September 14, 2022| By

Apple Pie Filling

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
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The next time you think about heading to the store to get canned apple pie filling, make this recipe instead! It's sweet, perfectly spiced, and a thousand times more delicious than the stuff you buy in a can.

This recipe is made with fresh apples, brown sugar, spices, a little bourbon, apple cider, and a touch of butter for added richness. Best part? It makes everything better. Enjoy this easy apple pie filling recipe with a little ice cream or turn it into an apple crisp, use it as a filling for cakes, cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, pies (naturally) - the possibilities are endless!

Love apple recipes? Everyone loves my Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls with Brown Butter Frosting! Don't stop there, then make my Homemade Apple Butter and Cinnamon Pear Apple Crisp!

apple pie filling in a glass container.

It's finally pie season and I think that I speak for all of us when I say that the homemade version always (of just about anything) tastes so much better than store bought. There's something about the smell of cooked apples and warming spices that fills your home with cozy vibes as we welcome the change of seasons.

It's like opening the door and welcoming Fall to come into the house and stay a while. That's what I think of when I take a spoonful of this recipe.

Ok back to the apples.

If this is your first time making your own apple pie filling, don't worry, it's easy, delicious, and the perfect way to celebrate apple season. Skip heading to the grocery store to buy the store-bought version. Make this instead.

Why You'll Love this Recipe

up close photo of apple pie filling in a jar with cinnamon sticks.
  • If you're making an apple pie, pre-cooking the apple pie filling cuts down on baking time. This is perfect for when you're trying to make a bunch of pies for Thanksgiving or Christmas!
  • A few simple ingredients and warm spices give this easy recipe so much flavor. Simmer everything together for 30 minutes and you'll have a thick and delicious apple pie filling that'll keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
  • This simple recipe is perfect for pies, apple pastries, cakes, cupcakes, and is even delicious with a little ice cream. I have even used it as a topping on my oatmeal! There are so many ways to use this homemade pie filling.

The Best Apples for Pie Filling

There are tons of apple varieties to use, but which ones are the best for apple desserts? The kinds of apples you use a very important! The short answer is this - you'll want to use apples that impart the most flavor and apples that don't become mushy as soon as you cook them.

For this recipe, I used honeycrisp apples, granny smith apples, and fuji apples. This is a nice mix of tart apples and sweet apples that will hold their shape while baking.

They also provide a nice balance of sweetness and tart flavor that combines perfectly with the sugar in the pie filling. Using a combination of apples is always a great idea and a good way to give your apple pie filling different flavors and textures.

A few other kind of apples that are great to use are gala, braeburn, and golden delicious.

Rule of thumb: When picking out apples, try to find a crisp apple that is full of flavor, a bit tart, and apples that will be able to hold their shape and won’t get too soft when you cook the filling. (after all, you don't want apple sauce)

Ingredient Notes

ingredients to make apple pie filling - apples, apple cider, bourbon, corn starch, sugar, brown sugar, spices, vanilla extract, butter, and lemon juice.
  • Honeycrisp and Granny Smith apples: as I mentioned above, these are my favorite apples because they have the best apple flavor and hold their shape while making the apple filling.
  • Spices: you'll need cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and cardamom. The cardamom is optional but strongly recommended as it adds so much flavor and goes exceptionally well with the other warm apple pie spices. This is essentially my pumpkin pie spice so if you've made them, simply add two tablespoons of this spice blend.
  • Apple Cider: apple cider really enhances that true apple flavor, however, if you can't find apple cider, apple juice works too.
  • Lemon Juice: lemon juice not only adds flavor but it allows the apples to render some of the juice, enhancing the apple flavor.
  • Bourbon: I love adding just a tiny bit of bourbon because it has deep caramel and vanilla flavor. Don't worry about getting a buzz though, all of the alcohol is cooked off during the cooking process! If you don't want to use bourbon, omit it entirely.
  • Cornstarch: this is simply to thicken the mixture.
  • Butter: butter makes everything better. Am I right or am I right? The butter is added to the pie filling after it's finished cooking to smooth out the tart and sweet flavors and give the filling a velvety texture.

What Are the Best Tools for Peeling, Slicing, and Coring Apples?

I don’t know about you, but peeling apples is such a chore! It would take forever to peel all of your apples by hand. Check out this affordable tool for peeling apples, which makes this process so much easier! You can also use this tool to core your apples! A two in one! There are even tools that make it easier to slice your apples - this is a great one here

Tips

  • This recipe makes enough for one 9-inch pie. Keep that in mind for your holiday baking and feel free to double or triple if making multiple pies!
  • You DO NOT need to peel the skin off of the apple unless that is your preference. Apple slices with the skin do not bother me and cuts down the amount of time it takes. Sometimes I peel them, other times, I don't. It's totally up to you!
  • If using this recipe to make apple pie, be sure to adjust your baking times accordingly. When you pre-cook the apple pie filling, the pie will bake a lot faster!
  • The best way to ensure that your apple pie isn't runny is to pre-cook the filling - I highly recommend using this filling for the best apple pie recipe ever.
  • Need a quick dessert? Scoop a little of the homemade filling into a bowl with vanilla ice cream for the perfect Fall treat!

