How to Make the Best Apple Pie from Scratch
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Baking apple pie from scratch is a fall baking tradition we treasure. Perfect your technique with our guide, full of all the tips and tricks you’ll need.
There’s no fall treat more iconic than the apple pie. Who doesn’t love going to their local orchard, bringing home pick-your-own apples, and turning them into a comforting and nostalgic treat? Because this fall dessert is so beloved, it’s one home bakers should learn to master. But if baking pies is intimidating to you, have no fear—we’ll walk you through how to make the perfect homemade apple pie.
How to Make Apple Pie from Scratch
To make the best apple pie from scratch, start with a top-rated recipe like this apple pie recipe from Maggie Greene, a reader in Granite Falls, Washington. You’ll need a good foundation for this pie, so we recommend you make our Test Kitchen’s favorite butter pie crust.
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold butter, cubed
- 1/3 to 2/3 cup ice water
Apple Pie Filling:
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 6 to 7 cups thinly sliced, peeled tart apples
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large egg white
- Optional: Turbinado or coarse sugar, ground cinnamon, vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce
Step 1: Prep the pie dough
Start the pie crust by combining the flour and salt in a large bowl. Then, using a pastry blender, cut the cold butter cubes into the flour mixture until the butter pieces are pea-sized. Then, mix in ice-cold water until the pastry starts to come together. Start with just a few tablespoons of water, and add more as needed.
When the dough is done, divide it into two. Shape each into a disc, and chill for an hour or more.
Test Kitchen Tip: Using cold butter is key to creating a flaky crust.
Step 2: Peel and slice the apples
Wash, peel and cut your apples into thin slices. You can definitely do this with a paring knife, but you could save a little time with your favorite apple peeler, whether it’s a swivel, Y-shaped or crank style.
Step 3: Make the apple pie filling
Toss the sliced apples in a bowl with the tablespoon of lemon juice. In another dish, mix together the sugars, flour, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add the sugar mixture to the apples, and toss to coat. That’s all for the filling!
Step 4: Roll out the dough
The next step is to pull one of the pastry disks from the fridge and place it on a floured surface. Then start rolling, working from the middle of the disk to the edges. Turn the round every so often to ensure you maintain the circular shape. You’re aiming for pastry that’s about an 1/8-inch thick.
Once it’s large enough to fit into your plate with some excess (you’ll need a bit of extra around the edge to seal the pie), drape the pastry over your rolling pin and place it in your pie dish, one of the essential pie baking tools every home baker should have.
Step 5: Fill and seal the pie
Next, add your apple mix to the pie dish and dot it with butter. Roll out the top pastry the same way you did with the bottom one. Then, lay it over the apples. From here, trim the edges of the crust, leaving an inch or so of excess around the perimeter.
Then, pinch and seal the crust.
Test Kitchen Tip: There are many methods for finishing off the edges, and we have some great ideas for how to make decorative pie crusts. But if you’re a beginner, you can just pinch the crust closed.
Step 6: Prep your pie for the oven
Your pie might look oven-ready, but there are a few more tasks left. If you have a basic top pie crust (as compared to something semi-open like a lattice), cut a few vents. This will help steam escape and prevent the crust from becoming soggy.
Create a simple egg wash by whisking an egg white with a teaspoon of water. Brush this over the top of your pie, which will help give the baked pie a nice shine.
Finally, sprinkle sugar over the top crust, which will give your pie a bit of sparkle and crunch. You can use granulated sugar here, but coarse sugars like sanding or turbinado will give you a bit more texture.
Step 7: Bake the apple pie
Place your pie on the lowest rack of a 375ºF oven and bake for 6o to 70 minutes. If the crust is getting dark too quickly, pull out the pie halfway through and cover the crust with a shield that prevents your edges from over-browning. You can use a silicone pie shield or make a shield with foil.
When the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown, remove the apple pie from the oven and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.
How to Cut a Perfect Slice of Apple Pie
Slicing and serving pie—at least the first piece—is always a bit tricky. If you don’t wait for the pie to cool, the filling may spill out, but if you’re patient and let it set, the filling should stay in place as you dig in. One more tip: Use a sharp knife to cut the slice, and then break out the pie server to scoop it from the dish.
To finish off the pie, serve it with a scoop of ice cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce, or even a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
Tips for Making Apple Pie
Need help perfecting your pie recipe or fixing common slip-ups? We’ve got tips.
What are the best apples for apple pie?
Choose an apple variety that is good for baking. Everyone has personal preferences—some prefer tart, others sweet—but just be sure to use a firm, crisp apple that will hold up to baking. We’d recommend tart apples like Cortlands and Granny Smiths. Stay away from apples like Red Delicious. Check out more tips for finding the best apples for apple pie.
How can you prevent apple pie from being too watery?
Despite our best efforts, homemade apple pie filling can sometimes be too runny. This depends a lot on the moisture from the apples. If you’re particularly worried about a soggy filling, you can precook the apples for a few minutes, like Joanna Gaines does in her signature pie recipe. Then drain the apples and mix up the filling as normal.
How do you put your own spin on homemade apple pie?
Since you’re making the apple pie from scratch, it’s easy to customize it! If you simply prefer a different kind of fat in your crust, go for a shortening or lard pie crust instead of using butter. (Spoiler: We taste-tested butter, shortening and lard pie crusts and liked the butter one best). Otherwise, get creative and press cinnamon roll dough into your pie plate as a replacement for the crust, like we do in this Cinnamon Swirl Apple Pie.
If you want to deviate from the classic apple pie filling, pull inspiration from more of our apple pie recipes. Experiment with different apples, or try your hand at various flavor combos, like pumpkin apple, cranberry apple and even rhubarb apple pie.