If you’re having an apple pie emergency because your filling is way too runny, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s how to thicken apple pie filing (before and after baking).
- 5 Ways to Thicken Apple Pie Filling (After Baking)
- 14 Ways to Thicken Apple Pie Filling (Before Baking)
- Apple Pie Filling FAQs You Need To Know
How To Thicken Apple Pie Filling – After Baking
1. Place It Back In The Oven
Easy as pie!
- Use an oven thermometer to ensure the right oven temperature (if your dial isn’t accurate).
- Cover the pie with aluminum foil, place it back in the oven and bake it at 425 to 450 F for about 12 minutes.
- Wait until the pie cools/sets (about 2 hours at room temperature) before cutting into it. Or, it’s almost certain that you’ll end up with a juicy, wet mess when you slice it.
Can you blame your oven for a runny apple pie? Some ovens don’t heat evenly and/or display the wrong temperature. Bad oven, bad!
Tip: Try a toaster oven if your gas oven has hot spots, fluctuating temperatures, or the dial isn’t accurate. Gas ovens also release moisture which can cause baking issues. Toaster ovens use less electricity than electric ovens and don’t heat up your kitchen as much.
Important note: If you didn’t follow a reliable apple pie recipe — use strategy #2 or #3 below instead.
2. Scoop Out The Filling (Crumble Topping)
A more time intensive strategy to thicken apple pie involves: re-heating the pie filling, re-baking the bottom crust, and making a crumble topping.
Here’s how to thicken watery apple pie after baking with a crumble topping, step-by-step:
- Remove the pie’s top crust and scoop out the filling.
- Put the pie back in the oven (bottom rack) and allow the bottom crust to cook all the way through.
- Simultaneously heat the pie filling on the stove (over a low simmer) until the juice reduces. Let cool.
- Once the bottom crust cooks –and cools– reinsert the filling.
- Replace the top crust with a crumble topping.
3. Scoop Out The Filling (Whipped Cream Topping)
A little whipped cream, and all is forgiven.
Here’s how to thicken watery apple pie filling after baking with whipped cream topping.
- Remove the pie’s top crust and scoop out the filling.
- Put the pie back in the oven and allow the bottom crust to cook all the way through.
- Simultaneously heat the pie filling on the stove (over a low simmer) until the juice reduces.
- Once the bottom crust cooks, reinsert the filling.
- Wait for the pie to cool.
- Then top with whipped cream instead of a crust.
How To Thicken Apple Pie Filling – Before Baking
Prevent runny apple pie by using a thickener made for fruit pies, measure ingredients accurately, use tart-firm apples and pre-cook them, do not overfill your pie plate, vent your top crust, and let the pie cool before slicing.
Making your first apple pie this holiday? Want to impress everyone with your baking skills?
1. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling with Instant ClearJel Thickener
The secret to perfect apple pie!
Professional bakers have been using this pie hack forever to thicken apple pie filling. Instant ClearJel is a corn-based thickener for (high-acid) fruit based pie fillings.
It’s called “Instant” because is gels & swells instantly upon contact with liquid (hot or cold).
How to thicken apple pie filling:
Watery apple pie filling can be prevented by using a good thickener before baking.
For smooth results, combine with dry ingredients before adding liquid.
Unlike other corn-based thickeners — (ahem, corn starch) — ClearJel does well at high temperatures and doesn’t lose its thickening abilities. It also tolerates acidic ingredients (like apples).
Other options for apple pie thickeners include: Quick-cooking tapioca, flour, and arrow root powder.
Hint: Tapioca has a milder taste than wheat flour and is more forgiving than other thickeners.
Whichever thickener you go with, make sure to follow a recipe specifically for that thickener.
Apple pie is very finicky & unforgiving. Make sure to use a good apple pie recipe and follow it exactly, for the perfect pie every time.
Tip: Read the whole recipe once or twice before getting started. You’ll be much more likely to get it right the first time!
2. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling with Baking Techniques
Baking is more science than art. Eyeballing ingredients isn’t good practice for baking!
Also, don’t make substitutions that may add moisture and cause runny apple pie filling. For example, if a recipe calls for an ingredient of a specific brand, don’t use a generic brand.
3. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling with Tart-Firm Apples
Tart apples are high in pectin. Pectin is the glue that holds plant cells together. When sweet apples are cooked, pectin breaks down, and they turn mushy.
Granny Smith apples are the most popular for apple pie. Some other great firm-tart varieties include:
- Northern Spy
- Rhode Island Greening
- Newton Pippin
Tip #1: Combine a firm-sweet apple plus a firm-tart apple for depth of flavor & textures. Examples of firm-sweet apples include: Golden Delicious, Pink Lady and Jonagold.
