Classic Apple Pie

Classic Apple Pie

We tasted a wide variety of apples and learned that a combination of two distinct types—tart Granny Smith and sweet Mclntosh—yields the richest apple flavor in the pie filling. They also cook at different speeds, which makes for a multi-textured filling: The Granny Smiths soften a bit but stay pretty firm and the Mclntoshes break down to become mushy. For the crispest pie crust, we found that it’s important to first bake the pie at a very high temperature, then reduce the temperature so that the filling cooks completely. Baking the pie on the lowest rack of the oven, on a heated baking sheet, ensures that the bottom pie crust remains crisp.–The Editors at America’s Test Kitchen

LC Peeling Prowess Note

Surely we’re not the only ones whose moms were able to peel large apples in a single, long, dangly curlicue of red apple skin? Wow, that was some serious peeling prowess, and without any fancy pants peeling contraptions bought on late-night TV. A nicked paring knife was all that was needed. Gotcha feeling a little nostalgic—not to mention inadequate in the peeling department? Just breathe and remind yourself to practice, practice, practice. Preferably on this classic apple pie.

Classic Apple Pie

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 2 H
  • Serves 8
5/5 - 1 reviews
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  • For the pie crust
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
  • For the pie
  • 2 pounds (4 to 6) McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and slice 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 1/2 pounds (3 to 4) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten


  • Make the pie crust
  • 1. Process the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Scatter the shortening over the top and process until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and, using short pulses, process the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses. Transfer to a bowl.
  • 2. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water over the pie crust mixture. Stir and press the dough together, using a stiff rubber spatula, until the dough sticks together. If the dough does not come together, stir in the remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does.
  • 3. Divide the dough into 2 even portions and flatten each into a disk about 4 inches in diameter. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Let the chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature. (The dough can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Let the frozen dough thaw on the countertop until malleable before rolling.)
  • Make the pie
  • 4. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 portion pie crust dough into a 12-inch circle. Fold the dough into quarters, then place the dough’s pointy tip in the center of a 9-inch regular or deep dish glass pie plate. Gently unfold the dough and press it into the sides of the pan, leaving the portion that hangs over the edge of pie plate intact. Refrigerate while preparing the apple pie filling.
  • 5. Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C). Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack.
  • 6. Toss the apples with the 3/4 cup sugar, flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and spices. Set aside at room temperature.
  • 7. Roll out the remaining portion pie crust to a 12-inch circle. Spread the apples in the pie plate, mounding them slightly in the middle. Loosely roll the top crust around the rolling pin, then gently unroll it over the apples. Using scissors, trim all but 1/2 inch dough overhanging the edge of the pie plate. Seal the edge by pressing the top and bottom crusts together with your fingertips, then tuck the edges underneath. Crimp the edges, and cut 4 or so vent holes in the top crust. Brush the crust with the egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
  • 8. Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 425°F (220°C). Bake until the top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet, reduce the oven temperature again to 375°F (190°C), and continue to bake until the juices are bubbling and the crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes more. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before slicing and serving. The pie can be stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, for up to 2 days.

Recipe Testers Reviews

I’m in love with this recipe, mostly because it tells you why you’re using the variety of apples you’re using. A lot of the time I’ll come across an apple pie recipe that just lists the apples, but there’s no accompanying note explaining the flavors or results. The combination of McIntosh and Granny Smith produced a result exactly as the recipe states: Tart and sweet. I did take David’s advice in the comment below to add more flour (1 extra tablespoon) so the pie wouldn’t end up too juicy. I also didn’t have that air gap between the pie crust and the apple mixture. The lemon juice wakes up the apples’ flavor, though next time I might add a tad bit less, as I could actually taste the lemon instead of the effects of it. Overall, this is a wonderful, solid recipe.


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  1. I love this pie! The crust is amazing and the filling is perfect. I have made the original twice and tried all the variations from the cookbook; the original is our favorite. I love this cookbook and bake and cook from it almost every day!

          1. The pie was just devoured from its 10-inch pan with an extra half tablespoon of flour mixed in with the apples to keep things together. The consistency of the filling was perfect, the upper crust was flaky, and the bottom crust was soft but not soggy. After reading a few tips on how to get rid of the air gap between the top crust and the apples that had affected my previous apple pie attempts, I let the apples sit in the fridge for a while to release their juices before putting them in the shell, sliced them thin (as this recipe indicates) and packed them tightly. Then I poured the apple juices over them, and baked as directed. The best part was the lemon flavor. Perfect!

  2. How can I avoid the big air gap that happens when the pie cooks? The top and bottom crusts are fine but the apples cook down and leave a huge gap of emptiness in between the apples and the top crust

    1. Hi Chris, your culprit may be one of two things: the apples that you use and too much steam inside your pie. Be sure that you use baking apples as some varieties may cook down too much, and try cutting a couple of vent holes in the top crust to allow the steam to release. Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks Beth. I am using Granny Smith apples, which have been evenly sliced 1/4″ thick. I lay them in the pie very closely packed, and carefully like a tart, to keep as much air out of the pie. I also press down carefully before I lay the crust on top, and I try to take as many air pockets out before I seal the pie edges. I use a pie bird so there is a steam vent in the center of the top crust, as well as 4 more 1″ slits that I cut in the upper crust for more ventilation. After all that, I still get the big air gap—it’s like the pie crust bakes in the
        shape that I put it into the oven at, but the apples below it shrink, and the top pie crust doesn’t “lower” to meet the shape of the cooked apples.

