How to Make Gluten-Free Apple Pie with Ease
Learn how to bake a homemade gluten-free apple pie from scratch so that everyone can enjoy a great dessert on Thanksgiving. It's time to bake!
Some baked goods are more than desserts: they’re traditions to mark the passing of the seasons, reliable touchstones of nostalgia even as the years march on. For me, that includes birthday cakes, Christmas cookies and autumnal apple pie.
When I found out that I needed to stop eating gluten, I worried I might miss out on my old favorites. Luckily, you can turn many of Grandma’s best baking recipes into gluten-free desserts, including gluten-free apple pie.
While pie crust might seem intimidating, it’s forgiving enough to make for any skill level. Here’s how.
How to Make Gluten-Free Apple Pie
The tender, buttery crust and scrumptious filling make this pie a five-star gluten-free recipe. Keeping these gluten-free baking basics in mind can also help make sure you have a great end product!
- 1/2 cup white rice flour
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour (also known as tapioca starch)
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
- 7 cups thinly sliced peeled apples, preferably a mix of tart and sweet
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water
If you’re using a store-bought GF pastry crust, skip to steps 6-9 to prepare the filling, and then jump to step 11. To make things faster, you could also substitute a quick gluten-free crumb crust.
Step 1: Whisk the flours together
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients (first 5 ingredients) of the pastry together with a fork or whisk. Mix until the color is uniform.
You may substitute other gluten-free flours for the ones listed here, but bear in mind that experimenting with GF pie crust can change the end result. In general, whole grain flours like sorghum or oat can replace the brown rice, and starches like potato or corn may be swapped for the tapioca flour. You may also swap in a store-bought or homemade gluten-free baking mix.
Step 2: Add butter
Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut in the butter until a crumbly texture forms.
Step 3: Add the liquids
Stir in the egg and vinegar.
Step 4: Add water
Gradually add ice water, tossing with a fork until the dough holds together when pressed. Make sure it’s just enough—adding too much water will make the dough easier to roll out, but less tender.
Step 5: Chill the dough
Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a disk, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
Step 6: Slice the apples
Slice up a variety of apples and put them in a large bowl.
What makes this pie recipe stand out is that it encourages bakers to use many types of apples, including tart, semi-sweet and sweet, while most apple pies call for a single varietal, usually a tart baking apple. The resulting pie has different tastes and textures in every bite, which makes for a more complex, delicious flavor. Use up farmers market apples, u-pick-em apples or supermarket picks.
Step 7: Toss
Toss the apples with lemon juice. This will add flavor and keep them from browning. You may do step 6 and 7 up to one day before baking, though the apples will soften a bit. Store them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.
Step 8: Make the filling mix
In a small bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. These ingredients will both flavor and thicken the juices from the apples, so your pie won’t get a soggy bottom.
Step 9: Finish the filling
Add the thickener mix to the apple mixture and toss to coat.
Step 10: Roll out the crust
Preheat the oven to 425°F, then roll out the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one disc of dough to a 1/8-inch-thick circle. Add a little water if your dough is falling apart or crumbling when you roll. If the dough is melting and squishing to the counter, return it to the fridge for a few minutes to firm up again.
Carefully transfer to a 9-in. pie plate. If any pieces tear, gently pat them back into place. Trim even with rim.
Step 11: Fill
Add the filling and layer evenly over the crust. Dot with butter.
Step 12: Roll the top crust
Roll the remaining dough to a 1/8-inch-thick circle. Place over filling. Trim, seal and flute edge.
Step 13: Finishing touches
Cut slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Whisk egg yolk and water and brush over top to give the crust a nice golden brown color. If you’re hungry for more, you must try this gluten-free apple crisp.
Step 14: Bake
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly, 40-45 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack completely before cutting, which allows the filling to set properly. Slice and serve plain, topped with whipped cream or with ice cream. Enjoy!
Tips for Making Gluten-Free Apple Pie
The truth is, all pie crust is a little tricky to make. It requires a light but confident touch to roll the dough without sticking or tearing, and you need to be quick enough that the ingredients stay cool, all while resisting adding too much water or flour. My top tip for pastry, including gluten-free pastry, is practice. If your early pies are a little tough or a bit lumpy, keep on practicing.
The bad news for GF bakers is that gluten-free pastry is a bit more delicate to work with. The good news is that the crust is relatively forgiving of re-rolling or patch-up work, since there’s no gluten in the flour to make it tough.
What kind of apples should you use for apple pie?
This recipe embraces the quirks of a variety of apples. If you prefer a crisper apple, try Pink Lady or Cortlands. If you like your pie less sweet, lean towards varietals like classic Granny Smith, the delicious Braeburn and the heirloom Winesap.
What are the best gluten-free flours for baking?
The world of gluten-free flours is vast, which makes it both fun and daunting. Many bakers new to GF stick to the classic brown and white rice flours, which have simple flavors, are easy to find at most grocery stores and are relatively affordable.
If you want to experiment, branch out into whole grain flours. Oat and sorghum are healthy and yield a satisfying crumb, while tasting simple enough in flavor to use in most recipes. More experimental flavors include sour (in a good way) teff, toasty buckwheat and protein-rich nut flours. Flours like coconut and potato flour (not to be confused with potato starch) absorb liquid at a very high rate, and should only be used in tested recipes.
Most starches are fairly interchangeable, but potato veers a bit denser and tapioca a bit lighter.
As you practice more and more, you’ll learn how to convert your favorite recipes to gluten-free.
How should you store gluten-free apple pie?
Gluten-free pie, like most pies, is best the day it’s made. Store leftover pie, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to four days. The crust will get a bit soggy as it sits, but it will still taste great. Zap it in the microwave before eating, if you like. Or check out these other ways to reheat apple pie.
Can I make gluten-free pie ahead of time?
You may make the pie crust ahead of time. Work through step 5, and put the dough discs in the freezer. Defrost them in the fridge overnight before rolling them out as usual.
Baking an entire pie ahead of time isn’t a great idea, gluten-free or not. Most pie crusts will get soggy as they sit. Gluten-free pastry is a bit more fragile and will lose some structural integrity (aka get crumbly) over time.