D.I.Y. Friday: Easy Gluten Free Apple Pie Filling

D.I.Y. Friday: Easy Gluten Free Apple Pie Filling

Easy Gluten Free Apple Pie Filling

Well it’s happened again: apple-picking season here in the Northeastern U.S. has started, and we haven’t planned our annual pilgrimage to the apple orchard yet. That is downright unacceptable, as this is my favorite season and apple-picking is one of my family’s absolute favorite activities. Whether they love the day itself more, or all the apple baking that happens afterward doesn’t matter to me one bit. Love is love. And since every year I overpick those gorgeous apples, especially if we go early enough in the season that the trees are packed with fruit, I have to be ready when bounty turns to albatross. This easy homemade gluten free apple pie filling is part of my new plan. What do you think?

(By the way, welcome back to D.I.Y. Fridays, an occasional blog series where we D.I.Y. a basic (sometimes naturally gluten free) recipe (like today’s recipe for gluten free apple pie filling) or other ingredient that you otherwise might be inclined to buy. We save money! We make things taste better!)

Apple pie in white dish

The kids have selected their apple-picking sneakers (sneakers that still fit, of course, but are so beaten up that they make me sad so I don’t panic every time they step in smushed road apples *ew*), and they’ve begun begging for their favorite baked goods.

A bowl of apples, and apple slices, and a jar with apple pie filling, and apple pie in a white dish

This apple pie filling is super simple to make, and it uses up as many pounds of apples as you like. Just scale the recipe ingredients up or down as necessary. As written, the recipe uses 3 pounds of apples (about 6 medium-to-large apples), which seemed like a nice compromise to me. Since I’m simply not confident about water bath canning (my idea of canning is putting something, anything, into a canning jar and closing the lid), although I’m sure there’s a way to modify this recipe to be appropriate for canning I’m afraid I’m just not the one to tell you how. Replacing the tapioca starch with UltraJel (a gluten free modified canning starch) is probably a good start. If you know, tell us about it in the comments!

A close up of apple pie in a white dish

Apple pie filling is a wonderful thing to have on hand for a last-minute apple crisp, like you see here, or even for using in an actual apple pie. Since the apples have already been blanched, they cook to the proper consistency much more quickly so you can bake your pie crust to perfection without worrying about overbaking it. Puree the apple pie filling and you’ve got pretty much the very best apple butter you can imagine. Warm the filling and pour it over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Need I say more?

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 3 quarts


1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (109 g) packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or more to taste)

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 1/2 cups (36 fluid ounces) lukewarm water

3 tablespoons (27 g) tapioca starch/flour

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 pounds baking apples (Gala apples work very well), peeled, cored and sliced


  • Make the syrup. In a medium-size, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and 4 cups of the water, whisk to combine well and then place over medium heat. In a separate, small bowl, place the tapioca starch/flour and the remaining 1/2 cup water, and mix to combine well. This is your thickening slurry. Add the slurry to the sugar and water mixture in the saucepan, whisk constantly. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until it has begun to thicken (about 5 minutes). Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the lemon juice and whisk to combine, then pour the mixture into a separate large bowl and set aside to cool.

  • While the syrup is cooling, blanch the apples. Place the peeled, cored and sliced apples in a large, heat-safe bowl and cover completely with boiling water. Cover the bowl and allow the apples to steam for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and strain the water from the apples.

  • Add the blanched apples to the large bowl with the cooling syrup and mix to combine. Divide the mixture among 3 quart-sized glass canning jars and allow to cool before covering and refrigerating.

  • Blanching apples concept from Serious Eats.



P.S. Which Gluten Free on a Shoestring Cookbooks do you have? If you’ve ever wondered which of them would be right for you, check them all out on amazon.com’s “Look Inside” feature, where you can see the entire table of contents of each, plus a large excerpt. Thank you for your support!

Comments are closed.

  • Penny Oosterman
    September 11, 2015 at 9:59 PM

    I use a can of frozen apple juice, and thicken it on the top of the stove, with the apples in it.Add your favorite spices, and you have your pie filling. Less sugar

  • Greta
    September 11, 2015 at 9:52 PM

    Yes please post the recipe to your apple crisp!!! It looks soooo yummy!

  • Marlena Feuz Amalfitano
    September 11, 2015 at 1:45 PM

    It is much easier if you put plastic wrap to completely cover the inside of your pie pan. mix up all your ingredients, put them in the pan, wrap well and freeze. When completely frozen, slip out of the pan and into a plastic bag. When you want it, defrost a little, put in cold crust, add the top crust, bake at a slightly lower temp than usual for the first 1/2 hour and then normally for the rest. Works like a charm. I am lazy.

