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Sweet-tart Apple Pie Filling is perfect to tuck into galettes, turnovers, and of course, pie! This lightly sweetened homemade apple pie filling is naturally gluten-free and made from wholesome ingredients. Use it in all your favorite apple pastry recipes or for topping breakfast and dessert treats!
Easy Apple Pie Filling Recipe
When apples come into season you’ll find me in the kitchen baking pie with homemade apple pie filling! The scent of cinnamon-laced apples folded into a buttery crust is a late-summer staple. This apple pie filling recipe is so easy to put together and it makes the best filling for pies and more.
This naturally gluten-free apple pie filling is amazing in so many baking projects beyond pie, like strudel, muffins, and cake, and it tastes so good! You can make it to use in an apple pie, or you can cook it down into sauce (the method is similar, and I’ve detailed it below). You can also apple pie filling as a topping for ice cream. There’s so much you can do with it!
I save apple pie filling for later use, too, by freezing it. (You could can it if you feel like taking on a larger project, but freezing works just fine.) It defrosts beautifully. Then whenever you feel like making a pie all you’ll have to do is make a simple crust. Keep this recipe handy so you can make good use of beautiful in-season apples at any time of the year.
Why You’ll Love This Homemade Pie Filling
During pie season I make a lot of apple pie! Homemade gluten free apple pie filling is on regular rotation in my kitchen. Here’s why you’ll love this apple pie filling recipe:
- Better than store-bought. Homemade is always better than store-bought, and this apple pie filling is no exception! Canned pie filling can taste overly sweet with a mushy texture, two things that will not occur when you make your own apple pie filling.
- Versatile. You can use the base preparation method to make pie filling, applesauce, or other pastries. You can also adjust the spices and sugar depending on your taste.
- Easy to make. It takes just 20 minutes to cook this pie filling, with only 5 of them being prep time.
- Adaptable. I love making homemade apple pie filling because you can adapt it to what you have on hand, including the type of apple and how much sugar you want to use.
- Reliably gluten-free. All of the ingredients in this homemade apple pie filling are naturally gluten-free, so you won’t ever have to worry about any cross-contamination or strange ingredients.
What You’ll Need
Here’s an overview of the ingredients in this apple pie filling. Don’t forget to check the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full ingredient amounts.
- Apples: I recommend Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, or a combination.
- Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed is the best but you can use bottled juice in a pinch.
- Butter: I prefer to use unsalted butter in this recipe so it doesn’t contrast too strongly against the sweetness of the filling.
- Granulated Sugar: To give a nice sweetness to the filling.
- Brown Sugar: For a little molasse-y sweetness.
- Ground Spices: Cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch is a naturally gluten-free starch that helps to thicken pie filling and sauces.
What Apples Are Best For Apple Pie Filling?
Typically when you make apple pie you’ll choose apples that are less sweet. These include Granny Smith, Gravenstein, and Golden Delicious apple varieties. A tarter apple makes for a lovely pie, as the sugar balances it out without the filling being overly sweet.
How To Make Apple Pie Filling
Here’s my simple method for making this homemade apple pie filling recipe.
- Prepare the apples. Wash, dry, and peel the apples, then cut them into slices if you plan to use the filling for pie, chunks for other baked goods and pastries, or your choice if you plan to use it for a sauce or topping. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apples and toss to coat.
- Make the sugar-spice syrup. In a large saucepan or skillet, combine the 3 tablespoons of water, butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Place over medium heat and stir to melt the butter and dissolve the sugars. Bring to a boil.
- Cook the apples in the syrup. Add the apples to the saucepan. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 4-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the apples are starting to get tender, but not mushy. The time will vary depending on the type of apple and the size and shape you cut them.
- Whisk in the cornstarch. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch in the additional 2 tablespoons of water and add to the pan. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes, until thickened.
- Cool slightly before using. Cool slightly to use as a topping or sauce, or cool completely to use in pies, cobblers, etc.
Tips for Success
I love how simple this recipe is – it’s hard to mess it up! Here are a few tips you can follow to help your homemade apple pie filling turn out perfectly:
- Choose tart, firm apples. Firm apples like Granny Smith are ideal to use in pies because they hold up well to baking. And the tarter the apple the nicer the flavor contrast with the sweetness of the sugar that’s added to the filling.
- Don’t forget the cornstarch. Cornstarch is an essential ingredient in gluten-free baking (and in baking in general). In this recipe, it helps to thicken the pie filling to create a nice, saucy base for the apples that’s not too watery.
- Make it in advance. It’s so easy and helpful to make this apple pie filling in advance! You can keep it in the fridge for a few days in advance of baking your apple pie so your day-of prep time is cut down.
- Freeze the pie filling for later. Apple pie filling freezes well, which means you can take advantage of a day of apple picking all winter long. When apples are in season and taste the best, you can make portions of pie filling and freeze them for later use in a pie or other pastries.
Ways To Use Gluten Free Apple Pie Filling
This gluten-free apple pie filling is of course perfect in apple pie! But there are other ways to use it, including simply serving it as a lightly-sweetened applesauce or fruity topping for ice cream. Here are a few other suggestions for how to make good use of your homemade apple pie filling:
- In apple pie. This is the obvious choice! Gluten free apple pie filling makes for a marvelous gluten free apple pie. First, you’ll want to make a batch of my gluten-free pie dough. Then try the filling in a two-crust apple pie or follow my Gluten-Free Dutch Apple Pie recipe.
- As a topping for ice cream. You can spoon warm apple pie filling over ice cream for a special treat! It would be lovely with my Caramel Apple Cheesecake No-Churn Ice Cream or on my vanilla No-Churn Cheesecake Ice Cream.
- Simply as applesauce. Follow the recipe above but cut the apples into chunks so you can cook them into an applesauce.
- Slip it into a cake. Use it between layers of a lovely spiced cake, like my Gluten Free Carrot Cake. Or spoon it over slices of Apple Cider Donut Cake.
- Have it for breakfast. It’s wonderful on top of a bowl of hot oatmeal, a stack of Gluten Free Oatmeal Pancakes, or some French toast.
Store homemade apple pie filling in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. You can also freeze apple pie filling. Place it in a sealable, freezer-safe bag and place it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost the pie filling in the fridge before using it.
Apple Pie Filling
- 6 cups/2 pounds cups peeled and sliced or chopped apples, I recommend Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, or a combination
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Wash, dry, and peel the apples, then cut them into slices if you plan to use the filling for pie, chunks for other baked goods and pastries, or your choice if you plan to use it for a sauce or topping. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apples and toss to coat.
- In a large saucepan or skillet, combine the 3 tablespoons of water, butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Place over medium heat and stir to melt the butter and dissolve the sugars. Bring to a boil.
- Add the apples to the saucepan. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 4-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the apples are starting to get tender, but not mushy. The time will vary depending on the type of apple and the size and shape you cut them.
- In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch in the additional 2 tablespoons of water and add to the pan. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes, until thickened.
- Cool slightly to use as a topping or sauce, or cool completely to use in pies, cobblers, etc.