This apple pie has a delightfully flakey homemade pie crust and a rich apple pie filling featuring cozy flavours of brown sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and black pepper.
Looking for an amazing apple pie for Thanksgiving? As someone who doesn't really care for apple pie, I was truly blown away when I tasted this pie. It just might be my new favourite pie. It's that good! My whole family loves this homemade apple pie.
⭐️ Why You Need to Make This Recipe
- Buttery, warm apple goodness. This pie has a caramel-like flavour from plenty of salted butter, brown sugar, and some vanilla extract in the apple pie filling.
- Surprisingly easy. Pies used to intimidate me, but this apple pie is so simple and can be mixed up and in the oven in under an hour. Use store-bought pie dough to make it even easier!
- No need to pre-cook the filling or crust. That's right, for this recipe, we make the pie dough and then mix together the filling ingredients and they bake together. No stirring the filling on the stovetop or blind-baking the crust is necessary!
Here are the ingredients needed to make this dreamy vanilla brown sugar apple pie!
- Flour - All-purpose does the job!
- Cornstarch - We will use some cornstarch in the pie crust to intensify the flakiness and some in the filling to make it thicken as it bakes.
- Salt - Some for the crust and some for the filling, salt is hugely integral in making flavours shine.
- Butter - I make an all-butter pie crust for optimal flavour as opposed to using lard or shortening. You will also need some butter to dot the top of the pie before baking. I use salted butter but see my substitution notes for instructions on using unsalted.
- Ice Water - Cold ice water helps keep the dough cool to prevent melting the butter while working with it.
- Apples - I like to use sweeter apples such as Gala, Macintosh, or Golden Delicious for this pie but if you prefer a more tart apple like Granny Smith, that would work great too!
- Brown Sugar - Brings such a delightful caramel-like sweetness to the pie filling.
- Cinnamon - Apples and cinnamon go together wonderfully.
- Black Pepper - A bit unusual to see black pepper in a pie, but trust me, it gives such an amazing depth of flavour and a little spice!
- Baking Soda - Just a little baking soda helps neutralize the acidity of the apples and allows the sweet, smooth, buttery caramel flavour to shine.
- Vanilla Extract - Adds to the caramel flavour notes we are trying to achieve.
See the recipe card for measurements.
Step 1: Combine the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Cut in the cold cubes of butter with a pastry cutter.
Step 2: Add ice water until the dough starts to come together.
Step 3: Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop and gently knead and press together until a dough forms.
Step 4: Divide into 2 equal parts and form into rounds.
Step 5: Roll the first dough round out into a 12-inch diameter rough circle using as much flour as you need on top and bottom to prevent it from sticking.
Step 6: Place the first crust in the pie dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides of the crust with flour.
Step 7: Combine the chopped apples, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, black pepper, baking soda, and salt.
Step 8: Fold until combined. The juices of the apples will naturally create a syrupy consistency.
Step 9: Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and dot the top with small pieces of butter. Roll out the second crust.
Step 10: Brush the edges of the pie dough with water to create a sticky surface for the top crust to attach to.
Step 11: Place the top crust over and pinch the seam together and crimp the edges. Cut vents in the top and brush with egg wash - 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water.
Step 12: Top with a sprinkle of raw or white sugar.
Step 13: Bake for 55-65 minutes or until golden on the top and the filling is bubbling and the bottom crust is golden as well.
Hint: Let the pie cool for at least 1-2 hours before serving to allow the filling to set or else it will be very runny.
Here are some possible ingredient substitutions.
- Salted Butter - Unsalted butter may be used with an additional ¼ teaspoon of salt to each ½ cup of butter. (½ teaspoon additional salt for the crust and ¼ teaspoon additional salt mixed into the filling.)
- Brown Sugar - Mix 1 tablespoon of molasses into ¾ cup of white sugar to make a brown sugar substitute for this recipe.
Store the pie covered at room temperature for up to 4 days.
💡 Top tip
Don't overwork the pie dough! Overworking will cause the gluten to develop and create a tough crust. It will also melt the butter and the crust will not be flakey.
I would recommend peeling the apples for the best texture, but it's up to you!
Sliced apples are often used for apple pie as they soften better for a great texture.
🍎 More Apple Recipes
Looking for recipes featuring apples? Try these next:
If you tried this Brown Sugar Vanilla Apple Pie or any other recipe on my website, please leave a ⭐️ star rating and write a little note telling me how it went in the comments below. Thank you!!
Brown Sugar Vanilla Apple Pie
- 9-inch pie pan
- mixing bowls
- measuring cups & spoons
- pastry cutter
- silicone spatula
- rolling pin
- pastry brush
For the Crust:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold salted butter
- 5-6 tablespoons ice water
For the Filling:
- 6 cups thinly sliced apples, peeled and cored (I like to use Gala apples)
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup cold salted butter
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Cut the cold, cubed butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter until the butter pieces are no bigger than peas.
- Add ice water, starting with 3-4 tablespoons and adding up to 6 in total or just until the dough starts to hold together when pinched. Turn onto a counter knead/press together just until the mixture forms a loose dough ball. Divide into two portions and form each portion into a disk. Generously flour the counter and the top of the first disk of dough and begin to roll out into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. It does not have to be a perfect circle, just the general shape!
- Transfer the 12-inch round of dough to an ungreased 9-inch pie pan. Gently work out any air pockets on the bottom and sides. Leave any excess dough to hang over the edges of the pan. Coat the bottom and sides of the pie crust with a generous coat of flour (This helps prevent the crust from going soggy). Roll out the second half of the dough into a 10-inch round and place on a flat surface (plate or cookie sheet) and refrigerate as well.
To Make the Filling:
- In a large bowl, fold together the cored, peeled, and sliced apples, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, black pepper, baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract until the apples are well coated.
To Assemble the Pie:
- Preheat the oven to 350℉. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust, smoothing out the top as evenly as possible. Cut the ¼ cup of butter into tiny cubes and evenly dot the top of the pie filling with them.
- Use a pastry brush to moisten the edge of the bottom crust with some water to help it stick to the top crust. Place the top crust on top of the pie and press/pinch right at the edge of the pan to seal. Trim off the excess crust and further pinch the two crusts together to seal before styling the edge of the pie crust as desired. (See extra notes for what to do with scraps of crust.) Slice a few steam vents in the top crust. At this time you could also brush the pie with an egg wash if desired.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 55-65 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly. Let cool to room temperature before serving to allow the filling to set or the pie filling will be too runny. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Enjoy!
You can make little pie crust leaves with the scraps cut off from the edges, as pictured in the recipe images. Simply use a paring knife to cut out little leaf shapes and score to create leaf veins. Or just sprinkle the scraps with cinnamon sugar. Bake scraps on a lined baking sheet in a 375℉ oven for about 10-15 minutes or until golden.