Cider-Braised Apples, Bacon, and Garlic

A savory, apple cider-based sauce infused with alliums and fresh sage pairs with tart-sweet apples and crispy bacon lardons in this simple stovetop braise.

Cider Braised Apples, Bacon, & Garlic

Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Christine Keely 

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
40 mins
4 servings

Lightly bronzed apples retain their body and texture in this simple, savory side dish. The apples’ tart-sweetness is contrasted by the fatty, salty bacon in the form of crisp-tender lardons as well as in the flavor of the braising liquid of blended apple cider and chicken stock. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, the braising liquid is cooked down to make a delicious sauce for the apples. The garlic and sage scent each bite, making this seemingly simple dish complex and craveable.

Frequently asked questions

What should I serve with braised apples? 

Our testers loved this recipe and found it versatile enough to pair with anything from grits or oatmeal for breakfast, to roast pork, pan-seared pork chops, or a roast chicken for dinner. One tester noted, “the braised apples would also be divine spooned over some soft polenta.”

Can I make this recipe ahead of time? 

The lardons can be prepared through step 1 and stored in an airtight container in a refrigerator for up to 2 days.

What wine pairs well with this recipe? 

Look for a fruity, low-tannin red wine, like the Division Les Petits Fers Gamay Noir, to pour with braised apples. 

Notes from the Food & Wine Test Kitchen

When choosing a braising apple, look for apples that are firm but also tender enough to benefit from this dish’s relatively short simmering time. Gala and Lady apples are a good choice here.

If you like to be precise you can use a measuring cup at step 3 to gauge how much your sauce has reduced and how much longer it may need to go.


  • 5 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1- x 1/2-inch lardons

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 small (about 4-ounce) apples (such as Lady or Gala) (unpeeled), halved lengthwise and cored

  • 6 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise

  • 1 sage sprig

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 3/4 cup lower-sodium chicken broth

  • 3/4 cup unfiltered apple cider


  1. Combine bacon and oil in a large, deep skillet; cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and starting to render, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a bowl; set aside.

  2. Add apples to skillet, cut sides down, and increase heat to medium-high; cook, undisturbed, until well browned, 4 to 5 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to prevent over-browning. Flip apples, and arrange bacon, garlic, and sage around apples. Sprinkle apples with salt and pepper. Add broth and cider; bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low; partially cover, and cook, undisturbed, until apples are tender but retain their shape, 8 to 10 minutes. (Do not flip apples during braising.)

  3. Transfer apples to a serving plate using a slotted spoon; cover with foil to keep warm. Bring cider mixture to a simmer over medium-high; cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half and slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon cider mixture, bacon, and garlic over apples; serve immediately.

Originally appeared in Food & Wine magazine, November 2023

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