This post has been updated with new photos and tips.
Apples on horseback is a very weird name for a very easy appetizer recipe. They’re made with just three simple ingredients: apples, pancetta, and cheese, and come together in just five minutes for a delicious finger food -- perfect for your charcuterie board!
We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
You’re going to love these
Easy appetizer. This recipe couldn’t be any easier to make. Just cut the apples into wedges and the cheese into sticks, then wrap ‘em in pancetta and lightly brown them on a grill pan or non-stick pan.
Simple ingredients. Nothing weird here. Plus, you can swap out most any kind of apple you like, any kind of hard-ish cheese, and any kind of cured bacon-type meat.
Everyone will love them. I mean, who wouldn't like bacon-wrapped apples? And if you think you’re going to make one batch, plan instead on making three. And don’t let anyone in the kitchen while you’re making them because none will make it to the table (I learned this through personal experience).
Perfect fall appetizer recipe. To be clear: there's never a wrong time of year for apples on horseback. But in the fall when the apples reach crisp and juicy perfection, making an apple appetizer is an unexpected change of pace from apple pies or apple crisp.
How to Make Apples on Horseback
Cut a pink lady apple into wedges. Cutting an apple into wedges can be precarious work -- and an apple slicer can make quick work of it. But if you're like me and like to keep your gadget drawer lean, here's a quick way to do it:
Cut the apple in half, then cut each half in half.
Set the apple quarter on your cutting board and slice out the middle section with a 45-degree angle cut. Now you have another flat surface to set your apple on so you can slice each quarter into 4 wedges.
Cut your cheese into ¼ inch sticks that are approximately as long as your apple wedges.
Wrap a slice of pancetta around one apple wedge and one cheese stick.
Place your pancetta apple bundles, seam side down, onto a grill pan or non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
Turn to cook each side until pancetta is browned, 5-6 minutes, max. Some cheese may escape the cocoon, but that’s ok.
Serve and start making more!
Apples on Horseback
- 1 Pink Lady apple, or any sweet, crisp apple
- 7 ounces aged white cheddar cheese, or any mild, firm, white cheese
- 16 slices pancetta
- Preheat a medium-sized grill pan or non-stick pan over medium to medium-high heat.
- Slice apple into16 wedges.
- Cut cheese into 16 sticks that are ¼ inch thick by 3-4 inches long.
- Lay down a slice of pancetta. On top of the pancetta, place an apple wedge and a stick of cheese. Wrap pancetta around the apple and cheese and place them in the pan, seam side down.
- Turn to cook each side, about a minute per side -- no more than 5-6 minutes total.
- Serve warm. Then start making more because the ones you just made will be gone in a hurry!
Apples. Pink Lady apples are sweet and quite tart, which makes them an excellent foil against creamy cheese and rich pancetta. If you can’t find Pink Lady apples, you can substitute other sweet-tart apples like Honeycrisp or SweeTango (both Minnesota creations -- holla!), Ambrosia, Jazz, or Enterprise.
Cheese. Other apples on horseback recipes call for Manchego cheese, which is a semi-hard cheese with a sweet flavor. So there’s one. Other great cheeses you could use are asiago, Monterey Jack, any kind of cheddar, mozzarella, or Muenster.
Cured meat. Pancetta, which is cured pork belly, can be swapped out with bacon or prosciutto. Or ham, for that matter.
What’s the difference between pancetta, prosciutto, and bacon?
It's easy to confuse pancetta with prosciutto, but they're not as similar as you may think. Pancetta is actually closer to bacon, while prosciutto is closer to ham.
Allow me to explain.
Both pancetta and bacon come from the pork belly --- and both need to be cooked before you eat them. Pancetta is unsmoked, while bacon is smoked.
Prosciutto actually comes from the hind leg, which is the ham. And because it is salt-cured and air-dried, prosciutto does not need to be cooked before you eat it.
Hungry for more easy appetizer recipes?
I've always used a non-stick pan to make my apples on horseback, but some people swear by using a grill pan. So, if you're in the market for a grill pan, I would definitely shy away from any non-stick varieties and go straight to the real deal -- Lodge cast iron. I don't have this one, but it's in my shopping cart :). Buy it and you'll have it the rest of your life.
A sharp knife is an essential in any kitchen. And it doesn't have to be expensive. Whatever you have, just keep a nice edge on it. We have this knife sharpener, which my husband uses when he sharpens my knives for me <3. It's fast and easy to use and keeps your knives hella sharp. I guess the 12,700+ ratings aren't wrong.