This delicious apple pie filling is a great way to preserve apples, especially those that lack a bit of flavor or crunch to be eaten raw.
Everyone loves that cozy, grandma-made-it-feeling and taste of homemade apple pie. With this easy canned apple pie filling you can now make it quickly and at any time of year. Especially, if you have an apple tree in your backyard, you will love some options of what to do with them. I mean, we can only make so much apple butter, right?
Get ready to channel those autumn vibes with a delicious classic apple pie!
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Why you’ll love this recipe
- It is a great way to preserve your apples for later for homemade pies.
- Not only that, you will have homemade apple pie filling in your pantry.
- Once you’re ready to make an apple pie, you only need to make the crust.
- You can improve the flavor of any apple variety.
- With this easy recipe, you can make the most out of the apple harvest.
- It is an easy recipe with simple ingredients.
- 2-6 TBSP sugar (I often use coconut sugar but you can use any sweetener you like)
- 4-5 TBSP of lemon juice (to taste, depending on your apples)
- 2 tsp of cinnamon
- about 2 pounds of apples
What apples to use
Most commercial apple varieties you find in the grocery store have been bred to look appealing. People tend to favor big, uniform apples with a sweet taste and firm crunch. Tart apples such as Pink Lady or Granny Smith are always good varieties to use. You can also mix and match different varieties of apples
Since you will add some lemon juice and sugar, you can pretty much make your apple pie filling taste the way you like it best.
Can you use heirloom apples?
I absolutely love heirloom apples. There are so many different types with very distinct flavors and textures. Most of them are good choices as long as they have a somewhat firm texture.
Canning apple pie filling is the perfect way to preserve those apples for later.
Whether to use thickener or not:
I used to add cornstarch to my apple pie filling. For a pint-sized Mason jar, I used between 2 TBSP and ¼ cup of cornstarch. More recently I have stopped doing so.
There is a concern about it not being shelf-stable for that long.
Helpful tools and equipment:
- Canning jars: I like to use either pint-size or quart-sized Mason jars but any jar with canning lids works
- Large pot: You will need a large pot for cooking the apple pie filling
- Funnel: Using a jar funnel makes filling the jars easier.
- Ladle: I love my big stainless steel ladle to fill my canning jars
- Canning tools: You can often buy them as a complete set with a funnel, jar lifter, magnetic lid lifter, and jar wrench.
- Apple peeler and apple corer: I actually prefer using a sharp knife but an apple peeler and an apple corer can be very useful, too.
Substitutions and variations:
This easy apple pie filling is the perfect launching pad for your own creations:
- Sugar: Instead of white sugar you can also use brown sugar or maple syrup for a deeper flavor and color
- Apple juice: You can substitute the water with apple juice to bring out the apple flavor even more. A splash of bourbon also adds extra flavor.
- Extra ingredients: While cinnamon is also perfect for apples, you might like to add other spices such as some vanilla extract, cardamom, or even pumpkin pie spice
- Other fruits: With this basic recipe, you can also make a cherry pie filling or pumpkin pie filling.
How long does canned apple pie filling last?
Your homemade pie filling should last at least 12 months but I have kept mine for 3 years even. Ideally, you want to store it in a cool place away from direct sunlight to protect its color. If you keep your canned apple pie filling longer than that it will most likely still be good. However, it might lose a bit of flavor and color.
A word about safe canning practices:
For food safety reasons, most people in the US strongly recommend to either waterbath can or pressure can. You can find more information directly from the CDC or from the Ball Company. I highly encourage you to do your own research to determine what’s best and safest for you and your family.
Having said that, it is interesting to note that people in Europe (particularly Germany where I grew up) do not waterbath can or pressure can. Often they have not even heard of those practices.
Therefore I have dug a bit deeper. You might like to read my whole article on my take on safe canning practices. While I am describing a simple canning method, you can easily add the step of water bath canning or pressure canning after you have filled the canning jars.
Ways to use the apple pie filling
Here are some ways to use your own apple pie filling:
- Obviously, you can make the perfect apple pie. All you need is a basic pie crust.
- You can also skip the crust and simply eat the apple pie filling. With some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream it becomes a delicious dessert.
- You can also add some toppings to your apple pie filling and turn it into an apple crumble or apple cobbler.
- This filling is also great for a classic apple strudel.
- Spoon it over waffles and pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast
- Top your French toast with apple pie filling
- Bake it into an apple bread pudding
- Fresh apples are always the best apples for this canned pie filling.
- Unless your apples are perfectly crisp and firm, don’t cut the apple slices too thin. They might just become too mushy.
- Always check that your jars are properly sealed: with Mason jar lids, you should not be able to indent them. You should also have to use a bit of force to open them. And they should make a loud “pop” sound when you open them.
More apple recipes you might enjoy:
How to make the apple pie filling:
1. Prepare the canning jars:
While I believe that you do not need to sterilize your canning jars, you may choose to do so. However, I do like to rinse my jars with hot water right before filling them. You can also heat up your jars in a hot oven.
2. Prepare the water:
Apples tend to brown when they are exposed to air. Therefore, I like to fill a pot with 1-3 cups of water and add a good amount of lemon juice to it.
3. Prepare the apples:
Either with a sharp knife or apple peeler, peel the apples. Then you will want to cut them into quarters and core them. Cut the apples into small slices or chunks and drop the apple slices right into the lemon water as you go.
Pro tip: Save the peels and core to make homemade apple cider vinegar! Some people like to keep the apple peels on to save time and for added crunch in the filling.
4. Add the remaining ingredients:
Now is the time to add sugar and ground cinnamon. You can also add
5. Cook the apple filling:
Cook the apple mixture over medium heat for at least 5 minutes or until the apple pieces are soft.
6. Fill the canning jars:
While the apple mixture is still piping hot, fill the hot jars with less than ½” inch headspace and close the lid. Either let them cool down before you move them to your pantry shelf or use a water bath canner to further process them. In either case, make sure to test the lids to ensure a proper seal.
Let me know your comments and questions below!
Pin For Later:
Canned Apple Pie Filling
- 2 pounds apples
- 2-6 TBSP sugar
- 4-5 TBSP lemon juice
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- Sterilize 3 pint size mason jars plus lids.
- Fill a medium pot with at least 1 cup of water. Add the lemon juice to prevent the apples from browing.
- Peel, core, and dice the apples. Optional: leave the peel. Add apples to the lemon water in the pot.
- Add sugar and cinnamon to the apple mixture.
- Over medium-low heat, bring the apple mixture to a simmer until apples have reached the desired softness.
- Fill the apple pie filling in the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch from the top. Place lid on the jar and screw rings on. Follow safe canning practices.
- tart and firm apples work best in this recipe
- you can also use cherries, plums, or other fruit for this canned pie filling