The Easiest French Apple Tart
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This French apple tart recipe is simplicity at its best: buttery pastry dough + unpeeled, thinly sliced apples + a sprinkling of sugar + a few pads of butter. That’s it! It’s so easy, so pretty, and so delicious.
A few weeks ago I came across a photo of an apple tart in Sarah Copeland’s Every Day is Saturday that stopped me in my tracks. For one, it was stunning. But two, the apples had their skins on!
I am ALWAYS peeling apples for pies, tarts, galettes, and the like, but: maybe, this photo had me wondering, I didn’t have to?
It turns out: I didn’t.
Last Sunday, for a local event, I made, as planned, two apple-frangipane galettes, one of my all-time favorite fall desserts. With the extra round of pastry I had on hand, I gave the unpeeled-apple tart a whirl.
The result? Where to begin?
The Beauty of A French Apple Tart…
… lies in its simplicity.
If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I’m always pushing the frangipane with these sorts of desserts — I find the combination of almond cream + flaky pastry + fruit to be irresistible.
But this tart, without the frangipane, is just as irresistible, just as difficult to pass on seconds, just as impossible to avoid slicing off teensy slivers every time you walk by. And it couldn’t be simpler: Apples. Sugar. Butter.
The hardest part about making this tart is slicing the apples thinly and keeping the apple “fans” together as you slice. I appreciated a note from Sarah in the recipe in regard to arranging the apple slices: “Don’t overthink it!” (A French apple tart I had made years ago, which called for creating apple “roses” drove me nearly mad.)
But Sarah’s right: the elegance of this presentation is in the union of random and uniform. It’s such a fun tart to assemble but an even more fun one to eat. I highly recommend whipping up some heavy cream and salting it just a touch more than you might normally. The sweet with the salty is, well… c’est parfait.
Note: The recipe below follows Sarah’s method for the filling but not the crust. Her “easier-than-pie-apple-tart” calls for making a gluten-free press-in-the-pan crust made with almond flour, which looks and sounds lovely. The recipe below calls for my favorite, foolproof, all-purpose, all-butter food processor pastry dough. It comes together in less than five minutes and yields the flakiest of flaky crusts. Bonus: no blind-baking (for this tart at least) required!
How to Make a French Apple Tart Ahead of Time
Last fall I learned you could freeze entirely assembled un-baked pies; then bake the frozen-solid pies directly from the freezer… no thawing required. This fall, I gave the method a go with this French apple tart.
The result? Five stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
For this recipe, simply follow the process through step 5, stopping after you add the cubed butter. Transfer the tart to an airtight bag; then transfer to the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, proceed with the recipe, baking the tart directly from the freezer (i.e. no need to thaw in the fridge or on the counter overnight.
PS: 9 Apple Recipes to Make Right Now
How to Make a French Apple Tart: A Step-by-Step Guide
Make the dough. Gather your ingredients: flour, salt, sugar, butter, ice water. (Note: The pictures below show a double batch of dough being made; the recipe in the recipe box is for a single batch of dough.) First pulse the flour, sugar and salt together.
Add the butter and pulse 10 times (about).
The butter should be the size of peas (about).
Add ice water.
Pulse again about 10 to 15 times or until the dough is still crumbly, but holds together when pinched.
Divide dough between two clean tea towels. I love these tea towels by Now Designs.
Gather towel into a beggar’s purse, and squeeze to form a round.
Transfer one to the freezer for a future use.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the remaining round into a circle about 12- to 13-inches in diameter.
Fold dough into quarters for easy transfer to tart pan. Sorry no picture of the filled-in tart pan. At this point, the tart pan should chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut 3 to 4 apples straight down around the core to create 4 “cheeks”. Then slice thinly, keeping the cheeks together.
Fill your tart shell with fans of apples, cutting as necessary to fit.
Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar.
Dot with 1/4 cup cubed butter.
Bake till slightly caramelized at the edges. Let cool before serving …
…or packing away to bring to a party! Any excuse to break out the Pie Box.Print
The Easiest French Apple Tart
- Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Yield: 1 tart
Dough recipe: This is the only pie dough, tart dough, galette dough, pastry I use. It’s foolproof. Here are five recipes I use it in.
Dough can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the fridge or made weeks in advance and stored in the freezer. I typically make a double batch and freeze one round for a future use, but I’ve written the recipe below to yield one pastry round.
The filling for this French apple tart recipe is inspired by Sarah Copeland’s Every Day is Saturday, in which there is a lovely gluten-free variation.
Save your pie dough scraps and make cinnamon snails.
