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Grandma’s Apple Pie: The Perfect Way to Celebrate Harvest Season

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There is quite simply, nothing like a homemade apple pie recipe from scratch. Especially if it’s made with Grandma’s method. Try our family’s favorite apple pie recipe (and see if my idea of the best apples for apple pie match yours)!

This homemade apple cobbler is pretty darned good, too.

7 apple pies on a white countertop

I grew up on an apple farm and the first apple pie of the season was reason for celebration. (Actually, it was usually on my dad’s birthday, so the two kind of went hand in hand.) This apple pie recipe from scratch is how we kicked off apple season!

RelatedEasy Pumpkin Pie for Holiday Dessert

white bowl full of apple pie filling with apple pie crust on a floury countertop - ready for making an apple pie recipe from scratch

The best apples for apple pie

It’s a little silly of me to try to tell you what the best apples for apple pie are, because there’s a lot of personal preference involved. However, I assure you that my favorite apple for apple pie will become your favorite apple for apple pie — if you can find them.

Of course, there’s really no wrong apple for apple pie. Some will cook into a mushier filling than others, some will result in a sweeter pie. I prefer a less-sweet pie, so take that into consideration as I tell you what I think are the best apples for apple pie!

No matter what, though, don’t let me dissuade you from trying your hand at homemade apple pie with whatever apples you have on hand! Any homemade apple pie is going to be better than a frozen pie, and a good harvest time treat!

RelatedApple Crisp Fresh from the Farm

Gravenstein apple on tree - one of the best apples for apple pie!

Gravenstein apple

These are by far the best apples for apple pie. Bar none. End of story. These are the apples I grew up with, the first apples to ripen every season, and they make the best pie ever. Their flavor is slightly spicy and a bit tangy. They are a tender apple with thin skin and cook up beautifully when they are ripe. A perfectly ripe Gravenstein has green skin with a slight yellow tinge and red stripes. The Gravenstein apple in the image above is at my mom’s house.

(There is also a Red Gravenstein apple; they are sweeter than the standard variety and tend toward mushiness, though the flavor is good.)

Gravensteins are only in their prime for a few weeks, though. Overripe Gravensteins will become a bit mushy in a pie. Not to worry — Gravensteins are also great for making applesauce; if you find yourself with some very ripe Gravs, they make a wonderful sugar free applesauce.

Finding Gravenstein apples will be the most difficult trick. They don’t ship well, so unless you know someone who has a tree or live in an area where farmers grow Gravensteins, you might be out of luck.

(Amazing story: When my family and I moved to a new home in a new area hours from where I grew up, there was an old apple tree on the property. The owners didn’t know anything about it. Come harvest time, imagine my sheer delight to discover that it was a Gravenstein apple tree!)

7 of grandma's apple pies on a white countertop

RelatedA Dozen Must-Try Apple Recipes for Harvest Season

Jonathan apple

These are my second choice for pie making. Jonathan apples are sweet with a bit of tartness, and much firmer than Gravenstein apples. Jonathans are a red and green apple, less stripey than the Gravenstein, with a thick skin. A pie filling made with Jonathan apples will have a bit of an al dente bite to it.

Granny Smith apple

This is one that should be readily available, whether you live in apple country or not. Most grocery stores carry this variety, and honestly, since I no longer live where I can get local apples, this is my go-to for homemade apple pie. These apples are firm, with a little bit of a tang, and cook up nicely in a pie. Granny Smith is a good all-around baking apple.

Related: Pecan Applesauce Cake

Making Grandma’s apple pie recipe from scratch

Now that you know the best apples for apple pie (ahem: Gravenstein), the next most important thing to know about making apple pie is that it’s not hard. You can even make and preserve your own canned apple pie filling so you have your favorite apples available for making pie all year round.

My grandma’s apple pie crust might be new to you, but it doesn’t have to be fiddly. Be bold! Go forth and make pie! I like to serve grandma’s apple pie warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or with a freshly brewed cup of coffee for breakfast in the morning.

