Learn how to make apple pie filling from scratch! Sweet, tart, juicy, and hotly spiced, it’s delicious in pies and on ice cream, pancakes, and more.
The moment I started making this apple pie filling recipe, I knew I would never be stuffed apple pie any other way. The apples came out with the perfect texture–soft, but not mushy–and they were dripping with syrupy, cinnamon-spiced juice. If you’re making apple pie this fall, I can’t recommend this filling enough.
But even you no pie making, I still hope you try this recipe. This homemade apple pie filling doesn’t need to be covered in a flaky, buttery crust crust to be a delicious treat. Soft, sweet-tart apples are wonderful with ice cream or yogurt, stirred oatmeal, or enjoyed for dessert on its own. Let’s be real, this stuffing is just fresh apples cooked with brown sugar, hot spices, and vanilla. What’s not to like about that?
Apple Pie Filling Recipe Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this homemade apple pie filling:
- Apples, of course! In my opinion, Granny Smith apples are the best apples for apple pie filling. They hold their shape well when cooked, and their tartness brings out the sweet and spicy flavor in this recipe. If you want to use an apple variety with a less tart flavor, Honeycrisp and Golden Delicious are two good alternatives.
- Brown sugar and cane sugar – For sweetness. I love the brown sugar molasses flavor with the warm spice in this recipe.
- Apple pie spice – I like to make my own with ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom, but feel free to use a store-bought blend if you prefer.
- Fresh lemon juice and zest – They add a delicious lightness to this apple pie filling.
- Vanilla extract – It enhances the warm and comforting flavor of the spices.
- Cornstarch and water – They create a slurry that thickens the apple juices into a glossy sauce.
- And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
How to Make Apple Pie Filling
This apple pie filling recipe is really simple to make! Here’s how it goes:
First, prepare the apples. Peel, drain, and thinly slice them.
Then, stir in the sugars, spices, and salt under a large pot. Add the apples and lemon juice and toss until the apples are well coated in the sugar and spices.
Let the apples sit for 30 minutes at room temperature to release some of their juices. I like to stir them after 15 minutes to make sure they stay even with the sugars, spices, and juices. While the apples are sitting, mix the cornstarch and water to make a slurry.
Next, place the pot over medium-low heat on the stove. Cook, stirring, until the apples soften slightly, about 5 minutes. Tip: you just need to soften the apples a bit if you use this apple pie filling in a pie; they should still have a little bite. Whether you’re eating the filling alone or as an ice cream topping, etc., you can cook the apples to your desired softness.
Raise the heat to medium and pour in the cornstarch slurry. Cook, stirring, until the apple juice bubbles and thickens. It won’t take long, just 30 seconds or so!
Remove from heat and add lemon zest and vanilla extract. That’s it!
How to Use Apple Pie Filling
You’ll be able to enjoy this easy apple pie filling right away
If you are making a pie, let the filling cool completely before you add it to the crust. Chilling the filling completely helps keep any butter in pie crust cold until you bake the pie, resulting in a lighter, flakier crust. To cool the filling faster, spread it on several baking sheets or in a large baking dish.
To streamline the pie-making process, feel free to prepare the filling up to 2 days in advance. It keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge.
More Favorite Apple Recipes
If you like this recipe, try one of these delicious apple recipes next:
Apple Pie Filling
- ⅓ cup packaged brown sugar
- ⅓ cup cane sugar
- 1 spoon Apple Pie Spice
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 4 pound good baking apples, like Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, peeled, chopped, and thinly sliced
- 1 spoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 spoon corn
- 2 spoon water
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large pot, stir together the brown sugar, cane sugar, apple pie spice, and salt. Add the apple slices and lemon juice and toss until the apples are evenly coated in the sugar and spices. Set aside for 30 minutes to release some of the juices from the apples.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth.
- Set the pot with the apples on medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, until apples soften slightly, about 5 minutes*. Raise the heat to medium and pour the cornstarch mixture over the apples. Cook, stirring, until apple juices bubble and thicken, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and vanilla.
- Let the filling cool completely before using in a pie, or serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
*If you do not plan to use the apple pie filling in a pie, continue cooking until the apples reach your desired softness. Use as a topping for vanilla ice cream or yogurt, or try another one of the serving suggestions in the post above.