In this easy apple pie recipe, tender, cinnamon-spiced apples fill a flaky, buttery crust. Top it with vanilla ice cream for a mouthwatering fall dessert!
What do you look for in an apple pie recipe? A few years ago, the first time I volunteered to make a homemade apple pie for my family’s Thanksgiving, I scoured the internet in search of the perfect one. I wanted the filling to be juicy, but not so juicy that the pie wouldn’t slice. I wanted it to be warmly spiced with cinnamon and spiked with lemon for tart, bright flavor. The best apple pie recipe would yield slices thick enough to stand up to a big scoop of ice cream, and it would have a flaky, buttery, easy-to-make crust.
That year, I couldn’t find an existing apple pie recipe that I thought would come out just the way I wanted it to, so I set out to make my own. Since then, I’ve carefully tested and tweaked this recipe, and it’s now the one I love most. A mountain of tender apple slices fills a glorious golden brown crust. I made it for a family gathering a few weeks ago, and we ended up without a single slice left. Fingers crossed you won’t have one either.
Apple Pie Recipe Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy apple pie recipe:
- Apples, of course! The type you choose matters. In my opinion, the best apples for apple pie are Granny Smiths because they hold their shape well and have a nice tart flavor. If you prefer less tart apples, try using Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious apples instead. Whatever you do, avoid varieties like McIntosh or Red Delicious, which break down when baked.
- Apple pie spice – This mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom adds warm, spiced flavor to the filling.
- Brown sugar and cane sugar – For sweetness. I love the brown sugar’s molasses flavor alongside the warm spices.
- Lemon juice and zest – For bright, zingy flavor.
- Vanilla extract – It enhances the spices’ warming flavor.
- Cornstarch – It thickens the apple juices into a glossy sauce.
- My homemade pie crust – I’ll never make pie crust any other way! This recipe is easy to make in the food processor using simple ingredients like butter, all-purpose flour, and apple cider vinegar, and it comes out flaky and tender every time.
- An egg – You’ll mix it with a little water to make an egg wash, which will help the crust brown as the pie bakes.
- Coarse sugar – Optional, for sprinkling over the crust.
- And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
How to Make Apple Pie
My method for how to make apple pie has four parts:
- Making the crust.
- Making the filling.
- Assembling the pie,
- And baking it.
You can find my pie crust recipe here. Note that you’ll need to chill the pie dough for at least 2 hours before rolling it out. If you can, I recommend making it a day or two ahead.
Once you make the pie dough, you can get going on the filling. Peel the apples and thinly slice them. Whisk together the sugar and spices in a big pot, add the sliced apples and lemon juice, and stir to coat the apples. Then, let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring every so often, to draw out some of their juices. While they sit, make a slurry with the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water.
After 30 minutes, set the pot over medium-low heat and cook until the apples soften slightly, about 5 minutes.
Next, raise the heat to medium and add the cornstarch slurry. Cook, stirring, until the apple juices bubble and thicken (just 30 seconds or so) and then remove the pot from the heat.
Fold in the lemon zest and vanilla and allow the filling to cool completely. Tip: Spread it in a large baking dish to help it cool more quickly!
Assembling and Baking The Pie
Once the pie dough has chilled for at least 2 hours and the filling is completely cool, you’re ready to assemble the pie.
Start by forming the bottom crust. Roll out one disc of chilled pie dough on a lightly floured surface. Find my best tips for rolling out pie dough here! Transfer the dough to a 9- or 9.5-inch pie plate, and press it firmly into the bottom and up the sides. Tent the crust with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll out the second disc of dough to make the top crust, transfer it to a baking sheet, and chill it as well.
While you wait, preheat the oven to 425°F with a baking sheet inside it.
When the bottom crust has chilled for 30 minutes, add the filling, place the top crust on top, and crimp the edges to seal.
