In The Kitchen With The Editor: Apple Pie Filling

by Stefan Lonce

I know, I know.  I just did an apple pie a few months ago.  But, this is different. This is an apple pie filling that doesn’t need the pie crust!  A dessert that can stand on its own (with perhaps a scoop of ice cream, whipped cream, or even Greek yogurt).  Also, it makes a great topping for French toast or pancakes in lieu of syrup and is great over a slice of pound cake.  And yes…you can use it as a pie filling too.
How did I come up with this recipe?  Quite frankly, I was making an apple pie and left the room while the filling was cooking.  It went too far for a pie, but I figured what if I thickened it up anyway and tweaked the ingredients?  If all else failed I’d end up with a really well flavored apple sauce.  Well, what I came up with was a really great dessert/topping, without the mess of making a pie crust!

Apple Pie “Filling”


  • ½ cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • ½ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tbls. + ½ tsp. Apple Pie Spice (*see note)
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 5 lbs. (6-8 medium apples) Good Baking Apples, such as Granny Smith or Honey Crisp, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbls. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2½ tbls. Cornstarch
  • 2½ tbls. Water
  • ½ tsp. Lemon Zest
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
* In lieu of Apple Pie Spice, you can make your own with: 1 tbls. Cinnamon, ¼ tsp. Nutmeg, and ¼ tsp. Allspice.


  1. In a large pot, whisk together the sugars, apple pie spice, and salt.  Whisk it well as to break up any of the big lumps in the brown sugar.
  2. Peel, core and slice your apples.  My favorite helpful tool for this is a melon baller. It makes coring easy.
  3. Add the apple slices and lemon juice to the pot with the sugars and spices and toss until the apples are evenly coated in the mixture. Set aside for 30 minutes for the apples to macerate and exude some of their juices. As you can see, they give up a lot of juice.
  4. In a small bowl mix together the cornstarch and water until smooth.
  5. Set the pot with the apples over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, until the apples are softened (about 5 minutes is you are using it for a pie, 10-15 minutes or too your desired tenderness if you are using it as a dessert or topping). Raise the heat to medium and pour the cornstarch mixture over the apples. Cook, stirring, until the apple juices begin to bubble, then continue another 30 seconds until the mixture is thickened.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and vanilla.
  7. Allow the mixture cool completely if you’re using it for a pie, or serve it warm as a dessert or topping.
  8. Enjoy!