        1. Chris, I make apple pie all the time for my husband, using all Granny Smith apples just like you, and I encounter the exact same trickiness. One thing I’ve tried which seems to help is not just tossing the apples with sugar and spice and turning them into the pie crust, but letting the apples really macerate in this mixture until all the juices exude. This can be several hours or even overnight. Because the apples have already given up almost all their moisture, I find they collapse much less during baking. Be warned, however, the spice mixture is more noticeable being as it’s sorta steeped the apples through and through. I hope this helps….

  3. I’m making this pie today but am going to freeze it unbaked. When I do decide to take it out and bake it, should it go directly into the oven – no thawing required? And how much longer should I bake it? We have an orchard behind our house and when the pickers come by we give them beverages and they give us bags of apples – it’s sooooo nice.

    1. Marilyn, I do exactly as you’re planning to do all the time. I transfer the pies to the preheated oven straight from the freezer, because any thawing will compromise the integrity of the crust. (The flakiness of the crust is due to the blast of hot air hitting butter that is cold as can be. This causes the moisture in the butter to puff, which then lifts up the layers of flour, or so I’ve been told.) Anyways, I do it with mini pies that I make in very small ceramic dishes so that the frozen apple portion is smaller than in an entire pie and hence takes longer to bake through. I’d love to give you an exact amount of additional time you’ll need, but I can’t, as it depends on so many variables—the type of apple, how high you mounded the filling, etc. Suffice it to say, keep an eye on the pie and be ready with a large sheet of aluminum foil to drape loosely over the pie should the crust start to look like it may brown a little too much. The pie is done when the filling is bubbling. As always, bake the pie on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil to catch any juices that bubble over, as I find that thawing creates a slightly more watery consistency. Let us know how it goes…

  4. Hi! I would like to make this pie tonight but was wondering…does this recipe make 2 pie crusts? Also, do I have to pre bake the bottom half of the crust first? I watch ATK and they always end up pre-baking so the crust doesn’t shrink! Help!

    1. Hi, Mya. This recipe makes just the right amount of pie crust for this double-crust pie recipe–you need a bottom and a top crust, hence the dividing of the dough into two pieces. And no, you do not need to pre-bake the bottom crust, it will be just fine without this step. Let us know how it goes!

      1. Thank you sooo much! I ended up making the pie last night and it was amazing! I was a bit nervous since it was my first time making a pie, but everything turned out perfect! Thanks again!!

  5. Made this today but with Jonagold apples. I cut the sugar a bit to make up for the slightly sweeter (though still tart & pectin-filled) variety. Turned out great, though the crust baked into a dome that the apples cooked down beneath, leaving a cavity. Partly this was my fault for overfilling the pie. Not a real problem, but next time I might cut the apples a bit thicker in the hopes that they don’t cook down quite as much. Important thing is that it was delicious.

  6. I’ve made this pie a few times and people really love it. I seem to remember a small amount of allspice was in this recipe, perhaps an 1/8 tsp? I’ve made it both with and without and it is great either way.

  7. This pie is delicious! I’ve never baked a pie from scratch before, but this one came out flawless twice in a row. Susan, thanks to your comment, I did add a bit more flour in with the apple mixture, and it was perfect. Thank you! Also, instead of vegetable shortening, I just used butter (at a one to one ratio). Great recipe—I’ll make this again, surely more than once.

  8. I made this pie with a Pillsbury frozen crust, and used 6 granny smith apples. Otherwise, it was spot on following the recipe. There was a lot of liquid when i cut it, even though i cooked it fully. I LOVE the flavor, but the texture was a little more over done than i would have liked. My husband loved it though and I will make it again.

    More flour maybe?

    1. Susan, I love this pie. More flour will definitely thicken the filling. I sometimes use a bit of tapioca powder, which is a powerful thickener. Give it a shot and let me know how it turns out.

      1. My mom was a prodigious apple-pie baker. Her method of putting the apples into the pie works better, I believe, than mixing the apples with the other ingredients and dumping them in.

        She taught me to sprinkle some flour onto the bottom crust, then arrange overlapping sliced apples in concentric circles until you have a complete layer of apples. Sprinkle the layer with flour, then cinnamon, grate nutmeg onto the layer and top with a sprinkling of sugar. Then repeat with more layers until you have a full mounded pie filling, and then put the top crust on. I think that this method eliminates the problem of having a soupy pie filling, and it’s also more interesting to have distinct tastes of the cinnamon instead of having the cinnamon homogenized with everything else.

    2. I have the original America’s Test Kitchen recipe that this one is adapted from. You’re supposed to let the pie set for four hours. I’ve made it many times and the times I didn’t let it set it was very soupy. But when it has rested it is perfect.

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