Tip #2: Avoid Red Delicious, McIntosh, and other sweet varieties for baking apple pie. They don’t hold up well when baked.
4. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling by Soaking Your Apples In Sugar
Apples have a lot of water. Sugar will draw out excess liquid before you bake your filling.
- Just toss your sliced tart apples in: sugar, lemon juice*, cinnamon, and nutmeg (optional). Use the amount of sugar your recipe calls for. Make sure to cover your apples completely in the dry ingredients.
- Soak for 30-120 minutes in a large bowl.
- Then strain the excess liquid through a colander.
*Lemon will prevent browning
5. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling with by Par-Cooking Your Apples
Par-cooking is short for “partially cooking”.
Heating apples between 140°F and 160°F will increase the enzyme activity that converts pectin into a more heat stable form.
Your apples will lose some of their water and retain their shape better.
6. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling with Apple Syrup (instead of water)
Step 1: Bring one cup of apple juice to a boil over medium heat (in small saucepan). Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until mixture has reduced to 1/4 cup.
Step 2: Combine sugar, thickener, and other dry ingredients in a bowl. This will ensure that the thickener is evenly dispersed throughout the filling.
Step 3: In a large bowl, toss dry ingredients with the other ingredients.
7. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling by Cooling Your Raw Pie
“Make it cold, bake it hot.”
Putting a cold pie into a hot oven will help avoid a soggy bottom.
- Everything should be chilled: ingredients, bowls, and materials.
- Refrigerate the pie crust dough until your filling is ready. Warm dough causes butter to soften—which will cause a soggy instead of a flaky crust.
- You can also chill your pie in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking.
8. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling with an Oven Thermometer
Pre-heat your oven and verify the baking temperature with an oven thermometer (don’t trust your dial). If your oven bakes unevenly you may want to rotate your pie half-way through baking.
Tip: Double crusted pies should be placed on the middle rack.
9. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling with a Glass Pie Dish
Don’t use an aluminum pie pan. Bake in glass pie baking dish in order to monitor the doneness.
10. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling by Partially Blind-Bake Your Bottom Crust
As an alternative to blind-baking, you can also sprinkle cornstarch (or flour) on top of your bottom crust. This will soak up excess liquid. Sprinkle before adding your pie filling.
If you opt for a frozen crust, place a cookie sheet in preheated oven. Pour filling into frozen crust and bake on the preheated cookie sheet.
11. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling by Not Overfilling Your Pie Plate
Extra fruit can cause a soggy crust due to the extra juice. Stick with the amount of apples that your recipe calls for to ensure thick apple pie filling.
12. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling by Venting Your Top Crust
You’ll need vents to allow evaporation of excess moisture to help thicken your apple pie.
A lattice style or crumble topping pie does not need vents.
13. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling by Cooling Before Slicing Or Refrigerating
- Place your hot pie on a baking sheet. And place the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool.
- Cool for at least 3-4 hours on wire rack before serving. It should cool completely down to room temperature.
Cutting a hot pie will cause it to collapse. If you don’t allow apple pie to rest until it is cooled, it’s almost certain that you’ll end up with a juicy, wet mess when you cut into it.
Do not place a hot pie into the fridge, the temperature difference is too drastic.
14. How to Thicken Apple Pie Filling by Adjusting Recipe In High Altitude
If you live in a high altitude, adjust the recipe (ingredients and oven temperature).
Apple Pie Q&A
Smart baking FAQs you should know about.
How thick should apple slices be for apple pie?
Peel your apples. Then, slice evenly, about 1/4-inch thick.
Can I make easy homemade apple pie filling ahead of time?
If you don’t have the time for homemade apple pie filling, make a batch of this easy (stovetop) cinnamon apple pie filling ahead of time. Straight from the jar, it’s incredible and tastes like the best apple pie ever.
- YIELDS: 10 CUPS
- PREP TIME: 15 MINS
- TOTAL TIME: 15 MINS
- 12 cups sliced applies (peeled and cored)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
- In a large pot over medium heat, combine apples, sugars, lemon juice, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Simmer for 8 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and water together, then pour over apples. Continue simmering until thickened, for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- If not using right away, place filling into freezer-safe containers and freeze until ready to use.
Can you freeze apple pie?
Yes, simply allow the apple pie to cool, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap and then foil. Homemade apple pie will keep well in the freezer for 3 months.
This will protect your apple pie from freezer burn and other freezer odors. Apple pie can be frozen whole or cut up into slices.
How long can you keep an apple pie in the freezer?
You can keep frozen, homemade apple pie will keep well in the freezer for 3-4 months. But it’ll taste best if eaten sooner. If you freeze the filling by itself, it will last up to 12 months.
