Nothing beats the taste of a classic American apple pie recipe. But how to achieve that perfect balance of flaky, buttery crust blended with the harmony of apples?
Read on to experience a slice of Americana by learning tips and tricks for the best homemade American version of apple pie!
Tips and Tricks for the Best American Apple Pie Recipe
* Cold ingredients are a must for the perfect flaky crust. Keep that butter as cold as you can and be sure to use ice-cold water when mixing it. Adding ice to your cup of water helps!
* Choose a variety of apples. Try mixing tart apples and sweet apples for a fantastic flavor!
* Let the pie cool completely before serving. Although the scent of fresh apple pie might be too appealing to resist, if you cut it too soon, you’ll end up with a runny mess. Allowing it to cool completely will make it easier to serve and you won’t risk burning your mouth!
* Use the egg wash to brush the inside of the crust before adding your apple filling! This won’t affect the taste of the pie but it will keep the apples from making your crust too soft.
* Don’t skip the pre-cook. It may seem redundant to cook the apples before putting them in the oven to cook again. But the apples won’t reach full tenderness if they aren’t pre-cooked. Only cook them until they’re soft but still hold their shape to avoid mushy apples in your pie.
* Don’t use a food processor or other tools to mix the pie crust. Use your hands as you mold the dry ingredients and water together. This will help make the crust flakier!
* Vent your pie. If you don’t want to do the traditional lattice crust, be sure you add plenty of options for venting on the top layer of the crust. This will keep the crust crispy.
Which Apple is Best?
When it comes to the best homemade apple pie, you need to begin with a great main ingredient! But which apple is best for your pie?
The good news is, there is no wrong answer. The biggest factor to consider is finding an apple that is firm enough to retain its shape after it’s cooked. Mushy apples can change the apple pie experience for the worse.
Some of the best firm varieties of apples to consider are the Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Braeburn, and Jonagolds. Use a mixture of 2-3 varieties of apples to create an amazing flavor palette. Combining tart and sweet apples will make your apple pie unforgettable!
Time to Make Your American Apple Pie!
The Perfect Crust
To create the perfect, flaky crust for your apple pie, combine 2 ½ cups flour, ½ tablespoon sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl.
Next, cut 2 sticks of cold, unsalted butter into small pieces. Add these to the dry ingredients.
Using a pastry cutter, cut together until the mixture resembles pea-sized chunks.
Add 2 tablespoons of ice-cold water to the mixture, blending fully. Repeat this until you’ve added 7-8 tablespoons of water in total.
The dough is ready when it forms a soft lump that doesn’t crumble when pinched but also doesn’t stick to your hands.
Mold the dough into a ball. Then divide into two even portions. Continue to shape into two flat disks.
Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before using it in the recipe.
Soften to room temperature by removing it from the refrigerator 15 minutes before using.
Cook Your Filling
Begin by peeling, coring, and thinly slicing 7 apples. Set these aside.
Next, zest a lemon, reserving ¼ teaspoon of the zest. Using the same lemon, squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice into a small bowl.
Add the juice, zest, and apples to a large skillet. Set to medium heat on the stovetop.
In a small bowl, combine ½ cup sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, three tablespoons flour, ¼ teaspoon salt, one teaspoon cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon nutmeg, and ½ teaspoon cardamom (optional). Blend this mixture into the skillet with the apples. Gently stir them together.
Cover and cook the mixture for 15 minutes or until they are completely soft but still hold their shape. Stir every few minutes to check on them.
Take the skillet off the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet evenly. Allow the mixture to cool completely, a few hours if left on the counter, or 30 minutes if placed in the refrigerator.
Putting it Together
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and allow it to heat for 20 minutes before baking.
Next, roll out the room-temperature pie dough and prep it for a 9” pie dish.
Scrape the cooled filling into the prepared dish.
Roll out the second pie crust and cut as desired to top the pie. If a lattice pie crust technique isn’t used, make some cuts along the top to allow space for it to vent.
Assemble the lattice top crust on your pie.
Crimp the edges of the pie together using a fork or your fingers.
In a small bowl, beat one egg. Using a pastry brush, apply the egg wash to the crust.
