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The best apple pie recipe

Written by the YesChef staff

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Nancy Silverton
Teaches The Pursuit of Delicious
Learn how to make the best apple pie recipe, including an easy caramelized apple filling that creates a shiny, glossy, buttery finish with every apple slice still intact. It’s an impressive mile high pie in individual form. Chef Nancy Silverton astounds us with her homemade apple pie recipe in her YesChef class, Mom’s Apple Pie. It’s a sparkle-dusted dessert dream of cinnamon, sugar, caramel, and fresh apples wrapped around a thick, flaky, tender crust. Oh, and did we mention there’s bourbon in the apple pie filling recipe, too?
Chef Nancy Silverton
Teaches The Pursuit of Delicious

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Chef Nancy Silverton likes Pippin apples, which are green, tart, juicy and not too dry. Granny Smith is the next best variety.   Since there is a hefty amount of sugar in the apple pie filling, the tartness of the apple is necessary to counter the sweetness of the sugar.

How to make apple pie

The method for making apple pie from scratch comes in a few parts – filling, dough, building and baking. Here’s how to do it:
Preparation time Hands-on: 1 hour | Total: 12 hours   Serving size 5 Servings

Apple pie filling

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds (2.75 kilograms) tart green apples, such as Pippin or Granny Smith
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 whole vanilla bean pods
  • 1 lb (454 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (240 ml) Southern Comfort, or bourbon

Gear

  • Stainless steel tablespoon
  • Rubber spatula
  • Butter knife
  • 14-inch sauté pan or skillet
  • 2 large bowls
  • Veggie peeler
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Sheet pan

 

Method

  • Peel apples, then cut them from top to bottom around the core to give you four slabs.
  • Discard the cores and slice the apple pieces no thinner than ¼-inch thick.
  • Combine granulated sugar and ground cinnamon, stirring with a spoon until the cinnamon gets evenly distributed throughout the sugar.
  • Reserve ¼ cup of the cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top of the assembled pies just before baking.
  • Heat a 12-14 inch (30-36 cm) sauté pan with high sides over medium-high heat.
  • Note: You will need to sauté the apples in 4 batches to prevent overcrowding the pan and allow the natural fruit juices to release.
  • Add a quarter of the butter to the pan and let it melt and bubble slightly. Do not allow it to brown.
  • Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise.
  • Use the back of the knife to scrape out half the vanilla seeds and add directly to the melted butter, stirring to incorporate.
  • Carefully add a quarter of the sliced apples to the pan in a single layer. Cook and stir with a heatproof rubber spatula, swirling the pan, until the apples are tender but not brown, 6-8 minutes.
  • Reduce to medium heat and sprinkle a quarter of the cinnamon sugar evenly over the apples. Toss to combine.
  • Continue stirring, tossing, and swirling the pan every so often to avoid scorching, until the juice has reduced to a thick syrup, and the apples are translucent and caramelized, but still firm to the touch, about 10 minutes.
  • Pour in heavy cream and swirl the pan to incorporate.
  • Increase to medium-high heat and simmer until the cream is reduced and the apples are shiny, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat for safety, and pour in a quarter of the Southern Comfort to flambé, allowing the alcohol to ignite and burn off.
  • Continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes until reduced and thickened.
  • Spread the apples out on a baking sheet so they cool quickly and stop the cooking.
  • Repeat the process by sautéing the remaining apples in 3 more batches, in the same manner, dividing the ingredients evenly.
  • Transfer each batch of sautéed apples to the baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, until cold, 8 hours or up to overnight.
  • You should have about 6 cups of sautéed apples.

