American Apple Pie

How to make a classic American Apple Pie from scratch with a double crust and brimming with just-sweet apples and a touch of cinnamon. A good apple pie is a wonderment and yes, this "is" a good one ... savor every single tender, flaky apple bite.

American Apple Pie, a fall classic ♥, made from scratch with a flaky, tender double crust and piles of apple and cinnamon.

Real Food, Fresh & Seasonal. An American Classic. Perfect for Thanksgiving & #PieDayFriday. Budget Friendly. Potluck & Party Friendly. Rave Reviews.

Consider the Difference.

A perfect French tart is a vision of beauty. [sound cue Édith Piaf]

An unpretentious American pie might indeed appear rustic or homespun. [sound cue Woody Guthrie]

But done well, an American-style pie is its own wonderment; so delicious that we’re happy to eat pie without ice cream; so comforting that a double crust is worth the calories; so tempting that we break off "mouse bites" of crust from the edges to eat on the spot.

Because here's the thing. A tart crust and a pie crust are two entirely different things.

  • A tart crust should be sturdy and perfectly shaped, fueled by flour plus butter. It's beautiful, yes, but not a true pie crust.
  • A pie crust should be tender and flaky, a bewitching mix of flour plus butter for flavor and shortening (or lard!) for tenderness.

So put aside expectations of superficial Instagram perfection and instead join fellow pie bakers like me to focus on a pie crust's structure (flaky, not dense) and texture (tender, not tough).

A Great Pie Starts with a Great Pie Crust

Need help with your crust? Never been able to produce a good one? Always felt nervous to make your own crust? Still trying to make perfect-looking pie crusts? Ever been disappointed by tough all-butter crusts?

I feel you. That was me. Starting at age 16, I baked perfect crusts. But then I lost the touch and just couldn't get it back, no matter how I tried, no matter which recipe I switched to.

But this pie story has a happy ending.

This year, I re-learned how to make pastry from our friend Ann, she's well-known around St. Louis as the "pastry whisperer".

And just wait until you see what other home cooks say after adopting Ann's tips and techniques for pie crusts from scratch.

  • THE RECIPE For the recipe for pie crust in traditional recipe format, see Flaky Tender Pie Crust. It makes two crusts, either for two single-crust pies or one double-crust pie. If you need just one crust, put the leftover pastry in the freezer for another pie some time later!
  • STEP BY STEP PHOTOS & INSIDER TIPS Readers rave about their pie crusts after studying the step-by-step photo tutorial, How to Make Flaky Tender Pie Crust. If it's been awhile since I've made a pie crust, I still like to review these tips before getting started.

What's In an American Apple Pie? Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.

  • A Good Crust For something really special, do make your own crust, your own favorite recipe or give Flaky Tender Pie Crust a try.
  • Apples Start with good apples, a mix of different varieties works especially well. Do avoid those so-called "Red 5.5Delicious" apples but any other apple works, including Granny Smith. You'll need to peel, core and slice the apples, then drop the apple slices into lemon juice so the slices don't turn brown when exposed to air.
  • Sugar Your choice of white sugar or brown sugar. How much sugar to use is up to you. Americans prefer a full cup of sugar for a pie this size and for your first pie, start there. But for extra apple-y flavor, drop down to a half cup or two-thirds cup. Sugar sweetens, of course, but it also provides structure to the apple filling.
  • Thickener As the pie bakes, the apple slices will exude lots of liquid. A few tablespoons of a thickener will prevent a soupy pie. I recommend cornstarch for thickening but potato starch works too. Just avoid using flour as the thickener. Have you ever come across a gummy apple pie? Odds are high, it's been thickened with flour.
  • Seasonal Spices Cinnamon is traditional, I'm a big fan of the Vietnamese Extra-Fancy Cinnamon from Penzey's, so lovely. But for years, I've turned to two spice blends from Penzey's, one is called Cake Spice (cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves) and the other is called Baking Spice (cinnamon, anise, mace, cardamom). Use these blends 1:1 when cinnamon or nutmeg is called for in cakes, cookies, muffins, fruit crisps or anything, really, including American Apple Pie. You'll notice the difference, things just taste a little bit better, there's some nuance and interest that just doesn't happen with a one-note spice.
  • Egg Wash & a Sprinkle of Sugar These "finish" the top crust before the pie gets popped in the oven, it makes for a prettier crust out of the oven. An "egg wash" is just a quick whisk of egg yolk and water. Pale brown "raw sugar" crystals are especially pretty but regular white sugar can be lightly sprinkled on too.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

  • Can You Use a Box Crust? Yes ... of course, your choice. And if that's your call, here's an easy way to improve a store-bought crust. Just roll it out slightly thinner and discard the excess.
  • How Many Apples Do You Need for an Apple Pie? Here's a Trick! Just get out your pie pan and fill it up with whole apples. That's how many apples to use!

