Classic Apple Pie

4.82 from 32 votes
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This homemade apple pie recipe yields a flaky crust and flavorful filling. I’ll show you step-by-step how to make it from scratch to impress your family and friends.

Best apple pie recipe with golden brown crust.

There’s nothing better than a slice of warm apple pie topped with whipped cream or à la mode with ice cream. Cutting through the buttery crust reveals layers of tender fruit coated in delicious spiced syrup. The components are simple; pie dough and apple filling.

In culinary school, I learned the technique for making a flaky crust. The process can be tricky, but I’ve made the process foolproof. The good news is that you can make it ahead and roll it out when you’re ready to slice the apples and bake.

Slice removed from an apple pie showing the filling.

The pie dough

I use a classic pie dough recipe called Pâte Brisée, which is versatile for sweet and savory pies. It consists of all-purpose flour, butter, water, and salt. But how you prepare and incorporate the ingredients significantly impacts texture.

Fruit pies need a tender yet sturdy crust due to the moisture they release. The crust should be neutral in flavor to let the filling shine.

Keep the butter cold

One of the most important steps is to chill the butter after cutting it into ½-inch cubes. This process hardens it and prevents it from melting when incorporated with the flour. The heat generated from the sheer force of an electric mixer and the warmth from your fingers when handling can alter the results.

I also recommend ice water to keep the butter cold so it doesn’t melt. Otherwise, you’ll lose those precious pockets of fat in the flour.

Achieving a flaky crust

Use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, food processor, dough/pastry blender, or your fingers to break the butter into the flour. You want the butter pieces to reduce to about the size of a pea.

Those pockets of fat melt when you bake the pie, and the moisture turns into steam, leaving layers between the pie crust. It’s a very similar concept to making homemade biscuits.

Apple pie dough being made in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Step 3. Hydrate the dough

Let the dough relax

Once you add water to flour, gluten bonding occurs, creating a pliable dough. However, before rolling, it’s essential to give the protein in the dough time to relax. It’s just like muscles that tense up after a workout. If you try to roll it out too soon, the butter will be too soft, and the dough will contract and be harder to roll.

A crust baked within 1 to 2 hours after making will be tough and chewy in texture. I separate the bottom and top crust pieces into 1-inch round discs and cover them in plastic wrap. Give it at least 4 hours to rest in the refrigerator, or overnight is ideal.

Tips for rolling out pie dough

After refrigerating, the butter inside the dough will be solid. Let it sit on the counter at room temperature until it feels more flexible. I give it about 5 to 10 minutes. If the dough cracks in the center when you begin to press and roll, let it sit a little longer.

It’s essential to work quickly to ensure the dough doesn’t get too warm. The top and bottom crust pieces should be about ¼-inch thick. This size provides a sturdy layer that bakes nicely all the way through.

Person spreading out a piece of dough on a floured surface using a wooden rolling pin.
Step 5. Roll out the dough

Pan selection

Like my blueberry pie, I use a 9-inch glass pie plate to yield tall slices. Alternatively, a 9 ½ or 10-inch size will work but won’t be as high. Glass cookware takes a little longer than a ceramic or metal pie pan to heat up, but it retains heat longer once removed from the oven. This material allows the crust in the pan to finish cooking when cooling, turning more golden in color.

Glass is also easy to see the appearance change and check for doneness. A metal dish can be used, but it tends to be thinner. It heats up quickly and can cook the crust too fast before the apples have time to tenderize, or the filling has time to thicken.

Transferring the crust to the pie dish (3 ways)

  • If the dough is still cool, it shouldn’t be difficult to lift and place it on top of the pie plate.
  • Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll the dough over the pie dish. 
  • Fold the dough in half and then in half again, creating a triangle shape. Place it inside the pie dish. Unfold once, which gives you a half-moon shape, then unfold again.
Trimming excess pie dough around the edges of a glass baking dish.
Step 5 (continued). Prepare the bottom crust

Apple selection

Granny Smith and Honeycrisp are the best apples, giving the filling the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith apples hold their shape and provide a soft bite when cooked. Their tartness goes well with the sweetness of the sugar and spice mixture.

Honeycrisp apples have a nice sweetness and stay firm in texture. Other good baking apples include Golden Delicious, McIntosh, and Fuji, which don’t get too mushy. Each apple variety has a unique taste profile. You can customize the filling based on your preference.

