Add a few new moves to your apple pie-making game. Taste of Home Lead Test Cook, Nicholas Iverson, shows you how to make a buttery homemade pie crust brimming with caramelly apple filling—a dessert no fork can resist.
Top Tips for Homemade Apple Pie
Make the pastry dough first. Let it chill in the fridge while you put together the pie filling.
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.
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.
I love bringing something sweet to a potluck, but I don’t like spending all day in the kitchen. Saltine crust is amazing with a no-bake, tart-sweet strawberry lemonade filling. — Gina Nistico, Taste of Home Food Editor
This was the first pie I created myself. Mangoes are one of my favorite fruits, and they deserve to be represented in a pie. Of course, everything is better with coconut. —Jennifer Worrell, Niles, Illinois
I love ginger in any way, shape or form, so I always look for ways to include it in recipes, especially desserts. Peaches and ginger star in this mini pie that offers the right amount of sweetness and spice. —Rae Endicott, Branson, Missouri
I love cheese and fruit, so this pie is a natural pairing for me. Sweet and spicy wine-poached pears and a flaky, buttery cheese crust make for a winning dessert you’ll want to make again and again. If you’re serving this for Thanksgiving, bake leaf-shaped pie pastry on top for a festive look. —Alexandra Penfold, Brooklyn, New York
During the warm months, it's nice to have a fluffy, no-bake dessert that's a snap to make. Packed with peanut flavor, this pie gets gobbled up even after a big meal! —Jesse & Anne Foust, Bluefield, West Virginia
This basic recipe was one my grandmother used for making crumble pies from fresh fruit. She simply substituted oats, gingersnaps or vanilla wafers depending on the fruit. Pear was always my favorite. I added the ginger and caramel to give it a new twist. —Fay Moreland, Wichita Falls, Texas
I've always been a big fan of peanut butter. Then I found chocolaty Nutella hazelnut spread and I was hooked! I even changed one of my all-time favorite pie recipes by substituting that ingredient. —Lisa Varner, El Paso, Texas
Creamy Pineapple Pie is a light and refreshing dessert that's quick to make and impressive to serve. This is one of our favorite ways to complete a summer meal. —Sharon Bickett, Chester, South Carolina
You will detect a definite lemonade flavor in this refreshing pie. High and fluffy, this dessert has a creamy smooth consistency that we really appreciate. It's the dessert that came to mind immediately when I put together my favorite summer meal. —Cheryl Wilt, Eglon, West Virginia
Family and friends say this patriotic pie is better than a local favorite from one of our best neighborhood restaurants. Sometimes, I switch things up and use gooseberries for half of the blueberries. —Nancy Barker, Silverton, Oregon
Summer is peak season for Key limes, a must for this pie’s distinctive sweet-tart flavor. Unlike other Key lime pies, mine has a smooth marshmallow top layer that makes it stand out as a crowd favorite. —Judy Castranova, New Bern, North Carolina
You'll love the smell in your kitchen—and the smiles on everybody's faces—when you make this scrumptious caramel apple pie recipe. It takes me back home to Virginia and being at my granny's table. —Gloria Castro, Santa Rose, California
I cook in a coffee shop, so I'm always looking for new and unique pies to serve my customers. The combination of blueberries and rhubarb in this recipe caught my eye and it was an instant best-seller. —Karen Dougherty, Freeport, Illinois
Fresh berries and cream pie—it’s a simple, classic combination just like Grandma used to make. My version gets you out of the kitchen and into your lounge chair quickly. Enjoy! —Gina Nistico, Taste of Home Food Editor