Top the crust with a final sprinkle of sugar.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cover the edges of the pie with tin foil to prevent burning the edges. Bake an additional 35-45 minutes.
The pie is done when the center of the crust is golden brown and the juices from the pie are bubbling up through the center.
Allow the pie to cool for 2-4 hours before serving.
Vary the Recipe
Interested in changing the flavor and adding creaminess to your pie? Try adding ¼ cup sour cream to the filling before adding the apples to the crust.
Instead of topping your pie with ice cream, try using Crème Anglaise! This combination of sugar, eggs, vanilla, and hot milk can be made at home, or you can find it at grocery stores!
Add a twist by drizzling ½ cup caramel sauce on top of the apple filling before covering it with the dough. Save more to drizzle on your slice of pie when you serve it!
How to Flute Your Crust
If you want to make the best homemade apple pie then you’ll want it to look as good as it tastes! Creating a flawless crust doesn’t have to be hard.
To create a fluted pie crust, simply push the thumb of one hand between the pinched thumb and the first finger of your other hand. If the dough along the fluted edge feels a bit thin, you can always pat the top of it down after you’ve fluted it to give it some depth.
A Slice of Americana on Your Table
Now you know a few tips and tricks for the best homemade apple pie! Which ones will you use in your next pie?
For more information about apples, visit our parent page about the Apple Tree.
- For the Crust:
- 2 ½ cups flour
- ½ TB sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 sticks of cold unsalted butter cut into ¼” pieces
- 7 TB ice cold water
- For the Filling:
- 7 apples peeled and cored and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¾ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp cardamom (optional)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 TB flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ tsp lemon zest
- 1 TB lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg beaten (for egg wash)
- 1 TB sugar (to sprinkle on the crust)
Directions for making the crust:
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and sugar.
- Add butter. Using a pastry cutter, cut together until it’s pea-sized chunks.
- Add water 1 TB at a time until mixed in, resembling large clumps. Press a small bit of dough between your fingers. If the dough sticks together without crumbling apart or sticking to your fingers, you’ve added enough.
- Move to a new work surface and work together into a ball. Divide into two portions.
- Continue to shape into flat disks.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using in a recipe.
- Can store for up to 3 days.
- Soften to room temperature for about 15 minutes before using.
Directions for making the filling:
- Zest lemon. Slice apples to ⅛” thickness.
- Add juice, zest, and apples to a large skillet and put on the stovetop on medium heat.
- Add sugars, flour, salt, and spices and gently stir.
- Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until they are completely soft but still hold their shape. Stir every few minutes to check on them.
- Take off the heat and stir in vanilla.
- Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet and cool completely, a few hours if left out, or 30 minutes if you place it in the fridge.
Assemble the pie:
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and allow it to heat for 20 minutes before baking.
- Roll out room temperature pie dough and prep it in a 9” round pie dish.
- Scrape the filling into the prepared dish.
- Roll out the other pie crust and cover the top. (Either use the lattice pie crust technique or place it on whole. Be sure to cut a design or an X on top of the whole crust for the filling to have space to vent.) Crimp the edges.
- Brush crust with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 350 degrees and cover the edges of the pie with tin foil to prevent burning the edges.
- Bake for 35-45 more minutes. Pie is done when the center crust is golden brown and the juices from the pie are bubbling up through the center.
- Allow to cool for 2-4 hours.
- Store covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- About the Author
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Laura L. Zimmerman is an author of both indie and traditionally published books. She lives in a tiny rural town in south-central Pennsylvania with her husband, daughters, four adorable kitties, and one energetic puppy!
After earning a BMUS with a Certification in Music Therapy, she decided to homeschool her children. Here she discovered a passion for learning and teaching, which led her to make writing a priority. She currently enjoys reading and writing YA sci-fi and fantasy, as well as middle-grade mysteries.
Having come from a family where cooking wasn’t a priority, she quickly discovered her love of cooking and baking soon after she married. Twenty-three years later it’s still a passion for her as she enjoys creating new recipes for her family and friends. She found her green thumb in the garden soon after her family bought their first house and appreciates the yummy food grown in her own backyard!
Laura can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org