Can you use Honeycrisp apples for apple pie? Does the first taste of a Honeycrisp on my tongue translate into an apple pie, or is there more to creating this perfect flavor than just changing the type of apples used? I honestly didn’t know that you could use Honeycrisp apples for apple pie and it got me wondering if I can use these delicious apples in a recipe and if you can, what exactly would it taste like.
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The best apples for making apple pie
You can use any apple to make an apple pie. Full stop. However, some are better than others when it comes to flavor and texture. And instead of choosing just one type of apple, a combination of at least two or three is a smart way to get more complex flavors and textures into your pie.
There are thousands of varieties of apples across the globe — so which are best when it comes time to slice or dice them into a pie filling?
For starters, you don’t want an apple that’s soft or mealy, because it might break down too much and turn into something resembling the texture of baby food. (For example, McIntosh apples are great for eating out of hand, but they don’t hold up well when it comes to baking.) And then there are others that are either lacking in the flavor department completely or simply one-dimensional. (Red Delicious, we’re looking at you.)
Thankfully, there are plenty of other options. Below are 10 we recommend you seek out the next time you’re ready to bake an apple pie.
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This apple is a descendant of Granny Smith, but slightly sweeter. Some say it tastes almost like a pear when cooked.
Some might shun Cortlands for baking because they can get a little soft compared to others, but in pies, they hold their shape decently and can be a great textural addition when used with firmer apples.
Introduced in 1949, Crispins are a cross between Golden Delicious and Indo cultivars. They have a nice tartness that works well to balance the sweetness of desserts.
If you had to pick just one apple, this is the variety many would recommend. My colleague Becky Krystal likes it for its accessibility and reliability, and J. Kenji López-Alt found it had the best flavor when used as the sole cultivar in an extensive apple pie test for Serious Eats.
Firm and very tart, this variety is the go-to for many when it comes to pie because it keeps its shape extremely well. But it isn’t exactly known for its flavor, so Granny Smiths are best used in conjunction with sweeter and/or more flavorful apples.
These apples can be a little pricey at times because they’re more difficult to grow and have a lower yield, but as Krystal said, “The flavor can be hard to beat.”
Jonagold or Jonathan.
Crunchy and sweet-tart, Jonagolds are a cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples. They’re one of pastry chef Paola Velez’s favorite apples to use in pie along with Granny Smith and Honeycrisp.
Not always the easiest to find, but when you do, these beauties will have you wanting to grab a bushel or two. My colleague Daniela Galarza says this is one of her favorites.
This super crisp apple certainly is sturdy enough to hold its shape when baked. It’s a nice mix of sweet and tart and boasts vibrant pink skin (hence the name).
This heirloom cultivar is said to have been around for centuries. “Winesap apples are highly aromatic with a balanced sweet-tart taste and get their name due to their distinctive spicy wine-like flavor,” per the store Specialty Produce in San Diego.
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HOMEMADE APPLE PIE
This Homemade Apple Pie is a fall classic. Honey crisp and Braeburn apples are combined with flour, sugar, and spices. This pie crust is flakey, butter, and perfect. This pie is simple, classic; the ideal apple pie.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
This Homemade Apple Pie is a fall classic. Honey crisp and Braeburn apples are combined with flour, sugar and spices. This pie crust is flakey, butter, and perfect. This pie is simple, classic; the ideal apple pie.
It’s the apple pie version of the perfect white t-shirt we spend years searching for.
This is, of course, an updated blog post; I wrote a post about all this recipe years ago and it was made over and over and I have some new thoughts on execution.
WHAT ARE THE BEST APPLES FOR APPLE PIE?
There are apples that are AWFUL and GREAT for apple pie. Some apples are best for eating raw. Others are best for cooking on the stove-top for hours and hours that will give you the most delicious apple sauce. This is not an attack on any apple varietal whatsoever. I am for all apples. But here are my favorites for pies that will keep their integrity/shape even when baked for an hour:
- Honey Crisp: The pie pictured uses ALL honey crisp apples. I don’t always do this but honey crisp apples are delicious and if you’re going to go with a very simple, one-varietal type of pie, I say you can’t lose with honey crisp.
- Granny Smith: This variety is incredibly tart so definitely use it with that in mind. Granny smith is great to pair with a sweeter mild apple.
- Northern Spy: This type of apple grows in the Northeast of the United States and may be difficult to find in the midwest and on the west coast, but if you do have Northern Spy apples around, use them. They’re delicious. They have a cider-like quality to them when cooked.
- Golden Delicious: People love to hate golden delicious apples because they’re sort of basic. But if that’s all you have in your grocery store, pair them with a granny smith apple. It’ll result in a great pie.
- Pink Lady: If you’re looking for an apple with a great balance of sweetness and tart, look no further. The pink lady does a great job at doing this.
- Braeburn: A super crisp apple that has notes of spices, pear, and nutmeg.
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HOW TO MAKE PIE CRUST
TIPS FOR MAKING HOMEMADE PIE DOUGH:
- Make sure you have ice-cold water
- Use your box grater to shred the cold butter
- No need to use frozen butter, just use it straight from the fridge
- Chill the butter as it sits on top of the flour in the freezer
- It’ll be super easy to break it up and mix it throughout the flour
BEST VESSEL TO BAKE A HOMEMADE APPLE PIE IN
I will always be a fan of these glass Pyrex pie dishes. They bake up an incredibly even pie. The bottom is never soggy and gross. And I love that you can see through the sides and bottom to check on the pie’s doneness and color. The perfect pie plate!
