These easy caramelized apple yogurt parfaits combine sweet cinnamon apples, cooked in brown sugar, with creamy yogurt and buttery cookies. This Greek yogurt dessert in a jar is always a hit at dinner time, but you can also enjoy apple cinnamon parfaits for breakfast.
There’s no definitive answer on whether a parfait is breakfast food or dessert and I think it is both. Traditionally, a French parfait is a decadent frozen dessert made with cream, eggs and sugar. Sometimes it includes nuts or fruit. It is more compact and different from my idea of a parfait, which is a layered dessert. The latter has become really popular all over the world and my apple parfait with yogurt is my contribution to that.
I love all sort of desserts, but there’s just something magical about having dessert in a jar. You get the whole jar. It’s all yours. I don’t know why I find that so appealing. I’ve made a few of these before, like these Wine peaches with ice cream or my Cream cups with strawberry and mascarpone. These parfait jars are just as magical, only lighter.
Why I love this recipe
Think of these Greek yogurt parfaits as apple pie in a jar. They come together really quickly, much faster than your regular pie and you hardly need to do anything.
The base of the recipe are sweet Gala apples that are cooked with butter until soft. Their flavor is enhanced with ground cinnamon and brown sugar, that cook in a beautiful, glossy caramel sauce that smoothly covers the tender apples. It’s not as heavy as your typical caramel with cream and it lets the apples shine through.
The caramel apples are then layered with thick, tangy Greek yogurt and crushed butter cookies. And as the apple parfaits sit in the refrigerator, all layers stick together and the cookies soften and every spoonful you get feels like you’re eating some lighter, yogurt version of tiramisu.
This is a great no bake apple dessert that you can make ahead of time as ti holds up spectacularly in the refrigerator. You could even make it in a large bowl and serve spoonfuls on dessert plates.
I like to make healthy parfaits for heavier dinners or for mixed crowds. Not everyone likes whipped cream based desserts so an apple yogurt dessert is usually a welcomed change.
How to make caramel apples
This is the only part of the recipe that you need to spend time on. But making caramel apples is a very easy process.
Start by peeling the apples and removing the cores. Then slice the apples into cubes, about 1/2 inch (1 cm) big. They don’t all have to be the same size.
Melt butter in a skillet and add the apples and lemon juice. Cook for about 10 minutes, stiring frequently, until the apples are soft and easily broken apart with a spatula.
Mix in brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla (if using). Cook for another minute or so, just until the sugar is melted and the sauce starts to thicken a bit.
Remove the apples from the stove and allow them to cool completely before using. I like to transfer them to a glass bowl, so they cool quicker. You can also store them in the refrigerator overnight (and for up to 2 days) before using.
Another great thing about these caramelized apple yogurt parfaits is that you can make little changes so easily and the outcome will be just as tasty.
- Fruit: If you want a change, using pears instead of apples would be wonderful.
- Yogurt: You can use flavored yogurt instead of plain. To keep the flavor of apples in the forefront, I’d go with lighter tastes like vanilla or maple.
- Cookies: I’m using Danish butter cookies, but vanilla cookies, spritz cookies or shortbread cookies all work really well. For a more festive recipe, use Biscoff cookies or ginger cookies.
- If you don’t like the idea of soft cookies, you can make everything ahead of time and make parfaits right before serving. This way the cookies will stay crunchy.
- Make vegan: You can easily make vegan parfait dessert jars by using vegan yogurt (flavored or plain) and vegan butter when preparing the apples. Also make sure the cookies you use are vegan.
- Make gluten free: Choose gluten free cookies instead.
- Toppings: I like to top my apple pie parfaits with sliced apples. But things like chopped pecans or walnuts, apple granola or even a drizzle of caramel sauce or honey would be wonderful too as they all pair nicely with yogurt and apples.
More wonderful apple recipes for you
- Soft apple oatmeal cookies (Chewy apple-packed cookies with plenty of cinnamon and brown sugar.)
- Apple cider cake with maple mascarpone frosting (This is a great Fall layered cake.)
- Easy apple puff pastry pies (Such an easy dessert to make!)
- Apple cider margaritas (Golden, light and delicious.)
- Apple oatmeal smoothie (So creamy and satisfying.)
Caramelized apple yogurt parfaits
- 4 glasses (ideally with a volume of 8.5 fl oz or 250 ml)
- 4 large apples, (a sweet variety like Gala)
- 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup (110 g) light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, (optional)
To make parfaits
- 17.6 oz (500 g) Greek yogurt
- 20 butter cookies, (I'm using Danish cookies)
- 1 apple, sliced for decoration (optional)
- Make caramelized apples first: Peel the apples and remove the cores. Chop them into small cubes.
- Melt butter in a large skillet set over medium-low heat. Add chopped apples and lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until apples are soft and easily broken apart with a spatula.
- Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla (if using). Cook until the sugar is completely melted and the sauce is smooth. Set apples aside and cool completely before assembly or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- To make the parfaits, add a few tablespoons of caramel apples to each glass. Top with about 2 crushed cookies (you can add more for a thicker cookie layer), then add a few dollops of Greek yogurt. Repeat the layers one more time. To finish the parfaits, add any leftover caramel apples on top, along with a dollop of yogurt and a crushed cookie. Add apple slices if desired.
- Store parfaits in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before serving. This allows the cookies to soften. If you want the cookies to remain crunchy, serve the parfaits right away.
- Assembled parfaits keep for about 2 days in the refrigerator.
- You can use flavored Greek yogurt instead of plain.
- To make vegan, use vegan yogurt, vegan butter and vegan cookies instead. Add some maple syrup to yogurt if it’s too tangy for your taste.
- If you don’t like apples or simply need a change, pears are wonderful in this recipe too.
- You can use other toppings, such as chopped pecans or walnuts, apple granola or a drizzle of caramel sauce.
- I’m using Danish cookies in this recipe, but any butter plain cookie works (shortbreads, vanilla wafers, spritz cookies). For a more festive recipe, try using Biscoff cookies or ginger cookies.
This recipe was first published on October 17, 2017. Republished with new photos, additional instructions and notes on October 12, 2023.