These gluten free apple fritters are crispy outside, tender inside, and just sweet enough—with a simple cinnamon sugar glaze.
Why make apple fritters?
Cooking and baking with apples is guaranteed to make your house smell amazing and lift your spirits. How’s that for a promise?
This super simple batter apple fritter batter, fried in the right oil (you only need something with a high smoke-point, like grapeseed oil and/or vegetable shortening), beats any donut, any day. Save the ground cinnamon for the glaze, though, because adding it to the fritter batter turns the inside an unappetizing brown color.
These apple fritters are made with the simplest batter that’s not that different from buttermilk pancakes, just with different proportions, of course with diced apples. And instead of cooking them on a skillet, we’re frying them.
When you fry them in oil held at a consistent temperature of 350°F, the outside of the batter begins to brown rather quickly, which creates a crispness once they cool. It also seals the inside from absorbing more oil, which prevents any sogginess, and allows the inside to cook gently.
If the oil is much hotter than 350°F, you risk burning the outside before the inside is cooked all the way through. Much cooler, and the fritters won’t brown.
Can I bake this batter instead of frying it?
In a word, no. When I was testing this recipe, I got the proportions wrong quite a few times before I got them right. And when I got them wrong, rather than throwing away the batter, I decided to place it in the wells of a muffin tin and bake.
When the batter was too-thick, baking it as muffins worked somewhat. I mean, we certainly ate the failures since even if the texture is wrong, the results were edible with these sort of ingredients.
For actual gluten free apple fritters, with that classic crisp outside and tender inside with fork tender apples studded throughout, you must fry in a few inches of oil.
I do not recommend making this recipe in an air fryer, either. Air fryers are powerful little convection ovens, but they’re still a form or baking. This batter is quite wet, and doesn’t bake well.
I do think there’s potential for my creating a recipe for baked apple fritter-style muffins. But it will take some doing, and I’m not quite there yet. For the time being, if you’re looking to bake, not fry, I recommend our recipe for gluten free apple cider donuts, a favorite fall recipe every year.
Which apple is best here?
Granny Smith apples are often my choice when I’m making an apple pie, especially one that calls for baking the apples at a high temperature, for a substantial period of time. They’re very firm and rather tart, so they hold their shape during baking like that.
Here, we’re not baking these fritters, but rather frying them. Since these apple fritters are relatively flat, and not super puffy, they don’t fry for that long.
If you do use a very firm apple like Granny Smith, just cut it into a smaller dice. That way it will still become tender during frying.
Almost any other apple, other than something like a golden delicious apple that tends to have very tender flesh, or a red delicious apple that tends to be mealy, will work at a regular dice. I really like Empire and Macintosh apples here.
What’s the best gluten free flour to use?
There is no need for xanthan gum in this recipe. To make things as simple as possible, the recipe calls for a combination of an all purpose gluten free flour (like Better Batter or my mock Better Batter blend, both discussed at the link) and cornstarch.
The cornstarch serves to lighten the flour so that the batter is properly soft, but not runny. If you’re using a higher starch blend like Cup4Cup or my mock Cup4Cup blend, in place of 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, please use 2 tablespoons more of the blend.
If you’d prefer, you can use my gum-free gluten free flour blend in place of both the all purpose gluten free flour blend and the cornstarch. You’d need 1/2 cup (70 g) of that gum-free blend, which would be made up of 46 grams superfine white rice flour + 15 grams potato starch + 9 grams tapioca starch/flour. If you use this blend, please use 1 tablespoon less buttermilk.
Ingredients and substitutions
In place of buttermilk, whether you’re dairy free or you’ve simply run out of buttermilk, my advice is similar. Use half milk (nondairy if you’re dairy free) and half plain yogurt (nondairy if you’re dairy-free).
“Souring” milk (nondairy or not) with a bit of acid like lemon juice or vinegar simply doesn’t make a liquid that resembles the viscosity of actual buttermilk. Resist the urge!
Since there is only one egg in this recipe, you should be able to use a “chia egg.” In a small bowl, place one tablespoon ground white chia seeds and 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, then mix and allow it to gel.
In place of cornstarch, you can try using arrowroot. If you are corn-free, you’ll also need a confectioners’ sugar that doesn’t contain cornstarch.
Gluten Free Apple Fritters
For the fritters
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons [53 g] all purpose gluten free flour I used Better Batter (See Recipe Notes)
- 2 tablespoons [18 g] cornstarch
- ¼ cup 50 granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Neutral oil for frying (I like a combination of equal parts grapeseed oil and Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening)
- 1 egg 50 g, weighed out of shell, at room temperature
- 1 large firm apple, peeled, cored and diced (see Recipe Notes)
For the glaze
- 1 cup [115 g] confectioners’ sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon lukewarm water plus more as necessary
- In a large bowl, place the flour, cornstarch, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine well. Set the bowl aside.
- Peel, core, and dice the apple into pieces that are about the size of a thumbnail. If they’re too large, they won’t become tender during frying. If they’re too small, they’ll disappear into the batter. Add the diced apple to the large bowl of dry ingredients, and toss to coat. Set the bowl aside again.
- Place about 3-inches of frying oil in a medium-size, heavy-bottom pot or fryer. Clip a deep-fry/candy thermometer to the side of the pot or fryer, and bring the oil to a consistent temperature of 350°F over medium-high heat.
- While the oil is coming to temperature, finish making the fritter batter. Place the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl and whisk to combine well, then add the mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and diced apples. Mix until just combined. Once the oil has reached temperature, scoop the fritter batter in 1/4-cup portions into the hot oil, taking care not to crowd the oil. Working quickly and taking care not to press the batter into the bottom of the fryer pot or basket, flatten the dough a bit. Fry until very lightly golden brown on the underside, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip the fritters, and continue to fry for another 2 minutes or until golden brown on the second side. Flip once more as necessary to brown the fritters evenly. Remove the finished fritters from the frying oil, and place on a wire rack placed over paper towels to drain and cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batter.
- In a small bowl, place the confectioners’ sugar and ground cinnamon, and mix to combine. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix well, until a very thick paste forms. Add more water by the drop, mixing to combine well, until the glaze drizzles off the spoon. Using a fork, drizzle the glaze over the cooled fritters. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature before serving.