My best ever deep dish apple pie not only has twice the apples of most apple pies, but it also has a more intense apple flavor, avoids ‘tall crust, low fruit’ syndrome, and cuts beautifully into even pieces. Seem unlikely? Or maybe difficult? Well, you are in luck because it’s all true and I manage it with one easy, extra step.
This post was originally published on October 14th, 2015. It has been extensively rewritten.
Apple pie is a dessert I have made many, many times over the years.
It is by far my husband’s favorite dessert to the point that he sometimes jokes that he married me for my apple pie. I’m okay with that because, not only do I love making pies and enjoy making apple pie, but I make a damn good apple pie. 🙂 I’m even willing to call it the best ever!
This is almost 40 years of apple pie baking experience talking. Not only the best deep dish apple pie, but the best apple pie. Period. You can fight me on this.
No, don’t fight me on this. *ducks* Just bake the apple pie and it’ll all be good.
I started making apple pies with my mom years ago. I was in charge of the filling while mom took care of the crust. These days my daughter is in charge of the filling, and I make the crust, though this pie I made all myself since she was at school and I had to make the pie while the light was good. #foodbloggerproblems
But totally get your kids in on this. Even little ones can help wash the apples, or measure the sugar, or cut out fun shapes with the pie crust to decorate.
How do you make homemade deep dish apple pie?
To make a deep dish apple pie start by peeling and coring a variety of apples. Then cook them down until they’re soft and cook down juices to make a syrup. Add the apple filling to a pie crust and bake until golden brown and bubbly.
- Peel, core, and slice the apples.
- Cook them in a large pot with sugar and spices until soft.
- Strain out the juices and cook them down.
- Add the cooled apples to a pie crust.
- Top with another pie crust, crimp, and vent.
- Bake until the pie is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
Step one is to pick out your apples. I like to use a variety of different types, some are tarter, others softer, some small, and some large. This will give you a more complex pie.
Step two is to either make or have on hand enough pie dough for a two crust 9-inch pie. If you want to make the crust, I have an amazing Flaky Pie Crust recipe.
Exactly what apples you use is going to depend on what is available. If you are at an apple orchard in the fall, you will have so many interesting apples you won’t find at the supermarket. And, if you are at the supermarket in April, your choices are going to be more limited. My advice is to read the signs over the apples and talk to the farmer if you are at a farm stand or orchard.
Tip: Here is a list with a few ideas for pie apples. There are many more than this, so be flexible.
Once you have the apples, fill a large bowl with water. Add some lemon if you want. Then peel the apples and put them back in the water. (This will keep them from browning too fast.)
Once your apples are peeled, trim the ends off and core/slice the apples. While you can use a paring knife, I find that using a press-down apple slicer is both fast and gives consistently sized slices.
Drain the apples and pile them into a large pot. Add the sugar, salt, and spices. Then cover the pot and simmer the apples until they are soft and starting to break down.
Transfer the apples to a bowl and cook down the juices of the apples with some bourbon until the juices are thick and syrupy. Pour them back over the apples and cool the filling down to room temp.
While you are waiting for the apples, you can roll out the pie crust. (Or make it a two day affair – making the filling and crust one day and rolling, filling, and baking the next.)
Roll out the bottom crust and fit it into the pie plate. Trim the overhang and put the pie plate into the fridge to rest while you roll out the next crust.
Once you have the top crust rolled out, it’s time to assemble the pie. Add the filling to the pie plate, then cover with the top crust. Trim the crust to fit and crimp the edges. Decorate as you wish with cookie cutters, stamps, or with simple and classic vents.
Bake the pie at 425F for 20 minutes, then lower the heat and continue baking at 375F until the pie is done.
What are the secrets of making the best deep dish apple pie?
First, a variety of apples. One apple can’t do it all so get a balance of firm and sweet and tart and soft apples.
Second, twice cooking the apples. By cooking the apples down before you bake them, you can get much more apple flavor into the pie, keep from having a big space between the top crust and baked filling, and make a pie which cuts like a picture.
