Salted Caramel Apple Pie
This salted caramel apple pie embodies the flavors we look forward to each fall — tart apples, a rich caramel sauce, and the flakiest, best pie crust recipe. Top it off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of the salted caramel sauce, and you’re all set!
You Can’t Have Fall Without Apple Pie
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love apple pie. And apple pie in any form, at that — slab pie, galette, Dutch-style, traditional double-crust … If it has the words apple and pie in the name, I will devour it.
Long ago, I made a Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie, which totally blew my mind. I’ll eat cheesecake without abandon, but the combination of the apples with the salted caramel was absolutely superb. I knew that at some point I wanted to try a more traditional apple pie with the infusion of a salted caramel sauce. It finally happened, and I couldn’t have been happier with the results — a melt-in-your-mouth crust and paper-thin apple slices layered with a homemade salted caramel sauce. This is dessert nirvana!
This is not necessarily an easy apple pie recipe, but trust me. It is well worth the effort. And your reward at the end is what I’m sure will be your new favorite fall dessert!
It’s important to note that this recipe is technically three-fold: the sweet apple filling, the flakey pie crust, and the egg wash topping.
For the sweet and salty caramel apple filling, you’ll need:
- My favorite homemade Salted Caramel Sauce (You can use store-bought in a pinch, but this homemade version is so much better!)
- Tart, crisp apples that have been peeled, cored, and sliced thinly to about 1/8-inch thick (I used a mix of Granny Smith, Fuji, and Honeycrisp apples, but you can use whichever you prefer. Just avoid mushy apples, like Red Delicious, as they’ll fall apart when baking.)
- Fresh-squeezed lemon juice (or store-bought, if needed)
- White, granulated sugar
- All-purpose flour (sifted, if possible)
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground allspice
- Ground nutmeg
For the flakey pie crust, you’ll need:
- All-purpose flour (sifted, if time allows)
- White granulated sugar
- Salt (kosher or sea salt)
- Unsalted butter (chilled and cut into 1/4-inch slices)
- Vegetable shortening (chilled and sliced into 4 pieces)
- Ice water
- And my secret ingredient — ice cold vodka
And for the egg wash, all you’ll need is a lightly beaten egg and some coarse sugar. This makes the top of the pie crust golden brown and slightly sweet.
How To Make Salted Caramel Sauce
To start, you’ll need the ingredients: two cups of white sugar, 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter softened to room temperature (and cut into pieces, so it melts more evenly), one cup of heavy cream (also at room temperature), and a tablespoon of flakey sea salt.
I highly recommend using flakey sea salt like fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt. If you have to substitute table salt, use only 1 to 1½ teaspoons, or the sauce will be much too salty.
Then, follow these instructions for making your own homemade salted caramel sauce:
- Make a Dry Caramel: This essentially means melting the sugar on its own with just heat. Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a medium 3- to 4-quart saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. You’ll see that the sugar will begin to form clumps, but that’s okay. Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook. Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks. Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It can burn easily at this point, so keep a close eye on it.
- Add the Butter: Once the dry caramel reaches this sweet spot, add the sliced butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted. Remove the pan from heat.
- Add the Heavy Cream and Sea Salt: Slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will once again bubble up ferociously. (Hence why you need the large pot.) Whisk together until all of the cream has been incorporated, and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel and whisk to incorporate. You want the salt to melt, otherwise you’ll end up with crunchy bites. (But if you like that crunch, stor it in once the caramel sauce has cooled.)
- Store: Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes, and then pour into your favorite glass jar. Let it cool to room temperature, the seal with a secure lid and refrigerate for up to 1 month.
How To Make Pie Crust
This is my all-time favorite pie crust recipe! It uses a combination of butter and vegetable shortening, as well as a long-renowned secret ingredient for ultra flakiness: vodka.
First, you need to make the dough for the buttery, flakey pie crust. Start by pulsing one and a half cups of the flour, the sugar, and the salt together in a food processor until combined. Next, add the cold flour and vegetable shortening, and pulse it until a homogenous dough forms in clumps (about 10 seconds). Scrape down the sides of your food processor before adding the remaining 1/2-cup of flour, and pulse until the mixture is evenly distributed throughout. Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl. Then, sprinkle with the cold vodka and ice water. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the liquids until the dough is slightly tacky. Then, flatted the dough into a 4-inch disks on a floured counter, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days before making the apple pie.
Now that you’re ready to make this salted caramel apple pie, it’s time to roll out your dough.
- For the First Layer of Pie Crust: Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator, and roll out on a generously floured work surface into a 12-inch circle. Roll the dough loosely around a rolling pin and unroll into a prepared 9-inch pie plate, leaving at least a 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around the circumference, ease the dough into the plate by gently lifting edge of the dough with one hand while pressing into the plate bottom with other hand. Leave the overhanging dough in place. Refrigerate until the dough is firm again, about 30 minutes.
- For the Second Layer: Remove the second disk of dough from the fridge, and roll out into another 12-inch circle. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes in the dough, or cut the circle in 1-inch strips make a lattice-top. If using cut-outs, trim the circle to 12 inches, transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. If using strips for a lattice, gently transfer the strips to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to re-firm.
How To Make the Salted Caramel Apple Pie Filling
In a large mixing bowl, toss the apple slices with the lemon juice, and then drain in a colander. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Return the apple slices to the large bowl, add the sugar mixture, and toss to coat evenly.
