Caramel Apple Pie

I finally made a pie! I’ve always been intimidated by homemade pie, particularly by making the crust, and since I don’t really like pie in the first place I’ve been putting off this endeavor for quite a while. Something about big chunks of warm fruit has never appealed to me, but I figured doused in a caramel sauce and ice cream I could enjoy it enough to put in the effort for all the other normal, pie-loving Americans in my family. So when Ryan’s parents visited us in Connecticut a few weekends ago, I embraced the fall tradition of apple pie and served up this classic with a twist for our BBQ dessert. And just in case it turned out to be an amateur-tasting pie, I cut out pretty leaves from the dough to pretend like I’m a pro. Have I fooled you yet?

Turns out the pie came out really well and I had everyone surprised that it was my first attempt. Maybe pie crust isn’t quite as intimidating as I always thought, or I just got lucky choosing the tried-and-true recipe of a fellow blogger. (Check out her rant on homemade pie dough – it will convert you!) Either way, I see a few more pies in my baking future, and I hope to bulk out that section of my recipe index so it’s not so empty and sad. As far as this recipe goes, I would cut back on the liquid called for next time (I’ve made notes in the recipe below) but maybe it would have been less liquid-y if we had waited for the pie to set a few minutes out of the oven before digging in. I cut my apple pieces up small enough so I wasn’t turned off by giant chunks of apple and the caramel sauce baked into the pie definitely won some points for “team pie” in my opinion. I served this pie with a caramel swirl ice cream (store-bought, gasp!) and it was the perfect ending to our lovely day together.

I realize there are a lot of steps that go into making a pie, but there’s something very therapeutic and rewarding about putting together the components and pulling a fresh homemade pie from the oven. I felt more domestic than ever. Give it a try sometime, and if you can also pull off a batch of homemade vanilla ice cream, you’ll probably win “friend/parent/sibling of the year” award, even from a non-pie-lover like me. Here’s evidence of my happy pie-consumers:

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Caramel Apple Pie

Recipe adapted from Domestic Fits


for the pie dough:
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
10 tbsp butter, cut into cubes + 1/4 cup melted butter for top of pie
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup vodka (helps make the crust flaky!)
1/4 cup cold water
2 tbsp sugar for top of pie

for the apple filling:
5 cups granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into thin slices
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp apple sauce

for the caramel filling*
1 cups brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Add 2 cups of flour, salt, sand sugar to a food processor and pulse to combine.

Add cubes of butter and shortening and pulse until combined, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the remaining flour and process until it’s all combined – but don’t mess with it too much or the dough will become tougher.

Move dough to a large bowl and add the water and vodka. Knead it gently until it’s combined. The dough will be moist but you can add a bit of flour to help hold it together. Split it into 2 evenly-sized disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours (can be made up to 3 days in advance).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the apples, lemon juice, and salt; toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, apple sauce, and nutmeg and toss to coat.

For the caramel sauce, add the brown sugar and cream to a pot over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and allow the mixture boil, untouched, until it reaches 210 degrees. Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Roll out one pie dough disk to fit your greased pie pan with a little bit of overhang. Pat the dough into the pan and pour the caramel on the bottom with the apple mixture on top.

Roll out the remaining pie dough circle and either lay over the apples or cut out shapes to cover. Use melted butter to adhere the dough on top and brush the entire thing with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

*I’ve halved the amount of caramel sauce because I found it to be too much liquid, but if you’re looking for a very caramel-y pie, go for the doubled amount. There’s a chance I just cooked up the caramel incorrectly and ended up with the wrong product. Either way it was delicious but I only included half in my pie.

The delicious damage we did that day…


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26 Responses to “Caramel Apple Pie”

  1. #
    Julie @ Willow Bird Baking — September 30, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

    Congrats on your first pie! It’s a beauty!!

  2. #
    April — September 30, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

    I love the leaf cut outs for the top, great idea!

  3. #
    Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie — September 30, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

    I used to hate pies growing up! I thought that warm mushy fruit only existed when it was rotten, so eating it that way so incredibly unappealing. Pumpkin pie was the only pie I liked for the longest time. But then I get over my phobia of mushy fruit somehow. I love your leaves pie topping!

  4. #
    onceuponarecipe — September 30, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

    This looks deeeeeeeeeeelicious! And so seasonally appropriate!

  5. #
    onceuponarecipe — October 1, 2011 @ 12:55 am

    PS. I just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. :)

  6. #
    Beth Michelle — October 1, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

    For a first time pie you really did an amazing job. Your pie is beautiful and looks wonderful!

  7. #
    Angela — October 7, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

    This looks great, good job! I recently made my first pie too! :)

  8. #
    Katie @ Dip It In Chocolate — October 14, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

    I’m not much of a fruit pie person either (Give me a cream pie and we’ll be in business). But that second to last picture you’ve got- that might convince me!

  9. #
    Plastic Cards — December 6, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

    Really nice pie..I am hungry now. Is that a knife edge server?? Looks like it could cut cans:)

  10. #
    FoodEpix — December 10, 2011 @ 5:12 am

    Looks delicious. Would love for you to share this with us over at

  11. #
    mushy88 — October 24, 2012 @ 10:42 am

    I’ve been trying many recipes for Apple Pie and found yours extremely DELICIOUS! I have replaced the vodka with cold water and the pastry tasted amazing. Only issue was my caramel got really hard slowly after it cooked. Am I supposed to pour it directly into the pie once its cooked?
    Other than that GREAT JOB!!

    • Erica — October 24th, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

      Did you use a candy thermometer? Caramel can be very finicky and I’m thinking maybe you let it get too hot. And yes, you’re supposed to be able to pour it into the pie. Sorry that didn’t work out for you but glad you enjoyed the rest of it!

  12. #
    Sarah — November 17, 2012 @ 7:59 pm

    Your caramel sauce will be less liquidy if you bring a water/sugar mixture to 350F, then add the butter, and stir to melt. Remove from heat and add cream and vanilla as the last step!

    • Erica — November 19th, 2012 @ 1:38 am

      Thanks!! I’ll have to try that next time :)

  13. #
    Roschi — February 28, 2013 @ 4:48 am

    Hi Erica, I’m going to use your pie recipe as my very first pie recipe! Two questions:
    1. What can I subsitute for the vodka and how much? Iced water maybe?
    2.what can I subsitute for the apple sauce and how much?
    Pls let me know as soon as you can cos I plan to make it tomorrow. I’m so excited to try it! Thanks so much. Found this recipe through Pinterest!

    • Erica — February 28th, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

      Yes I think you can just replace the vodka with iced water. And you can probably just omit the apple sauce since it isn’t that much. Good luck!! And enjoy :)

  14. #
    Kim H — October 22, 2014 @ 10:41 am

    This looks awesome. I always buy pie crusts… I will have to be brave and try this! I have NEVER thought of Vodka in the pie crust!!! Wow… but I’m a huge Tito’s Vodka fan… so it will go in!

  15. #
    Sasha Nikolich — July 12, 2015 @ 6:26 am

    Hi! I love your recipes! I’ve used this recipe several times and it always tastes fabulous but I don’t include the caramel sauce. Whenever I take it out of the oven the pie always comes out liquidy. Is it because of the fresh apples? Should I let it cool or put it in the fridge for a while to let it solidify a bit?


    • Erica — July 14th, 2015 @ 8:58 pm

      Yes, the apples do release a lot of water so I always let the pie sit and cool for a bit to solidify. Usually this helps!


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