Hot Buttered Rum Apple Pie

Hot buttered rum apple pie from Tom Douglas–made from apples, spice, and a splash of rum–is perhaps the best apple pie we’ve ever experienced. It’s a combo of your favorite warm cocktail and your favorite pie.

A baked hot buttered rum apple pie on a wooden board.

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. Flaky 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.–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, and a soft custardy filling.

Hot Buttered Rum Apple Pie

  • Quick Glance
  • (13)
  • 45 M
  • 4 H, 25 M
  • Serves 8
4.5/5 - 13 reviews
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Peel and core the apples and slice them 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. You should have about 8 cups apple slices.

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.)

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 yet not collapse when you press one between your fingers. Transfer the apples to a bowl and allow them to cool completely to room temperature.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).

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.

Tester tip: If your apples are exceptionally tart, you may want to add a little extra sugar at this point.

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.

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. Originally published September 20, 2013.

Print RecipeBuy the The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

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 flaky 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.


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    1. Thanks, Jeremiah! The brandy would be a very nice swap. So glad you all enjoyed it.

  1. I made this exactly as written. None of us cared for it, and I generally love all forms of pie.
    I found it to be lacking sugar/sweetness and on the bitter side. With the long cook time, my apples turned to applesauce.

    Also, very odd, my crust “lost” all of the fluting. Its so bizzare…. The crust was delicious and I will definitely make it again!

    The next time I make it, I will not pre-cook the apples or make the caramel.

    1. We’re sorry to hear that this didn’t turn out as well as you’d hoped, Fawn. It certainly looks pretty! Perhaps a different variety of apple, or a little additional sugar could help with the sweetness?

    2. Fawn, just to echo Angie, this is disappointing and we’re sorry to hear that. What type of apples did you use? Also, I have in the past had times when the fluting disappeared…and in my experience, it’s always when the kitchen was warm while I was working and/or I let the pie sit out at room temperature a while prior to slipping it in the oven. You may already be aware of this, but the butter in the crust needs to remain cold until it encounters the blast of heat from the oven. Ever since I had my slumped fluting encounters, I learned to slip the pie in the fridge or even the freezer for a short spell prior to baking it. I’ve never had that same problem since.

  2. I have made close to 300 apple pies in my 68 years, and I wish I had discovered this one earlier. The flavor is deep and caramel-ly, with so much more going on than the usual apples with cinnamon. The rum is barely there, and the flavor of butter comes shining through. I used 4 large fresh Granny Smith apples, along with 2 wrinkled Galas and a Yellow Delicious that were languishing in the fruit bowl. My usual proportion of sugar to a mound of apples is 3/4 cup; I was glad to note that this recipe contains less sugar, but that didn’t make it less rich. I can’t wait to try this with Cosmic Crisp apples later in the season. I used them in some baking projects last year and I loved their flavor. I also loved how they held up in the heat. Thanks for passing this recipe along.

    1. Thank you, Bette, for taking the time to let us know! We so appreciate hearing from readers, particularly the ones with so much experience (300 pies!!) and we’re delighted that it turned out so well for you. We look forward to hearing how it turns out with the Cosmic Crisp apples.

  3. I made the recipe as it was written but only had red delicious apples as that’s all I had to begin with and it went over well at my fiance’s family Christmas party! I also brushed the crust inside and out with egg white because the last time I did that to an apple pie I baked it totally changed the crust and made it the flashiest crust ever! The pie went over well! I barely came home with any pie left which is unusual when I take something to that party! This family is a family of GREAT cooks so they are kind of picky but they all LOVED this pie! I will definitely be making this pie again! Two hour baking time or not this pie was awesome! I might add a little more rum to it next time too! I used Captain Morgan’s spiced rum. DELICIOUS!!!!

  4. A good recipe. I swapped 2 apples for 1 cup dried cranberries and it turned out delicious! Gotta watch that caramelization though…happens quickly.

    1. Love the idea of swapping in the cranberries, Eseza. Thanks so much for sharing with us!

  5. First, based on the other reviews, I added extra sugar (about an extra 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of white sugar) and I used store bought crust. Other than that, I made the recipe as it was written. I used closer to 8 apples but they were also pretty large. I think the large amount of filling was the reason my top crust broke. The filling was delicious but after the long bake time, it was mostly jelly. Next time I will probably use a little less filling and bake for 1.5 hours instead of the full 2.

    1. Melissa, I’m sorry the crust broke. A helpful hint: Always take the weight into consideration. That’s the most accurate guide. Most stores have a scale that you can use to weigh produce.

  6. 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!

  7. 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. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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. 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. Thanks for that suggestion! I was having trouble with the same thing but nobody seemed to notice at my party, however. I will remember this and try it if the problem arises again. Hopefully, it doesn’t though… Beautiful and heavenly tasting pie either way!

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