Another thing I love about these Pyrex pie dishes is that they’re incredibly affordable. But I am not at all against vintage pie tins. Just keep in mind that they’re usually smaller so you may end up with extra filling and pie crust.
HOW TO MAKE APPLE PIE FILLING FOR THE BEST HOMEMADE APPLE PIE
The filling is supposed to be simple. I like to add a few extra things to make it extra special, but here is usually what it should consist of:
- Apples: I like to peel the apples and slice them thinly. Extra points if you use a mandolin.
- Thickener: For berry pies, corn starch or tapioca starch is needed because berries are very juicy. But with apples, they don’t release a ton of juices so I add a few tablespoons of all-purpose flour. I find that corn starch or tapioca starch makes it a bit too gummy for me.
- Acid: I like to use fresh lemon juice. It adds a lovely tartness.
- Sweetener: For this pie, I add all brown sugar. I love the molasses, caramel notes it provides. But feel free to use cane sugar, maple syrup, or honey.
ADDITIONS TO FILLING
I like to add a few other things to my filling. I love adding a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream. This creates a caramel when the apples and brown sugar are all cooked together. It’s glorious. It transforms any normal apple pie into a caramel apple pie and it is SO delicious. I also love adding a bit of vanilla paste. It feels indulgent and what better place to put some vanilla?
HOW TO BAKE AN APPLE PIE
In my honest opinion, people underbake their pies. Apple pie should not be pale golden brown. It should be deep, golden brown. When the pie bubbles, it means the thickener (in this case all-purpose flour) has been activated. If you’re using a glass vessel (like I suggested above), it will take a bit longer than if you’re baking it in a tin baking dish.
I like to bake my pie for an hour MINIMUM. I check on it regularly.
If any part of the pie crust begins to burn or gets a bit too dark, you can cover that part with a sheet of foil.
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TIPS AND TRICKS FOR OUR APPLE PIE RECIPE
Bake the pie until bubbling and a deep golden brown. You don’t want to overcook your pie (aka burn it) but you do want the crust golden brown. This also ensures that the bottom crust is fully cooked.
SHOULD I COOK THE APPLES BEFORE BAKING
This is a personal decision. Lol. I personally don’t want to do ANOTHER step so I avoid it. But I will say that apples will cook down a bit and if you cook them prior to baking, you do keep A LOT of the same volume. I also love that the apples have a texture to them. When you cook them prior to baking the pie, you literally end up with zero apple texture.
HOW TO AVOID A SOGGY PIE
I think this has a lot to do with the length of baking time. A lot of people don’t bake their pies enough. The pie should be bubbling (this indicates that the flour has been activated and the pie filling will be thickening) and the crust should be a deep golden brown.
HOW TO MAKE AN APPLE PIE AHEAD
Let’s throw out a scenario: You have a Friendsgiving or autumnal get-together and you are working all week long and know you won’t have time to make it the day of. Not a problem. Up to two weeks prior, make the crust, make the filling, assemble the entire pie and then FREEZE IT whole.
Yes, freeze the entire pie. In its dish and everything. If it’s for longer than a night, then I cover it with plastic wrap after it’s mostly frozen.
Then, brush it with egg wash, sprinkle it with turbinado sugar, and then bake it frozen. It will take about 15 minutes longer but it will turn out gloriously.
I also love freezing my pies first because it ensures that the pie crust doesn’t shrink.
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CUTTING AND SLICING AN APPLE PIE
I will never tell you what to do lol. But if you want your apple pie to be a cohesive, beautiful, Instagram-worthy slice of apple pie, you have to wait a few hours. Two at the very least.
servings: 8 servings
PREP TIME 30 mins
COOK TIME 1 hr 5 mins
TOTAL TIME 1 hr 35 mins
I’ve put three of my favorite ingredients together to create one incredible apple pie. The combination of salted caramel, Honeycrisp apples, and a flaky homemade crust are winners in this Salted Caramel Honeycrisp Apple Pie.
- 1/2 recipe – IBC’s Go-To Pie Crust – recipe linked in notes
- 7 cups cored peeled and sliced Honeycrisp apples – (about 5 to 6 large apples)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter – cold
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup quick oats
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup salted caramel topping
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- Begin by preparing IBC’s Go-To Pie Crust or your favorite recipe. Chill for at least 20-30 minutes before rolling.
- Set your oven to 375 degrees F. Add a baking sheet to the lower oven rack to catch any drips.
- Roll out your chilled pie crust and use it to line a 9-inch pie plate. Trim and crimp edges. Set aside.
- Then, in a large bowl mix the apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
- Next, mix the crumb topping. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour. Then add in the brown sugar, oats, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
- Now you’re ready to assemble. Add the apple mixture to the prepared pie dough. Then top with the crumb topping (without the pecans). You may need to cover the top of your pie (or the exposed crust) with a piece of foil if it starts to brown too quickly. Bake for 60 minutes and then add the chopped pecans over the pie and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove the pie from the oven. Allow it to chill for about 20-30 minutes. Then evenly top the entire pie with the salted caramel sauce.