4 Tips for Making a *Much* Better Apple Pie

published Nov 14, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

When it comes to fall pies, I have always been #TeamApple. Not only is it my favorite pie to eat, but it’s also my favorite to bake. Over the years, I’ve learned that a really great apple pie doesn’t need to start with a super-fancy recipe, involve a complicated lattice crust, or even be entirely from scratch. No, the secret to nailing this dessert is just remembering four smart and easy tips.

1. Use firm apples — some sweet, and some tart.

Texture and taste are both important when choosing apples for your pie. The best baking apples are firm. This will help them keep their shape — you don’t want to make applesauce pie, after all. When it comes to taste, using only one kind of apple is a mistake: A combination of sweet and tart apples makes for a more balanced pie filling. Granny Smith and Jonagold apples are ideal tart apples for baking, while Pink Lady, Gala, and Honey Crisp apples are sweet.

Read more: The 5 Best Apples for Baking

2. Toss the apples with sugar, then drain.

This works the same way as pre-cooking the apples, but it’s much faster and the apples maintain their shape. After peeling and slicing the apples, toss them with sugar and set them aside to soften, then drain and discard the liquid (or save it for cocktails!). This step makes the apples more tender and gets rid of excess liquid (which prevents a soggy crust). 

3. Brush the inside of the crust with egg wash.

Consider this your secret weapon for avoiding soggy pie crust. Whether you made your own crust or start with store-bought (here’s our favorite), brush a layer of egg wash over the inside of the crust before adding the apple filling. The egg wash creates a protective layer that keep the apple’s juices from softening the crust.

4. Don’t dump the apples in. Layer them.

I know layering apples sounds a little fussy, but it makes a big difference. This smart step helps you avoid large gaps, which means you’re less likely to get a shrunken filling and domed (or collapsed) crust. It will cook more evenly, and each bite will be full of apple goodness. All you need to do is keep layering until the apples are slightly taller than the pie pan, and then put the top crust on.