Playing Around with Apple Pie

When you bake pie as often as I do ala #PieDayFriday, it's fun to play around with the ingredients.

  • BONUS RECIPE I was so taken with an apple and green grape apple pie from Elsah Landing near St. Louis that I've included it here as a Bonus Recipe.
  • SUMMER "APPLE" PIE doesn't call for apples at all, it calls for green tomatoes. It's unbelievable how an Old-Fashioned Green Tomato Pie tastes so much like apples!
  • WINTER APPLE PIE originated with my signature Cranberry Apple Crisp then morphed itself into Cranberry Apple Pie. So good!
  • SHORTCUT APPLE PIE Hey! Isn't an Extra-Crispy Apple Crisp sort of like a beginner's apple pie anyway? Tee hee ...
American Apple Pie, a fall classic ♥, made from scratch with a flaky, tender double crust and piles of apple and cinnamon.


Hands-on time: 50 minutes (including the crust)
Time to table: 2-1/2 hours
Serves 8
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (don't skip)
  • Baking apples (see ALANNA's TIPS), peeled and sliced (5 - 6 cups of sliced apples)
  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup white or brown sugar (see TIPS)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (see TIPS)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch (see TIPS)
  • Egg wash of 1 egg yolk & 1 tablespoon water, whisked
  • Raw (turbinado) sugar or another sugar (see TIPS)

Set oven to 375F/190C.

CRUST Make the pie crust dough and keep it chilled in the refrigerator.

APPLES Squeeze the lemon juice into a large bowl. Add the apples as they’re peeled and sliced, tossing to coat with the juice, this prevents browning. Toss the sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch with the apples.

CRUST Roll out the bottom crust and arrange in a pie pan, patching if needed, letting the rough edge hang over the side of the pie pan. Refrigerate the bottom crust while continuing. Roll out the top crust.

FILL Working quickly, fill the bottom crust with the Apples (see TIPS). Gently smooth the fruit, tucking in any slices that stick out.

TOP CRUST Arrange the top crust over filling. With a knife, slice off the excess crust, leaving about a half-inch beyond the pan’s edge. To form the crust, tuck the outer edge under itself and gently press to seal, then gently crimp between thumb and forefinger to form a decorative edge.

TO FINISH Avoiding the crimped crust, brush the flat area of the top crust with the egg wash and then sprinkle that area with raw sugar. With a sharp knife, cut through the top crust in several places, these cuts will "vent" the crust, preventing it from lifting up off the apples.

BAKE Bake the pie for about 45 minutes (see TIPS) or until top crust is golden brown and the juices inside are bubbling.

LET REST Place the pie on a cooling rack and let cool down.

Serve warm (the apples will spill out) or at room temperature after several hours (after the pie has firmed up).

ALANNA's TIPS For pie apples, favorites vary. Experts call for Jonathans. Many pie-bakers swear by McIntosh apples that ‘melt’ into something akin to applesauce. I like Galas but often mix varieties. Granny Smith apples work beautifully, too, just be sure to use the higher amount of sugar to contrast with the sourness. To gauge how many apples to use, fill the pie pan with a single layer of whole apples. If the apples are taller than the pie pan, remove one. That’s enough! Taste for sweetness varies too. With just 1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar, intense apple flavor emerges. However, many Americans prefer a sweet pie made with a generous cup of sugar. Cinnamon is classic but ginger or nutmeg, or a blend, work too. Use cornstarch or potato starch for thickening, avoiding the unappealing gumminess of flour. Fill the unbaked pastry just higher than the top edge of the pie pan. Raw sugar’s large, golden crystals create a lovely sparkly top. To prevent a raw bottom crust, I’ve learned to bake pies for 20 minutes on the bottom rack, then switch to the center rack for the remaining time.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Slice, including double crust: 471 Calories; 23g Tot Fat; 13g Sat Fat; 60g Carb; 2g Fiber; 372mg Sodium; 50 mg Cholesterol; 31g Sugar; 4g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 11 & PointsPlus 13 & SmartPoints 21 & Freestyle 19 & myWW green 19 & blue 19 & purple 19 (and worth it!)


