the strudel in the oven and bake for thirty to thirty-five minutes until it is golden brown and flakey in texture.
Cut as desired (I like to cut into ~3 inch pieces) and serve with a scoop of vanilla date ice cream or whipped cream. Warm pastry with the cold ice cream is to die for!
Apple Strudel FAQs
A strudel is a traditional pastry of Viennese origin, often served for dessert. It features thin pastry sheets wrapped around a fruit filling like apple, cherry, apricot and many more.
Easy to confuse due to the similar names, strudel and streusel are actually different types of dessert. An apple strudel has thin sheets of pastry wrapped around the filling, while streusel is a crumbly sweet topping of sugar, flour, and butter that is often layered over pies and cakes.
The flavor of the apple really is the hero of this dessert. For the best tart taste, I like to use Granny Smith apples or Braeburn apples. Their flavor marries really well with the sweet, flaky pastry and the cinnamon. It's what my grandma uses, and this is her recipe.
You can keep apple strudel in the fridge, but it doesn't last that long or stay as tasty as when it's freshly made. I prefer to keep apple strudel covered on the counter overnight if you are eating it the next day. If you plan to keep it longer than that, then do refrigerate or freeze.
If you're making it in advance or in bulk, apple strudel can absolutely be frozen. It is best, however, to freeze the strudel pre-baking. Assemble as you would normally, then cover and freeze the strudel before the final baking step. Wrap it in parchment paper and freeze it in an airtight container or bag.
You can then bake when ready by defrosting overnight in the refrigerator or 45 minutes at room temperature and it'll taste as if it's been freshly made.
To reheat already baked strudel, place it on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven on a low heat for around ten minutes. You'll get a much better result than microwaving it. A toaster oven works great, too.
More Apple Season Recipes
Then you will love these other pastries and apple treats and sweets:
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Easy Apple Strudel
- 2 apples tart apples like Braeburns or Granny Smith
- ½ lemon juiced
- 1 stick butter
- 6 sheets phyllo dough
- ¼ cup apricot jam
- 3 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon separated into 1 teaspoon & ¼ tsp
- 1 egg optional
- Peel, core, and slice the apples. Toss in a bowl with the juice of half a lemon.
- Melt the stick of butter.
- Preheat to 350F.
- Prepare your surface with a clean towel. Take one sheet of phyllo dough, place it on the towel, and brush with melted butter. Cover the unused phyllo with a damp towel between use.
- Top with another sheet of phyllo dough, and brush with melted butter. Repeat until you have 6 sheets stacked.
- Add ¼ cup of apricot jam to the bottom 4-inches of the phyllo dough. Stack the apple slices across the bottom of the phyllo dough on top of the jam.
- Top with 3 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Using the towel, roll the phyllo until you have a closed parcel. Transfer to your baking tray lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat seam side down.
- Cut slits across the top ~1 inch apart. Brush with egg wash. Mix 1 tablespoon sugar with ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on top.
- Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown and flakey.
This post was originally published in October of 2017 but was republished with new photos, step by step instructions, FAQs, and tips in January of 2020. It was updated with substitutions, a video, tips, and more FAQs in October 2021.