How long can I freeze apple pie filling?
When the filling is properly frozen and stored in the freezer, apple pie filling can last for up to 6 months.
How do you freeze apple pie?
Step 1: Allow to Cool Completely
After baking, allow your apple pie to cool at room temperature for up to 30 minutes. Then chill the apple pie thoroughly in the refrigerator. It’s important that the apple pie is chilled before being frozen
Step 2: Slice and Wrap
The less cold air that comes into contact with your pie, the longer it’ll last in the freezer.
Once your apple pie is fully chilled, it’s time to prepare it for freezing. If you’re freezing individual slices, slice the apple pie and wrap each piece tightly with two layers of plastic wrap.
Step 3: Wrap with Foil
Wrap it well in plastic wrap, then foil. Repeat until all of the slices are tightly wrapped. Then label and date it to keep track of how long your apple pie is frozen
As you put the apple pie in the freezer, carefully place it to ensure it doesn’t get crushed by the weight of other foods.
How do you reheat a frozen cooked apple pie?
Baking a frozen or thawed apple pie is tricky. The length of time you will re-heat the pie depends on how cold your freezer is, how hot the oven is, and the amount of filling in the pie.
Re-heat frozen apple pie
- Preheat the oven to 350° F and place the individual slices or pie in a disposable metal pie pan or foil-lined baking sheet.
- Brush the top crust of the pie with melted butter if desired.
- Line the edges of the pie with foil to prevent over-browning. Or, “tent” a piece of foil over the top of the pie.
- Place the pie on the bottom rack of the oven. You can move the pie lower and higher as it bakes.
- Bake the pie at 350° F for 15-20 minutes.
- If needed, bake longer on a lower temperature.
- Let your apple pie to cool slightly before serving.
Re-heat thawed apple pie
Thaw it for up to 30 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge. Some people suggest thawing the pie before you place it in the oven because it helps the pastry flour cook better.
Also, be aware that thawing your frozen pie may cause sogginess and the pie likely won’t be the exact same consistency it was before.
Important! Never place a cold Pyrex or a glass pan directly into a hot oven, it can shatter.
Do I need to refrigerate apple pie?
Yes! Refrigerate within two hours of baking to prevent food borne illness. A warm pie is okay to place in the fridge.
How hot should an apple pie be?
Bake until the apple pie filling temperature registers at about 175 degrees F with a kitchen thermometer. The filling should bubble through the vents. Your pie is done when the top crust is golden brown and the apples in the filling are tender.
How to tell if apple pie is done?
Take a toothpick and insert it into the pie vents, if you can insert the toothpick easily, it is fully cooked. The apple pie filling should bubble for at least 5 minutes before removing from the oven.
Tip #1: Don’t use the brownness of pie crust to judge doneness. Use aluminum foil to prevent over-browning the crust (add foil to the crust, halfway through baking). Do not shorten cooking time or lower oven temperature to avoid over-browning your crust.
Tip #2: If you’ve over-browned your crust, you can slice the top crust off once it’s cooled and cover your mistake with some whipped cream!
How do I pre-cook apple pie filling?
To par-cook (or pre-cook) apple pie filling, all you’ve got to do is heat up a pre-determined amount of water (I use 3 quarts per 4 pounds of apples) on the stovetop to a boil and pour it directly over your room temperature apples in a bowl.
If everything is measured right, you end up with apples sitting right at around 160°F. Cover the bowl, let it rest 10 minutes, drain the apple slices, and you’re good to go.
What is blind-baking?
Blind-baking is pre-baking the crust without the filling. This step ensures a crispy crust. For extra crispy apple pie crust – partially blind bake the crust before adding filling.
How do I partially blind-bake a crust for apple pie?
To partially blind bake, pierce the pie dough in the pie plate with a fork. Chill for an hour. Then line with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at a moderate temperature (350 degrees F) for about 5 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned, removing the pie weights halfway through.
Can I make substitutions?
No. Substitutions can add moisture, which may cause runny apple pie.
What is a crumble topping for fruit pies
A crumble topping is typically used on top of baked fruit pies like: apple, blueberry, cherry and peach pie. It can also be used on coffee cakes or muffins. A basic crumble topping recipe consists of just three ingredients: flour, butter and sugar. Spicing with cinnamon is also common.
- 12 tbsp. of butter, unsalted
- 2/3 cup of sugar (brown, white, or a combination)
- 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- Grate cold butter and place in a large bowl.
- Add sugar.
- Add flour. Then, using a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.
- Distribute evenly on a sheet pan.
- Bake at 425ºF, for 10 minutes (or until golden brown).
- Remove from the oven. Let the crumble cool, and top on apple pie.
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