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Nothing beats a warm apple pie on a cold day! Pies are one of my favourite things to bake from scratch, maybe because they look super fancy and are always so well received by family and guests. Of course, in my opinion the best pies are made with homemade ingredients; that’s why I turn to this go-to apple pie filling recipe whenever I bake.
I love it because I can control exactly how sweet my filling is. It’s also super easy to make and can be prepared for next to nothing if you’re lucky enough to get free apples in the fall (like I am.)
While I make this recipe all the time, most recently I decided to whip it up after a neighbour gave me a surplurs of crabapples that otherwise would have gone bad. Besides making a fair bit of homemade applesauce I had my family begging me for some homemade apple turnovers.
For the record, my go to pie crust is the one on the side of the Tenderflake box. Seriously! You can’t beat the classics.
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Tips For This Making Homemade Apple Pie Filling Recipe
If you’ve never been brave enough to make your own apple pie filling I’m begging you to try this recipe. It’s so easy and worth it!
Apple Pie Filling Ingredients
This recipe only calls for a few simple ingredients. Other than the apples, you probably already have everything on hand.
Apples: Apples should be peeled, cored, and sliced. Slicing style is a personal preference; some prefer thin long slices, others like chunks. The biggest thing is to be consistent so your apple slices cook evenly. See below for tips on choosing apple varieties.
Butter: I use between 2 and 4 tablespoons of butter for this recipe. To be honest, I just eyeball it. It always tastes great! In a pinch you can also use hard baking margarine.
Cinnamon: I like the classic strong cinnamon taste in my apple pie filling, but you may prefer a spice blend or less spice. You can substitute the cinnamon with your favourite apple pie spice. Nutmeg, cloves, and ginger are also great additions if you’re feeling adventurous.
Sugar: Can be white granulated sugar or brown sugar; the taste will be slightly affected but the recipe comes out fine either way. Adjust sugar for your taste. If you don’t like a sweet filling and are using sweet apple varieties I recommend cutting it in 1/2 to start. You can always add more sugar near the end if needed.
Slurry: Water and cornstarch are premixed to form a slurry. This will help the sauce to thicken so it holds it shape.
Optional: Lemon juice and/or yellow food colouring. Some people like to add this to their apple pie filling to preserve the colour. You’ll need about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and/or 1-2 drops of food colouring for this recipe if you choose to add them.
What Are the Best Apples for Apple Pie?
Not everyone agrees with me, but I honestly think almost any apple variety works for apple pie. Traditionally, cooking apples and tart varieties like granny smith are used in apple pies. Personally, I like a sweet pie, so I usually gravitate to varieties like gala. As a bonus, they often go on sale during the fall too!
For this recipe, I actually used crabapples that I got for free from a neighbour. They turned out just as good as store bought apples and saved me a tonne of money. Win-win! The only downside is that the prep was more work, especially the struggle of peeling tiny apples.
You can easily adjust the amount of sugar in this recipe to create a sweeter or more tart apple pie filling.
How Many Apples do you Need to Make Apple Pie Filling?
This is going to depend on the size of your apples, which is why I put the measurement in cups. Six cups of sliced apples equals roughly 8 medium-sizes apples (approximately 2lbs).
The truth is, this recipe is pretty forgiving. If your apples are too runny you can always cook them down more or add more cornstarch. If they’re too thick, add more water. Bland or sour, add cinnamon or sugar… You get the idea.
Other Uses for Apple Pie Filling
Besides baking into pies or turnovers, I love keeping apple pie filling handy to use on all kinds of delicious foods and desserts.
First of all, it’s absolutely amazing mixed into some plain oatmeal for a morning treat. You can also turn the tradition of eating apple pie with ice cream on its head and use this recipe as an ice cream topper. Another favourite idea of mine is using apple pie filling as a topping for pancakes or waffles for a weekend brunch.
How to Store Prepared Apple Pie Filling
This recipe can be used immediately or stored for later. Here’s some different ways to store your homemade apple pie filling:
In the fridge
You can store it in the fridge for 3-5 days as long as it’s in an airtight container. Make sure you cool the pie filling first before refrigerating.
In the freezer
This is usually my go to. Freeze cooled pie filling depending on your intended future use. For example, if you want to only make one pie at a time make sure you freeze it in split portions. If you’ll be using your apple pie filling as a topping, separate it into smaller containers or individual servings.
Consider Freezing Baking Instead
If you’re planning on using the apple pie filling in pies or pastries I suggest making them around the same time as your pie filling then freezing the entire homemade dessert instead.
Can You Can This Recipe?
No, this recipe isn’t designed to be used for canning. Typically canned apple pie filling calls for uncooked (or lightly blanched) apples since the apples cook during processing. Cornstarch is also not a recommended ingredient for canning.
- 6 cups of apples
- 2 to 4 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp cinnamon (or apple pie spice)
- 2/3 cup of sugar (white or brown) *see notes
- 1/4 cup of water
- 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- Peel, core, and slice apples.
- Heat a pot to medium heat and melt butter, spreading around to coat.
- While pot heats, mix together water and cornstarch in a separate bowl to make a slurry. Set aside.
- Add cinnamon and sugar to the pot and mix until combined.
- Stir in the apples.
- Pour slury overtop.
- Mix well to coat apples evenly.
- Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender.
- Cool and use immediately in your favourite apple pie recipe, or store for later with your go to freezing or canning method.
*Sugar: You can reduce or increase the amount of sugar to suit your preferences. I usually use tart apples like granny smith or crabapples for my apple pie filling; if you're using a sweeter apple consider reducing the sugar.
To store: Prepared apple pie filling can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
What apples to use: Almost any variety of apple can be used in this recipe. I used crabapples in my recipe, but have also made this with sweeter options like gala.
Hopefully you enjoyed this apple pie filling recipe! It’s one of my favourites and always turns out perfect. Leave a comment if you have any questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!