Top Tips for Homemade Apple Pie
- Make the pastry dough first. Let it chill in the fridge while you put together the pie filling.
- This apple pie recipe uses Honeycrisps, but lots of other classic apple varieties work, too.
- Precook the apples. This prevents the fruit from breaking down and becoming mushy in the oven.
- Thicken the pie filling with cooking juices from the apples—plus sugar and cider—instead of cornstarch or flour. This will give you a sweet, gooey sauce.
- Let the precooked filling cool to room temperature before assembling the pie.
- Work quickly when rolling out the dough so the butter doesn’t melt. If necessary, chill the dough in the refrigerator for 15 minutes so it can firm back up.
- Before baking, cover the oven rack with aluminum foil to catch any spills.
- Cool the finished pie completely. It helps the filling set and ensures that each slice is just as juicy as the next.
How to Pick Apples for Pie
With their crisp texture and gently sweet flavor, Honeycrisp apples are our top choice for this pie filling. If you’d rather try another variety, go for any firm-fleshed apple, like Pink Lady, Rome and Jonagold. When it comes to flavor, most people prefer a sweet, slightly tangy filling. For a little extra tartness, throw a Granny Smith or two into the mix.
Speaking of using apple combos, many bakers swear by this approach. Baking with multiple varieties lets you play with the texture of the filling, too. Some apples, even if they’re crunchy when raw, cook down to an applesaucy consistency—think Macintosh and Courtland. Others, like Gala, keep their shape. In the end, the flavor and texture all come down to personal preference, so experiment away. And if you can’t stop making pies, try these top-rated recipes!
How to Make Apple Pie
1. Prep the dough.
Pulse flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until blended. Add the butter and keep pulsing until the butter pieces are the size of peas. While processing, add just enough ice water to form moist crumbs. Or watch how to mix pie dough by hand.
Divide the dough in half. Shape each section into a disk and wrap separately in plastic. Refrigerate for a half-hour or overnight.
2. Make the apple pie filling while the dough chills.
Core, peel and slice the apples first.
In a Dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the apples, sugars, salt, spices and lemon peel. Put the lid on and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft and juicy. Remove the apples from the pot with a slotted spoon and spread them on a rimmed sheet pan—they’ll cool quickest in a single layer.
Add the apple cider to the Dutch oven and bring it to a boil; cook, stirring, until juices thicken and reduce to about half a cup. Off the heat, add lemon juice and vanilla. Pour the sauce over the apple slices and let cool completely. This takes about 45 minutes. (The filling can be made 24 hours in advance and refrigerated.)
3. Roll out the pie pastry.
Sprinkle a little flour on your (clean) countertop. Pull one of the dough disks from the fridge and roll it into a 1/8-inch-thick circle. Transfer it to a deep-dish pie plate: Drape the pastry loosely around a rolling pin, then position the pastry over the edge of the pie plate and unroll. Trim the pastry to within a half inch of the rim. Kitchen shears work great for this.
4. Fill the pie pastry.
Add the cooled filling. Cooling it first helps prevent steam from collecting under the top pastry. Trapped steam will turn into an air pocket while the pie bakes, which can cause a gap between the top crust and the cooked filling inside.
5. Make the top crust.
Roll the other chilled dough disk into a 1/8-inch-thick circle. Once it’s rolled out, top the filled pastry using the rolling pin method outlined above.
Trim, seal and flute. To flute the edge, position your left thumb on the inside rim of the pie plate. Position your right thumb and index finger on the outside edge and pinch pastry around your left thumb to form a V shape, sealing the top and bottom layers together. Work your fingers all the way around the pie to seal the layers completely.
Cut slits in top to let steam escape. Whisk together egg yolk and cream and brush the mixture over the pie to make it nice and shiny, then sprinkle with coarse sugar to add a sweet crunch. Before baking, chill the pie for 15 minutes to allow the butter to harden. This helps the crust keep its shape.
6. Bake the pie.
While the pie chills, preheat the oven to 425°. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and cover it with foil. Bake the pie for 20 minutes to set the crust, then turn the temperature down to 350°. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 40 minutes longer.
Cool your beautiful apple pie on a wire rack before you have a slice (we promise, it’s worth the wait).
How to Make a Braided Pie Crust
Like the way our food stylists topped this gorgeous pie? Here’s how it’s done.
Follow the directions above until you get to the middle of step 4. After you’ve added the pie filling, roll the remaining dough to a 12×10-inch rectangle instead of a circle. Cut the pastry, lengthwise, into fifteen 1/2-inch-wide strips.
Braid the strips, using three pieces of pastry at a time, and arrange them over the filling. Trim any extra pastry that hangs off the edge of the pie plate. Flute the bottom pastry edge over the ends of the braided pieces, and the pie is ready to chill and bake.
Next time you bake this pie (because we know there’ll be a next time), check out these other step-by-step methods for decorative crusts and more pie-making tips, courtesy of our awesome food stylists.