Tired of Pumpkin Pie? Try Apple Cranberry Strudel

If there is one non-negotiable at most Thanksgiving meals, it’s the pumpkin pie. I have to say that I’m in that camp. But there’s room on my table for more than one dessert at the holidays. Nudge that pie over just a little bit, and make room for this strudel. The crisp filo shell is filled with tender apples, lightly spiced with cinnamon and studded with plump dried cranberries. Apple Cranberry Strudel is a celebration of the Fall apple harvest and a nod to the cranberry harvest as well.


Filo Without Butter?

If you’ve ever worked with filo dough, you know it’s usually slathered with melted butter, which keeps the layers of pastry separate and crisp. I’ve been using refined coconut oil instead for many years, with great results. I’ve found that the resulting pastry is a little crisper, and seems to stay crisp longer than buttered pastry. I always use refined coconut oil, to avoid overwhelming the dessert with coconut flavor, unless there’s a coconut element in the dessert’s flavor profile.

Haralsons are the Apple for Me

I used to use Granny Smith’s exclusively in my apple desserts, in part because they are available everywhere. When you write cookbooks and magazine articles, you have to opt for ingredients that are easier to find, so your readers won’t be frustrated. But since this is for you, dear reader, I’m hoping that you can look around for some Haralsons. Haralsons are a perfect pie apple, with enough tartness to give the filling some spine, and a perfumey sweetness as well. In this recipe, I am also relying on their sturdy texture, because I’m sauteeing them before baking. A softer apple would fall apart and turn into applesauce. If you can’t get Haralsons, use Granny Smiths, or another apple that is recommended for pie.

Because Apple Desserts Are Perfect for Fall

Minnesota is a region where apple trees thrive, and produce excellent fruit. We’re famous for the apple breeding program at the Unversity of Minnesota, where the Honeycrisp came into the world. There are new varieties in development as we speak, just as there are at other apple breeding programs across the country. We don’t know what apples might be coming to orchards near you, so keep an eye out and if you see a variety you’ve never had, give it a try. The fall harvest is when these hopefuls show up for the first time, and it’s also the perfect time to try them out in apple deserts.

Apple Cranberry Strudel

Course Dessert
Keyword Christmas, holidays, Thanksgiving
Servings 6
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1/2 package filo dough, small sheets thawed overnight in the refrigerator
  • 5 large Haralson apples or other baking apples
  • 1/2 cup refined coconut oil melted, divided
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried tart cherries
  • 2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar
  • powderd sugar optional


  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, reserve. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  • Make the filling: Peel and thinly slice the apples, reserve. In a large saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the apple slices and saute, stirring, until the apples are softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon over the apples in the pan and stir, then drizzle in the vanilla and lemon juice. Stir in the cranberries. Sprinkle the flour over the apples and stir to coat, then cook until bubbling a little. Take off the heat and let cool completely.
  • Place the remaining 6 tablespoons of coconut oil in a small pot and melt over medium heat. Place on a folded towel in your work area and get a pastry brush. Line a large baking pan with plastic wrap or waxed paper.
  • Unwrap and unfold the filo.Place on the plastic lined pan, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and cover that with a damp towel to hold the plastic wrap down and cover the filo.
    Move each sheet to the prepared pan and generously paint with coconut oil, then top with another sheet. After the first 3 sheets are stacked, sprinkle the Turbinado sugar over each of the last 3 sheets after applying the oil.
  • Place the apple filling in a wide row an inch from the longest side of the filo stack, leaving an inch bare at each side. Fold the ends over the fillo on the short sides, and roll up, tucking the ends in as you go. Center the roll on the pan, seam side down, and paing with coconut oil generously. Sprinkle with Turbinado sugar.
  • Refrigerate or freeze the remaining dough.
    Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and crisp. Cool on the pan on a rack, When cool enough to serve, transfer to a platter. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
    Keeps, tightly covered, for up to 3 days.