For the sake of brevity, I'll limit myself in answering to a few examples, but generally speaking it is not true.
The Nobel Prize has an official website, which lists all laureates:
You may choose just to look at the physics laureates during the last years:
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2015 was awarded jointly to Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald "for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass"
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 was awarded jointly to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura "for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources".
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2012 was awarded jointly to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems"
As already stated by Magicsowon
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2010 was awarded jointly to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene"
Although it might be true, that in some fields prestigous prizes are more likely to be awarded to theorists, the couple of examples I provided shows that at least the Nobel Prize is not just awarded to theorists.
If you take the Abel Prize: In 2005 it was awarded to Peter D. Lax
"for his groundbreaking contributions to the theory and application of partial differential equations and to the computation of their solutions." (link)
At least I would consider the work of Lax at least in parts as "applied work" as you put it in your question.
In my first year maths lecture I learned, that to falsify a (mathematical) statement you need only find one example which contradicts the statement, which I hereby did. If anyone has some statistics on the distribution of awarded Nobel Prizes among experimentalists and theorists, I'm very interested.