Listen, I get the appeal of canned pie filling from the grocery store. It's fast, convenient, and easy -- three of my favorite words.
But once you try making your own apple pie filling, you may never buy it again.
Homemade Apple Pie Filling
Pre cooked apple pie filling is easy to make with simple ingredients and tastes about a million times better than canned apple pie filling.
Plus, it makes your house smell better than any candle ever will.
The hardest part is peeling and chopping the apples, which you can knock out in a few minutes with a handy apple peeler/corer/slicer.
Once your apples are prepped, cook them in melted butter, simmer them in sugar and spices until tender, and thicken until gooey.
Spoon warm pie filling over ice cream, pancakes, or cake.
Or cool the filling and use in a classic apple pie recipe with a single or double crust or any of your favorite baked desserts with pie filling.
Why You're Going to Love This
- Gooey and caramelly with warm spices (and one hot one!)
- Freezer-friendly apple pie filling recipe
- No more gap between the filling and the top crust in pies
- Pre-cooked apple filling = no more runny apple pie
Fresh apples. I recommend using a mixture of tart and sweet apples like Granny Smith apples (tart), Honeycrisp apples (sweet), and Pink Lady (tart and sweet). You'll need 8-10 medium apples to get 8 cups of apple slices.
Dark brown sugar. Dark brown sugar adds rich, molasses flavor. You can also use light brown sugar or white sugar.
Flour AND cornstarch. Both flour and cornstarch are used as thickeners. On their own, flour can get too "floury," and cornstarch can get gummy -- and doesn't freeze well. A little of each create the right consistency, flavor, and freezability.
Spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger give that classic apple pie flavor. You can substitute with apple pie spice.
Cayenne pepper. A pinch of cayenne is lovely in apple pie filling. Skip it if you like.
Fresh lemon juice. A little bit of fresh lemon juice right at the end brightens up the flavors.
Best Apples for Apple Pie Filling
Did you know not all apples are good choices for making pie filling?
When it comes to choosing the best kind of apples for apple pie filling, look for ones that are full of flavor, are not too sweet or too tart, and will hold their shape when cooked. I like to use a combination of apples to cover all the flavor and texture bases.
- Granny Smith. Granny Smith apples have a tart flavor, don't break down during cooking, and are easy to find in almost any grocery store. For best results, combine Granny Smith apples with a sweet apple to balance out the flavors.
- Honeycrisp. Honeycrisp apples are near and dear to my Midwestern heart because they were developed in Minnesota. Created to be crisp, juicy, and sweet, honey crisp apples have the best apple flavor and are delicious in apple pie filling when paired with tart apples. However, you may only be able to find them during the fall months.
- Pink Lady. Pink Lady apples are crispy with a blend of tart and sweet flavors and hold their shape well when cooked. Added bonus: they don't brown quickly during prep.
- Braeburn. Braeburns are a nice blend of sweet and tart with great apple flavor. And the firm texture means they won't turn to mush when baked.
- Golden Delicious. Golden delicious apples are tart, sweet, and full of apple flavor. And they hold their shape well enough.
- Gala. Gala apples are a nice blend of sweet and tart and have a nice texture when baked.
Which apples to skip
We can't all be good at everything -- and apples are no exception. Some just aren't for baking for flavor or textural reasons, or both.
Red delicious, McIntosh, and Fuji apples aren't the best choices for baking.
How to Make Pre Cooked Apple Pie Filling
Step 1: Core, peel, and chop apples into ¼" slices.
Step 2: Melt butter in a large skillet or large pot over medium-high heat. Add the raw apples. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes.
Add the brown sugar, flour, spices, and salt to the sliced apples. Reduce to medium heat. Cook and stir for 5-7 minutes or until the apples are fork-tender.
Step 3: While the apples are cooking, mix the cornstarch and granulated sugar in a small bowl. Add the cornstarch mixture to the apples. Stir for 2-3 minutes or until the apple mixture has thickened.
Step 4: Remove from heat. Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
Serve warm over ice cream or cake or cool completely and bake in your favorite apple pie recipe. The pie filling will thicken as it cools.
Best Apple Pie Recipe
When I have an abundance of apples, I make this easy stovetop apple pie filling for Apple Pie with Graham Cracker Crust.
The crispy cinnamon graham cracker crust is sturdy enough to stand up to the gooey apple pie filling without getting soggy. And the golden brown buttery pretzel streusel adds the perfect amount of sweet salty crunchiness to the top of the pie.
It's the perfect apple pie for fall baking or your Thanksgiving dinner table.
- Chop the apples into uniform pieces so they cook evenly.
- Cool the apple pie filling completely before baking in a pie crust.
- To quickly cool the cooked filling, spread it in an even layer on a baking sheet and pop it in the fridge.
- This recipe yields about 4 cups of apple pie filling and enough filling for one 9" pie.
Store homemade apple pie filling in a mason jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Yes. To freeze, place cooled apple pie filling in mason jars with plenty of headspace or in freezer bags with the air squeezed out.
Yes. Making apple pie filling in advance is a great way to save time. You can make it and store it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or freeze it.
Yes. If you prefer sweeter apple pie filling or if your apples are very tart, you can certainly adjust the amount of sugar based on your preferences. Taste the filling as you cook and add more sugar as needed.
More Delicious Recipes
Let's Stay in Touch
Pre-Cooked Apple Pie Filling
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 8 cups apple slices 8-10 medium apples peeled, and cored. I use a mix of tart and sweet, such as Pink Lady, Granny Smith, and Honeycrisp.
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper ⅛ teaspoon or less, optional
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the apples. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the flour, brown sugar, spices, and salt. Reduce heat to medium. Stir and cook 5-7 minutes* or until the apples are fork-tender.
- While the apples are cooking, mix the cornstarch and granulated sugar together in a small bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch mixture over the apples. Stir for about 3 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly and thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and lemon juice.
- Serve warm over ice cream, cake, or pancakes. Or cool completely and bake in a pie shell.