Homemade apple pie filling makes fall pie baking a snap and tastes so much better than store-bought!
Fruit pies are one of my favorite things to bake, but they’re so much work! Thankfully, this homemade apple pie filling is here to make all of our lives easier.
Make this delicious apple pie filling now and can it to use later— whether it’s for Thanksgiving, a dinner party, or any night of the week. All you’ll have to do when you get the craving for apple pie is pour the filling into a pie crust and bake!
Canning apple pie filling is easy to do at home and doable for anyone. Keep reading and I’ll show you how!
How to make homemade apple pie filling
First, start with the right apples! The best apples to bake with are ones that are tart, firm, and won’t break down in the oven. Granny smith, jonagold, jonathan, gala, honeycrisp, and pink lady/cripps pink are all great varieties to choose from. Stick to one type of apple, or feel free to combine several varieties to get even bigger flavor.
Peel and chop apples
Prepping the apples for the pie filling is definitely the most tedious part of this recipe, but it still shouldn’t take too long. This video shows how I peel and chop the apples to minimize waste and maximize efficiency. You’ll need about 7 cups of chopped apples, which is about 7 medium large apples.
Keep apples from browning during this step by storing them in a lemon juice solution. Simply fill a large bowl with water and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (bottled or freshly squeezed). Keep sliced apples submerged until you’re ready to move to the next step.
Gather the rest of the ingredients
In addition to apples, you’ll need to following ingredients to make this canned apple pie filling:
- Apple juice
- Lemon Juice
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground nutmeg (optional)
- Clear Jel modified corn starch (not instant)
Do I have to use Clear Jel for this apple pie filling?
Clear Jel is used to thicken this pie filling as it holds up well to water bath canning and long term shelf storage. You cannot substitute flour, corn starch, or any other thickener as they will break down over time. Most grocery stores do not carry Clear Jel, but you can find it online and at specialty food stores. Just be sure it is not labeled “Instant” as instant Clear Jel is not meant for high heat canning recipes.
If you can’t find Clear Jel or don’t want to use it, there is a solution! Simply omit it from the recipe below and instead add 3 tablespoons of cornstarch or flour to 1 jar of pie filling right before you assemble the pie for baking. It may be tricky to get the filling smooth and lump-free, but it is at least an option.
One last note, you will likely come across “Sure Jel” while searching for Clear Jel and wonder if they are the same. They are not! “Sure Jel” is a brand of pectin used for making jam and will not work in this recipe.
Blanch the apples
The next step for making this apple pie filling is to add the chopped apples (strained from the lemon solution) to a large pot of boiling water. Bring the apples to a boil and cook for just 1 minute. Drain them and set aside.
Put it all together
Stir the sugar, Clear Jel, and spices together in the pot and then whisk in the apple juice and some water. Set over medium high heat and continue to stir until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Add the lemon juice and cook for 1 minute more.
Remove from the heat and stir in the apples. (And sneak a bite or two— yum!)
Ladle into jars and process
This recipe makes 2 quarts of apple pie filling, but can easily be doubled or tripled if you’d like.
Ladle the prepared filling into clean and sterilized quart jars, leaving 1 inch of space at the top of the jars. Wipes the rims clean and use a knife to release any air bubbles that are stuck in the filling.
Top with lids and rings and gently lower into a pot of boiling water. The water should be deep enough that the jars are completely covered— you’ll need a large pot! “Process” the jars by boiling them in the water bath for 25 minutes. The water should be at a rolling boil the entire time. When the time is up, remove the jars and let them cool.
Store jars in a cool place out of direct sunlight and enjoy within 1 year.
Can I freeze the apple pie filling instead?
Absolutely! Instead of ladling into jars, let the filling cool completely to room temperature. Transfer to a gallon freezer ziplock bag and press flat. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the freezer overnight and use it as you’d like.
Ways to use this homemade apple pie filling
The most obvious thing to do is bake a pie! Make a batch of my foolproof flaky crust and use 1 jar of apple pie filling. Bake at 400°F for 45-60 minutes until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.
If you don’t want to make a pie, you can also try this apple pie filling on top of ice cream, pancakes, oatmeal, etc. Delicious!
Other canning recipes
Now that you’ve caught the canning bug, here are a few of my other favorite canning recipes:
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This recipe was originally published September 2013.
Homemade Apple Pie Filling
- 7 cups apples , peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (800 grams, about 7 apples)
- 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar (350 grams)
- ½ cup Clear Jel starch (113 grams)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg , optional
- 1 cup cold water (237 ml)
- 2 ½ cup apple juice (355 ml)
- ¼ cup bottled lemon juice (60 ml)
- Blanch apple slices by dipping them in a large pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain set aside.
- Combine sugar, clear jel, cinnamon, and nutmeg (if using) in a large pot. Whisk in the cold water and apple juice. Set over medium high heat and cook, stirring almost constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to boil.
- Add the bottled lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Mixture will be very thick.
- Add the blanched apples to the mixture and immediately ladle into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1 inch headspace at the tops of the jars. Remove air bubbles with a long knife or thin spatula. Wipe rims and cover with lids and ring bands.
- Process in a large pot of boiling water for 25 minutes (see notes for high altitude processing time). Make sure jars are completely covered by the water and water is at a rolling boil for the entire processing time.
- Let jars cool and ensure lids have sealed (lids should not bounce back when pressed). Store any unsealed jars in the fridge and use within a few weeks.
- To bake a pie, simply pour it into a prepared pie shell. Bake at 400°F until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown.
- Store sliced apples in a solution of water and lemon juice (2 tablespoons lemon juice per large bowl of water) to prevent browning until ready to proceed with recipe.
- Increase processing time for high altitude as needed: 1,001-3,000 ft 30 minutes, 3,001-6,000 ft 35 minutes, 6,001+ ft 40 minutes.
- New to canning? See my post on Home-Canning Tips and Resources.