Brush the top crust (but not the crimped edges) with the egg wash, and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if using. Use a sharp knife to cut several steam vents in the top of the pie. Tip: These slits aren’t just for decoration! They allow moisture to evaporate from the pie in the oven, resulting in a thicker filling. Don’t skip them!
Finally, you’re ready to bake the pie. Place the apple pie on the hot baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for another 45 to 55 minutes. You want the crust to be golden brown, and any visible juices should be bubbling.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
Best Apple Pie Recipe Tips
- Don’t cut the cooling (or chilling) time short. For the best apple pie, don’t skimp on chilling the pie dough or allowing the filling to cool. These steps ensure that the butter in the crust stays cold until the pie goes in the oven, which results in a tender, flaky crust. And if you love really clean slices of pie (i.e., ones that aren’t too juicy or watery), allow the baked pie to cool completely, about 4 hours, before serving.
- Bake it on a low oven rack. The hottest part of most ovens is at the bottom, near the heat source. Baking the pie on a low rack places the bottom crust in this zone, making it less likely to end up soggy after baking.
- Crust getting to brown? Foil is your friend. If you notice that your pie crust is golden brown well before the low end of the time range, not to worry! Tenting any dark areas with foil will prevent further browning. Cover them up, and continue baking until the crust has good color all over (if you’re using a glass pie dish, check the bottom and sides of the pie) and any visible juices are bubbling, typically 45 to 55 minutes after you lower the oven temperature to 375°F.
- Get ahead. Give yourself a head start on this apple pie recipe by making the pie dough and the filling a day or two ahead. Both will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Keep the dough wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and store the filling in an airtight container. The pie itself is best on the day it’s baked, but it will keep for 2 days at room temperature. After that, stick it in the fridge.
More Favorite Baking Recipes
If you love this apple pie recipe, try one of these delicious baking recipes next:
- ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
- ⅓ cup cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon Apple Pie Spice
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 4 pounds good baking apples, such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 recipe Easy Pie Crust, chilled at least 2 hours
- 1 large egg
- Coarse sugar, optional
- Vanilla ice cream, for serving
In a large pot, whisk together the brown sugar, cane sugar, apple pie spice, and salt. Add the apple slices and lemon juice and toss until the apples are evenly coated in the sugar and spices. Set aside for 30 minutes to draw some of the juices out of the apples.
In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of the water and the cornstarch until smooth.
Set the pot with the apples over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, until the apples soften slightly, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and pour the cornstarch mixture over the apples. Cook, stirring, until the apple juices bubble and thicken, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and vanilla. Allow the filling to cool completely.
Make the bottom crust. Follow the instructions in the pie crust recipe to roll out the bottom crust, leaving at least a ½-inch overhang on all sides of the pie plate. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Arrange an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Place a baking sheet on the rack and preheat the oven to 425°F with the baking sheet inside it.
Meanwhile, make the top crust. Use the same method to roll out the remaining pie dough into a large, ⅛-inch-thick circle. Transfer it to a baking sheet, loosely cover it with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge until the bottom crust has chilled for 30 minutes.
Assemble the pie. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and the remaining 1 tablespoon water. Set aside.
Remove the bottom crust from the refrigerator and pour in the cooled filling, mounding it slightly in the center of the pie. Gently roll the top crust over your rolling pin, then unroll it over the filled pie. Press the excess dough of the top and bottom crusts together to seal, then trim the dough so that there is a ½-inch overhang on all sides of the pie plate. Tuck the dough under itself so that the edge of the dough is in line with the edge of the pie plate. Crimp the dough with your fingers or a fork.
Brush the top crust (but not the crimped edges) with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if using. Use a sharp knife to cut several steam vents in the crust.
Place the pie on the hot baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and any visible juices are bubbling. If you have a glass pie pan, check the color of the sides of the pie. They should also be golden brown. If the crust is getting too brown before 45 minutes, tent it with foil and continue to bake.
Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving, at least 3 hours.
Serve with vanilla ice cream.
I used Erin Jeanne McDowell’s cookbook The Book on Pie as a resource in developing this recipe.