Pie Dough

Ingredients
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound (454 grams) unsalted butter (4 sticks), cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen for at least 1 hour
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) cold water, plus more as needed
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream
  Gear
  • Chef’s knife
  • Dough scraper
  • Plastic wrap
  • Cutting board
  • 6-inch appetizer plate or pastry ring
  • Parchment paper
  • Standing electric mixer, paddle attachment to make the dough
  • Rolling pin
Method
  • Combine unbleached all-purpose flour, kosher salt, and frozen butter cubes in the bowl of a standing electric mixer.
  • Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until the flour and butter come together into pea-sized clumps.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, stir together cold water and heavy cream.
  • Pour a little at a time into the mixer while mixing on low speed until the dough comes together, adding the rest of the liquid as needed.
  • Lightly dust a large work surface with flour and set the dough on top.
  • Gather the dough together into a ball and cut it into 2 equal pieces (about 1 pound, or 454 grams each).
  • Using your palms, pound each piece of dough into 2 round disks.
  • Tightly wrap each disk separately in a plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until the dough is firm, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
  • To roll out the chilled dough, lightly dust your work surface with flour.
  • Remove 1 disk of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on the floured surface.
  • Cut the dough into large chunks and bring them together into a ball, warming the dough slightly with your hands.
  • Pound the dough with a rolling pin to flatten and soften.
  • Dust the dough and rolling pin lightly with flour and roll it out, starting from the middle of the dough with a back and forth motion and stopping just before the rolling pin reaches the end of the dough.
  • Rotate the dough a quarter turn and repeat, working your way around it until you have approximately a 10-inch circle about ¼-inch thick (the dough does not need to be perfect because it will get cut).
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust with flour. Gently transfer the rolled out dough to the prepared baking sheet.
  • Lightly dust the rolled-out dough with flour and lay another piece of parchment on top to cover, dusting again with flour.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining ball of dough.
  • Refrigerate the dough on the baking sheet, 30 minutes-1 hour, which will make it easier to cut out for the individual crusts.
  • To cut the dough out into circles, remove the dough from the refrigerator, lightly dust the work surface with flour, and lay one of the rolled out dough pieces.
  • Invert a 6-inch appetizer plate or pastry ring on top of the dough close to the edge.
  • Trace around the circumference with the tip of a knife to cut out a 6-inch circle.
  • Repeat two more times so you have three cut-out dough rounds.
  • Put the rounds back on another parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Gather the dough scraps from the cut out dough and press into a ball.
  • Dust the work surface, dough, and rolling pin with flour as needed, and roll out again as you did the first time.
  • Cut out three more 6-inch circles and gently set them on the next layer of parchment in the baking sheet.
  • Chill in the refrigerator while preparing the second disk of dough.
  • Repeat the process as you did with the first disk; dusting, rolling, cutting, and layering in between flour-dusted pieces of parchment on the baking sheet.
  • You should end up with at least twelve 6-inch dough rounds; chill them for 15-20 minutes to firm up.

Pie Build

Gear
  • Chef’s knife or kitchen shears
  • Pastry brush
  • 6 metal pie pans
  Method
  • Remove the dough rounds from the refrigerator and set out on the counter for a minute or two to soften slightly and prevent the dough from cracking when lining the pie pans.
  • Set your pans out on the counter and brush the bottoms and sides with melted butter.
  • Working with one pan at a time, gently place a round of dough in the prepared pan, centering it so that the dough overhangs evenly around the rim.
  • Working your way around the pan, gently ease the dough into the creases of the bottom and sides of the pan and gently press without stretching it – you should have a bit of dough hanging over the rim of the pie pan.
  • Fill the pans with chilled sautéed apples into a rounded mound.
  • Place the top crust on top of the apples.
  • Cup the dough with your hands to the inside edge of the pan to shape the filling into a nice rounded mound.
  • Grab the now-sealed top and bottom crust together and ease those into the edge of the pan to seal the pie so that the apple juices don’t leak during baking.
  • With kitchen shears or a sharp knife, trim the excess dough around the edges of the pan, leaving about 1-inch of excess from the edge of the pie pan.
  • Fold the top and bottom of the dough under itself to create a thick, sturdy wall around the pie.
  • Repeat with the remaining ingredients to form the rest of the pies.
  • To crimp the pies, press the tip of your thumb and index finger against the inside rim of the crust.
  • At the same time, use your thumb from the other hand to press into the dough to form a V shape.
  • Continue along the rim until the entire crust has a scalloped edge.
  • When you’re finished, you can go back around and adjust any misshapen crimps as needed.
  • Refrigerate the pies for at least 20 minutes to relax and firm up.

Pie bake

Ingredients:
  • Eggs
Gear:
  • Pastry brush
  • Dessert plates
  • Ice cream scoop or spoon
Method
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (200 °C).
  • Place the individual apple pies on a baking sheet to catch any juices that may bubble over.
  • Whisk eggs and water in a small bowl to make an egg wash.
  • Brush the tops and rims of the dough with the egg wash.
  • Sprinkle the tops of the pies with the reserved cinnamon sugar (1 teaspoon each).
  • Insert the tip of a paring knife into the center of each pie and twist to create a hole to allow steam to escape.
  • Score the crust four times around the center hole (do not cut through), at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock.
  • Then make four small scores in between the bigger ones (not cutting through).
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until the pies are evenly golden and bubbling.
  • Set aside at room temperature to cool for 10 minutes.
  • To serve, remove the pies from the individual pans, put each on dessert plates, and top with scoops of vanilla gelato or ice cream.
Serves:
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Hands-on:
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Total:

Ingredients

Recipe

Nancy Silverton

Multiple James Beard Award-winning chef, best-selling cookbook author, and the restaurateur behind Michelin-starred Mozza, a Los Angeles gastronomic institution. One of America’s most influential chefs, Nancy is celebrated for her unwavering pursuit of making the most delicious food possible.

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