Next, assemble the pie. Remove the dough-lined pie plate from the refrigerator. Using a slotted spoon, remove one-third of the apple mixture from the bowl, and layer in the bottom of the crust so there are hardly any gaps. Top with one-third of the salted caramel sauce, and then repeat twice more with layers of apples and salted caramel sauce. Top the pie with the cut-out dough round (or lattice-top,) and trim the edges of the dough a ½-inch over the edges of the pie plate. Crimp the edges of the pie, and place in the freezer for 30 minutes before baking (to re-firm the crust).
Now, it’s time to bake the pie. While the pie is chilling, place a rimmed baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. When you’re ready to bake, brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle with the coarse sugar. Place the pie on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges of the crust start to brown. Remove the pie from the oven, and cover the edges of the crust with a pie ring.
Continue to bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove the pie ring and continue to bake for an additional 5 minutes if the edges of the crust are a little pale compared to the rest of the crust. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before serving.
Why I Love This Apple Pie Recipe
- I don’t make a ton of pies throughout the year, but each time I make one, I tell myself that I need to make more pies. There’s just something about making homemade dough, rolling it out, and meticulously pinching and crimping the edges that is almost therapeutic. And the smell that permeates throughout every corner of the house … there’s little that can compete with that fabulous aroma. There’s nothing more comforting or rewarding!
- I love how thinly sliced these apples are. (I used a mandoline.) It’s perfect for piling high and infusing with the salted caramel sauce. When the pie comes out of the oven, that sauce is bubbling and beautiful and smells amazing. Once it cools, it sets up beautifully, with a little bit of caramel sauce seeping out of each piece when it’s plated. You get a perfect apple-to-caramel ration in every bite!
The cooked and cooled apple pie can be kept covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Beyond that, the crust will become too saturated with the liquid for the apple caramel filling.
More Fall Dessert Recipes To Try
Salted Caramel Apple Pie
For the Crust:
- 2½ cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (170 g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into ¼-inch slices
- ½ cup (92 g) solid vegetable shortening, chilled, cut into 4 pieces
- ¼ cup (60 ml) vodka, cold
- ¼ cup (60 ml) ice water
For the Pie Filing:
- ½ recipe Salted Caramel Sauce
- 5 tart-crisp apples, peeled, cored and sliced ⅛-inch thick (I used a mix of Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp)
- ¾ cup (177 ml) lemon juice
- ⅔ cup (132 g) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the Egg Wash Topping:
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
- 1 teaspoon coarse sugar
- Make the Dough: Process 1½ cups of the flour, the sugar and salt together in a food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add the butter and shortening and process until a homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 7 to 10 seconds (the dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and redistribute the dough evenly around the bowl. Add the remaining 1 cup flour and pulse until the mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl and the mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty the mixture into a medium bowl.
- Sprinkle the vodka and water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix, pressing down on the dough until it is slightly tacky and sticks together.
- Divide the dough into two portions. Roll one out on a generously floured work surface to a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate, leaving at least a 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around the circumference, ease the dough into the plate by gently lifting edge of the dough with one hand while pressing into the plate bottom with other hand. Dust off any excess flour with a pastry brush. With scissors or kitchen shears, trim the edge so that it overhangs by 1 inch.
- For solid top crust, roll remaining dough as before (into a 12-inch circle); for a lattice-top pie, roll it into a 9- by 15-inch rectangle instead. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Wrap both portions in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to one day in advance.
- Prepare the Filling: In a large bowl, toss the apple slices with the lemon juice, then drain in a colander. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Return the apple slices to the large bowl, add the sugar mixture and toss to combine.
- Assemble the Pie: Remove the dough-lined pie plate from the refrigerator. Use a slotted spoon to remove one-third of the apple mixture from the bowl and layer in the bottom of the crust so there are hardly any gaps. Top with one-third of the salted caramel sauce, then repeat twice more with layers of apples and salted caramel sauce.
- If cutting shapes out of the reserved dough round, do so now. If using a lattice-top, cut the rectangle of dough into 1-inch strips.Top the pie with either the dough round (or lattice-top) and trim the edges of the dough a ½-inch over the edges of the pie plate. Crimp the edges of the pie and then place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.
- Bake the Pie: While the pie is chilling, place a rimmed baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
- When ready to bake, if you have not cut out shapes of the dough round or done a lattice-top, use a sharp knife to cut slits in the top crust. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar. Place the pie on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges of the crust start to brown. Remove the pie from the oven and cover the edges of the crust with a pie ring.
- Continue to bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove the pie ring and continue to bake for an additional 5 minutes if the edges of the crust are a little pale compared to the rest of the crust. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before serving. The pie can be kept, covered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Equipment: 9-inch pie plate
- Crust: This is my very favorite pie crust, but if you prefer not to use shortening, give my all-butter pie crust a try.
- Apples: Any combination of tart/crisp apples will work in this pie. Some suggestions: Granny Smith, Jonagold, Pink Lady, Fuji, Honeycrisp, and Braeburn.
- Salted Caramel Sauce: You can substitute 1 cup of store-bought caramel sauce.
- Storage: The baked and cooled pie can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Freezing Unbaked Pie: Place the fully assembled, unbaked pie on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Wrap in a few layers of plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 2 months. Unwrap and bake directly from frozen. It will take more time to bake.
- Freezing Fully Baked Pie: Bake the pie, then cool completely. Wrap in a few layers of plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Unwrap and rewarm in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
Photography by Dee Frances.