The Best (and Easiest!) Homemade Apple Pie Filling
Apple Pie Filling
Put down that can of sad, syrupy apple pie filling! This 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!
Why You’ll Love This Easy Apple Pie Filling Recipe
No Gloppy Apples! Okay, I’m not going to pull any punches here—canned apple pie filling is pretty gross. It’s so cloyingly sweet, it’s likely to give you a toothache; the apples are mushy, the syrupy juices are not appetizing, and the whole thing just tastes like disappointment. Like homemade Cherry Pie Filling, this recipe for apple pie filling from scratch is miles better than store-bought.
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 or phyllo dough for a cozy fall dessert.
How to Make 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).
Change up your apple pie by substituting up to half of the apples with firm Asian pears.
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.
To make your apple pie filling gluten-free, you can substitute cornstarch or instant tapioca for the all-purpose flour. Use half the amount.
Lemon Juice. Use freshly-squeezed juice for the best flavor; bottled lemon juice has a dullness to it.
Prepare the Apples. Peel, core, and cut the apples and toss them into a large pot.
Add the Dry Ingredients. Toss the apples with all of the remaining ingredients except the lemon juice.
Simmer. Cook 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.
Use. 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. Bake pie as directed and ENJOY!
More Ways to Use Apple Pie Filling
Spoon apple pie filling over yogurt or layer it into yogurt parfaits a la my Leftover Cranberry Sauce Parfaits.
Use it for topping Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats, Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats, or Oatmeal.
Skip the syrup and add your apple pie filling to Fluffy Pancakes.
Make Apple Turnovers or Caramel Apple Bars with apple pie filling.
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.
What to Serve with Apple Pie Filling
Breakfast Foods. Blender Whole Wheat Waffles and Baked French Toast are excellent with homemade apple pie filling.
Desserts. Jazz up your Polenta Cake or Vegan Pumpkin Bread with tender spiced apples.
Ice Cream. Apple pie filling is a delicious alternative to chocolate sauce on a bowl of vanilla ice cream, kind of like a reverse apple pie a la mode. If you’re feeling ambitious, try it with homemade Oat Milk Ice Cream or Whiskey Ice Cream.
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.
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Apple Pie Filling
Make this easy homemade apple pie filling, freeze it for later, and you'll be able to make the best apple pies and desserts anytime!
Prep Time 15 minutesminutes
Cook Time 10 minutesminutes
Total Time 25 minutesminutes
Author Erin Clarke / Well Plated
4poundsmixed sweet/crisp and tart apples*about 8 large or 10 medium
1/8teaspoonground nutmegfreshly grated if possible
2teaspoonsfreshly squeezed lemon juice
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.
Is Flour or Cornstarch Better for Thickening Apple Pie Filling?
This is a matter of preference! I prefer flour to cornstarch, as I like the texture better. Flour isn’t ideal for all fruit pie fillings, but it does work well with apples because they don’t release as much juice as strawberries or stone fruits.
Should You Cool the Pie Filling Before Baking?
Yes, to keep your pie crust from getting soggy, you need a cooled filling and a cooled crust when assembling.
How Do You Keep Apples Firm in Apple Pie?
The trick here is to start with the best apples—varieties that have crisp, firm flesh. Softer varieties will get mushy or even fall apart when baked into a pie.
Need more ideas for using up those fall apples? I’ve got them! Try one of these recipes next: