This salted caramel apple pie is a decadent combination of flavors and textures. From the flaky bottom crust to the saucy caramel apple filling and buttery crumb topping, this pie is impressive and indulgent.
THIS is the pie I want to eat throughout the entire fall season, including Thanksgiving and right up through Christmas.
It's just about as packed with apples as you can get without having them spill out over the sides of the pie plate. Plus, it's topped with buttery, crunchy, brown sugar crumb topping.
AND - not only are the apples inside the filling coated with Salted Caramel Sauce, the entire pie is covered in even MORE salted caramel sauce.
There are 4 delicious parts to this pie:
- Flaky fool-proof pie crust
- Crisp, tart green apples coated in rich salted caramel sauce
- Buttery, brown sugar crumb topping piled high over all that caramel apple goodness
- Even more salted caramel sauce, poured over the entire pie after baking. Because, let's be real. You can NEVER have too much salted caramel sauce.
Apple pie covered in liquid gold. That's what we've got going on here.
- Ingredients Needed to Prepare This Recipe
- What Variety of Apples are Best in this Pie?
- How to Make a Pie Crust That Can Hold a LOT of Caramel Apple Filling
- How to Make Salted Caramel Sauce
- How to Make Caramel Apple Pie Filling
- How to Make the Buttery Crumb Topping
- More Popular Pie Recipes
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
Ingredients Needed to Prepare This Recipe
- Enough pie crust dough to cover the inside of a pie plate. My favorite recipe is this Fool Proof Pie Crust. But, if you have a favorite recipe, use that. Or, use a refrigerated or frozen crust from your local supermarket.
- Tart, green apples. My favorite apples for this pie is Granny Smith or Macintosh. peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch slices
- 1 lemon. A bit of lemon juice will help keep the apples from browning while you slice them and help the apples retain their shape while the pie bakes.
- Brown sugar. Preferably dark brown sugar. There's a very small amount of brown sugar in the filling for this pie to keep it from being overly sweet. I like to use dark brown sugar to get the most flavor from the little bit that's in there.
- Cornstarch. A couple tablespoons of cornstarch acts as a thickener so that the caramel apple pie filling is rich and saucy, not runny.
- Cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves are the perfect warm compliment to apples and caramel.
- Salt! Can't have salted caramel without it! There's also a bit of salt in the apple pie filling and in the crumb topping because salt balances sweet and intensifies all the other flavors in this pie.
- Salted caramel sauce. Use my favorite recipe to make a batch of homemade salted caramel sauce (so good!), or add as much salt as you like to a jar of prepared caramel sauce.
- Almond extract. Adding a bit of almond extract to both the salted caramel apple pie filling and the crumb topping is optional. I love the little bit of nutty flavor it gives this pie, but if you don't think you'll like it, just leave it out.
- All-purpose flour AND whole wheat flour. I've added a bit of whole wheat flour to the mix for this pie's crumb topping because of one reason and one reason only - flavor. White flour makes the crumb topping tender and whole wheat flour adds flavor.
- Granulated sugar. A combination of white and brown sugar in this pie's crumb topping creates the perfect slightly-crispy-but-still-tender texture.
- Butter. There's obviously got to be some butter in a buttery crumb topping. I used salted, but if you want more control over the amount of salt in your crumbs, use unsalted.
What Variety of Apples are Best in this Pie?
One of the secrets to creating a caramel apple pie that's rich and decadent without being overly sweet is to use a LOT of tart apples. Strong emphasis on TART.
I tested this pie with a few different varieties (alright, if I MUST bake another apple pie...for research, you know) and Granny Smith or Macintosh apples are the way to go.
But, when making an apple pie filling that includes copious amounts of salted caramel sauce, the acidity in tart apples is necessary for the pie's overall balance.
The other thing about using Granny Smith or Macintosh apples is that they hold their shape and stay slightly crisp even after baking.
How to Make a Pie Crust That Can Hold a LOT of Caramel Apple Filling
#1. Start with a tried-and-true pie crust recipe.
My go-to pie crust for my entire adult life has been this recipe for Fool Proof Pie Crust because it is, quite literally, fool proof.
Every time I publish a pie recipe that calls for Fool Proof Pie Crust, I receive comments like this one:
"I made this pie, including your Fool Proof Pie Crust, yesterday. I had given up making homemade pie crust many years ago! Although my rolling pin skills are poor, this pie turned out fantastic. The blueberry filling is not overly sweet, so you can still taste the fruit, and the crust was delicious and flaky. 62 years old and I finally made a good pie crust- better late than never!" - Comment from Karen on Perfect Blueberry Pie
#2. Crimp the edge of the crust so that it extends at least a half inch above the top of the pie plate.
The filling for this pie includes a lot of apples because the apples will shrink down as they bake. It's important that the crust is tall enough to contain all those apples PLUS the crumb topping AND plenty of caramel sauce.
#3. For this pie, I tried something I've never done before with pie crust: I rolled it out with graham cracker crumbs instead of flour.
The graham cracker crumbs added a touch of flavor and sweetness to the baked crust that was subtle but delicious. The crumbs also absorb some of the juice from the apples, which helps keep the bottom crust from getting soggy.
I won't go as far as saying that rolling the crust out with graham cracker crumbs made a big difference in the taste of the crust. But, if you happen to have some graham crackers on hand, give it a try.
How to Make Salted Caramel Sauce
You have two option here:
- Add salt to a jar of prepared caramel sauce
- Make a batch of homemade salted caramel sauce
If you've never made homemade caramel sauce, I want to tell you that it's easier to make than you might think and delicious enough to be worth the extra effort.
Plus, the recipe makes more than you'll need for this pie and will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. I don't think I need to tell you how fantastic it is to have salted caramel sauce in your refrigerator.
Having said that, an even easier option is to purchase a jar of caramel sauce and just add some salt to it:
- Heat the caramel sauce in a saucepan over medium-low heat just until it begins to bubble.
- Add a teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring for a minute or so to allow it to dissolve.
- Taste the sauce and add more salt if you like.
How to Make Caramel Apple Pie Filling
Squeeze some lemon juice into a saucepan. Prepare the apples by peeling them, cutting out their core, and cutting them into slices. As you slice, toss the apples with the lemon juice in the pan which will prevent them from turning brown.
Toss in some brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and stir the apples around so that they are coated with the flour, sugar, and spices.
Pour a cup of salted caramel sauce into the apples and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to boil and starts to thicken.
Dump the apple pie filling into the pie crust. There will be a LOT of apples and you might think you have too much apple pie filling for one pie. But, the apples will shrink as the pie bakes, so just pile them all on there.
Bake the pie for 15 minutes, which is just enough time to make the crumb topping!
Pro tip! Bake your caramel apple pie on a baking sheet that's been lined with a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil. This will catch any apple caramel drips that bubble up and make their way over the side of the pie plate, saving you from having to clean a caramel mess from the bottom of your oven.
How to Make the Buttery Crumb Topping
Add all-purpose and whole wheat flours, granulated and brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a bowl and give it a stir.
Pour in some melted butter and, if you like, a touch of almond extract.
Use your hands to smoosh everything around in the bowl until all the dry ingredients are moistened with the butter.
Remove the pie from the oven, pile on the crumb topping, and put it back in the oven to finish baking.
Let the pie cool for 2 hours, then pour the remaining salted caramel sauce over the top.
Pro tip! I like to add a touch of whole wheat flour and almond extract to the crumb topping because they add a subtle nuttiness.
And, using plenty of butter gives it a nice crunch while also keeping it melt-in-your-mouth tender.
- Enough pie crust dough to make 1 bottom pie crust; My favorite recipe is this Fool Proof Pie Crust (*See note below)
For the Caramel Apple Filling:
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice from 1 large lemon)
- 3 ½ - 4 pounds (8 cups) tart apples, such as granny smith or Macintosh, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼ inch slices
- ¼ cup (53 grams) dark brown sugar
- 2 ½ tablespoons (17.5 grams) cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (473 ml) salted caramel sauce, divided
- 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
For the Crumb Topping:
- 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (28 grams) whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (53 grams) dark brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 8 tablespoons (½ cup/ 4 ounces/ 113 grams) butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- Line a pie plate with pie crust dough, crimping the edges of the crust so that it extends about ½-inch above the pie plate (see video and pictures above). Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. (You'll find instructions for how to line a pie plate in this recipe for Fool Proof Pie Crust.)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C).
- Squeeze the lemon juice into a large, heavy bottom sauce pan and toss the apple slices with the lemon juice as you slice them to prevent the slices from browning.
- Add the brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt to a small bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples and toss with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to coat the apples.
- Stir 1 cup (236ml) salted caramel sauce into the apples and set the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to boil. Continue to cook and stir for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract, if using.
- Pour the apple pie filling into the pie crust, creating a slight dome of apples in the center of the pie. There will be a LOT of apples. Pile them on; the apples will shrink as the pie bakes. Place the pie plate on a aluminum foil lined cookie sheet (to catch any drips). Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
While the pie begins to bake, make the crumb topping, then keep baking:
- In a medium size bowl, add all the topping ingredients except the butter and almond extract, and stir to combine. Pour in the melted butter and almond extract (if using), and mix with your hands just until all the dry ingredients are moistened. It should be the consistency of wet sand. If you squeeze it together in your hand, it should clump together. If it's too dry, add a bit more butter, 1 teaspoon at a time.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Remove the pie from the oven and cover the apple pie filling with the crumb topping, squeezing the topping with your hands to create some large clumps.
- Return the pie to the oven and bake for an additional 35 minutes.
- Cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil (this will prevent the streusel from burning) and bake for another 20 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the bottom crust is baked through.
- Remove the apple pie from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours. Pour the remaining 1 cup salted caramel sauce over the top of the pie and serve. (This pie is best served slightly warm or at room temperautre)
What to do with leftover pie crust
The recipe for Fool Proof Pie Crust makes enough for two double crust pies. Leftover pie crust dough will freeze well: Simply divide the dough into 4 portions, pat each portion into a thick disk, wrap well, place into a freezer bag or other container and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before using.
If you don't want quite as much leftover pie crust dough, you can also cut the recipe in half. See the notes section of the recipe for Fool Proof Pie Crust for instructions on how to make a half portion.
Ingredient Substitution: Butterscotch Sauce
I once heard butterscotch described as caramel's low-key cousin. I love this description because the flavor of butterscotch and caramel are similar, but butterscotch is waaaaay easier and less finicky to make.
The flavor of butterscotch sauce isn't quite as complex as caramel sauce, but it's still absolutely delicious in this pie. This is my favorite butterscotch sauce recipe.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 435Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 680mgCarbohydrates: 105gFiber: 5gSugar: 80gProtein: 4g