No more canned pie filling! Learn how to make Homemade Apple Pie Filling from scratch using fresh apples. Use it right away to make apple pie and apple turnovers or freeze it for later.

Apple pie filling in mason jar

Every fall, Dad and I go to a local Pittsburgh farm and pick our own apples. That’s when you know fall has begun.

The first thing I usually make is this easy Homemade Apple Pie Filling from scratch, very similar to my cherry pie filling, blueberry pie filling, and peach pie filling.

As the name states, you’re halfway to making some deliciously fresh baked apple pie, but you can also use the filling in other recipes, such as Apple Turnovers and Apple Hand Pies.

You can even cut the recipe in half for Mini Apple Pie, Small Apple Pie, or use it as a base for Apple Crisp For Two.

This apple pie filling recipe is similar to canned apple pie filling but fresher and without preservatives or corn syrup.

I personally don’t care about those last two items, but I know others do. Whatever you believe, this recipe is easy and delicious.

In fact, it’ll take you longer to peel and chop the apples than to actually cook the filling. Almost as easy as…apple pie.

Red bowl of apple pie filling

Ingredients For Homemade Apple Pie Filling

Ready to make homemade apple pie filling from scratch? You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Sugar: Apples may be sweet on their own, but you still need to add sugar.
  • Water: Needed to make the syrupy filling. For extra apple flavor, you can use apple cider or juice.
  • Cornstarch: To thicken the filling
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove: It isn’t apple pie without spices! I call these three the holy trinity of baking spices.
  • Lemon juice: To balance all the sweetness
  • Vanilla: To enhance the apple flavor
  • Apples: You’ll want to use a baking variety (more on that below) and peel them before cooking.

What are good apples for pie?

The hardest part about making the best apple pie filling is deciding which apples to use for baking.

You’re usually good with most apple varieties except red delicious. Red delicious is strictly a snacking apple and best eaten when raw.

At the store and can’t decide which apples to choose? Look for Fuji, Gala, Jonagold, Cortland, or Golden Delicious.

For a bit of tartness, mix in some Granny Smith.

Should you peel apples for apple pie filling?

In order to achieve a delicately soft apple pie filling you want in a pie, you need to peel the apples. Otherwise, you’ll be left chewing tough pieces of skin that get stuck in your teeth.

Learn how to peel apples from The Kitchn.

Jar of apple pie filling with bowl of apples

How To Make Apple Pie Filling

This easy apple pie filling recipe is as easy as boiling water, mostly because that’s exactly what you’re doing to make homemade apple pie filling.

First, whisk together water, sugar, cornstarch, spices, and lemon juice then bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens (thanks to the cornstarch).

Once thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the apples and vanilla.

Since you’re more than likely baking the filling in another recipe, you don’t need to cook the apples before making apple pie.

However, if you’re serving it straight from the pan, like in my No Bake Caramel Apple Cheesecake, you may want to cook the apples until softened.

Cool the filling to room temperature before using as desired.

How To Make Apple Pie

Now that you have your apple pie filling, it’s time to bake your apple pie!

First, preheat your oven to 375F. Line a 9 inch pie plate with pie dough then fill.

Next, take a second piece of pie dough and cover your pie. Seal the edges then make 3 slits into the top to allow steam to escape.

Place your pie on a cookie sheet (to help catch spills) then bake 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Close up of apple pie filling with fresh apple

Can you can homemade apple pie filling?

I’ve had people ask if my fresh apple pie filling is suitable for canning.

The answer is no because of the cornstarch. Cornstarch breaks down after awhile, which affects bacteria growth.

Keep this pie filling stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze it for future baking.

Do you need to refrigerate apple pie filling?

Yes, you need to refrigerate this apple pie filling recipe.

Once it has cooled to room temperature, place it in a container then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

I like to use a large mason jar because plastic may contain odors from previously stored food.

The filling will separate in the refrigerator once cold. When ready to use, transfer it to a saucepan to reheat until smooth again.

Red bowl of apple pie filling

How to freeze homemade apple pie filling

Much like apple pie itself, you can freeze apple pie filling. This method is super helpful if you’re making apple pie for your Thanksgiving For Two and want to prep ahead of time.

There are two ways to freeze apple pie filling:

  1. Line a freezable pie plate (not glass as it may shatter when baked at a cold temperature) with pie dough. Fill with the pie filling then cover the top with another piece of pie dough. Fully cover with plastic wrap then place in a freezer-safe plastic bag.
  2. Transfer the pie filling to a freezer-safe plastic bag. Place the bag inside an empty pie plate and spread out so it takes the shape of the plate. Freeze until firm. Because it’s the shape of the plate, it should be easy to transfer and bake when ready.

Whichever method you choose, freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, cut three slits into the top of the crust and bake at 400F for 45-60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

What To Do With Apple Pie Filling

Now that you made a jar of apple pie filling, what should you make with it? Here are recipes using apple pie filling:

Looking for more? Check out my full list of recipes using apple pie filling.

Homemade Apple Pie Filling

Homemade Apple Pie Filling

Yield: 3 cups
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

No more canned pie filling! Learn how to make Homemade Apple Pie Filling from scratch. Use it right away or freeze it for later.


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 cups chopped peeled apples (I recommend Fuji, Gala, or Jonagold)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a large saucepan, whisk together sugar, water, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Cook until thickened, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in apples and vanilla. Cool to room temperature then use as desired or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Recipe is not suitable for canning due to the cornstarch.

    The filling will separate when refrigerated. Reheat everything back up in a saucepan until smooth again.

To Make An Apple Pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Add the filling to a prepared 9 inch pie crust (homemade or store bought). Top with another 9 inch pie crust, making slits to let steam escape.. Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before serving.


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Originally published September 20, 2012