This apple pie filling is the recipe for a perfect fall dessert! Tender apples, a blend of warm fall spices, and a syrupy sauce make it a great addition to any dessert—or your favorite pie crust!
Pin this recipe now to save it for laterPin Recipe
Sure, canned apple pie filling is easy, but making your own isn’t all that hard either—and it tastes so much better!
This recipe for homemade apple pie filling can be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer, so you can have it on hand whenever a craving strikes. (Or you can just eat it straight out of the jar. It’s that good!)
Best Apple Pie Filling Recipe
There are a few elements involved in the perfect apple pie filling, and the apples are the most important. Granny Smith apples are the classic choice and widely considered the best apples because their tart flavor is nicely balanced by the sugar you’ll be adding, and their firm texture holds up well when baking, so you won’t be left with mushy, unappetizing apples.
If you can’t find Granny Smith apples, some good alternatives are Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Gala, or Pink Lady. Avoid using Red Delicious—their sweetness and softness make them a poor choice for apple pie filling.
Then, of course, there are the spices! I use a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger here, but you can swap in apple pie spice instead if you’d like.
Finally, there’s the thickener—because when you bake apples, they release a lot of juices. People have strong feelings about whether flour, cornstarch, or tapioca is best for apple pie filling, but I always prefer cornstarch, so that’s what I’ve used here.
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Granny Smith apples – Peel, core, and slice the apples.
- Lemon juice
- Unsalted butter – If you only have salted butter on hand, you can use that and simply add less salt to the recipe.
- Granulated sugar
- Dark brown sugar – Light brown sugar will work too; it simply has a milder flavor because it contains less molasses.
- Kosher salt
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground ginger
- Vanilla extract – Alternatively, you can slice open a vanilla bean and scrape it into the apple pie filling instead of using extract.
How to Make Apple Pie Filling
- Prepare: Place the apple slices in a large bowl and toss them with lemon juice.
- Make a Cornstarch Slurry: Whisk ¼ cup of lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl until the cornstarch dissolves.
- Start the Apples: Melt the butter in a Dutch oven set over medium heat. Stir in the apples and cook for 5 minutes, or until the apples have softened.
- Finish the Apple Pie Filling: Add the lemon and cornstarch mixture to the pot and stir to combine. Cook for a minute, then stir in the sugars and salt. Remove from heat and stir in the spices and vanilla.
- Use: Let the apple pie filling cool completely, then pour it into a pie crust or store it for later.
Ways to Use Apple Pie Filling
Apple pie isn’t the only way to use this apple pie filling! Here are some of our favorite ideas:
- Top a slice of pound cake with apple pie filling and whipped cream for an easy dessert.
- Make mini hand pies by spooning the filling into smaller circles of rolled-out pie crust.
- Spoon the filling over oatmeal or yogurt for a delicious breakfast or snack.
- Use it as a topping for ice cream sundaes (with caramel sauce, of course!), pancakes, or waffles.
How to Store Apple Pie Filling
This apple pie filling can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Be sure to seal it tightly so it doesn’t absorb any flavors from your fridge or freezer.
When you’re ready to use it, just thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and give it a good stir before using. If it seems a little too thick after thawing, you can add a splash of apple cider or water to thin it out.
The best way to thicken apple pie filling is with cornstarch. For this recipe, you’ll make a cornstarch slurry by whisking together cornstarch and lemon juice, then adding it to the pot with the apples. This will help thicken the filling and prevent it from being too runny.
Technically, you don’t have to cook the apples before adding them to the pie crust, but when you do cook them first, it’s a good way to prevent the crust from getting soggy because you’ll cook off some of the liquid before the filling goes in the crust.
Yes, you can use flour to thicken apple pie filling. However, I prefer to use cornstarch because it doesn’t make the filling cloudy the way flour can. If you don’t have cornstarch on hand, you can use flour in a pinch.
You can make apple pie filling up to 5 days in advance. Just store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
Apple Pie Filling
- 6 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, and sliced
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar packed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Toss the prepared apple slices in lemon juice to prevent oxidation.
- Whisk the ¼ cup of lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl until dissolved. Set aside.
- In a Dutch oven over medium heat, add the butter and heat until melted. Add the apples and stir. Cook for 5 minutes or until the apples are soft.
- Pour the lemon juice/cornstarch mixture over the apples. Stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add both sugars and salt and stir to combine.
- Remove from the heat and add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
- Let cool to room temperature and use immediately or store for later use.