An Easy Trick for Perfect Apple Pie

published Nov 20, 2021
Apple Pie Filling Recipe

This stovetop mixture consists of soft, cinnamon- and sugar-kissed apple slices nestled in a thick, sweet filling.

Serves4 to 8

Makesabout 4 cups

Prep8 minutes to 10 minutes

Cook10 minutes to 12 minutes

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Apple Pie filling in a tan ceramic bowl with a thin black rim, with a wooden spoon in, and a blue and white striped napkin above, as well as an apple
Credit: Kelli Foster

One thing you will always find on my apple bucket list is apple pie filling. Just like you’d expect to find at the center of a really good apple pie, it’s a stovetop mixture of soft, cinnamon- and sugar-kissed apple slices nestled in a thick, sweet filling.

Because it can be made days (or even months, if stored in the freezer) in advance, it’s a smart way to get a head start on holiday pie-making. But more than that, I love pre-cooked apple pie filling versus using sliced raw apples. Because much of the liquid from the fruit gets released while the apples cook down, the filling won’t sink down and away from the crust as the pie cools. That means no gaps between the filling and crust, and no chance of the crust collapsing in.

This version starts with three pounds of sweet-tart apples and makes enough filling for one pie. Making a second batch is always a good idea, so you can use it to top yogurt and ice cream, mix it into oatmeal, or have it on hand for a super-quick apple crisp, crumble, or cobbler. And don’t be surprised if you sneak a few bites straight from the skillet.

What Kind of Apples Make the Best Pie Filling?

Sweet-tart baking apples are the best choice for apple pie filling. I like using a mix of sweet Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apples and tart Granny Smiths. These apples have a great flavor and hold their shape without turning mushy when cooked. 

How Thin Should I Slice Apples for Apple Pie Filling?

Plan to cut the apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices. This is thin enough so that they’ll easily soften in a short amount of time, but not so thin that they’ll get mushy.

How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling

A couple of tablespoons of cornstarch is the easiest way to thicken apple pie filling. 

You’ll whisk together the cornstarch with an equal amount of water to make a slurry. Once the apples are softened and have released their liquid, the slurry gets mixed in and the filling is cooked for about a minute more, until thickened.

Apple Pie Filling Desserts

Of course apple pie filling can be used to make an apple pie (this recipe makes enough for one apple pie), but beyond that there are so many way to put it to work for dessert or any time of day. Here are some of our favorite ways to use apple pie filling.

Credit: Kelli Foster

How to Store Apple Pie Filling

Once it’s cooled completely, store apple pie filling in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days, or in the freezer for up to three months. 

Apple Pie Filling Recipe

This stovetop mixture consists of soft, cinnamon- and sugar-kissed apple slices nestled in a thick, sweet filling.

Prep time 8 minutes to 10 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 12 minutes

Makes about 4 cups

Serves 4 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 3 pounds

    medium apples, such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Pink Lady (6 to 7 apples)

  • 1/2 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons


  • 2 tablespoons


  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract


  1. Peel 3 pounds Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Pink Lady apples. Halve and core the apples, then cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

  2. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a 12-inch or larger high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the apples, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring regularly, until the apples are softened, have released liquid, and the sugar is dissolved, 8 to 11 minutes.

  3. Whisk together 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl to make a slurry. Add to the apple mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is thickened and coats the apples, about 1 minute.

  4. Remove from the heat, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and stir to combine. Let cool completely, 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate in airtight containers for up to 4 days or freeze for to 3 months.

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: Apple Pie Filling