The Washington Post

Caramel Apple Pie Filling

Caramel Apple Pie Filling 8.000

Mark Weinberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Erin Jeanne McDowell for The Washington Post

Nov 12, 2020

Here's a pie filling with a genius hack to achieve one of fall's most beloved flavors — caramel apples — without having to make actual caramel. The ingredients mingle together in a saucepan to form a delicious, comforting and seasonally inspired filling.

Make Ahead: The filling can be prepared and refrigerated for up to 2 days before use.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8 servings; makes enough filling for one 9-inch pie crust

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick/56 grams) unsalted butter
  • 10 medium (about 4 pounds) apples, such as Honeycrisp, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 cup (212 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup (132 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (83 grams) all-purpose flour

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In a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to cook the butter, stirring occasionally, until its solids begin to brown and the mixture smells nutty, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and nutmeg and toss until combined. Cook, stirring frequently, until a smooth, glossy sauce forms and thickly coats the apples, 4 to 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk the granulated sugar and flour until combined. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples in the saucepan and stir well to combine. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, resembling a caramel sauce. Transfer to a large bowl, cover and cool completely. Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

NOTE: To bake the filling in the pie, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour the cooled filling into a par-baked pie crust and spread into an even layer. Bake until the filling appears matte and set on the surface and the crust is deeply golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool completely before slicing and serving.

If using a Press-In Cookie Crust or a Nut Crust, pour the cooled filling into an unbaked crust, spread it in an even layer and proceed with the baking as instructed above.

Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe by cookbook author and recipe developer Erin Jeanne McDowell.

Tested by G. Daniela Galarza.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 348

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 6g 9%

Saturated Fat: 4g 20%

Cholesterol: 15mg 5%

Sodium: 296mg 12%

Total Carbohydrates: 82g 27%

Dietary Fiber: 4g 16%

Sugar: 66g

Protein: 2g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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