How to make Apple Pie Filling

a spoon in a bowl of apple pie filling.

It's as easy as pie. Pun intended. Ok seriously, this recipe only takes four simple steps.

  • First thing, peel and core the apples, then slice. Pro tip: if you have an apple peeler, this speeds up the process quite a bit.
  • Place sliced apples in a large pot with lemon juice, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, and cardamom. Toss together and let it sit for 10 minutes.
apples in a large pot.
  • Place pot onto the stove over medium heat and allow apples to cook down for 10 minutes, then add apple cider and bourbon, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then simmer on low until apples are soft and liquid begins to reduce, about 15 minutes.
apples cooking in a large pot.
  • In a small bowl, mix together 4 tbsps of corn starch with 4 tbsps of apple cider and mix together. Pour into the apple pie filling and mix together. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, and add butter and vanilla extract. Mix together and allow it to cool. (It will thicken as it cools)
cooked apple pie filling in a large pot.

What to do with Apple Pie Filling

Eat this cinnamon apple pie filling on its own or make any of the following:

Storing, Freezing, Thawing

If storing in the refrigerator, add to an airtight container and store for up to 5- days.

For long term storage, place in a freezer bag or freezer safe container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you're ready to enjoy it again, simply allow it to thaw. Warm in the microwave or over the stove on low heat.

Recipe FAQs

How Thick Should I Cut My Apples?

You can cut your apples into many different shapes and sizes - just try to make sure they’re uniform so that they cook evenly! Try not to cut them super thin because they will get mushy and give the filling the wrong texture. I use ¼ inch slices as I find this works best for this recipe. 

How Should I Store My Apple Pie Filling?

Make sure to let your apple pie filling cool completely before putting it into an airtight container. This filling will last for 7-10 days in the fridge and up to around three months in the freezer. This recipe is super easy to store and is the perfect filling to have on hand! Especially around the holidays when you’re making pies and sweet treats!

Now that you’ve seen how easy it is to make flavorful, made-from-scratch apple pie filling, I hope you never have to go back to buying the store bought filling in a can! Although, that is great to use in a pinch! 

I would love to know how you’ve used this homemade apple pie filling! Leave a comment below! 

an up close photo of apple pie filling in a jar with a spoon.

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Let's stay connected on social media and continue to cook together! Also, if you decide to make this recipe, please leave a star rating on the recipe card and leave a comment below! Tag @BritneyBreaksBread on Instagram and hashtag #britneybreaksbread so I can see your creations! I hope that you love this recipe as much as we do!

an up close photo of apple pie filling in a jar with a spoon.

Apple Pie Filling

This homemade apple pie filling is perfect for apple pies, crisps, and cakes. It's easy and tastes way better than the store bought version!
Serving: 8
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Calories: 311kcal

Equipment

  • Large Pot
  • Apple Peeler (optional)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs Honeycrisp Apples
  • 1 ½ lbs Granny Smith Apples
  • 2 tbsps Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp Cardamom (optional but recommended)
  • ½ tsp Nutmeg
  • ½ tsp Cloves
  • 1 ¼ cup Apple Cider
  • ¼ cup Bourbon
  • 4 tbsps Cornstarch
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3 tbsps Salted Butter

Directions

  • First thing, peel and core the apples, then slice into ½ inch thick slices. Place sliced apples in a large pot with lemon juice, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, and cardamom. Toss together and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Place pot onto the stove over medium heat and allow apples to cook down for 10 minutes, then add bourbon and 1 cup of apple cider, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then simmer on low until apples are soft and liquid begins to reduce, about 15 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, mix together 4 tbsps of corn starch with remaining ¼ cup of apple cider. Whisk together until smooth and pour into the apple pie filling and mix together. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, and then add butter and vanilla extract. Stir together and allow it to cool. (It will thicken as it cools)

Notes

Tips
  • This recipe makes enough for one 9-inch pie. Keep that in mind for your holiday baking and feel free to double or triple if making multiple pies!
  • You DO NOT need to peel the skin off of the apple unless that is your preference. Apple slices with the skin do not bother me and cuts down the amount of time it takes. Sometimes I peel them, other times, I don't. It's totally up to you!
  • If using this recipe to make apple pie, be sure to adjust your baking times accordingly. When you pre-cook the apple pie filling, the pie will bake a lot faster!
  • The best way to ensure that your apple pie isn't runny is to pre-cook the filling - I highly recommend using this filling for the best apple pie recipe ever.
  • Need a quick dessert? Scoop a little of the homemade filling into a bowl with vanilla ice cream for the perfect Fall treat!
  • If you prefer not to use bourbon, you can omit it entirely.

Nutrition

Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 46mg | Potassium: 274mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 54g | Vitamin A: 227IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

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