Size of the apple slices

Cut the apples into ½-inch thick slices to ensure their texture softens during baking but still keeps their wedge shape. If the pieces are too thick, the apples will be hard and crispy in the center. If they are too thin, they become a mushy mess.

Making the apple pie filling

A good apple pie filling should yield tender and juicy apples coated with a syrup-like glaze that clings to the surface. All-purpose flour thickens the juice. The dry flour should evenly coat the apples. As it cooks and bubbles, the starches in the flour swell, creating a sticky coating. Granulated and brown sugar also thickens as they concentrate.

The molasses in brown sugar adds a beautiful caramel taste. A mixture of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla delivers warm, earthy notes, adding a depth of flavor to each slice. Once the sugar and flour are mixed with the apples, it will start to draw out the moisture from the fruit due to osmosis. Let the apples sit in the large bowl for about 2 minutes in the mixture to provide more liquid for thickening with the flour when baking.

Slices of apple inside the center of an uncovered pie crust.
Step 8. Add the filling

Layer the apples

Instead of just dumping the apples into the crust, layer them in by hand to stack them on top of each other. This technique keeps the pie more uniform in texture and makes it easier to slice. This technique also reduces the size of the gap between the top crust and filling after baking.

Forming the crust

Once the apples are in, carefully lay the crust on top unless you’re planning on making a lattice crust. There will be excess dough, so tuck them under the edges of the bottom crust. Seal the edges by crimping them with your fingers or incorporate a unique design.

Make sure to add a steam vent! I use a small round cookie cutter, about 1-inch in size, to make a hole in the center of the pie. The vent allows the apples to release heat so the pastry doesn’t get soggy. Before baking, brush the top of the crust with egg wash to add a more golden color. For a churro-like topping, sprinkle on some cinnamon and sugar. It adds a nice subtle crunch.

Bake time and cooling

This apple pie recipe takes about 1-hour to bake. As oven temperatures vary, watch out for the color change. Be aware that the pie crust in the dish will continue to darken after removing from the oven. Carryover cooking will occur.

Cool the pie on a wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving. This duration helps make it easier to cut and serve as the filling will set, and the butter in the crust will firm up. The pie tastes best the same day.

Make ahead tips

  • The pie dough can be made 48 hours in advance and kept refrigerated.
  • Freeze the dough for up to 1 month, then defrost in the refrigerator overnight. 
  • The pie can be assembled the day before, refrigerated, then baked. 
  • For the best taste, do not freeze the assembled pie.  

What to serve this with

Slice of apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Recipe Science

Should you cook apples before putting them in a pie?

There are pros and cons. Pre-cooking the apples coaxes out the moisture and prevents a watery filling. You can also load more in the pie as they shrink, but it requires more. Cooking prevents a gap between the filling and top crust as the fruit won’t reduce in size further. However, I find that the pie loses texture, almost like chunky applesauce. That’s why I prefer not to cook them. If you have enough flour, the starches will absorb the juice and thicken the filling properly.

Best Apple Pie Recipe

Delicious apple pie recipe with a flaky pie crust and flavorful fruit filling. The perfect dessert for the holidays and special occasions!
4.82 from 32 votes
Prep Time5 hours
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time6 hours
Servings 12 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

Pie Crust

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ¾ cups unsalted butter, cut into ½" cubes, chilled
  • ¾ cup ice-cold water, chilled

Apple Filling

  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 ½ pound granny smith apples
  • 1 ½ pound honeycrisp apples, or Fuji
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoon unsalted butter, softened for dotting on apples

