The best classic homemade Apple Pie recipe is made with tons of fresh apples, scratch made flaky pie crusts, fall spices, and a sweet apple cider reduction.
Why this recipe works:
There are countless versions of apple pie out there.
But if you're looking for an old fashioned homemade apple pie recipe from scratch, this is the recipe you want to use. I've been making this recipe since I was a kid and it is my absolute favorite.
The apple cider reduction creates a ton of flavor without too much additional sugar. Thinly sliced fresh apples in a perfectly sweet filling wrapped in a flaky homemade butter pie crust make this the best apple pie recipe!
The perfect pie crust:
The best pies start with the best crust. Same is true for apple pie.
I've used store bought pie crust plenty of times. If you're in a hurry, it certainly does the trick. But in no way, in my opinion, does it compare to a flaky homemade pie crust made with butter.
Some people swear by using crisco or lard to make their crusts. I admit those two processed fats make the crust easier to work with and manipulate.
But if you're going for taste and texture, you can't beat my pie crust recipe. I also use a secret ingredient that you may have never thought to use that yields the most perfect results.
The best apple pie filling:
I don't know about you, but I hate canned store bought apple pie filling. I just looked at the ingredients found in most cans of apple filling and they include apples, sugar, water, corn starch, spices, natural flavoring (whatever that means), and various kinds of acid for freshness.
To me, canned apple pie filling is bland and a bit nauseating. I also don't like the gel that holds it all together.
I much prefer my apple pie filling to come from fresh apples with a rich sauce that thickens as it cooks. I'm pretty confident you'll love the apple filling that goes into this pie.
How to make this recipe:
- First step is to make two crusts, form them into disks, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and then refrigerate until ready to roll out.
- While the crusts are chilling, you can prepare the filling. To do this, you'll reduce some apple cider down to about a quarter of it's original volume (photo 1). This turns the juice into a thick and sweet syrup. Consider it your secret ingredient!
- While the cider reduction is cooling, you can peel and slice your apples (photo 2). Toss the apples with the cooled cider syrup along with some sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice.
- Carefully roll out your first crust and line your pie dish. Add the apple filling (photo 3).
- Roll out the second crust, lay it on top, wet your fingers and use the water as a glue to seal the crusts, and fold the edges over. Brush with an egg wash (photo 4) which will help it cook to a perfect golden brown.
- Be sure to cut some slits in the top of the crust (photo 5) to allow steam to escape. I'm not very artistic so it really looks like I just stabbed my pie. Top with some decorator's sugar for sparkle and crunch and pop it in the oven (photo 6).
Best apples to use:
I think you have two options when choosing apples for this pie recipe: a) tart with low moisture or b) a variety of tartness, texture, and juice content.
Option 1: Granny Smith Apples. They are very tart and don't have as much moisture as most other apples. The tartness compliments the cider reduction as well as the added sugar nicely. Because they don't release as much moisture when cooking, you'll most likely get a nice, thick pie filling that can be easily served. The only draw back is that only using one type of apple will give a very consistent taste.
Option 2: A variety of apples. This is my preferred method, especially when a friend just gives me a ton of different apples from their orchard. I love the variability in taste and texture. The only issue is that you will most likely have to cook your pie longer to ensure the filling isn't too wet. More on that below.
You're looking for the best apple pie recipe. You found it. You're also looking for an easy apple pie recipe. You found that too.
It might seem complicated, but this homemade apple pie is really simple to make. Just keep these tips in mind:
- When making your homemade crusts, always make sure your ingredients are super cold and work the dough as little as possible. This will ensure you end up with tender, flaky crust.
- How you slice your apples matters. If you like firm bites of apple in your pie, cut the chunks a little thicker. If you like the apple pie filling to taste more mushy, slice them super thin. If you like a combination, then cut both thin and thick chunks.
- This pie will make a mess out of your oven. You definitely want to bake it on a baking sheet to catch all of the butter that oozes out of the crust.
- Be sure to cook your pie long enough so that the filling thickens. You cannot simply go off of how done the top of the pie looks as that will depend most on how close the pie was to your top heating element. You're better off loosely covering this pie with foil and allowing it to cook an additional 10-20 minutes extra just to ensure the liquid thickens.
- 2 pie crusts (9-inch (see recipe link in Notes))
- 2 cups apple cider (unfiltered recommended)
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
- 7 apples (peeled and and sliced into small pieces (about 3 pounds, see Notes about varieties))
for the top of crust:
- 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 tablespoon sugar (decorator's sugar recommended)
To prepare the crusts:
- To prepare crust, either make the best homemade crust ever using the link in the notes or you can use pre-made store bought crusts. Just ensure they are rolled out to fit a 9-inch pie pan with enough to seal the edges of the top and bottom crusts.
To prepare the apple pie filling:
- Bring cider to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat as much as possible to maintain a simmer. Cook until reduced to ½ to ⅓ cup (about 20 minutes). You know it's done when you can scrape the bottom of the pan with a flat wooden spoon and it takes a second for the reduced cider to cover it back up. Cool completely.
- Combine cooled cider, ⅓ cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl. Stir apple slices into cider mixture.
To bake the pie:
- Preheat oven to 450° F with a baking sheet on a rack that is in the lower third of the oven.
- Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate, allowing dough to extend over edge of plate. Spoon apple mixture into crust. Place second pie crust on top of apple mixture. Dip finger into small bowl of water, rub along edges of pie crust, then gently press edges of dough together to seal. Fold edges under and flute.
- Cut several slits into the top of pastry using a sharp knife to allow steam to escape during the cooking process. Combine egg and 1 teaspoon of water. Brush top and edges of pie with egg mixture, then sprinkle with sugar.
- Place pie on preheated baking sheet, and bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° (do not remove pie from oven), and bake an additional 45-60 minutes (see note below) or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
- The best pie crust recipe link. I only use butter and a secret ingredient to make it flaky!
- Wondering what the best apples are to use in apple pie? I always prefer a mixture of apples that include tart and sweet. My favorites are granny smith paired with honey crisp, but the more varieties you use, the better it will taste!
- Total cooking time for this recipe will depend heavily on the type of pie dish you use. Glass tends to cook the pie quicker than ceramic.
- Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
- Recipe makes 1 pie.