Last updated on October 12th, 2023
An old fashioned treat, spicy cinnamon candies give these Red Hot cinnamon apples their bright red color and sweet flavor.
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My paternal grandmother’s name was Bess. I don’t have a lot of memories of Bess’ cooking. Not like my other grandmother. Except for these red hot cinnamon apples. Bess didn’t just make these during the holidays. She made them every time I came for a visit, probably because she knew I liked them.
Not long ago, my eyes passed over a display of cinnamon imperial candies in the grocery store and instantly the image of my grandma’s kitchen in her 1900’s bungalow flashed across my memory. I can see myself as a grade schooler, sitting at her formica kitchen table with chairs that creaked whenever you moved.
The memory of these apples was almost palatable, and without thinking I grabbed a bag of cinnamon imperials and went in search of apples. I had no idea what else was required to make these, but I knew I would figure it out. I love how food can evoke such strong emotion, don’t you? It’s not just about tasting good. I love that for a brief moment, it can take you back to a long forgotten time when life was simple and sweet.
The best apples for this recipe
When it comes to cooking and baking, some varieties of apples hold up better than others. Choose an apple with a firm texture that will keep its shape under intense heat. I used Granny Smith apples, but other varieties to consider include Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Fuji or Jazz.
Ingredients and tools you will need
Turns out, making Red Hot Cinnamon Apples is easy as … apple pie? With only four ingredients, these apples are not only super simple to prepare, but also a treat that’s easy on your budget. To make this recipe, you’ll need:
How to make Red Hot Cinnamon Apples
Before you get started, peel, core, and slice the apples. Even after cutting the apples with the apple corer, I went ahead and sliced the segments in half again, making 16 slices per apple.
Combine the water, Red Hots and sugar in a medium stockpot. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the candy and sugar are completely dissolved.
Add the apples to the saucepan. Continue to simmer until the apples are tender but still have a slight bite, about 5-10 minutes. Keep in mind that if your apples are cut thicker than mine, they may take longer to cook.
Remove the apples from the heat and allow them to cool. The apples will have a light pink hue at this point. The apples will continue to absorb the candy syrup the longer they sit. If you really want them to have a deep red color, allow the apples to soak in the candy syrup for several hours.
Instant Pot instructions
Combine the water, candy and sugar in the metal insert of the Instant Pot. Bring the water to a simmer using the SAUTE function until the candy and sugar are dissolved. Turn the SAUTE function off.
Add the apples and stir to coat them in the candy syrup. Secure the lid, select the MANUAL function and set the cook time for five minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
Slow cooker instructions
Bring the water, candy and sugar to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Dump the apples into the insert of the slow cooker. Pour the hot syrup over the apple and stir to coat. Cook the apples on high for one hour or on low for two hours.
Storage, freezing and reheating instructions
Storage. Once the apples have cooled, transfer them along with any syrup into an airtight container with a lid and store them in the refrigerator. Consume within five days.
Freezing. Freezing will change the texture of the apples, leaving them watery and spongy. Therefore, I do not recommend freezing this recipe.
Reheating. Cinnamon apples can be served either hot or cold. To reheat, transfer a serving of apples into a microwave safe dish. Reheat in the microwave for a minute or two until heated through. You can also reheat them in a saucepan on the stove over medium low heat for 10-15 minutes.
Cook the apples in the candy syrup for five minutes then remove from the heat. Pack the apples into clean and sterilized pint or quart jars. Pour any candy syrup from the pot over the apples, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace. Secure the jars with a lid and a band. Process using the water bath canning method for 20 minutes. Remove the jars from the hot water and cool at room temperature. Remove the bands and test the lids for a seal after 24 hours. Store canned apples in a cool, dry place for up to 18 months.
Frequently asked questions
Can I skip peeling the apples?
The peels will not break down during cooking and they won’t absorb the cinnamon candy syrup. I prefer to take the extra step and remove the peels, but it’s your choice.
Where do I find Red Hots?
Look for Red Hots in the candy aisle of your grocery store. I usually find them packaged in 5-ounce cardboard boxes rather than plastic bags. You could also use Hot Tamales candy, but I find these candies don’t have the same strong cinnamon flavor as Red Hots.
If you can’t find Red Hots in the candy aisle, check the baking aisle for cinnamon imperial sprinkles. Cinnamon imperials is the generic name for Red Hots. However, this may be a more costly option. If you don’t have an urgent need for cinnamon imperials right away, I recommend waiting until closer to the holidays. I can alway find large, cheap bags of cinnamon imperial candies at the grocery store around Christmastime.
Can I cut the apples into a different shape, such as in rings or whole with the center cut out?
Yes, but you may need to add 10-15 minutes of additional cook time.
Red Hot Cinnamon Apples
- 6 medium tart apples
- 2 cups water
- 3/4 cup Red Hots cinnamon imperials candy
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Peel, core and slice the apples and set aside.
- Bring the water, candy and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until candy has dissolved.
- Add the apples. Simmer uncovered until the apples are tender, about five minutes. Remove the apples from the heat and allow them to cool slightly before serving. For a deeper red color, let the apples continue to soak in the syrup for several hours.
- Remove the apples with a slotted spoon into serving dishes. Drizzle any remaining syrup over the top.