For many years, Elsah Landing was a famous homemade pie place here in the St. Louis area. It was a tiny country place, right alongside the Mississippi River in Elsah, Illinois. It's closed now but in 2015, our gourmet group cooked a dozen or more recipes from the Elsah's Landing cookbook to sample. I was assigned the double-crust "Grape and Green Apple Pie". Harumph, as an apple-pie purist, I just didn't see the point of mixing green grapes with apple for what's supposed to be an apple pie. Turns out, those folks from Elsah Landing are brilliant! We loved this pie, a kind of fruity sweet 'n' sour. I definitely want to remember the recipe!
  • 5 - 6 cups peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples (that's usually four large apples)
  • 1 cup green grapes
  • 1-1/2 cups (300g) sugar, yeah, way more than I usually use
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch or instant tapioca
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Raw sugar

Set the oven to 450F/230C.

CRUST Roll out and chill the bottom crust. While mixing the apples, keep the second disk of pie dough refrigerated while mixing the apples.

APPLES Mix all the apple ingredients.

TO FINISH Roll out the top crust but leave it aside for a minute. Fill the chilled bottom crust with the Apples. Dot the top of the apples with tiny bits of butter, then arrange the top crust over top and trim and crimp the edges. With a sharp knife, cut through the top crust in a decorative way, forming vents.

BAKE AT HIGH TEMPERATURE Bake the pie at 450F for just 15 minutes.

REDUCE THE HEAT TO 350F/180C. Lower the temperature to 350F and bake for another 35 - 45 minutes until the top crust turns golden and the filling is bubbly and juicy.

COOL Let the pie cool and firm up for several hours before serving.

Are Fruit Pies Your Favorite? Me Too!

~ pie & tart recipes ~

First-Prize Peach Pie with Lattice Crust ♥, this recipe won first prize in my town's peach pie contest! It uses a special technique to draw out the peach flavor. No blanching! No peeling!

Blueberry Sour Cream Pie ♥, my longtime favorite recipe for blueberry pie, fabulous with fresh blueberries that 'pop' in the light sour cream filling and topped with a toasted-almond streusel.

Fresh Strawberry Pie ♥, with a homemade chocolate cookie crumb crust, cool, light and refreshing. Only 200 Calories. Weight Watchers Friendly. Make It Today, Serve It Tomorrow. Low Cal. Low Carb.

Perfect All-Rhubarb Pie ♥, a summer masterpiece and a perfect balance of sweet and tart and cinnamon.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ more apple recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2007, 2008, 2014, 2015 & 2020

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PIE? Win a copy of a great 30-minute teaching video (VHS format) called 'Perfect Pies' by the Pie Whisperer Anne Cori. Just leave a comment mentioning your favorite kind of pie on any of these three articles by midnight CST, Tuesday, November 13th. When you do, your name will be entered into a drawing, the winner will be announced here the next morning. (In your comment, please leave some bit of information that will help me identify and notify you later, "Alex from Houston" is plenty.)

  2. Anonymous11/09/2007

    My favorite kind of pie is chocolate, my dad's is apple though til recently he was keener on crumbly than pie

  3. Anonymous11/09/2007

    In summer, strawberry rhubarb --

    Elsie from Springfield

  4. There's nothing better than warm apple pie and a scoop of french vanilla ice cream.

  5. Anonymous11/11/2007

    Sitting outside eating cool peach pie with a light flaky crust is the perfect way to spend an August afternoon.

    Angie from Toronto

  6. Apple with cranberries. Especially for the holidays

  7. Anonymous11/13/2007

    My favorite pie is a tie between fresh blueberry double crust or fresh peach with a lattice crust.

  8. My favorite is without a doubt pumpkin.

  9. Believe it or not, my favorite pie is chocolate tofu! It sounds a lot healthier than it is. Yes, there's tofu, but there is LOTS of butter and chocolate too. It's so rich and creamy and deep, dark-chocolatey! I always emphasize the tofu element in hopes that others will be turned off before trying it so there will be more left for me.

  10. WHAT's YOUR FAVORITE PIE? "Diane from Michigan" is the winner of the video about how to make perfect pie crusts.

  11. Anonymous1/21/2008

    WOW! Thank you for the pie, Alanna!

    Gregg said, "She nailed the 'flaky & tender'..." And we had our first quiet moment of the day; we all had our mouths full and were savoring the apple pie.

    Sarah suggested we tell the not-here-yet family members & guests that you didn't show up (so we could eat it all). And that is a very un-Sarah thing to say!

    Lizzie looked disconcerted when we said we should divide them each into equal eighths.

    It was just such a fun and very welcome surprise.

    Many, many, many thanks!!!

    Happy Pie People


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna