This 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 rich and flavorful without being overly sweet.
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.
Caramel Apple Crumb Pie
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.
Apple pie covered in liquid gold. That's what we've got going on here.
Apples and Caramel are the ultimate warm and cozy combination
There are certain kinds of food that are just meant to be together. Like chocolate and peanut butter. Cake and ice cream. Pancakes and maple syrup. And apples and caramel.
The biggest challenge in making caramel apple pie is to include the maximum amount of caramel WITHOUT making the pie overly sweet.
Let me stop and clarify something right now. This is an apple pie with brown sugar crumb topping covered in caramel sauce. It's sweet. Of course it is.
BUT, it's not cloying. Unless you eat a ridiculous amount of it, it will not leave you with the sense that you're about to go into a sugar coma.
The trick is to start with tart apples and then add just enough sugar to create a gooey apple pie filling that brings out the flavor of the apples.
So, first things first. Let's talk about the most important part of an apple pie: the apples.
What kind of apples are best for Apple 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 stay slightly crisp even after baking. This provides a delicious contrast of textures that is TO DIE FOR.
Finally, the filling for this apple pie includes very little sugar. Aside from a touch of brown sugar, all the sweet you need is coming from the caramel sauce.
Crumb Topping Adds Texture and Flavor to this Pie
I've made this pie with a top crust and with this buttery, brown sugar streusel. In the end, I vastly prefer the streusel topping for a two main reasons: texture and flavor.
I like to add a touch of whole wheat flour and almond extract to this streusel because they give it a subtle nuttiness. And, the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg bring out the warm flavors in the apple filling and caramel sauce.
Using plenty of butter in this crumb topping gives it a nice crunch while also keeping it melt-in-your-mouth tender. The texture is both crunchy and melt-in-your-mouth tender, similar to what you'd expect in really good shortbread.
Tips for a Flaky Bottom Pie Crust that Stands Up to 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.
The BEST Salted Caramel Sauce
If you've never made homemade caramel sauce you are in for a treat! Making caramel sauce is MUCH easier than you might think and sooooo silky smooth and delicious it's worth every second.
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 fabulous it is to have salted caramel sauce in your refrigerator.
Having said that, you don't have to make your salted caramel sauce from scratch. A good quality prepared, store bought caramel sauce will work just fine.
If it's not salted, and you want to salt it, heat it in a saucepan just until it begins to bubble. Add a teaspoon or two of salt, stir to dissolve, and then go ahead and use it to make this pie.
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #ofbatteranddough on Instagram.
- 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 lbs (8 cups) tart apples, such as granny smith or Macintosh, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch slices
- ¼ cup (53g) dark brown sugar
- 2 ½ tablespoon 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 (120g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (28g) whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (53g) dark brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 8 tablespoon (½ cup/ 4oz/ 113g) 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)
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 freeer 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.
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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