How to Peel an Apple 3 Ways

There are several different ways to peel an apple. Do you know how to peel an apple using the most efficient method?

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One of the first lessons I learned working in professional kitchens revolved around vegetable peelers. Working in restaurants that made mashed potatoes and glazed carrots meant lots and lots of time around the prep table, peeler in hand. The house peelers were always so dull, and using them made life significantly more difficult. I found it was easy enough to bring my own to guarantee that I’d have a good day.

But, inevitably, someone would borrow my peeler, and I’d never see it again. It always happened on a big prep day, too. I was left wondering how to peel an apple to make 100 apple pies for a catered event when my trusty peeler was nowhere to be found. Luckily, there are a few different ways to peel apples!

How to Peel an Apple with a Knife

Girl peeling an apple on tableAndreyCherkasov/Getty Images

In culinary school, we learned how to peel an apple with a knife before we were allowed to use a vegetable peeler. This taught us how to be resourceful if we didn’t have a kitchen full of tools, and it also helped us practice our dexterity. While it’s not my go-to method today, I will reach for a knife if I only have to peel one or two apples.

Technically, you can peel an apple with any knife, but we recommend using a straight paring knife instead of a larger chef’s knife. The smaller knife fits nicely in your hand and allows you to peel the apple above a sink, trash can or cutting board. Another good option is a curved paring knife or a tourne knife. This knife was designed to shape potatoes into a specific cut for presentation purposes, but the curve is helpful for peeling any round vegetables.

To peel the apple, hold the knife in your dominant hand and the apple in the other. Starting at the stem end, press the knife against the apple skin. Turn the apple slowly and steadily, and the skin will peel off like a ribbon. After the entire apple is peeled, use the knife to remove any spots that were missed in the peeling process.

How to Peel an Apple with a Vegetable Peeler

Woman peeling red apple in home kitchenEkaterina Markelova/Getty Images

This is my favorite way to peel an apple because it’s quick and efficient. There are two types of vegetable peelers: y-peelers and swivel peelers. The general consent among my chef friends is that the y-peeler is the way to go. These peelers have a blade on both sides, allowing you to peel in both directions. They also tend to have a wider handle, making them more comfortable to hold for extended periods.

Either peeler works for peeling an apple, so go with the one that suits your peeling style best. There are two peeling options here. The first is to peel the apple the same way you would with a knife—by holding the peeler in your dominant hand, the apple in the other and peeling in a circular motion (starting at the stem end) to create one large ribbon.

The second option is to set the apple down on a cutting board and run the peeler downward in straight strokes from the stem end to the blossom end. This creates several peels and tends to be faster, but it can leave ridged lines on the apple.

See which apple peeler earned top marks from our Test Kitchen.

How to Peel an Apple with an Apple Peeler

Person using apple peelerChristopher Kimmel/Getty Images

If you peel a lot of apples, you might want to invest in an apple peeler. This gadget clamps onto the side of a table or uses a suction base to stick to an edgeless table. Then, the apple is loaded onto the fork and a hand crank moves it in a circular motion around the peeler, removing the peel quickly and efficiently. As a bonus, it also cores the apple.

You can also purchase a KitchenAid attachment to peel apples, or you can hack the apple peeler idea using a regular drill. Simply skewer the apple on a drill bit and turn on the drill to spin the apple. Hold a vegetable peeler against the apple’s skin as it spins to remove the peels. Keep in mind this method is messy, so get ready for some cleanup!

How to Core an Apple

close up of hands holding a red apple and an apple corer In the other handAndreyCherkasov/getty images

Once the apple is peeled, you’ll want to remove the core before cooking it. The quickest way is to use an apple corer. This handheld device plunges into the center of the apple and remove the entire core with a slight twist of the wrist. There are also apple corers that will slice the apple into eight slices. These are ideal if you want to core and slice at the same time.

Of course, if you don’t want another gadget cluttering up your kitchen drawers, you can also core an apple with a knife. This method is a little dangerous, but you can core a whole apple with a paring knife. Push the blade through the center of the apple and cut a circle around the core. This method requires a lot of dexterity, so cut with care!

If you’re peeling apples for apple pie and you don’t need to end up with a whole cored apple, we prefer another method. Place the apple on a cutting board with the stem end up. Cut it in half directly through the core before cutting each half again through the core, resulting in four quarters. Place the quarters cut-side down and make a diagonal cut on each quarter to remove the core piece.

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Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay is a professional chef, recipe developer, writer and developmental editor. After years of working in restaurant kitchens, she turned to writing to share her skills and experience with home cooks and food enthusiasts. She's passionate about using local, organic ingredients and teaching others how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, writes for several publications and is the co-author of two books about Ayurveda.