Try this Vintage Apple Tansey Recipe Dating to the 1700s

It’s always interesting to me to think about how people ate hundreds of years ago. This apple tansey recipe dates back at least to the 1700s! 

And if you love apple recipes, be sure to check out all of these delicious ways to use them!

apple tansey in a white dish, one slice being served

A recipe for apple tansey appears in The Compleat Housewife: or, Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion by E. Smith. The book was first printed in London, in 1739. It became the first cookbook to be printed in the United States in Virginia in 1742. Fascinating, no?

Featuring simple ingredients like eggs and cream, this recipe was likely an invention crafted by cooks to utilize readily available ingredients. I can just imagine a long table heaped with homemade dishes to celebrate a prosperous harvest season.

Apple Tansey

This is a good dessert (or breakfast!) to make when your chickens are producing plenty of eggs — you’ll need four for this recipe. Made without any flour or grains, this recipe is naturally gluten free.

Use apples that are available to you locally for this recipe. If you’ll be purchasing apples at the supermarket, Fuji apples work well.

Must-Try Apple Recipes for an Abundant Fall Harvest

The historic version of this recipe calls for rosewater. As this isn’t something commonly kept in most homes these days, but you could delve into making your own rosewater — it’s not difficult! If rosewater isn’t in the cards, you can substitute vanilla, though the flavor will change. Of course.

apple tansey slice in a white dish

★ Did you make this apple tansey recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

apple tansey in a white dish, one slice being served

Historic Apple Tansey Recipe

This easy recipe dates to the colonial era and is grain and gluten free. It's lightly sweetened, so makes a perfectly suitable breakfast as well as an easy dessert.
4.69 from 19 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Claudie Evert


  • 3 apples cored and sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons rose water
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  • Preheat the oven broiler.
  • In an 8-inch cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat on the stove top.
    3 tablespoons butter
  • Add apples and cook about 5 to 8 minutes, turning as needed, until slightly softened.
    3 apples
  • Arrange apples as desired, remembering that the apple tansey will be flipped and the bottom will become the top. Once apples are arranged, allow to caramelize over the heat as you prepare the egg mixture.
    slices of apple in a cast iron pan
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, whipping cream, rose water, nutmeg, and sugar until smooth. Pour over apples and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the edges and bottom are set.
    4 large eggs, 2 tablespoons whipping cream, 2 teaspoons rose water, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 tablespoons sugar
    egg custard in a glass bowl
  • Transfer skillet to the oven and cook under the broiler an additional 2 to 3 minutes until the egg is completely cooked and top is lightly browned.
  • Remove skillet from oven. Set a large, flat plate over the top of the skillet and carefully flip over to release the tansey onto the plate.
    cooked apple dessert
  • Cut into slices and serve garnished with powdered sugar, coarse sugar, or lemon wedges.
    slice of apple dessert on a white plate


  • Vanilla extract can be substituted for the rose water but it will change the flavor of the apple tansey.


Calories: 178kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 95mg | Potassium: 150mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 478IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @attainablesustainable or tag #attainablesustainable!
apple recipe with a forkful missing

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About the author: Claudie Evert is passionate about living lightly on the earth. She digs in the garden, cooks food from scratch, and will — someday — master the art of picking out a ripe watermelon.

5 comments… add one
  • Elizabeth Nov 28, 2020 @ 13:12

    Tried this – I made a horrible mess. Good grief, I’m sad. It was going to be so pretty,

  • Don Schaefer Jan 18, 2020 @ 2:10

    Making this, this morning over an open fire. 1800’s style

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 19, 2020 @ 8:45

      How fun!

  • Amber Oct 8, 2019 @ 10:28

    How much vanilla do you use to replace the rose water? My niece is making this recipe for a school project and we don’t have time to make the rose water.

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 8, 2019 @ 13:39

      I’d use 2 teaspoons.

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