It’s not a holiday feast without a big Dutch apple pie on the menu. This recipe has the best of both worlds, tender apples nestled in a flaky crust and a buttery crumble shell placed on top.
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Each year I make my classic apple pie, but I’m switching things up this holiday. Instead of a traditional layered double crust, there is a cinnamon streusel topping. The crumble contains sugar, spices, and butter. This combination delivers crunchy bites that add a pleasant contrast in texture when baked. The recipe for Dutch apple pie may seem intimidating, but it’s pretty straightforward.
The components are simply pie dough, apple filling, and crumble topping. You can make some in advance so it can be quickly assembled and baked on the day of serving. What makes the Dutch apple pie style special is adding a touch of cream to the fruit, adding a luxurious element that you’ll love.
The pie dough
I use a homemade pie crust recipe called Pâte Brisée. It’s a simple combination of all-purpose flour, butter, water, and salt. It only takes a few minutes to prepare. I use my stand mixer to quickly break the butter into coarse pieces, the size of a pea or smaller. This process will give a sturdy structure with a flaky texture, perfect for supporting the two pounds of sliced apples.
The dough needs 4 hours to chill to rest the gluten proteins to prevent the dough from tasting tough. I always make this part of the recipe a day ahead to roll it out when I’m ready to bake.
Rolling out the dough
Let the disc sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before rolling. The chilled butter pieces will be firm, so waiting a few minutes will help them be more pliable. Dust some flour on the board and rolling pin to help prevent sticking.
Roll the dough to an about ¼-inch thick circle, about 12 to 13-inches in diameter. This size will be thick enough to hold the heavy fruit.
I prefer to use a 9-inch glass pie pan to monitor if the sides of the crust are turning golden brown. I don’t use a deep-dish pan because I like a taller slice. It takes a little longer to heat than metal or ceramic, but glass holds heat well for carryover cooking once removed from the oven. The crust will become even more profound in brown color.
Forming the crust
This recipe is for a single-layer pie crust, with just the bottom of the pie pan covered with dough. Lower the rolled-out dough into the pan, pressing the bottom and sides to remove any air gaps. Trim a ½-inch overhang around the rim, then tuck the excess under to give a thicker edge.
I like to make a pretty fluted edge using my fingers to crimp, or you can use the tines of a fork to make a pressed design. Make sure to freeze the shaped pie crust for 20 minutes before baking. This duration will help firm up the butter and create flaky layers during baking.
Make a crumble topping
The topping for dutch apple pie is a type of streusel. For my recipe, I use a combination of all-purpose flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and butter for binding. Because the fat is melted, it can quickly develop deeper butterscotch notes as the dairy solids heat up in the oven.
It’s called browned butter, and it’s delicious! I use it in my apple crumble for contrasting textures. Let the mixture chill to make it easier to break up, and sprinkle it on top of the pie. Cover the surface thoroughly with the pebbly pieces.
I recommend using two types of apples for a balance of sweet, tart, and juicy flavors. Granny Smith apples holds their shape well so that you can bite into the fruit. Honeycrisp apples are sweet and provide more juices that reduce and coat the slices.
Fuji apples are a great substitute with a strong floral note. I like to use them year-round. Other suitable baking apples include Braeburn and McIntosh, which don’t get mushy when cooked.
Slicing the apples
For a dense pie, slice the apples to ¼-inch thickness. I cut the wedges in half crosswise to make about 1 ½-inch pieces. This size allows the slices to be arranged tighter together. After peeling and coring, there is about 20 to 25% loss, about 2 pounds of apples per pie.
When stacked up, it will look high, but as the fruit cooks and releases its juices, they will compact together.
The dutch apple pie filling
I use plenty of bold spices and sweeteners to make a flavorful filling. The apples are tossed in dark brown sugar for molasses notes and granulated sugar for pure sweetness. Warm baking spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves are included in the mixture. A little lemon zest adds a pleasant citrus taste without the sourness. Flour is added as a thickening agent.
As the fruit cooks and releases its juices, the starches absorb and swell, creating a lovely glaze over the apples. This prevents a runny slice. The finishing touch is vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream. Dairy is added in traditional Dutch apple pie recipes. I use just enough for richness but not too much where it will cause sogginess. Make sure to layer the pieces closely together in the crust.
Bake time and cooling
Bake the pie at 375 degrees on a foil-lined baking sheet. The crumbles take about 60 to 70 minutes to deepen in color and develop caramel aromas. During this time, the crust will also become golden in hue, and the crumbles should be dry to the touch. The apple should feel tender when pricked.
The temperature of the filling should reach about 190 to 200 degrees when finished baking. Let the pie cool completely on a wire rack to allow for carryover cooking of the filling and crust. The scratches in the filling will gel and set, trapping the delicious juices. A cool pie makes for cleaner slices!
- Make the pie dough two days before and store it in the refrigerator.
- Freeze the dough for up to 1 month, then defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.
- The crumble topping can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
What to serve this with
Frequently asked questions
Dutch apple pie has a buttery and sweet streusel topping, aka crumble. Cream is often added to the apple filling for a richer texture. French apple pie has been referred to synonymously with the Dutch version. However, traditional French apple pie or tarte tatin is sweetened apple slices cooked in a skillet, then topped and baked with a crust-like pastry. It’s flipped over with the fruit exposed for a stunning upside-down effect.
It’s a streusel-style topping made of all-purpose flour, sugar, spices like cinnamon, and melted butter. The mixture creates pebble-sized pieces to scatter on top of the pie. I add baking powder to add extra crunch and deeper brown hues to the topping.
How to make a crunchy crumble topping
The secret ingredient for extra crunch is the baking soda contained within the baking powder. This leavening agent bubbles up and puffs the dough making for a more hollow and crisp texture. It also accelerates browning and creates a visually stunning surface. It’s like eating mini cinnamon cookies! You can try the recipe without it. Still delicious, but it will be slightly pastier in flavor.
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Dutch Apple Pie
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼" cubes, chilled
- ½ ice-cold water, chilled
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ pound granny smith apples
- 1 ¼ pound honeycrisp apples, or Fuji
- ¼ cup 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
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, beaten for egg wash, optional
- Prepare the Crust Ingredients – Add ice cubes and water to a measuring cup. Cut the butter into 1/4" 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 2 to 3-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 5 to 7 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 – Press the dough into a 1” thick round disc and wrap it in plastic, then place it in a resealable bag. Store in the refrigerator to rest for at least 4 hours, overnight, or up to 2 days.
- Roll the Dough – Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 5 to 10 minutes to make it easier to roll. If it’s still too hard, let it sit longer until more pliable.Dust the counter and dough with flour. Rotate and dust with flour underneath and on the top to prevent sticking and make it easier to transfer. Roll into a 13-inch circle, slightly less than 1/4" thick.
- Form the Crust – Place the rolled-out dough into a 9-inch pie dish and gently press against the sides and bottom. With a paring knife, trim the excess leaving a 1/2" overhang. Tuck the excess underneath the bottom crust edges. Crimp by pinching the pointer and thumb fingers. Place the crust in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Crumble Topping – In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.Add the melted butter and vanilla. Stir with a spatula to combine and press to make large clumps. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- 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.
- Apple Filling – Peel the apples and discard the core and stems. Slice into 1/4" thick wedges, then cut each piece in half crosswise so they are about 1 1/2" long. This should yield about 8 cups of sliced apples (about 2 pounds, 908 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 flour mixture on top of the apples, and toss to coat. This should have a consistency of wet sand. Add the heavy cream and vanilla extract, and toss to combine.
- Add the Filling to the Crust – Layer the apples in the pie crust so that the slices lay flat and fill in the gaps.
- Add the Crumble on Top – Remove the crumble topping from the refrigerator. Break them into dime-sized pieces along with some smaller ones. Sprinkle over the surface of the apples to fully cover them.If desired, lightly brush the whisked egg on the edges and sides of the crust to add a more golden color when baked.
- Bake the Pie – Place the pie dish on the foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the topping is golden brown and the apples are tender and bubbling, about 60 to 75 minutes. If the crust or surface is getting too brown, loosely tent it with foil.
- Cool After Baking – Let the pie sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then cool on a wire rack until warm or room temperature, at least 3 hours before serving. If desired, serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
- Apple Substitutes: Fuji, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, or Gala apples taste like Honeycrisp.
- No Stand Mixer: Use a dough/pastry blender or your fingers to break the butter into the dough.
- Make-Ahead: The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, frozen for up to 1 month, and defrosted in the refrigerator overnight. The crumble topping can be refrigerated for up to 7 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
- 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 3 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. It takes 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.
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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