In this easy apple pie recipe, soft, cinnamon-spiced apples fill a flaky, buttery crust. Top it off with vanilla ice cream for a delicious fall dessert!
What do you look for in an apple pie recipe? A few years ago, the first time I volunteered to make a homemade apple pie for my family’s Thanksgiving, I scoured the internet looking for the perfect one. I wanted the filling to be juicy, but not So juicy that wouldn’t cut the cake. I wanted it to be hot spiced with cinnamon and spiked with lemon for a tart, bright flavor. The best apple pie recipe would yield slices thick enough to withstand a large scoop of ice cream, and it would have a flaky, buttery, easy-to-make crust.
That year I couldn’t find an existing apple pie recipe that I thought would turn out exactly the way I wanted it to, so I went looking for my own. Since then I have carefully tested and adapted this recipe, and it is now the recipe I love the most. A mountain of tender apple slices fills a glorious golden brown crust. I made it a few weeks ago for a family gathering and we ended up without a single slice left. Fingers crossed you don’t have one either.
Ingredients Apple Pie Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy apple pie recipe:
- apples, naturally! The type you choose matters. In my opinion, Granny Smiths are the best apples for apple pie because they hold their shape well and have a nice sour taste. If you prefer less sour apples, try Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious apples. Whatever you do, avoid varieties like McIntosh or Red Delicious, which break when baked.
- Apple pie herbs – This blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom adds a warm, spicy flavor to the filling.
- Brown sugar and cane sugar – For sweets. I love the molasses flavor of the brown sugar in addition to the warm spices.
- Lemon juice and zest – For a clear, spicy taste.
- Vanilla extract – It enhances the warming flavor of the herbs.
- cornstarch – It binds the apple juice to a glossy sauce.
- My homemade pie crust – I will never make any other pie crusts! This recipe is easy to make in the food processor using simple ingredients like butter, all-purpose flour, and apple cider vinegar, and it turns out flaky and soft every time.
- An egg – You mix it with a little water to make an egg wash, which browns the crust as the pie bakes.
- coarse sugar – Optional, to sprinkle over the crust.
- And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the full recipe with measurements below.
How do you make apple pie?
My method for making apple pie has four parts:
- Making the crust.
- Make the filling.
- assemble the cake,
- And baking.
You can find my recipe for pie crusts here. Keep in mind that you need to refrigerate the pie dough for at least 2 hours before rolling it out. If you can, I recommend making it a day or two in advance.
Once you have made the pie dough, you can start making the filling. Peel the apples and cut them into thin slices. Beat the sugar and spices together in a large saucepan, add the sliced apples and lemon juice, and stir to coat the apples. Then let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to extract some of their juices. While they are sitting, make a slurry with the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water.
After 30 minutes, return the pan to medium heat and cook until the apples soften slightly, about 5 minutes.
Then increase the heat to medium and add the cornstarch slurry. Cook, stirring, until the apple juice bubbles and thickens (just 30 seconds or so), then remove the pan from the heat.
Fold in the lemon zest and vanilla and let the filling cool completely. Tip: Spread it out in a large baking dish to help it cool down faster!
Assemble and bake the cake
When the pie dough has cooled for at least 2 hours and the filling has cooled completely, you are ready to assemble the cake.
Start by forming the bottom crust. Roll out a disc of chilled pie dough on a lightly floured surface. Find my best tips for rolling out pie dough here! Transfer the dough to a 9- or 9.5-inch pie plate and press firmly into the bottom and down the sides. Tent the crust with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out the second disc of dough to make the top crust, place it on a baking sheet and let it cool as well.
While you wait, preheat the oven to 425°F with a baking sheet in it.
When the bottom crust has cooled for 30 minutes, add the filling, place the top crust on top, and pinch the edges.
Brush the top crust (but not the shrunken edges) with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if using. Use a sharp knife to cut several steam holes in the top of the pie. Tip: These slots are not just for decoration! They allow moisture from the pie to evaporate in the oven, resulting in a thicker filling. Don’t skip them!
