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Red Hot Cinnamon Apples

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Old fashioned red hot cinnamon apples are a classic side dish or simple dessert. My great-grandma served them with pork chops but they are also wonderful with a scoop of ice cream or dollop of whipped cream.

Close up of small bowl of bright red stewed apple slices next to a jar of candied apples.

This vintage recipe only takes three ingredients to make. The candy gives these stewed apples there bright red color, cinnamon flavor and cozy nostalgic feel.

We recently hosted an apple cook-off for our family and friends. Two times a year we get everyone together and have them make something around a theme.

After much debate, my grandma settled on making these red hot apples as her entry. She said her mom used to make them to serve with pork chops.

I instantly fell in love with them. Something about the the bright red color and the vintage feel really drew me in.

Fresh apples, granulated sugar and cinnamon imperial candies ready to be made into stewed apples.

In fact, my grandma recently gave me some of her recipe boxes so there are likely to be quite a few old fashioned recipes headed your way over the next several months. If there is something in particular you would like to see, you can always let me know about it in the comments below and I will do my best to make it for you.

Anyway, these apples were a fun way to connect to the cooks who came before me. Little Dude loved them as well, which is a surprise because I would have told you he doesn’t like the red hot candies.

So if you are looking for a fun way to make cinnamon apples, this recipe is for you. Their bright color and sweet spicy taste are sure to add some variety to your plate.

Tips for Making Red Hot Apples

Red Hots are also known as Cinnamon Imperials, so you may find them other either name at the grocery store. Around Christmas time they usually have little tubs of them in the cake decorating section, but this time of year they were in a bag in the candy aisle.

It is best to use an apple that can stand up to cooking in this recipe. That way you won’t end up with bright red applesauce.

Jonathan, Jonagold, Braeburn and honeycrisp are all good options for cooking. They hold their shape wile cooking and have great flavor.

Saucepan with water, sugar, apples slices and red hot candies inside, ready to be cooked.

My grandma tried several varieties in her recipe testing and decided she liked Pink Ladies the best. I used a combination of several apples that I happened to have in my refrigerator fruit drawer.

You can leave the skins on if you prefer. In fact, I usually do in these types of recipes. However, they do look nicer if you peel the apples.

My great-grandma served these cinnamon apples in rings. My grandma made chunks, and I settled on slices.

I’ve even seen them served as apple halves, which is a really pretty presentation as well. You can use whichever preparation you would like, it doesn’t change the directions much other than larger chunks will take a little bit longer to cook through.

Saucepan filled freshly cooked apple slices in red sugar syrup.

If the apples aren’t bright red enough for you, add a couple of drops of red food coloring.

Once the apples are cooked to your liking, remove them from the heat but let them sit in the syrup as they cool. They will absorb more color and flavor as they come towards room temperature.

They would be great served warm as a side dish with pork chops or ham. Or chill them in some of the liquid for later.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you store red hot apples?

Store your stewed apples in the refrigerator for up to a week. When you transfer them to the storage container, keep them in the red juice.

They will become more vibrant and flavorful as they sit.

Where can you buy Red Hots?

Look for them in the candy aisle of the grocery store. Sometimes they also have tubs of cinnamon imperials in the baking aisle with the cake decorating supplies.

They have a long shelf life, so you can stock up on them during Christmastime if they are hard to find during other times of the year.

More Great Apple Recipes

If you like your cinnamon apples without the red, I have a couple of other options for you to try. Crockpot cinnamon apples are a great choice or you can make Instant Pot cinnamon apples if you prefer. Both are similar to Cracker Barrel’s fried apples.

Bowl of red hot apples next to a jar with more apple slices in it with fresh apples and red hot candies.

For a peek at what I made for the apple cook-off check out the apple butter mini cupcakes. I topped them with apple butter buttercream for a cute little apple dessert.

My great-grandma’s apple pie may be another option if you have a bunch of fresh apples to use up. She was famous for her pies and her apple pie with lard pie crust is the stuff of legends in my mom’s eyes.

Did you make this great recipe? Please leave a review in the recipe card below!

Close up of small bowl of bright red stewed apple slices next to a jar of candied apples.

Red Hot Cinnamon Apples

Servings: 8 Servings
Author: Carlee
Old fashioned red hot cinnamon apples are a classic side dish or simple dessert. My great-grandma served them with pork chops but they are also wonderful with a scoop of ice cream or dollop of whipped cream.
4.93 from 27 ratings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 3 lbs. apples
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup Red Hot candies


  • Wash apples. Remove cores and peel if desired. Cut into your preferred shape. Rings, chunks or slices work.
    3 lbs. apples
  • In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water over medium heat.
    1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup water
  • Add the prepared apples and red hot candies. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
    ½ cup Red Hot candies
  • Drop the heat to medium-low and simmer until the apples are cooked to your preferred tenderness. Add a couple of drops of red food coloring if you would like a deeper red color.
  • Allow to cool then serve or transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to enjoy.
  • The apples are great served warm or chilled as a side dish, snack or simple dessert.


Red Hots are also known as Cinnamon Imperials.
Store your apples in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Use a good cooking apple such as Jonathan, Pink Lady or Honeycrisp.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 241kcalCarbohydrates: 62gSodium: 9mgFiber: 4gSugar: 52g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating


Sunday 5th of November 2023

You used to be able to buy the rings in the store. Haven't seen them in ages...I have too many apples & red hots I use for Christmas hot cinnamon apples for me :)


Sunday 5th of November 2023

Perfect! I remember they used to be a staple on salad bars as well.

Kimm Gentry

Monday 28th of August 2023

My grandmother always had these red hot cinnamon apples as a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner side dish. I have her recipe book that the recipe is in. She would always put the dates by recipes she made ❤️


Tuesday 29th of August 2023

I love traditions like that! My grandma has notes on some of her favorite recipes too ❤️

Karen @karenskitchenstories

Saturday 1st of October 2022

I seriously have never heard of these but I must try them! Such a cool idea! I used to make "red hot tea" when I was a kid, lol!

Kathy S.

Monday 16th of October 2023

@Carlee, My Mother In Love was from Indiana she made these every holiday. I use her recipe for the holidays too.


Sunday 2nd of October 2022

Too funny! I am guessing these are a midwestern specialty from a certain era, but I don't know for sure.

Andrea Nine

Friday 30th of September 2022

These are my flavors! I cannot wait to try this!