  • Bonnie Matthews
    September 11, 2015 at 12:04 PM

    Where is the recipe for the delicious-looking apple crisp?

    • September 11, 2015 at 12:42 PM

      I didn’t post it, Bonnie! I just kind of threw something together quickly to demonstrate how the filling could possibly be used. If there’s interest, I can test and retest a specific recipe and post it soon. :)

      • Deborah Shaw
        September 11, 2015 at 2:43 PM

        Yes, please do :)

        • youngbaker2002
          September 14, 2015 at 9:08 AM

          yes! yes! yes!

      • Rachael Scheibe
        September 13, 2015 at 1:47 PM

        Yes please!!

  • Mare Masterson
    September 11, 2015 at 12:01 PM

    McIntosh apple season has come and gone here in AZ–late August for them here. I got some from an organic orchard/farm at our farmer’s market. They are my go to apples for pie. My apples will become pie this weekend and go in the freezer, unbaked, for Thanksgiving for my family. They’re small apples. Not sure if I will get anything else out of them. Sigh! I need to find a grain free pie crust for me to have pie on Thanksgiving.

    • September 11, 2015 at 12:43 PM

      A grain free pie crust with a combination of almond flour and tapioca starch should be totally within reach, Mare! Have you looked around for one yet?

      • Mare Masterson
        September 11, 2015 at 1:37 PM

        Not yet, Nicole. I am still in mourning over this whole situation! I tried making some grain free bagels from a couple different places – one even with yeast and requires boiling before baking – and I wasn’t thrilled. I am going to play with the bagel recipe with yeast that is boiled first to see if I can come up with something I am actually happy with. I found a decent grain free bread that I can make, that uses all whole food ingredients. Because of that bread, I am not mourning the loss of making your awesome breads.

  • Pamela F
    September 11, 2015 at 11:45 AM

    Since my husband’s cousin has an apple orchard 45 mins from where we live, I’ve been getting fresh apples since mid-July… because of hot summer they’ve been 4 weeks early. I’ve already canned 32 quarts of apple pie filling to enjoy over the winter/spring until next years apples are ripe. It’s quite a job to peel/core/slice that many apples. Love that this recipe doesn’t involve hauling out the canner! Thank you so much for all the wonderful recipes you develop. It makes life so much easier, and more normal delicious for all of us!

  • Faith Sheets
    September 11, 2015 at 11:36 AM

    Can I use corn starch in place of the tapioca? It’s all I have on hand and I have a tree loaded with apples waiting to become pie filling :) can it be processed in a canner??? hoping so!!!

    • September 11, 2015 at 12:41 PM

      You can try using cornstarch, Faith, but I really don’t care for it as a thickener as it “leaks” when things cool. As I mentioned in the post, I’m afraid I don’t know about canning!

    • Penny Oosterman
      September 11, 2015 at 9:54 PM

      If you have regular tapioca, you can pulverize it into flour by using a bullet or a good food processor.

  • Mary
    September 11, 2015 at 10:32 AM

    how long can this be stored in fridge?

    • September 11, 2015 at 12:40 PM

      As I mentioned below to Michelle, Mary, I would say at least a week and a half in the refrigerator, since sugar is such a good preservative.

  • Michelle Parker Howard
    September 11, 2015 at 10:28 AM

    Two questions: First, how long would this be good for in the fridge? Second, could I freeze it. My six year old daughter has ben diagnosed with Celiac for about a year now and I’ve tried and disposed of so many recipes I could just cry. I started testing some of your bread recipes about a month ago and although I’ve never ever worked with dough before and get a bit anxious with every recipe, they are the best we have
    had to date. I’m in the process of replacing some of my pantry staples with better quality items at your suggestion and am excited to try homemade pie crust for the very first time…. GLUTEN FREE !!! Thank you!

    • Mare Masterson
      September 11, 2015 at 11:55 AM

      Nicole’s pie crust recipe is amazing (actually, I haven’t been unhappy with any of her recipes)! My gluten eating family gladly eats pies when I make her crust.

    • September 11, 2015 at 12:40 PM

      Hi, Michelle, since sugar is a really good preservative, I think these would be good for at least a week and a half (especially if stored in a well-sealed container). I bet it would freeze just fine, too, but I can’t say for sure since I haven’t tried it. So glad you’re having so much success! :)

  • Jennifer S.
    September 11, 2015 at 10:06 AM

    First off, I have all the cookbooks and they are messy and dog eared because I use them so dang much! Love them to pieces.
    Secondly, this is great! so many uses for a recipe like this!!! Thanks!

    • September 11, 2015 at 10:18 AM

      You’re the very best, Jennifer!!!

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