Wood-fired dessert hits the table with these spiced Bloomin’ Grilled Apples, topped with ice cream and a boozy bourbon dulce de leche. Grab a spoon, it’s time to indulge.

Grilled bloomin' apples pair well with bourbon dulce de leche and vanilla ice cream.

Baked apples are one of my favorite ways to serve apples, and over the years I’ve been experimenting with different combinations. Splitting them open and basting them with spiced butter was the key to taking these to a new level, so here we are with bloomin’ grilled apples!

We love to serve these after eating some Pork Belly Burnt Ends, Smoky Southwest Baby Back Ribs, or dark Smoked Chicken Thighs.

Why This Recipe Works

Wood planks add flavor and retain moisture. Using a wood grilling plank allows the apples to actually balance on the grill without drying them out. Smoking at a higher temperature would otherwise not generate much smoke flavor, but the planks themselves infuse the apples with the flavor we’re looking for.

Bourbon, smoke, and apples. That’s right, bourbon. Topping the apples is a boozy dulce de leche fortified with plenty of bourbon. It’s a natural pairing for smoked apples, plus it’s freaking delicious.

Simple to make, ready to eat. Within 30 minutes of cooking time, the dessert is ready. You can prep the dulce de leche ahead of time to make it less stressful when it’s time to serve.

Serve the bloomin grilled apples on the wood planks for a dramatic display.

This recipe for bloomin’ grilled apples has two components: Grilled apples and the bourbon dulce de leche. Let’s break it down and get started!

Important Tips

  • Choose apples that are optimal for baking. I highly recommend using one of the following, which also pair well with the bourbon and wood-fire flavor: Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Cosmic Crisp, Braeburn, Golden Delicious, or Gala apples.
  • The bourbon dulce de leche might be my favorite component, due to the simple recipe and complex flavors. Not everyone enjoys (or can consume) bourbon, so opt to use a traditional caramel sauce instead if you must.
  • Wood grilling planks are required for this recipe, otherwise, you won’t get that same wood-fired flavor. The apples are cooked at 375°F and wood fuel doesn’t smolder much smoke flavor at that high of a temperature. The planks are there to protect the apples from direct heat and also generate that flavor.
Creamy bourbon dulce de leche might be my favorite dessert sauce.

Step 1: Bourbon Dulce De Leche

Don’t worry, this is WAY easier than making a caramel sauce from scratch. Trust me.

Everything goes into the pan at the same time and it only takes a few minutes.

  • NOTE: This boozy bourbon dulce de leche still has high levels of alcohol, as it’s only cooked for a few minutes. Do not serve minors or those who are not able to consume alcohol.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 ¾ cups sweetened condensed milk (½ 14-ounce can)
  • Smoked salt to taste

Add all of the ingredients into a saute pan and cook on medium heat. Whisk to combine the ingredients as they melt. Once the mixture starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low and keep whisking. You’re looking for the liquid from the butter to disappear into the sauce and become smooth and creamy.

Once that happens, after about 6-7 minutes, turn off the heat and allow it to cool. It will continue to thicken as it cools. This sauce can be made days in advance if needed.

It's time to core the apples for grilling.

Step 2: Core and Slice the Apples

Slice off the top of the apple, just enough to get the stem.

Use a small melon baller or a metal teaspoon to scoop out the core. It might take a few scoops, but you’ll be surprised how effective the teaspoon is.

Does anyone own a melon baller anymore?

Carefully slice a spiral cut, vertically down the apple.

Carefully, using a very sharp paring knife, slice a spiral cut vertically down the inside of the apple. Go slow, I cannot stress this enough.

Two full rotations in a spiral cut are enough, and it doesn’t have to be consistent.

Don’t feel bad if you spiral cut into the skin, we do that too. Not every apple is equal in size.

Slice a vertical cut, starting near the base of the apple. Repeat this all the way around.

Flip the apples over, cut-side down on the cutting board. Slice a vertical cut, starting near the base of the apple. Repeat this all the way around.

This will create the “bloomin’ apple” effect, allowing for all of the spiced butter to have a place to sit as well.

Step 3: Baste with Spiced Butter

Mix the following ingredients together to create the spiced butter mixture:

  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ancho chile

Take note that this uses salted butter. If you do not have this, just add a pinch of salt to the mixture to make up for it. Salt brings out the natural sweetness of the apples.

Brush this onto the top of each apple. It won’t hurt if it gets on the sides either. Or the middle!

Speaking of, I like to add a dollop of the bourbon dulce de leche to the center. It infuses the apples with more flavor.

Add the wood planks with sliced apples to the grill and cook at 375°F.

Step 4: Grill the Apples

Grilling the apples can happen on any grill or smoker. The key is that the temperature needs to be 375°F to bake the apples for about 30 minutes.

Tips for Grilling Planks

  • Cedar planks are the most commonly used, but feel free to try other types of wood. Pictured above are maple planks. I would also recommend apple, cherry, or alder.
  • Pour very warm water over the grilling planks and allow them to soak for about 30 minutes prior to using them. They do not need to soak for hours, especially if you are using very warm water.
  • Have a small spray bottle of water nearby if you are worried about flare-ups from the planks igniting. It’s extremely rare that this would happen, and means that you might not have hydrated the wood planks, or that the grill is too high.
The bloomin' apples are ready after about 30 minutes.

Serve While Warm

Remove the bloomin’ grilled apples after 30 minutes. They should be almost soft to the touch, darker from the heat and smoke. The “bloomin’ effect” of the apple will not occur on the grill, you can gently open them up when it’s time to serve.

Get that ice cream ready! These are best served warm and will stay pretty warm for at least 20-30 minutes at room temperature.

Serve up a plate of these bloomin' apples!

More Recipes with Bourbon

If you enjoy grilling and bourbon, I’ve got a few more ideas for you:

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Featuring planked bloomin apples with ice cream and dulce de leche

Bloomin’ Grilled Apples

Wood-fired dessert hits the table with these spiced Bloomin’ Grilled Apples, topped with ice cream and a boozy bourbon dulce de leche. Grab a spoon, it’s time to indulge.

  • Total Time: 40
  • Yield: About 4

Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 ¾ cups sweetened condensed milk (½ 14-ounce can)
  • Smoked salt to taste
  • 2 wood grilling planks
  • 4 large apples (honeycrisp, pink lady, cosmic crisp, etc.)
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ancho chile

Instructions

 

Notes

  •  Not everyone enjoys (or can consume) bourbon, so opt to use a traditional caramel sauce instead if you must. It still has high levels of alcohol, as it’s only cooked for a few minutes. Do not serve minors or those who are not able to consume alcohol.
  • Make sure to adequately hydrate the grilling planks. I recommend very hot water for at least 30 minutes just prior to grilling.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: dessert, apples, baked apples, grilled apples, bloomin’ grilled apples, bloomin’ apples, bourbon dulce de leche, grilled dessert

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2 Comments

  1. The bourbon dulce de leche has me won over. Serving it with apples is a great combination. Thanks for the recipe!

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