For the tart dough:
- 1 1/4 cups (160g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon table or kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons (114 g) cold, cubed butter, salted or unsalted
- 1/4 C. + 1 T. (71 g) ice water
For the apple tart:
- 3 to 4 apples, I typically use Honey Crisp; use what you like
- 1/4 cup (57 g) butter, salted or unsalted
- 1/4 cup (61 g) sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- confectioner’s sugar to taste
- flaky sea salt, such as maldon, if you have it, kosher or other salt if you don’t
- Make the pastry: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and salt together. Add the cold, cubed butter to the food processor. Pulse at 1-second intervals until butter is the size of peas—should be about 10 quick pulses. Add the ice water and pulse again about 10 times until the mixture is crumbly but holds together when pinched. Lay a clean tea towel on a work surface. Dump the crumbly dough mixture into the center of it. Grab the four corners of the towel together and twist to create a beggar’s purse, pressing the dough into a round.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12- or 13-inch round. Use as much flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking, and every few rolls, flip the dough over. Transfer dough to a tart pan with a removable bottom. Fit the dough into the pan, trimming the edges. (Save the scraps; see notes above.) Transfer to freezer for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF and place a rack in the center of the oven.
- Prepare the apples. Cut the “cheeks” of the apples off the core into four pieces — each piece will have one large flat side. Lay each piece on its flat side and slice thinly, keeping the slices together as you go. Arrange the slices around the tart in any pattern you desire, fanning the apples as you go. You may need to cut some of the apple fans to fit.
- Sprinkle evenly with the 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup cubed butter. Transfer to a rimmed sheet pan. (I like to line with parchment paper for easy cleanup.) Transfer to the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, checking after 15 minutes: if it is browning too quickly, lower the temperature to 400ºF. I find 425ºF works perfectly, and I actually will turn the oven to convection bake during the last 2 to 3 minutes to get some more caramelization on the apples. This is unnecessary — the uncaramelized apple slices taste delicious, too — but I find it visually appealing and tasty.
- Make the whipped cream. Place the heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until soft peaks begin to form. (You can do this by hand, too, with a bowl and whisk.) Add confectioner’s sugar — start with 1/4 cup and add more to taste. Add a big pinch of sea salt and beat to combine and until the peaks begin getting firmer. Taste — the mixture should be slightly sweet and the salt should be noticeable, though the whipped cream should not taste salty.
- Serve the tart warm or at room temperature with dollops of the whipped cream.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: French, American
Keywords: French, apple, tart, simplified, fall, food processor, dough
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
111 Comments on “The Easiest French Apple Tart”
Thanks For Sharing this amazing recipe. My family loved it. I will be sharing this recipe with my friends. Hope the will like it.
So nice to hear, Ashok! Thanks for writing 🙂
Ali I have made this tart many times and everyone is always amazed. The crust has been a game changer for me. My all time favorite pie is cherry so I am pondering how to adapt this recipe using cherry pie filling. Thanks
So nice to hear this, Mary! I think the crust will work great for cherry pie. Is it a double crust pie or a single?
Oh. My. Heavens. This is one of the simplest, most delicious desserts I’ve made in a long time.
Oh yay! Amanda, so wonderful to hear this. Thank you so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
Made this twice so far, once with regular flour, once with GF flour. So easy, so delicious both times. Might even replace apple pie for Thanksgiving.
Wow, amazing! Great to hear re gluten-free flour … that’s not easy! Thanks so much for writing.
what was the gluten free crust recipe used in the original recipe??
Thanks so much.
Making this for Thanksgiving now. It’s a new favorite and SO easy! Delicious and not overly sweet.
Wonderful to hear this, Annie! Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
I am very excited to make this gorgeous looking tart. Given that I would like to make it gf, in your experience is it better to use a gf pre mix (such as Bob’s Mill) or just amond flour for best results?
Hi Leslie! Unfortunately, I don’t know! I’m sorry. G-f baking is so tricky, and I have never attempted a gf pie crust. I am inclined to suggest using a mix, which I think will give the pastry more structure. Good luck!
I just made this and I’m busy sending pictures to everyone I know. It’s gorgeous! Next time if I wanted to add a filling such as the fragipane or similar could I do that or would it spoil the looks?
Great to hear, Gina!! Love this. And yes: a thin layer of frangipane is delicious here. I’ve done it. It does not spoil the look and adds a wonderful flavor.
I find making crust so intimidating. This was so easy and the tart is exceptionally delicious.
So nice to hear this, Christine 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for writing. Making crust isn’t scary, right??!! 💕💕💕
Hi It looks so tempting can we use brown sugar instead of white and cinnamon to this,will it enhance the taste?
I don’t see why not!
