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Great Grandma’s Apple Pie

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My great-grandma was famous for her apple pie and now you can be too. This recipe has the perfect balance of sweet fruit and cinnamon spice.

slice of apple pie with flaky crust, ready to eat.

It is hard to beat a good apple pie. There is something so simple but so good about a great pie. That apple cinnamon filling is a classic for good reason. Now you can bake right from my great-grandmother’s recipe to make the best possible pie.

For my mom, nothing beats her grandma’s apple pie. It has been the holy grail of family recipes over the years.

She has tried to replicate her grandma’s flaky lard pie crust and tasty apple filling several times over the year, but it never quite lived up to her memories. And her search for the recipe never quite panned out.

whole apple pie fresh from the oven.

Until recently, that is. We finally got our hands on the recipe!

Armed with that and a freshly rendered batch of leaf lard and we were really in business. It was time to make a pie!

I am not particularly known for my pie baking skills. I am not good at making petty crusts, so the pressure I was feeling to deliver a good pie was immense. 

I took advantage of a cold bad weather weekend and got to work. I’m so glad I did, the pie was worth the wait!

slice of apple pie with scoop of ice cream.

What sets this apple pie recipe apart?

Most apple pies start with similar ingredients. So what makes this recipe special?

One major difference is the crust. But if you aren’t up for making a lard crust, don’t worry.

You can still have a great apple pie using a store bought crust or whatever your favorite recipe is. 

My great-grandma tossed her apple slices in orange juive to keep them from oxidizing. Brown apples are no fun!

Little dude using the apple peeler, corer, slicer to get apples ready for pie.

I imagine she peeled and cut her apples by hand. Little Dude and I used an apple corer, peeler, slicer to make quick work of it. 

We used a LOT of fresh apples to make the filling. You might as well have a nice full pie.

Of course there are cinnamon and sugar in the filling. There is flour as well, that helps to thicken the juices the apples release while baking.

In the end you have the perfect balance of sweet-tart apples and the sweet-spicy goodness that surrounds them. It is perfect! 

pile of apple slices coated in cinnamon sugar in pie crust.

Tips for getting it perfect 

Cutting your apples thin and uniformly is a key to making sure they cook evenly. You don’t want large chunks of undercooked apples in the pie.

Chill the crust while you prepare the filling. Cold pastry = flaky pastry.

You should be able to see the juices bubbling inside the pie before you pull it. If they aren’t really bubbling, the juices won’t be thickened enough. 

This is the hardest part, but wait for the pie to completely cool before you slice it. It will take several hours to get completely to room temperature, but if you cut it before that the juices won’t be set.

The pie will absolutely taste amazing but you’ll wonder why the filling is soupy. It’s better to let it cool and then reheat your slice a bit before you top it with ice cream.

And of course, enjoy the process. The love you are putting into it is the super secret ingredient. 

lifting first slice of apple pie out of pan.

The best apple varieties for baking into a pie

Not all apples are created the same. Some stand up to the heat of baking better than others.

Check out this list to find your favorite apple. Or use a few different varieties for the maximum apple goodness!

Great-grandma’s recipe specifically calls for McIntosh apples because they are juicy and slightly tart. Their shelf life isn’t as long as some other apples though, so you may not always be able to find them. Don’t despair, there are more great options.

Jonagold apples are great for baking.  They are one of my favorite apples to get at our local orchard.  They work perfect for recipes like this because they are fabulous on their own and bake well.  They don’t store as well though, so enjoy them during the peak of the season.

Jonagolds are a mix between Jonathan and golden delicious.  Jonathan’s themselves are a great baking apple and tend to be just a tad bit more tart than the Jonagold. Both are crisp, delicious and great for cooking with. 

slice of apple pie on plate.

Braeburn apples are another flavorful apple in their own right, so they are perfect for a recipe like this where the apples are the star of the show.

Pink Ladies are a fabulous option.  They have that mix of sweet and tart and hold their shape wonderfully.

Honeycrisp apples are basically the be all end all of apples.  They are wonderful in almost any situation, especially if that situation involves some oatmeal streusel and a scoop of ice cream.

Granny Smith apples are sort of the classic baking apple.  They are naturally tart, so the finished product doesn’t end up too sweet. 

hand holding plate with slice of apple pie on it.

The skins on granny Smith apples do tend to be a little tougher than the rest, but it certainly isn’t a deal breaker.  You may want to reserve them for something like a pie though, so you can remove the peel.

More apple varieties to try in baking: Fuji, crispin, golden delicious, and winesnap.

Now it’s time for pie! Bake one up and the smells of grandma’s kitchen will permeate your whole house.

Yield: 12 Servings

Great Grandma's Apple Pie

slice of apple pie on plate.

It is hard to beat a good apple pie. There is something so simple but so good about a great pie. That apple cinnamon filling is a classic for good reason. Now you can bake right from my great-grandmother's recipe to make the best possible pie.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 cups or more of peeled, sliced apples
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • pastry for 2 pie crusts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and fit a pie crust into a 9" deep dish pie plate. Chill crust until ready to fill.
  2. In small bowl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, flour and salt. Set aside.
  3. Toss apple slices in orange juice.
  4. Add dry ingredients and stir to coat.
  5. Spoon into bottom pie crust. Top with top crust, crimping the edges to seal. Cut vent holes.
  6. Cover crimped edges of pie crust with a pie shield or aluminum foil. Place on a sheet pan to catch any drips.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove pie shield. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. The crust should be golden and the filling should be bubbling.
  8. Cool completely before slicing and serving.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 156mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 3gSugar: 27gProtein: 3g

All nutritional information is estimated and will depend on the exact ingredients you use.

Did you make this recipe?

I'd love to see it! Share a picture on Instagram or Pinterest and tag me @carleecooks to let me know how it went!

It is hard to beat a good apple pie. There is something so simple but so good about a great pie. That apple cinnamon filling is a classic for good reason. Now you can bake right from my great-grandmother's recipe to make the best possible pie.

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Sandy Rees

Wednesday 24th of February 2021

Orange juice- that’s genius. I’ve never seen that before in an apple pie recipe. My grandma passed over 20 years ago but she still continues to surprise me. I can’t wait to see more of her recipes!

Sandy

Wednesday 24th of February 2021

@Carlee, me too

Carlee

Wednesday 24th of February 2021

I am so glad we finally have the recipe!

Andrea Nine

Wednesday 24th of February 2021

Oh my goodness friend, this looks so delicious with that amazing flaky crust! Little known fact about me, I used to teach classes on how to make of all things, apple pie! Taught dozens of women in my area how to make the perfect apple pie but it’s been at least 10 years since I’ve made one! Little Dude peeling and coring those apples is so stinking precious, I bet that was so much fun for him!

Carlee

Wednesday 24th of February 2021

How did I not know this about you?! Now I am curious about your perfect apple pie recipe!

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