Hot Buttered Rum Apple Pie

Hot buttered rum apple pie from Tom Douglas is a sorta drunken, not-too-sweet pie that's perfectly lovely for Thanksgiving or for any occasion whatsoever.

Hot Buttered Rum Apple Pie

Lotsa folks are calling this hot buttered rum apple pie recipe from Tom Douglas the best apple pie they’ve ever tasted. And we understand exactly why. Flakey and tender crust. Perfectly cooked apples that are suffused with booze, butter, sugar, and spice. And a sweetness that’s subtle rather than tooth-achingly sweet. Opt for a sweet-tart, firm apple for this pie, such as Gravenstein, Braeburn, Cameo, Granny Smith, or Pink Lady. Originally published September 20, 2013.Renee Schettler Rossi

How To Make The Perfect Apple Pie

Chef Tom Douglas, whom some of us here at Leite’s have swooned to for more than a decade, magnanimously shares tips and tricks to ensure that the apple pie you pull from your oven is every iota as magnificent as what you’ll find in his bakery in Seattle. Here’s what he has to say:

A bit of pectin sets the apple pie juices perfectly, but if you don’t have pectin you can add a little more cornstarch instead.

After sautéing the apples, allow time for the apples to cool before filling and baking the pie. This is a good time to roll out your dough.

After assembling the pie, it takes about 2 hours to bake, which is a long time, but the slow baking ensures a deliciously crumbly, flaky crust.

Hot Buttered Rum Apple Pie Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 4 H, 25 M
  • Makes one 9-inch pie


  • 6 to 8 (about 3 3/4 pounds) apples, such as Gravenstein, Braeburn, Cameo, Granny Smith, or Pink Lady
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1 3/8 ounces) packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) dark rum
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon dry pectin, or an extra 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Flaky Pie Crust, for a double-crust 9-inch pie
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream


  • 1. Peel and core the apples and slice them 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. You should have about 8 cups apple slices.
  • 2. Place 2 large (at least 10-inch) sauté pans over medium-high heat and divide 1/3 cup granulated sugar evenly between them. Cook the sugar, without stirring, until it melts and then caramelizes and turns amber in color, tilting the pans a little to swirl and distribute the color, adjusting the heat as needed. (As soon as the sugar melts, it will quickly start caramelizing, so be ready with the apples as soon as the color of the sugar turns amber.)
  • 3. Add the apples, dividing them between the 2 pans, and sauté until they are about half-cooked and the juices that are released boil away and reduce until no liquid remains, 8 to 10 minutes. Toss and stir the apples regularly while they are cooking so they cook evenly on both sides. When the apples are done, they should have some give but should not fall apart when you press one between your fingers. Transfer the apples to a bowl and allow them to cool completely to room temperature.
  • 4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
  • 5. When the apples are cool, add the brown sugar, rum, butter, cornstarch, vanilla extract, pectin or extra cornstarch, spices, and salt and toss to combine.
  • 6. Dump the apple filling into the pastry-lined pie plate. Place the remaining pastry circle on top, roll the crust overhang up and over, and seal. Press or crimp the edge, then use a paring knife to cut a few vents in the top crust. Brush the top of the pie crust with the cream and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
  • 7. Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 30 minutes. Tent the pie with foil and continue to bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for 30 minutes more, or until the pie is evenly golden brown. (The total baking time should be 2 hours.) Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing. The pie will still be warm after an hour. Or if you can wait, you can cool it to room temperature and then slice and serve it.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

This is hands-down the best apple pie I have ever eaten. The crust is phenomenal—a bit crunchy, just the right amount of sweetness, and perfectly flakey all at the same time. The filling is also delectable—if you don’t like your pie overly sweet, this is a delicious choice for you. The only suggestion from the diners around the table was the pie could use perhaps 1 to 2 more cups of apples for the filling.


    1. Hi Linda, caramel is one of those tricky things that is very particular about tiny changes—a bit of condensation, something on your cooking utensils, a temperature change, even some undissolved sugar granules. I would make sure that everything is scrupulously clean, that you reach the projected color benchmark, and that the apples are at room temperature.

    2. We are using such a small amount of sugar, it is going to heat up to ‘hard crack’ very quickly. Since the apples, and their moisture are cooler than the caramel, it will seize.

