Why You Should Cook Your Apples for Apple Pie

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

We’re in the midst of prime time for apple-pie baking. And with Thanksgiving on the horizon, there’s something important you should know about making this classic dessert: it’s about all making your apple pie filling.

If you’ve been filling your apple pies with raw, thin slices of fruit, it’s time to rethink your strategy.

Sautéeing the apples along with sugar and spices will add a deep, rich caramelized flavor to your pie. But there’s an even better reason to add this step to your pie-making process.

Precook to Make a More Sturdy Pie

The biggest advantage to precooking the apple filling is making a more sturdy pie. Have you ever baked, or even eaten, an apple pie that has a big gap between the fruit and the upper crust? I certainly have. And worst-case scenario, the gap was so deep that the upper crust collapsed into the pie. Don’t let that happen to you this Thanksgiving.

That gap forms because the apples cook down and can lose some serious volume as the pie bakes. Precooking the apples gets you one step ahead of that process; it releases the fruit’s liquid, causing them to cook down and lose volume before baking. So it discourages the gap between the top of the apple filling and the top crust, leaving you with a pie that has a thick layer of apples from bottom to top.

Precook for a Make-Ahead Filling

Precooking the apples also means the pie filling can be made in advance — a definite bonus when there’s a lot to be done around holidays like Thanksgiving. You can prep the filling now, keep it in the fridge if you plan to cook in a couple days, or store it in the freezer if you’re making the filling more than a week in advance.