While the ingredients I use for making apple pie filling are nothing out of the ordinary, my method is likely a bit different from what you expect. Most recipes instruct us to toss apples in cornstarch, then add liquid or make a slurry of cornstarch and water to add to the hot apple mixture to create the thick sauce of the filling. My method is the old fashioned way I learned growing up, and it does make a difference in the end result, so be sure to follow it for the best outcome.
Just like the rest, we start with real apples, brown sugar, a pinch of salt to enhance the sweetness of the fruit, a grate of nutmeg, a dash of cinnamon – simple ingredients that mingle with the sweet-tart apples to allow the fruit’s flavors to shine. I add a touch of ghee. It really rounds out the flavor and I recommend it. You can substitute butter or a dairy-free butter substitute (or you can leave it out altogether), but if you want the full effect, the depth of flavor and the richness this filling can offer, I strongly encourage you to use ghee.
I have tried every brand I can get my hands on and I even make my own, but above all else, I prefer this brand. It is organic, made in the traditional Indian way and it is far and above superior to all others I’ve tried. (If you have a brand you feel that strongly about, please by all means tell me!! I would love to try some, too.)
Ghee, for me, is for flavor. I wouldn’t use it for a pie crust, for example.
And since we’re talking about pie filling and crust, don’t forget to try my crust recipe! Creating a gluten-free crust everyone would love was a little work, but I hit the jackpot with mine, even streamlining the technique by letting the food processor do the work. It’s a cinch, and virtually fool-proof. And believe me, a crust that good deserves this Homemade Caramel Apple Pie Filling.
Or, you can skip the pie and make a delicious yeast coffee cake filled with apples and topped with cream cheese icing. (It’s the sister recipe to my Cherry Swirl Coffee Cake that so many of you love!)
No matter what you use this filling to make, it will be a hit! The recipe is so fast and easy, too. Peeling, coring and slicing the apples takes longer than putting together the ingredients and cooking the filling. I make a batch using four apples in about 10 minutes.
Before you get started, check out my ultimate guide to autumn apples for the best apples to use in all your baking.
Homemade Caramel Apple Pie Filling
4 medium apples, peeled, core removed and cut into large chunks
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup light brown sugar (loosely scooped, not packed firm)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (use organic to avoid GMO corn)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon ghee (or dairy-free butter substitute, but ghee really makes this recipe!)
1 cup water
Add apple chunks to a medium saucepan and toss with lemon juice.
Turn heat on to medium-high; add brown sugar, cornstarch, spices and salt.
Gently stir the mixture, coating all apple pieces with the dry ingredients. Stay with it, stirring occasionally as the sugar melts and a thick bubbly sauce forms.
Add the ghee, stir and then gradually add the water, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring as you add and letting the sauce thicken with each addition. This only takes a few seconds over medium-high heat.
Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool as much as needed until you’re ready to use or store it.