      Two suggestions:
      1 Use a lower heat and add the apples the instant you see the caramel color.

      2. If it seizes, add just a splash of hot water and keep mixing with the apples. The caramel will melt again.

    1. We’re not going to argue with you, Rochelle! And we expect to hear from you when you do make it!

  1. I am disappointed that my mother-in-law already called dibs on making dessert for our Canadian Thanksgiving potluck, and I’m going to have to claim the privilege of making dessert for Christmas well in advance so that I can bring this!

    However, does ‘dry pectin’ refer to pure pectin (e.g., the pectin from a box of Pomona’s) or to the powdered or crystallized pectin mixed with dextrose? Thanks!

    1. Hi Tarigata, the pectin is in the recipe just as a thickening agent. Pomona’s should be fine, or you can just add a bit more cornstarch.

      1. Thanks – I do a lot of canning and so have all three on hand, but couldn’t decide which was the right one.

          1. I baked the pie and brought it to a birthday potluck, where it was eaten to rave reviews. Definitely one of the best apple pies I’ve ever made.

            1. Lovely to hear, tariqata! We feel exactly the same. Really appreciate you taking the time to tell us how much you love it.

  2. I made this pie for Super Bowl Sunday and it came out beautifully! I will keep the recipe to make again. I actually split the apple mixture in half and made two pies.

    1. Hi, Victoria. I’m so glad the recipe worked out. I love the idea of splitting the pie into two smaller pies. I bet it was a surprise addition to the Super Bowl table!

  3. Wonderful flavor, but apples have turned to mush. Next time, I will try thicker slices of apples and baking it at least 1/2 hour to 1 hour less.

    1. Mark D, thanks for taking the time to drop us a note. May I ask, what type of apple did you use?

  4. I made this for Thanksgiving last year, and my family still talk about it whenever I make food for any occasion. Sure to become an annual tradition for our Thanksgiving.

    1. Ari, that’s the best thing we can imagine hearing about one of our recipes! How lovely to hear that. Many thanks for taking the time to share.

  5. I procrastinated making this recipe because I knew it would have its ‘challenges’ but I was so eager to taste. Definitely some things I need to work on next time I make this (and there WILL BE a next time, because it WAS tasty)…

    ‘Caramelizing’ the sugar was tougher than I thought. Definitely an ‘art form’ to this requiring timing and the proper amount of heat. Sugar seized up in a hurry….

    Apples (Granny Smiths) didn’t ‘saute’ as well as I would’ve liked and maybe that’s because the sugar didn’t Caramelize as well as it should’ve – and because they didn’t ‘saute’ they seemed a little ‘mushy’…

    BUT….the flavor was still great (I will probably add a bit more sugar to it next time…), and I’m sure it will be even better now that I know what I need to work on!

    1. I love that it’s a progression, David. Because that is truly what it is. I think sometimes as adults we expect ourselves to be perfect at everything on the first attempt. But that’s not how things work. Practice, practice, practice. Looking forward to hearing about your next attempt!

    1. Hah. Well, I suppose that depends on how much pie you eat, Curtis. If you’re looking for it to get ya drunk pretty easily, best to do shots while you’re making the pie. And, under those circumstances, it’s best to set a timer when you put it in the oven so you don’t forget about it. Seriously, though, the rum lends a super subtle presence to the filling, sorta rounding all the edges on the sugar and spice and bringing them together, sorta like what vanilla does for a recipe.

  6. I’ve eaten at the Dahlia Bakery, own the cookbook, and I can, without hesitation tell you……the cost of the book is worth it if you only make this pie and the coconut cream! Both are favored at our house. The tomato soup recipe is also excellent. Make the pie, buy the book…..visit the bakery!!! Not in the book, but what I’d love to have, is the Dahlia’s recipe for their fig bars.

    1. Magnificent, Carla, thank you! We couldn’t agree with you more! (Although we haven’t had their fig bars, we’re now quite intrigued…)

  7. Delicious! Worth the extra step. The recipe was well written and easy to follow. The rum adds a subtle depth of flavor. Everyone loved it! Don’t think twice just do it!

    1. So glad to hear you love this as much as we do, Jackie! Thank you for taking the time to let us know!

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