I’m having so much fun cooking through your site this fall. 🙂 Prepped this tart for a friend’s get together tonight. When she canceled last minute, I decided to take a chance (first time for me!) and freeze the unbaked tart. Just fit in a freezer bag. I’m 36 weeks pregnant, and it occurred to me that my future self will love to have this prepped for Thanksgiving. Will report back on how it goes baking from frozen! Also I made the crust by hand since I don’t have a FP, and based on how the cinnamon snails turned out, it’s still great! Thanks!
So nice to read all of this, Cait 🙂 🙂 🙂 And oh my goodness, congratulations 💕💕💕💕 So exciting. Your future self will definitely thank you.
This was delicious! The butter and sugar caramelized while baking and tasted amazing with the apples. My crust turned out perfectly too – so flaky and crispy on the bottom. Thanks for a fantastic recipe!
Great to hear this, Jilly! Thanks so much for writing and sharing your notes 🙂 🙂 🙂
Great taste! Flaky dough, no fuss. Really recommend it!
Great to hear! Thanks for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
Can’t wait to try! What size round tart pan did you use?
Hi Erin! It’s a 9-inch tart pan.
I don’t have a tart pan, can I use a pie pan?
Yes! Or you can make it more free-form, like a galette, on a sheet pan.
Hey I love this! I have deleted all my other apple pastry recipes! It’s my go to ☺️
One question…I have made this twice (the last time with frangipane yum!) ) but have found it leaked melted butter badly each time. I put a tray under the tart pan to catch it (the second time 🤦🏼♀️) but would you have any suggestions about what I might be doing wrong with the pastry?
Hi Lynda! Great to hear. Bummer about the butter. My only thought is that when you pulsed the butter into pieces it’s possible the pieces were not quite small enough… do you think this is a possibility? When you were rolling out the dough, did you notice pieces of butter in the dough that were larger than the size of peas?
If I double this recipe for two crusts, would I pulse twice as much? So 20 vs 10 pulses? Thank you!
Hi Eleni! No need to pulse twice. Also, I have a double recipe of the dough here: How to Parbake (and Blind Bake) Pie Crust + Foolproof Flaky Pie Dough
My apple tart is in the oven as I’m writing this. I reread the recipe just now and am not clear whether the measurements for the dough are for 2 crusts. There’s no mention of dividing it in the actual recipe although you mention it earlier. I made your galettes all summer. My friends are very happy! Thanks Ali!
Hi Anthea! This dough recipe is for 1 crust. I’ll re-read the recipe to make sure it reads correctly. So nice to hear about the galette 🙂 🙂 🙂
Easy and pretty… but I did get a lot of liquid from the apples. Is there a way to prevent that?
Hi Sue! What type of apples did you use?
I usually go crazy on Christmas making desserts, but I’m just not in the mood this year, so looking forward to trying something simple and being able to bake it from frozen. Question – I think I will make it ahead and freeze it. Approximately how much time should I add to the bake time on Christmas Day?
Hi Alix! I don’t think you’ll need to add much bake time … I’d say 5 minutes or so, but do look for the visual cues. As noted in the recipe, I always crank the oven up at the end to get some caramelization on the apple edges.
Hi Ali I love this tart . The dough is so tasty . Last time I lightly buttered and floured the pan . Why doesn’t it stick to your pan I see you don’t butter and flour it
Hi Deborah! I think because the pastry itself is so buttery? I never butter and flour my pan. What material is your pan?
Just made this with the fragipane and a store bought pie crust that I rolled out. Absolutely delicious. Will try to make the dough myself next time!!
Great to hear, Cindy! Thanks so much for writing 🙂
Perfect and so yummy!!. Can I make this the day before and bake the next day? Not sure if the dough will get soggy.
Should be fine! I would reheat it at 350ºF for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Thank you so much for sharing this easy but impressive and delicious tart! My friends are just wowed when I bring it to the table – even more so when they taste it.. and can’t believe I actually made it, not bought it from a posh bakery! x
So nice to hear this, Gigi! Thanks so much for writing and sharing 🙂
I stayed up way too late last night after discovering your blog. Your videos are beautiful to watch and every dessert is fabulous looking. Got so inspired! Forgive me if it’s right in my face, but I cannot see a link to your tart pan or the size you used. Am wanting to buy to make this tart. Thank you for sharing!
Pls disregard my question about the pan size, as I found where you told someone else it’s 9″. Thx!
Glad you found it! I don’t have a link to that specific tart pan, but I believe I bought it many years ago at Fante’s in Philadelphia. I think this is the one: https://fantes.com/tart-pan-9-in/
Thank you! ❤️