Finally you are ready to bake the cake. Place the apple pie on the hot baking tray in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375°F and bake an additional 45 to 55 minutes. You want the crust to be golden brown and any visible juices to be bubbling.
Remove from oven and let cool completely before slicing and serving. Enjoying!
Best Apple Pie Recipe Tips
- Don’t cut the cool down (or cool down time) too short. For the best apple pie, don’t skimp on chilling the pie dough or letting the filling cool. These steps will keep the butter in the crust cold until the pie goes into the oven, resulting in a soft, flaky crust. And if you like really clean slices of pie (i.e. not too moist or too watery), let the baked pie cool completely for about 4 hours before serving.
- Bake it on a low oven rack. The hottest part of most ovens is at the bottom, near the heat source. Baking the cake on a low rack puts the bottom crust in this zone, making the cake less soggy after baking.
- Does the crust turn brown? Foil is your friend. If you find that your pie crust is golden brown well before the end of the time range, don’t worry! Covering dark areas with foil will prevent further browning. Cover and bake until crust is good color all over (if using glass pie pan, check bottom and sides of pie) and any visible juices are bubbling, usually 45 to 55 minutes after lowering oven temperature up to 375°F.
- forward. Give yourself a head start on this apple pie recipe by making the pie dough and filling a day or two in advance. Both can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Keep the dough wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and store the filling in an airtight container. The cake itself is best on the day it is baked, but can be stored for 2 days at room temperature. Then stick it in the fridge.
More favorite baking recipes
If you love this apple pie recipe, try one of these delicious baking recipes:
- cup packed brown sugar
- cup cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon Apple Pie Herbs
- teaspoon sea salt
- 4 pounds good baking apples, such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- teaspoon lemon peel
- teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 recipe Easy pie crust, refrigerated for at least 2 hours
- 1 big egg
- coarse sugar, optional
- Vanilla ice cream, before serving
In a large saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, cane sugar, apple pie spice, and salt. Add the apple slices and lemon juice and stir until the apples are evenly coated with the sugar and spices. Set aside for 30 minutes to extract some of the juice from the apples.
In a small bowl, stir 2 tablespoons water and the cornstarch until smooth.
Place the pan with the apples on medium heat. Cook, stirring, until apples soften slightly, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and pour the cornstarch mixture over the apples. Cook, stirring, until apple juice bubbles and thickens, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and vanilla. Let the filling cool completely.
Make the bottom crust. Follow the instructions in the pie crust recipe to roll out the bottom crust, leaving at least ½-inch overhang on all sides of the pie plate. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let cool for 30 minutes. Arrange an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Place a baking sheet on the rack and preheat the oven to 425°F with the baking sheet inside.
Meanwhile, make the top crust. Use the same method to roll out the remaining pie dough into a large, ⅛-inch-thick circle. Place on a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes until the bottom has cooled.
Assemble the cake. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and remaining 1 tablespoon water. Put aside.
Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour in the cooled filling, slightly in the center of the pie. Carefully roll the top crust over your rolling pin, then roll it out over the filled pie. Press the excess dough from the top and bottom crust together to seal and trim the dough so that there is a ½ inch overhang on all sides of the pie plate. Tuck the dough underneath so that the edge of the dough lines up with the edge of the pie plate. Pinch the dough with your fingers or a fork.
Brush the top crust (but not the pleated edges) with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if using. Use a sharp knife to cut several steam holes in the crust.
Place the cake on the hot baking tray in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 375°F and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and all visible juices are bubbling. If you have a glass cake pan, check the color of the sides of the cake. They should also be golden brown. If the crust becomes too brown within 45 minutes, cover with foil and continue baking.
Let cool completely before slicing and serving, at least 3 hours.
Serve with vanilla ice cream.
I used Erin Jeanne McDowell’s cookbook The book about cake as an aid in developing this recipe.