Put down that can of sad, syrupy apple pie filling! This simple homemade Apple Pie Filling is far superior in every way, and it cooks up in just 10 minutes. It’s also the best way to use the bounty you scored after visiting your local apple orchard!
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Why You’ll Love This Simple Apple Pie Filling Recipe
- No Gloppy Apples! Let’s tell it like it is: canned apple pie filling is not good. It’s cloyingly sweet, the apples are mushy, and the syrupy juices are not appetizing. Like homemade Cherry Pie Filling, this recipe for apple pie filling from scratch is miles better than store-bought and makes the best apple pies!
- Almost Effortless. Do you have to peel a lot of apples? Yes, but that’s about all the work that’s involved here. Once your apples are prepped, it’s just a matter of simmering everything on the stovetop. If you purchase a Johnny Peeler (which I did a few years ago; WORTH IT), peeling and slicing takes minutes.
- It Uses Four Pounds of Apples. If you’ve gone overboard at the apple orchard (ahem, guilty), you’ll be glad to know this recipe uses a lot of apples in one go. It also freezes beautifully so you can enjoy homemade apple pies long after fresh apples from your local orchard are picked clean—just add the filling to my Oil Pie Crust, Shortbread Crust, or Whole Wheat Pie Crust.
- Endless Options. Apple pie filling isn’t just for the classic apple pie recipe, though. Just like Baked Apple Slices and Crockpot Applesauce, you can use apple pie filling as a topping, or bake it into puff pastry crust for Apple Turnovers, or use phyllo dough for a cozy fall dessert.
How to Make the Best Apple Pie Filling
- Apples. I use a mix of sweet/crisp (Honeycrisp, Jazz, Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, and Pink Lady) and tart apples (Granny Smith apples are the classic choice).
- Granulated Sugar. Sugar isn’t just for sweetness; it also helps thicken the juices released by the apples.
- Kosher Salt. A little bit of salt enhances the overall flavor.
- Spices. Ground cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.
- All-Purpose Flour. Flour is the other ingredient that thickens this apple pie filling—if you’re looking for apple pie filling without cornstarch, this is it! (To make it gluten free, use half the amount of instant tapioca.)
- Lemon Juice. Use freshly-squeezed juice for the best flavor; bottled lemon juice has a dullness to it.
- Peel and Slice the Apples. Put them into a large pot.
- Add the Dry Ingredients. Toss the apples with all of the remaining ingredients except the lemon juice.
- Simmer. Stew the apples for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they start to release their juices. Stir in the lemon juice.
- Cool. Let the filling cool to room temperature, then freeze in a zip-top freezer bag or use right away.
To Use Your Apple Pie Filling for a Pie
- Thaw Partway. Take the bag out of the freezer and let it sit at room temperature until the apple pie filling is loose enough to spread into a pie crust.
- Add to Your Crust. Line a pie dish with Whole Wheat Pie Crust or your crust of choice. Add the filling in a single layer. Place the second crust on top and crimp + vent (or arrange a lattice).
- Bake. Brush all over with eggwash. Set on a parchemnt-lined baking sheet and bake at 425°F for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the filling is hot and bubbly and the crust is deep golden. Let cool for at least 2 hours prior to serving (preferably even longer).
To Use for Apple Crisp
- Thaw Partway. It doesn’t need to thaw completely, just enough to be loose.
- Place in a Baking Dish. I use an 9×9-inch dish that’s misted with cooking spray.
- Add the Crisp Topping. I love the one on this Vegan Apple Crisp or Gluten Free Apple Crisp.
- Bake. Place on a rimmed baking sheet that’s lined with parchment. Bake at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes, until the topping is golden and the filling is hot and bubbly.
More Ways to Use Apple Pie Filling
- Breakfast Parfaits. Spoon apple pie filling over yogurt or layer it into yogurt parfaits a la my Leftover Cranberry Sauce Parfaits.
- Oatmeal. Use it for topping Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats, Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats, or Oatmeal.
- Pancake and Waffle Topping. Skip the syrup and add your apple pie filling to Fluffy Pancakes or Whole Wheat Waffles.
- To Top Desserts. Use it as a finishing touch for Applesauce Cake, Buttermilk Cake, or Greek Yogurt Cheesecake.
- To Store. Apple pie filling will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- To Reheat. Transfer the apples and their juices to a sturdy zip-top freezer bag. Press out any air, then seal and freeze flat for up to 3 months.
- To Freeze. Let the apple pie filling thaw in the refrigerator, then warm it up in the microwave or on the stovetop to use it as a topping.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. I use mine several times a week!
- Apple Corer. The easiest way to prep apples for pie filling.
- Apple Peeler. If you love baking with apples, this is an investment worth making.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Choose GOOD Apples. Unfortunately, you can’t transform mealy, lackluster apples into a delicious apple pie filling. Use apples are tasty enough to eat out of hand. If you wouldn’t snack on them, they don’t belong in an apple pie filling either!
- Use Fresh Spices. Spices don’t get moldy or spoil, but they do lose their flavor over time—which means that jar of allspice that’s been sitting in your pantry for six years might not be up to the task of adding cozy flavor to an apple pie. If you open a jar and it no longer has a strong aroma, it’s time to replace it. I also recommend buying smaller quantities of any spice you don’t use often.
- Grate Your Own Nutmeg. Take this apple pie filling to the next level by grating your own nutmeg. If you can’t, don’t stress about it, but it really is a lot more potent and vibrant and makes the best apple pie filling.
Apple Pie Filling
- Peel the apples. Core and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place in a Dutch oven, large soup pot or braiser, or similar sturdy-wide pot.
- To the pot, add the sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and flour. Toss to evenly coat the apples.
- Heat the pot over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring periodically, until the apples just begin to give up their juices, about 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.
- Let cool completely to room temperature. To freeze, spoon the apples and any juices that have collected in the pot into a sturdy, ziptop freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible, seal, and freeze flat for up to 3 months. To use, let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, until the filling loose enough to spread evenly into the pie crust (do not thaw completely).
- *For tart, use a variety such as Granny smith; for sweet/crisp, I love Honeycrisp; varieties like Jazz, Braeburn, Fuji, Gala and Pink Lady are good too.
- YIELD: About 8 cups filling, Enough for one 9-inch pie (deep dish or regular)
- TO STORE: Apple pie filling will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- TO FREEZE: Transfer the apples and their juices to a sturdy zip-top freezer bag. Press out any air, then seal and freeze flat for up to 3 months.
- TO REHEAT: Let the apple pie filling thaw in the refrigerator, then warm it up in the microwave or on the stovetop to use it as a topping.
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