Copycat McDonald’s Apple Pie

published Sep 20, 2023
Copycat McDonald’s Apple Pie Recipe

These fried hand pies have a cinnamon-apple filling and a shatteringly crisp crust.

Makes6 pies

Prep30 minutes

Cook30 minutes

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Close up overhead view of a mcdonald's pie with a bit taken out of it, resting on a cooling rack.
Credit: Photographer: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

Because I grew up in a household that mostly ate Chinese and Asian food, my experiences with American food were limited to school lunch and the occasional fast-food meal. My family went to McDonald’s the most, and it was there that my parents introduced me to their favorite dessert: the McDonald’s apple pie, a classic that was introduced in 1968.

Tucked snugly inside a cardboard box, the fried hand pie had a shatteringly crisp crust that housed a molten cinnamon-apple filling. It was usually “burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth hot,” but I didn’t care. I always ate it immediately and never wanted to share it with anyone else.

McDonald’s swapped in a baked version of the apple pie in the continental U.S. in 1992 to much (understandable) uproar. The baked version, with slits on the top and sugar sprinkled on the outside, is a whole different kind of pastry. It’s less crisp, more doughy, and definitely not as tasty as the original pie. 

You can still get the fried version nowadays, but they’re only found at McDonald’s restaurants in Hawaii. Because I don’t live in Hawaii, satisfying my nostalgic craving for a fried McDonald’s apple pie means I have to make it myself. After much trial and error, here’s my version that I’m proud to say comes pretty close to the original.

What Makes This the Best Copycat McDonald’s Apple Pie Recipe?

To keep things simple, I focused on making the apple filling from scratch and used store-bought pie crust for ease and convenience. I first tried using puff pastry dough, but the dough was tricky and delicate to work with, and it puffed up almost too much in the fryer.

Switching to pie dough was key. Here’s why it makes for a superior crust.

  • It’s easier to handle, as it has less butter than puff pastry.
  • It’s sturdy enough to hold the filling.
  • It fries up beautifully crunchy on the outside with some flakiness as you bite into it, but not so much that it shatters everywhere and makes a mess.


This recipe was tested with two brands of store-bought pie dough, as well as homemade pie dough, and all worked well. I actually prefer store-bought pie dough for these pies, as it has fewer visible chunks of butter, making it easier to roll out and handle.

Credit: Photographer: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

The Best Types of Apples for Copycat McDonald’s Apple Pie

Any good baking apple, meaning one that will keep its shape but not get mushy when baked, will work here.

I like a combination of tart Granny Smith and sweet Pink Lady, but Honeycrisp or Brabeburn would also be excellent.

Tips for Making the Best Copycat McDonald’s Apple Pie 

  1. Use the right amount of apple. You only need two cups of diced apple here. Don’t be tempted to throw in any extra you might have, as you want the right amount of filling in each pie. Too much filling makes the pies hard to seal and they can leak in the fryer.
  2. Keep the dough cold. Only roll out and cut one pie dough at a time so that the dough doesn’t get too warm and soft. After you’ve cut out all the dough, chill it until firm; this can take anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes depending on how warm your kitchen is. After you fill the dough, chill the assembled pies again before frying.
  3. Heat the oil to the right temperature. Use a deep-fry or sugar thermometer if you have one to make sure the oil is at 375ºF before frying. If you don’t have one, keep a few scraps of pie dough around. Drop one into the oil when you think it’s ready as a tester — it should really sizzle before you start frying. Plus, you get a snack!
  4. Turn the pies gently. Avoid using tongs to flip the pies as they’re frying; the metal tips can sometimes pierce the crust. Use a slotted spoon, fish spatula, chopsticks, or a spider instead to gently flip them over.

Can You Freeze Copycat McDonald’s Apple Pie?

These copycat McDonald’s apple pies can be frozen. Fry them, let cool completely, then freeze in a single layer until frozen solid. Transfer to zip-top plastic bags and freeze for up to two months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat in a 300ºF oven until warmed through, about 15 minutes. 

In all honesty, these pies are so good that we never have any leftovers. We’ve even had them for breakfast — because there are apples in them, right?

Credit: Photographer: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

Copycat McDonald’s Apple Pie Recipe

These fried hand pies have a cinnamon-apple filling and a shatteringly crisp crust.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Makes 6 pies

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the crust and frying:

  • 1

    (14 to 16-ounce) package refrigerated or frozen pie dough, thawed if frozen (or 1 recipe flaky pie dough, formed into 2 disks and chilled)

  • All-purpose flour, for rolling

  • 6 cups

    vegetable or canola oil (48 ounces), for deep frying

  • 1

    large egg

For the filling:

  • 2

    medium Granny Smith or Pink Lady apples (about 12 ounces total), or a combination

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1

    pinch kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon

    water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Thaw 1 package pie dough in the refrigerator according to package instructions if frozen.

Make the filling:

  1. Peel, halve, and core 2 medium Granny Smith or Pink Lady apples. Chop into 1/2-inch pieces until you have 2 cups; save any remaining apple for another use.

  2. Melt 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat and cook until starting to lightly brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the apples, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1 pinch kosher salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the apples are almost tender, 6 to 7 minutes.

  3. Add 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar and 1 tablespoon water. Stir until the sugar is melted and the liquid is bubbling, 20 to 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour and stir until absorbed, about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat.

  4. Divide and scoop the filing onto a large plate into 6 portions (about 2 1/2 tablespoons each). Refrigerate until cooled to the touch, at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, roll out the pie dough.

Roll out the pie dough:

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Lightly flour a work surface with all-purpose flour. Place 1 pie dough on the flour (keep the second one refrigerated). Using a rolling pin, roll it into a 1/8-inch thick round that’s at least 11 inches wide if needed (focus more on the thickness, not the diameter).

  2. Trim the edges so that you have an 8-inch square. Cut in half to form 2 rectangles. Position the rectangles with a longer side closer to you. Make 2 vertical cuts in each half, spacing them equally (about 2 2/3 inches) apart. You should be left with 6 (2 2/3x4-inch) rectangles. (If the dough gets too soft at any point, refrigerate for 10 minutes before trying again). Transfer the rectangles onto the baking sheet in a single layer.

  3. Repeat rolling and cutting the second pie dough, adding them to the second baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, 15 to 40 minutes.

Assemble and fry the pies:

  1. Beat 1 large egg in a small bowl with a fork until broken up. Brush a thin layer of the egg onto 6 of the dough rectangles.

  2. Transfer a portion of filling onto each brushed rectangle, leaving behind any accumulated liquid on the plate. Gently arrange the filling into an even layer, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Top each one with a second rectangle and press down with your fingers to seal the top and bottom dough together, making sure to go all the way around. (Pick up the pie if needed to really pinch the edges together.) Refrigerate while you heat the oil.

  3. Heat 6 cups vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until 375ºF. Meanwhile, fit a second rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack.

  4. Fry 3 pies at a time: Place in the hot oil and fry, gently flipping the pies every minute or so with a slotted spoon or spider, until golden-brown all over and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to the wire rack. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The filling can be made and the dough can be rolled out and cut up to 1 day ahead. Refrigerate until ready to assemble and fry.

Storage: These pies are best eaten the day they are made. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. Reheat in a 300ºF oven until warmed through, about 15 minutes.