Caramelized Apple Pie is made with a rich fried apple filling piled in a buttery homemade pie crust. This old fashioned apple pie is lovely on its own or piled high with ice cream and salted caramel sauce.
While pie has never been my favorite dessert, it does have an undeniable homeyness that makes it hard to resist. There is deep satisfaction in pulling a homemade apple pie from the oven, the crust crisp and gleaming and the scent of cinnamon wafting through the air.
I recently asked Mr. NeighborFood to name his favorite pie and was shocked when he said “apple.” We’ve been married eleven years. How did I not know this? And perhaps more importantly, how did I not have a recipe for my husband’s favorite apple pie?
I felt inspired to get to work, creating a homemade apple pie that would feel inviting and comforting and familiar–a pie you’d want to pile high with ice cream and curl up with on a cold night.
Unfortunately, the task was a bit more complicated than I anticipated, partly because everyone’s “favorite” apple pie seems to be different! I asked the folks over on Instagram what they preferred (double crust or crumb topping, firm apples or saucy filling, heavy spices or just a hint), and the answers were all over the place.
So, I decided to go with my instincts and create the pie I picture when someone says “Classic Apple Pie.” It’s double crusted with flaky pastry and has a saucy, spiced, caramelized apple filling.
My dad was over when I pulled this pie out of the oven, and he said it looked just like the pies his mom used to make. I consider that the highest of compliments, and I hope you’ll feel that same sense of comfort and nostalgia baked into every bite.
Caramelized Apple Pie- The Rundown
Let’s talk ingredients! Here are my must haves for an old fashioned apple pie.
- Homemade Buttermilk Pie Crust– I won’t ever go back, you guys. This pie crust is the best. It is easy to make (especially with a food processor), much easier to work with than other all-butter crusts, and has an incredible flaky texture and rich flavor. It is a tad less structured than a shortening based crust (meaning it doesn’t hold a crimp quite as well), but I’d rather have the best tasting crust than the best looking crust any day.
- Apples– Granny Smith has been the de facto “apple pie apple” for decades, but I’m not a fan. I think the best apples for apple pie are a blend of sweet tart apples, like Honeycrisp, Sweet Tango, Jonathan, or Golden Delicious.
- Lemon– Just a squeeze keeps the apples from browning and adds a subtle zing.
- Sugar– Granulated sugar + a hint of brown sugar is used in this recipe.
- Butter– A few Tablespoons of butter is all you need to create a luscious, rich filling.
- Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Salt– I suppose you could make apple pie without cinnamon, but why would you? I like to use just enough of each spice to compliment, but not overpower, the flavor of the apples.
- Vanilla– There are few desserts that don’t benefit from a hint of vanilla. Here, it echoes the scent and flavor of the vanilla ice cream you’re sure to pile on top!
How to Make Apple Pie From Scratch
- Prepare the pie crust. Get all my tips for perfect pie crust here.
- Peel, core, and chop the apples– I prefer the texture of chopped apples over sliced, plus they’re easier to eat!
- Toss the apples with lemon, spices, and sugars.
- Cook the filling. The first pie I tested had an unbaked filling, meaning the apples were placed in the crust raw. While this method sounds great, it didn’t yield the kind of rich, saucy filling we were looking for. The apples were a bit too firm and the filling was too watery.
- To prevent this, I took a page from Gordon Ramsay’s book and fried the apples in butter before baking. What’s better than a cooked apple filling? A CARAMELIZED APPLE PIE FILLING. Fry the apples, sugar, and butter together until the apples are softened (but not mushy), and the sauce is a rich caramel color. This filling reminds me of my Amish Apple Fry Pies, and that is a very good thing.
- Cool the filling. Yes, this part is annoying, but necessary. Spread the apples out over sheet pans to cool faster. You can even pop them in the fridge if you’re really in a hurry.
- Roll out the pie crust. While you’re waiting for the filling to cool, roll out the pie crust and place it in the pie tin, then pop it back in the fridge until you’re ready to fill it.