Spiced Topping

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, beaten for egg wash

Instructions 

  • Prepare the Crust Ingredients – Add ice cubes and water to a measuring cup. Cut the butter into 1/2" cubes. Place both items in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Break Down the Butter – In a stand mixer bowl, add the flour and salt. Combine using the paddle attachment on the lowest speed (Stir) for about 10 seconds. Add chilled diced butter to the bowl. On the lowest speed, turn the mixer on and off quickly for a few seconds to coat the butter with the flour to prevent the flour from spilling.
    Continue to mix at low speed until the flour and butter resemble wet sand with coarse crumbles and pea-sized pieces remaining, about 60 to 75 seconds. Use your fingers to break up any large pieces. Do not over-mix. The dough should not bind together before adding the water.
  • Hydrate the Dough – Gradually add 1 tablespoon of ice-cold water to the bowl. After each addition, turn the mixer on for 1 to 2 seconds. Add enough water until the dough looks lumpy and hydrated but not wet or sticky. It should just begin to clump together with small crumbles on the bottom of the bowl.
    All of the water may not be needed, about 8 to 10 tablespoons is typical. When the dough is pinched together, it should compress and hold, not be dry or crumbly. Do not over-mix. The dough will be pressed together before resting.
  • Rest the Dough – Separate the dough into two even-sized portions, about 1 pound (454 grams) each. Press them into a 1" thick round disc and cover them separately in plastic wrap, then place both in a resealable plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator to rest for at least 4 hours, overnight, or up to 2 days.
  • Roll the Dough – Remove both doughs from the refrigerator and allow them to sit at room temperature for about 5 to 10 minutes or until pliable. Dust the counter and dough with flour. Rotate and dust with flour underneath and on the top to prevent sticking.
    For the bottom crust, roll one of the wrapped doughs into a 12 to 13-inch circle, about ¼" thick. Place it into a 9-inch pie dish and gently press against the sides and bottom. With a paring knife, trim the excess, leaving a ½" overhang to fold over later. Place the prepared pie dish in the refrigerator to keep it cold.
    For the top crust, roll the remaining wrapped dough into a 12" circle, about ¼" thick. Lay it flat on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, and transfer it to the refrigerator. While the dough chills, make the filling.
  • Apple Filling – Peel the apples and discard the core and stems. Slice the apples into ½" thick half-moon shapes. This should yield about 10 cups (2 ½ pounds, 1.1 kg). Place them into a large mixing bowl.
    In a small bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and lemon zest.
    Sprinkle the mixture on top, and toss to coat. This should have a consistency of wet sand. Add the vanilla extract and toss. Let the filling sit for about 2 minutes.
  • Preheat the Oven – Place the oven rack in the center position. Preheat to 375°F (190°C). Line a half-sheet pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
  • Add the Filling – Take the crust pieces out of the refrigerator. Place the apple filling mixture into the pie dish. Make sure the apples lay flat and fill in any gaps. Dot the apples with softened butter to prevent sticking of the crust.
  • Add the Top Crust – Lay the flat top crust over the apples. Trim the excess dough to about ¾" hanging over the pie plate. Press the dough against the apples and fold the excess underneath the bottom crust edges.
    Crimp by pinching the dough using the pointer and thumb fingers. Using a small round cookie cutter, about 1" in size, cut a hole in the top of the pie. This creates a vent to let steam escape.
    In a small bowl, mix the spiced topping of granulated sugar and cinnamon. Lightly brush the whisked egg on the top of the crust. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  • Bake the Pie – Place the pie dish on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 60 to 70 minutes. The sides will continue to darken when cooling.
  • Cool Before Serving – Let the pie sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack until warm or room temperature, at least 3 hours before serving. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Making a Lattice Crust: Using the top crust portion, roll out a 13 by 10-inch rectangle. Cut the dough into ten strips that are 13-inches long and 1-inch wide. Quickly chill or freeze to make them easier to weave. Lay 5 parallel strips evenly over the filling, then weave the remaining pieces. Trim a 1/2-inch lattice crust overhang on the edges to press with the bottom crust. Fold the excess dough over the edge and crimp.
  • Storing: The fully baked pie can be covered and left at room temperature for one day before eating or refrigerated. Wrap and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • To Reheat: Place the pie dish on a parchment-lined sheet pan and loosely cover it with foil. Bake at 225ºF (107ºC) until warmed through. About 20 to 25 minutes, depending on if it’s been at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator. Individual slices can be reheated on a foil-lined baking sheet until warmed through.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 12 servings
Calories 456kcal (23%)Carbohydrates 51g (17%)Protein 4g (8%)Fat 27g (42%)Saturated Fat 17g (85%)Cholesterol 71mg (24%)Sodium 31mg (1%)Potassium 172mg (5%)Fiber 4g (16%)Sugar 21g (23%)Vitamin A 889IU (18%)Vitamin C 5mg (6%)Calcium 25mg (3%)Iron 2mg (11%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating




18 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Dora says

    This was alot of work for me because I’m someone that rarely cooks…But when I tell you it was soooooo worth it! 5 stars, I said to myself if i’m going to make an apple pie i’m going all in and making it from scratch.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You rocked the homemade apple pie recipe, Dora! I’m so proud of you for going for it and getting great results. Did you serve it with ice cream?

