How to Make an Apple Pie from Scratch

Homemade apple pie on a black granite countertop, with a white linen towel.

Whether you have apple trees of your own, picked apples at a pick-your-own orchard, or found a great deal at the grocery store, apple pie is one delicious way to use them up. Here's how to make a homemade apple pie from scratch.

How to make an apple pie from scratch

What is your favorite kind of pie? Mine isn't apple - but since we left our cherry trees in Michigan and have apple trees now, I make a lot of apple pies from scratch.

And they're absolutely delicious - but cherry pie is still my favorite.

The secret to a delicious homemade apple pie

There really isn't any secret to making a good apple pie, anyone can do it!

I use several different apple varieties in my pies. Combining several kinds gives a deeper, richer flavor and texture than using just one variety. 

I also like my pie to be juicy, so I use less flour or cornstarch than most recipes. 

Apple pie crust

While there really isn't a secret to making the perfect apple pie, I do think that the crust plays an important part in the success of your pie.

You can use a pre-made crust, or a made-from-scratch crust, whichever you prefer.

If you use a pre-made crust, find a brand you like and stick with it. Some frozen pie crusts are too thick in my opinion, others have no taste at all. After you've tried a few of them, you'll probably decide you like a particular brand more than another.

I used to hate making pie crust from scratch. You have to keep the fat cold, and it's so very hard to cut in cold shortening, butter, or lard. Then I found the secret to making a homemade pie crust.

Well, I suppose there is a secret to making the perfect apple pie from scratch after all - the crust!

A traditional apple pie has two crusts, a bottom crust and a top crust. The top crust can be either a solid crust or a lattice crust.

Some bakers simply lay the lattice strips across the pie, but I think it's much prettier if you weave them over and under. However it doesn't add to the taste of the pie, so feel free to weave or not to weave.

You can also use a bottom crust and add a streusel topping.

Canning apple pie filling

If you have a ton of apples and want to can some of your homemade apple pie filling, here's what you need to know.

The USDA doesn't recommend canning apple pie filling with thickener added. The flour or cornstarch or whatever the recipe calls for, makes the filling too thick to be safely canned at home.

However, you can make your pie filling without adding the thickener, and can it. When you're ready to make and bake the pie, you can add the thickener. 

To add thickener when you're ready to make and bake a pie, pour some of the juice from the jar of pie filling into a saucepan. Heat it up for a few minutes, whisk in the flour, and pour it over the rest of the pie filling in the crust. Then bake as directed.

Or, you can substitute Clear Jel® for the thickener in your recipe. Pie fillings containing Clear Jel® are considered safe to can.

Clear Jel® comes in two types: instant and regular or "cook type." Instant Clear Jel® doesn't require heat to thicken the food, while the regular type must be heated. You want to use the regular, cook type, not the instant.

Apples and apple pie filling can be preserved using the water bath method of canning. You'll find directions for canning apples here.

Can you freeze apple pie filling?

Yes, you can! I've frozen my homemade apple pie filling in quart-size freezer bags. 

There isn't any extra work involved, either. Simply make your pie filling according to the recipe, add it to a freezer bag, label it and put it in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.

There's no concern about freezing pie filling with thickener, so go ahead and add it when you make the filling.

You can also freeze the pie filling directly in the pie pan, without a crust. When it's frozen, remove it from the pan and wrap with foil, then in plastic wrap and put it back in the freezer. These tips will help you bake your frozen homemade pie to perfection.

Sliced apples in a bowl

Apple pie ingredients

2 Tbsp lemon juice
6-8 apples (depending on their size), peeled and cored
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of allspice *
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp butter

* Allspice is the dried and ground-up berry of the myrtle pepper tree, also known as pimento. Check the ingredients of any "allspice" you are considering buying. Some brands are a blend of spices instead of this single-ingredient seasoning

Peel and core the apples, cut into thin slices and put in a large bowl. Toss the apple slices with lemon juice until coated.

Add the sugar, flour, spices and salt to the apples, mix well. 

Pour into unbaked pie shell. Dot with butter. 

Cover with top crust if using and seal the edges of the crust. Cut small vent slits or poke holes in the crust.

Put pie in oven on middle rack and place a baking sheet on the oven rack beneath the pie to catch any drips.

Bake at 425°F for 40 to 50 minutes or until the crust is brown and juice begins to bubble up through the slits in the crust. 

Serve warm, or chill and serve later.

Leftover apple pie should be stored in the refrigerator.

Apple pie filling in an unbaked crust
Photo by E. Nemscok, used with permission. 

Are you looking for additional ways to prepare or preserve apples? Try these:

How to can apples 
How to make baked apples
How to freeze and dehydrate apples

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An apple pie on a black countertop with white linen towel


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