How to Prevent a Soggy Bottom Pie Crust
If we’ve learned anything from watching the Great British Baking Show, it’s that a soggy bottom is to be avoided at all costs. But getting a perfectly golden, crisp pie crust can be tricky, especially when we’re dealing with a juicy fruit filling.
Do not fear, a few simple tricks will leave you with a crust crisp enough to withstand the merciless eye of Paul Hollywood.
- Preheat the baking sheet in the oven. Set your oven to 375 degrees and place the cookie sheet in it while you fill and crimp your pie.
- Create a barrier with an egg wash + graham crackers. Brush a little whisked egg white over the bottom of the pie crust to seal it. Top with a thin layer of crushed graham crackers. I know it sounds strange, but this tip really works! The graham crackers help soak up any extra juices and melt right into the pie. You won’t taste them at all!
- Cook on the bottom rack– Once your pie is filled and sealed, place it on the preheated baking sheet and bake on the bottom rack. The hot baking sheet will quickly set the bottom crust before the filling has a chance to even think about sogging it up.
Make Ahead Apple Pie
While caramelized apple pie requires some effort, it’s easy to make all or part of it ahead of time.
- Make the pie crust up to 3 months in advance and store in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
- Make the filling a day in advance and store it, covered, in the fridge. This solves the long wait for it to cool as well!
How to Freeze a Whole Apple Pie
You can also assemble and freeze an entire apple pie! Make the pie, omitting the egg wash and sugar on the top crust. Place it uncovered in the freezer for about an hour, then remove, double wrap with saran wrap, then wrap with foil.
Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, remove the wrappings and bake from frozen, adding an extra 15-20 minutes. Be sure to check the pie after about 40 minutes and make sure it isn’t getting too brown. Cover with a pie shield or foil if needed!
That’s it! You’ve got everything you need to make a classic apple pie. Now all we need are a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream and some homemade salted caramel sauce!
More Pie Recipes
Can’t get enough Apple Recipes? Here are a few more to try!
- Apple Crumb Cake
- Spiced Apple Cake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
- Apple Overnight French Toast
- Salted Maple Caramel Apple Tart
- Easy Crescent Roll Apple Dumplings
- 4 lbs. sweet and tart apples*, peeled, cored, and chopped into thick chunks
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the crust:
- 1 recipe homemade buttermilk pie crust
- 1/4 cup crushed graham crackers
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon milk or cream
- Turbinado sugar, for finishing
- Toss the apple chunks with the lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
- Melt half the butter in a large non-stick pan over high heat. Add half of the apple mixture and fry, stirring occasionally, until the sugar mixture is a deep caramel color and apples are tender but not mushy (about 5-6 minutes). Remove to a bowl and repeat with the rest of the butter and apples. Stir in the vanilla. Set the apple mixture aside to cool completely.*
- Roll the bottom crust out and place it in the pie dish. Put the egg white in a small bowl and give it a quick whisk. Brush the bottom crust with egg white and allow to dry (reserve the remaining egg white), then sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs.
- Fill the pie with the cooled apple mixture, including any caramely sauce. Roll out the second crust and place it on top. Crimp as desired. Place the pie in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- While the pie is chilling, place a sheet pan in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
- Whisk a splash of milk into the remaining egg white. Take the pie out, and brush the top crust with the mixture, then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Place the pie on the preheated baking sheet on a lower rack in the oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30-45 minutes before slicing and serving.
*Picking the right apples:
- Choose a blend of sweet tart apples for the best flavor. I love the combination of Honeycrisp and Sweet Tango, but Granny Smith, Jonathan, and Golden Delicious are also good options.
- 4 lbs. apples is about 8-10 medium apples. You should have around 10 cups of chopped apples.
*To cool the apples:
- Spreading the apples out on baking sheets allows them to cool faster. You can pop the pans in the fridge or freezer to speed up cooling.
- If making filling ahead of time, cool and then store the apples in a covered container in the fridge until ready to bake. Filling can be stored for up to 24 hours.
For detailed pictures and instructions on rolling out pie crust, visit my How to Make Pie Crust post.
For freezing instructions, see post details.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 355Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 149mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 7gSugar: 48gProtein: 3g
Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.