There’s no fall treat more iconic than the apple pie. Who doesn’t love going to their local apple picking farm, getting crisp apples and combining them with warming cinnamon and buttery pastry? Because this fall dessert is so beloved, it’s one home bakers should try to master. If baking pies is intimidating to you, have no fear—we’ll walk you through how to make the perfect apple pie step by step.
How to Make Apple Pie from Scratch
To make the best apple pie, you’ve got to start with a top-rated recipe, like this apple pie recipe from Maggie Greene, a reader in Granite Falls, Washington. Here’s what you’ll need to make this pie.
What You Need for Homemade Pie Crust
You’ll need a good foundation for this pie. We recommend our Test Kitchen’s favorite butter pie pastry.
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold butter, cubed
- 1/3 to 2/3 cup ice water
Ingredients for the Apple Pie Filling
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons 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
- Additional sugar
Step 1: Prep Your Pie Crust
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Make pie crust by combining flour and salt in a large bowl. Then, using a pastry blender, cut cold butter into the flour mixture until the butter pieces are pea-sized. Be sure to use cold butter here. Cold butter will help create a flaky crust. 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 pastry is done, divide it into two, shape into discs and chill for an hour or more. You can even freeze pie pastry if you’re working ahead for the holidays.
Step 2: Make the Apple Pie Filling
Before you even start making your filling, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got great apples to work with. Everyone has their personal preference as far as apple varietals—some prefer tart, others sweet—but just be sure to use a firm, crisp apple that will hold up to baking. Check out these tips for finding the best apples for apple pie.
With the apples prepped, toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice. In another dish, mix together sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Then add the sugar mixture to the apples and toss to coat. That’s all for the filling!
Step 3: Roll Out the Pie Crust
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The next step is to pull your pie pastry 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 eighth-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 crust over your rolling pin and place in your pie dish. Here are some of the other essential pie baking tools every home baker should have.
Repeat the process for the top crust (but set that aside for a moment).
Step 4: Fill and Seal the Pie
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Next, add your apple mix to the pie dish. Dot with butter. Then lay your top crust over the apples. From here, trim the edges of the crust—leave an inch or so of excess around the perimeter.
Then pinch and seal the crust. There are lots of methods for finishing off the edges of your crust, and we have the best tips for how to make decorative pie crusts. If you’re a beginner, you can just pinch the crust closed.
Step 5: The Finishing Touches
Your pie might look oven-ready, but there are a few more steps left. First and foremost, adding vents to the top of your pie. If you have a basic top (as compared to something semi-open like a lattice pie), you’ll want to cut a few vents in the top. This will help steam escape and prevent the crust from becoming soggy.
Next, create a simple egg wash by whisking an egg white with a teaspoon of water. Brush this over the top of your pie. This will help give the baked pie a nice shine.
Finally, sprinkle sugar over the top crust. This 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 6: Baking the Apple Pie
Then place your pie on the middle rack of a 375ºF oven and bake for 25 minutes. Then remove the shield and bake an additional 20 to 25 minute, until the crust is golden and the filling bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Want to try a twist on the traditional? Check out this cinnamon swirl apple pie!
Serving Apple Pie
Slicing and serving pie—at least the first piece—is always a bit tricky. For neater slices, it’s best to let your pie cool completely. That will help the filling set a bit. Also, 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 or even a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
Apple Pie Troubleshooting Tips
Need help perfecting your pie recipe or fixing common slipups? We’ve got tips.
- The filling is too watery: Despite our best efforts, apple filling can sometimes be too runny. This depends so much on the moisture of the apples. If you’re particularly worried about a soggy filling, you can precook the apples for a few minutes, as Joanna Gaines does in her signature pie recipe. Then you can drain the apples and then mix up the filling as normal.
- The apples are too mushy: Be savvy about the apples you choose. Opt for firm, tart apples like Cortlands and Granny Smiths. Avoid apples like Red Delicious.
- The crust gets too brown: Don’t skip those crust shields! They do wonders to preserve the color of your pie.
- Slicing the pie is messy: Wait! That’s all there is to it. Waiting overnight will yield the best results.