Stovetop Fruit Pie Filling

This stovetop fruit pie filling is easy as can be to make with whatever fruit you happen to have on hand or is in season along with sugar, cornstarch, orange zest, nutmeg, and lemon juice.

A white bowl with a little bit of stovetop fruit pie filling in the bottom and a spoon resting inside.

This stovetop fruit filling is what we rely on year round though especially when fruit is slightly out of season or underripe as the sugar and the cornstarch thickener cover up all manner of sins. We then use it in a blind-baked pie crust or simply atop ice cream or with a dollop of creme fraiche. If you need lots of fruit filling, this basic recipe can be doubled, tripled, or more.–Kate McDermott

Stovetop Fruit Pie Filling

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes 8 servings | about 3 cups (enough to fill a 9-inch pie crust)
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Ingredients

  • Some Fruit Filling Suggestions

Directions

In a small bowl, briskly whisk the cornstarch into the water.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the fruit, sugar, salt, lemon, nutmeg, and orange zest.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is broken down, 6 to 10 minutes.

Add the cornstarch mixture, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring vigorously in a figure-eight pattern, for 2 minutes more. The mixture will thicken to a jelly-like consistency.

Remove from the heat. Pour the filling into a bowl and let cool at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface of the filling, transfer to the fridge, and let cool completely, about 40 minutes more. (You can stash this in the fridge for up to 3 days.)

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

With the first glance of this recipe, I was a little worried that the simplicity of the recipe would not make a strong final product. I was very surprised with how quickly the recipe came together and how tasty it ended up.

Once the cornstarch was added to the mixture, it quickly began to boil and thickened right away. It was delicious as a pie filling, and adding less sugar made it pair well with a pie crust, but it would also be delicious as a pancake or ice cream topping as well. It’s a great way to highlight in-season fruit.

I used peaches and blackberries. I used 2 cups of each. At the 6-minute mark, half of the fruit was broken down (most of the peaches were and almost none of the blackberries were). Both fruits would be easily crushed with the back of the spoon at this point. After stirring, there were no chunks left of either fruit. The mixture began thickening almost immediately and could easily coat a spoon. It took on the thickness of a jelly. The recipe made roughly 3 cups of filling, and it filled a pie crust almost perfectly, but was about half a cup low.

This jewel-toned beauty of a filling is the perfect answer to "what's for dessert?" Serve it on shortcake, as a pie filling, inside crepes, or just warm over ice cream. It's a real taste of summer (or spring/winter/fall!) and quite handy to have on hand.

I chose to make this filling with some strawberries and blueberries I had in the fridge. I used about 2 cups of each, quartering the strawberries before cooking. When making this again, I would cut the strawberries into smaller pieces to cut down on the cooking time.

I loved the addition of the orange zest and lemon juice as it was a great counterpoint to the sweetness of the sugar and berries and the freshly grated nutmeg added just a hint of spice. My berries took about 10 minutes on medium heat to break down before I added the cornstarch slurry. My slurry was more like a non-Newtonian fluid (very solid) and perhaps could have had just a touch more water added to make dissolving it easier, but it worked as is. It definitely thickened the fruit mixture and once cooled in the fridge gave an almost gelatin- or jam-like consistency to the fruit filling.

The combination of strawberries and blueberries was strikingly beautiful and made a wonderful filling for a pre-baked pie crust. We topped it with some freshly whipped cream and enjoyed this wonderful taste of summer. Next time I'll try it with other fruits (maybe peaches and strawberries or some of the dewberries growing in my backyard) and perhaps fill some wonderful crepes with it!

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