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This picture is our featured image for our caramel apple elephant ears.

Caramel Apple Elephant Ear Recipe

These elephant ears will for sure be the best you've ever tasted! We are liberal with butter, apple pie filling, and caramel sauce. What you end up with is a dessert that will make you some friends. Make these for a game day party or just because it's Friday and get paid in smiles!
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Appetizer, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: deep fried, elephant ears
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 10


  • Deep Fryer or Pan for frying
  • food thermometer
  • Cooling Rack
  • stand mixer



  • 1 1/2 Cups 2% Milk
  • 7 Tbsp Granulated Sugar Divided
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 10 Tbsp Unsalted Butter Divided
  • 2 Tbsp Yeast
  • 4 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon

Apple Pie Filling

  • 4 Apples 2 Granny Smith & 2 Gala
  • 1 Tsp Lemon Zest
  • 2 Tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 3 Tbsp Cornstarch

Caramel Sauce

  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • Pinch of Salt


Dough Steps

  • Add the milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt, and 6 tablespoons butter to a small pot. Heat on low until it reaches between 105 and 110 degrees. Add the yeast and let it sit for 5 minutes until the mixture is foamy.
  • Add the warm milk and flour into the stand mixer bowl. Attach the dough hook attachment and start the mixer at the lowest speed. Mix until the flour is incorporated. Then turn the mixer on high and knead the dough for 5 minutes. Cover the dough for 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
  • Divide the dough into 10 balls. Roll out each ball to ¼ inch thick and place it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Set aside until ready to fry.
  • Use a deep pot or dutch oven filled with 2 inches of oil (about 4 cups). Preheat the oil to 375 degrees and fry the elephant ears for 1-2 minutes per side. (They will puff up while cooking) Transfer it to a cooling rack lined with a paper towel.

Apple Filling Steps

  • In a medium bowl, peel and dice the apples, add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir until all the apples are covered. Set aside.
  • In a medium pot, add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, water, and salt. Cook on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Add the diced apples and cook on medium-low for 8-10 minutes. Or until the apples are tender.
  • Take about ¼ cup of the liquid in a separate bowl and mix in the cornstarch until completely dissolved. Pour it back into the pot and cook for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.

Caramel Steps

  • Add the water and sugar to a small pot. Cook on medium until the sugar turns a dark amber color. It can take about 12 minutes.
  • Add the butter and whisk until completely melted. It will bubble up rapidly, so be careful and continue to whisk.
  • Remove the caramel from the heat and add heavy cream. Whisking continuously until all of the cream has been incorporated. Add the vanilla and salt. Set aside.

Putting It All Together

  • In a small bowl, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. In another small bowl mix 5 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. Brush each elephant ear with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Top with the apple filling and drizzle on the caramel sauce.


  • If the dough feels sticky or too wet, add a little more flour and knead again until the flour is incorporated.
  • I would recommend an oven mitt when you add the butter to the caramel. The steam is very hot.
  • Store the apple filling in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days or freeze for 2 months.
  • Store the caramel sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
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