Apple slices in a pie dish with the bottom pie crust visible

★ Did you make this apple pie recipe from scratch? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

Grandma's Apple Pie Recipe from Scratch

Grandma's Apple Pie Recipe from Scratch

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

The most important thing to know about making apple pie is that it's not hard. My grandma's pie crust might be new to you, but it doesn't have to be fiddly. Be bold! Go forth and make this apple pie recipe from scratch! 

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Measure dry ingredients into large bowl. Peel, core, and slice apples into the bowl. Toss apples and dry ingredients.
  2. Divide pie crust dough in two portions, and then roll out on a liberally floured surface. Your crust should be about an inch bigger than the pie pan, all around. Fold the dough in half for easy lifting, then move into a pie pan. Poke the dough a couple of times with a fork to prevent the bottom crust from getting air bubbles. (I do this because my mom says I should, but I've not once seen a bottom crust do anything weird.)
  3. Spoon the apple filling into the crust. The filling should be heaped three or four inches above the edge of the pie pan. The apples will cook down, so you want to be generous. If you end up with a few excess apple slices, consider them a snack. (I used to wait for this part of the pie baking process when I was a kid!)
  4. Roll out second crust, fold in half for easy moving, and gently place it on top of the apple filling. Gather the edges of both crusts, and turn them under as you work your way around the pie, crimping the edges together. Use a knife to cut a couple of slashes in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
  5. Place pie on a foil-lined cookie sheet to catch drips. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn heat down to 350 degrees. Continue baking for another 45 minutes or until pie is nicely browned. Brush top of pie with milk (to give it a shine) and bake for five more minutes.

Notes

The best apples for apple pie are - in my opinion - Gravenstein apples. They're spicy and tart and make a lovely pie. This is very much a matter of opinion, though!

If you want to freeze your pie for later, assemble it in an aluminum pie tin, then wrap it in a double layer of foil. Do not thaw pie to bake; unwrap and put frozen pie in the oven, then follow the cooking instructions above. Freeze for no more than two months for best results. This is a great way to have fresh pie on hand during the busy holiday season!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 230Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 89mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 6gSugar: 23gProtein: 2g

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Originally published November 2016; this post has been updated.

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

9 comments… add one
  • Denise Milne Nov 23, 2016, 11:07 am

    Poking holes is only necessary when baking a pie shell without filling (like a cream pie that will fill the crust later). If you don’t, then the shell will bubble up (just like your mom said). You don’t have to post this. It’s just for your information.

    • Cate Feb 24, 2017, 1:47 pm

      I beg to differ. I recently made a pie in which I did not poke the sides with a fork. The crust crept down the sides of the pie plate and almost underneath the filling. Had I poked the sides before baking, I could have prevented this.

  • Judy Aug 15, 2017, 4:29 pm

    Poking a fork all over the bottom crust is usually done only for a pie shell that you’re baking, e.g. lemon meringue, where you add the filling after the pie shell is baked.

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 23, 2017, 7:19 am

      Ever hear the story about why a cook cut the ends off the pot roast? 😉 (In short, because her mom did. When mom asked grandma, it turns out that it was to fit the roast in a too-small pan.)

      • Liz Nov 6, 2018, 3:25 am

        Agree with you Kris! That roast shrinks anyway, haha. I remember my mom freaking out because my husband put glasses away right side up instead of upside down 🙂

  • Stacey Oct 7, 2017, 11:48 pm

    Made the most wonderful apple pie!!

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 14, 2018, 5:58 pm

      I’m glad you liked it!

  • Linda Sep 4, 2019, 3:25 am

    My son and his family recently went apple picking and he brought me a huge bag of Gravenstein apples. When I asked him what kind of apple they were he said “something Stein’s so I had to look them up. I’m making pies today! I usually use Granny Smith but can’t wait to see how these compare.

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 5, 2019, 11:44 am

      I hope you love them!

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