  2. Shelby Hankins says

    Made this apple pie today, and unfortunately I didn’t get to eat any because I got sick, my husband said it’s the best apple pie he had ever eaten and he is close to 80, so really must have been delicious, I’ll taste when I feel better. Thank you

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m sorry that you aren’t feeling well, Shelby! I’m glad that your husband got to taste and enjoyed the apple apple!

  3. Shelby Hankins says

    I want to make this apple tomorrow, my concern, does the apples cook to be soft, I mean really soft, I thought about cooking for a few minutes before I put in pie shell, just to soften, how do you think that would be. I love apple pie but as said, I do not like my apples a little hard at all. Thank you. I make a lot of your recipes and love them. Shelby Hankins

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’ve found the apples to be soft after baking, not hard, but still retain their shape. I don’t think you need to pre-cook the apples. After slicing, you can cut them in half if you want them to be a little softer. Let me know how it goes!

  4. marina rapisarda says

    Hey Jessica, have not tried this receipe yet but just wanted you to know that the many receipes that I tried were great. I just love learning about the science of cooking and your website is easy for me to navigate even though I am not tech savy.
    Thank you.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      So happy to have you here, Marina! So happy to share my knowledge with you. Let me know if you make the pie!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for your feedback, Joecline! Thrilled to hear that your husband enjoyed the pie. Great job!

  5. Sheila Flores says

    This apple pie recipe is delicious! I made the pie for my husband for Valentine’s Day and it was a big hit. The warm spices in the filling were really nice, and the apples were tender, yet kept their structure nicely. Loved the flakey, buttery crust too. Your excellent instructions helped make it a success! This will be my go to apple pie recipe.

  6. Jasmin Torres says

    I loved this recipe!! It was a huge success at all the gatherings 🙂 I’m thinking about trying this gluten-free & dairy-free for a Friendsgiving. Do you recommend any GF flours or DF butters out there? I know it’s not the same as the ingredients you call for, but just thought I’d ask!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Whoo-hoo! I’m so happy to hear that the pie was a success, and you’re so sweet to share! My favorite gluten-free flour brand is Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten-free baking flour. I haven’t used a specific vegan butter before. You could use a mix of shortening and margarine (or vegan butter). Make sure to replace the flour in the filling with cornstarch (2.5 tablespoons). Let me know how it goes!

  7. Geok Cheng says

    Hi Jessica! I love to receive your daily emails and when I am very interested in the particular dish I will click to read more. This is the most detailed apple pie recipe I’ve read. I love how you always explain the science behind some steps, which frankly speaking many(almost all) of which i never knew! I dont know if you still remember me, I started knowing you almost 3 yrs ago because of my gestational diabetes. Thanks for your advice then n since I hv been reading ur emails/recipes till now. I have watch afew of your youtube recipe videos too! very comfortable to watch. plus the one where you talked more about your journey. since staying home for 8 mths ive been cooking more meals everyday, lunch n dinner. I hv a 2 yr old which make cooking complicated dishes more of a challenge. hence i will stick to simplier dishes for now, but still love to read ur blog recipes n watch ur recipe videos nonetheless, its just so nice to watch! Thank you!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      It’s so great to hear from you again! Congrats on your beautiful baby, I have a 3-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son, so I know how busy it can be during mealtime. I appreciate you reading the articles and watching my videos, my goal is always helping others learning something new. Thank you for your support, Geok!

  8. Roberta Gong says

    I have not tried your pie recipe yet, but it looks good. My problem when making pies are the bottom crust. How do you keep it from getting soggy?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Roberta- Great question! I found that rolling the dough to 1/4-inch thick helps create a solid bottom crust. My recipe is higher in butter, which helps to cook the bottom and edges more effectively than lower ft recipes. I also use a glass pie dish so I could see the bottom and sides of the dish browning. I also let the pie cool completely to help complete cooking and firm up the crust as it cools. I hope you make the recipe, I’d love to hear what you think!