Did you see those apples up there? There were 10 of them and some of them were big. Those apples amounted to about 12 cups of apples. That is twice the amount you can usually put in a 9-inch pie.
Third, cook down the juices of the apples. That is concentrated flavor right there and you want it in your pie.
Fourth, bourbon! Bourbon is my secret to many recipes and with good reason. The flavor of the bourbon complements the flavor of the apples and brings out an amazing complexity. Also, seriously American. It’s hard to get more American than bourbon and apple pie. On Thanksgiving.
- I find a tapered rolling pin to be the best and easiest way to roll out a pie crust. My husband made me mine, so you can’t buy that one, but this maple rolling pin is almost exactly the same as mine. (Ignore the description. It’s a solid piece of wood and has no bearings or handles.)
- I use this pretty, deep dish pie plate with handles on it for making pies. I like how handles make it so easy to transfer the pie to the oven and then to the counter.
- Something I find exceedingly useful for all baking is a bench scraper. I love this one for its all-metal construction, making it easy to clean without any parts that will degrade, and for its little ruler which I use to check sizes all the time, and for its rounded edges so it doesn’t scratch up my working surface.
- And up above, you can see my KitchenAid apple corer and slicer. I don’t like the machines that both peel and slice since I find the slices are too small (though I haven’t tried them all – one I might love), so I peel first and then core and slice. I like this corer since it’s nice and sturdy and has a wide grip.
If you try my recipe for Deep Dish Apple Pie, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Baking, Annemarie
Homemade American Deep Dish Apple Pie
- 10-12 medium (5 lbs) apples, a mix of types
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1 recipe pie dough for a two crust 9-inch pie
Make the Apple Filling
- Set out a large bowl of water. Squeeze the juice one lemon into the water.
- Peel the apples, putting each peeled apple into the water. Once all the apples are peeled, cored and slice the apples, putting the slices back in the water.
- Drain the apples. In a large pot, mix together the apples with the sugars, salt, cinnamon, and allspice.
- Cover the pot and cook the apples over medium heat until they are soft but not too mushy, about 20 minutes. Some may be a little oversoft before the firmer apples are ready. This is okay since the firmer apples will provide the structure for pie.
- Set out a colander over a large bowl. Once the apples are done, drain them into the colander. Pour the juices back into the pot.
- Add the bourbon to the pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Pour any more juices that have collected in the bowl into the pot. Reduce the juices to a thick syrup, about 7-8 minutes.
- Let the apple and syrup cool to room temperature, about an hour. You can do this part the day ahead if you wish.
Assemble the Pie
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Set out the pie dough on the counter to warm up. This may take 20 minutes to an hour.
- Roll out the bottom crust of the pie. Once it's large enough, about 12 inches around, press it into the pie plate. Trim the overhang to 1/2 inch.
- Fill the crust with the cooled apples and syrup.
- Roll out the top crust and place over the top of the pie. Trim it to match the bottom crust and pinch it all the way around to seal the edges. Add some vents in the top crust.
- Bake the pie for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375F. Place a baking pan below the pie to catch any stray juices that bubble out. Continue baking for about 30 minutes more, or until the juices are bubbling out of the top and the bottom is well browned.
- Let the pie cool for at least 2 hours, or overnight, before slicing it.
- If you make the filling the day
- Cooking the apples: Cooking the apples down may take a bit longer than 20 minutes, depending on how quickly your pot heats up and what sort of apples you use. When they are done, even the firmest apples should be a bit soft. Don't even worry a minute if the softer apples have become mush.
- Slicing: So long as you let the pie cool thoroughly, it will cut into neat and even pieces. If you are not getting beautiful pieces plan on cooking down the apples more next time.
- Make Ahead: If you make the filling the day ahead, take the apple filling out of the refrigerator and let it warm up before adding it to the pie. Basically, take out at the same time you take out the crust to warm it up for rolling.
- Pie Crust: You cannot go wrong with my Easy Flaky Pie Crust recipe. It's a snap to make, almost impossible to mess up, and rolls out like playdough.
- Pie Decorating: Decorating the top crust is completely optional. A few vents is all it needs. If you have some cute leaf stamps or apple stamps, have fun though!