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Gluten Free Apple Pie in a Bag

Gluten Free Apple Pie in a Bag

Baking your gluten free apple pie in a bag ensures perfect fork-tender apples and a light and flaky, perfectly browned crust every time. Try this old-fashioned technique during pie season—or any time!

Gluten Free Apple Pie in a Bag

I can’t seem to remember when I first baked gluten free apple pie in a bag. What I do remember is that, once I did, I couldn’t ever go back to making apple pie any other way. Plus *knock wood* I haven’t ever burned my house down doing it. Don’t worry I’m only kidding a 375°F oven is not going to get the paper bag hot enough to have it burst into flames. Just don’t even think about turning on the broiler and everything will be alright. Actually way better than alright.

Baking your apple pie in a bag means that your apple filling is always always always perfectly tender, and your crust extra special flaky even without blind-baking the bottom crust. Then, all that’s left to do is to tear open the top of the bag ….

Gluten Free Apple Pie in a Bag

… and finish baking until the crust is absolutely positively the most gorgeous golden brown color you have ever seen in your life.

Gluten Free Apple Pie in a Bag—Step by Step

I only included all these step by step photos because, well, I love you and I want you to relax and enjoy the process. And since I really can’t stand it when a blog makes me scroll through 10,000 step-by-step photos, I piled 12 step-by-step photos into one collage. If you don’t like the step-by-steps, you can almost pretend they’re not here! See? Everybody wins! but I really did want to show you the big chunks of butter you need to make a light and flaky pie crust, plus how you really do bake this pie in a bag. For real. 

Gluten Free Apple Pie in a Bag

And before I forget it you’re still kind of skittish about rolling out pie crust, guess what I have how-to video for making gluten free pie crust. Never fear!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 9-inch apple pie


Double Pie Crust
3 cups (420 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I highly recommend Cup4Cup, my Better Than Cup4Cup blend, my Mock Cup4Cup, or my Better Batter Pastry Hack blend), plus more for sprinkling

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum (omit if your blend  already contains it)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

12 tablespoons (168 g) unsalted butter, roughly chopped and chilled

3/4 to 1 cup cold water, iced (ice cubes do not count in volume measurement)

Pie Filling
5 medium-size Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced about 1/4-inch thick (or another firm, tart apple)

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon (9 g) tapioca starch (can replace with arrowroot or cornstarch)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For Finishing
Egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon cold water, beaten)

Large paper grocery shopping bag, plus a stapler


  • First, make the pie crust. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the chopped and chilled butter, and toss to coat it in the dry ingredients. Flatten each chunk of butter between your thumb and forefinger. Add 3/4 cup of water and mix until the dough begins to come together. Add the remaining water by the teaspoon until no part of the dough is crumbly.

  • Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper and press into a disk. Sprinkle the dough lightly with more flour, and roll it out into a rectangle that is about 1 inch thick, moving the dough frequently and sprinkling it lightly with flour if it begins to stick. Fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter. Sprinkle the dough again lightly with flour, and roll out the dough once again into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Twice more, remove the top piece of parchment paper, sprinkle lightly with flour, and fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter. This will smooth out the dough and make it quite easy to handle. Divide the dough into two equal parts, wrap each separately in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill.

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Make the pie filling. In a large bowl, place the apples, sugar, salt, tapioca starch and ground cinnamon, and toss to coat the apples evenly. Set the filling aside.

  • Assemble the bottom crust and filling. Grease a 9-inch metal pie plate generously and set aside. Remove one half of pie crust from the refrigerator. Place on a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper, dust lightly with flour, and roll into a 12-inch round, about 3/8-inch thick. Roll the pie crust loosely on the rolling pin and then unroll it over the prepared pie plate. Press the pie crust gently into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate and, with kitchen shears, trim the excess crust so that only 1/4-inch of excess is overhanging the plate. Tuck the 1/4-inch of excess under itself, and crimp the edge gently all the way around the crust. Arrange the apples filling on the bottom crust in concentric circles, overlapping one apple slice slightly over the previous one. This will prevent the filling from sinking into gaps.

  • Shape the other crust and finish assembling the pie. Remove the other half of pie crust from the refrigerator. Place on a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper, dust lightly with flour, and roll it into a rough round about 3/8-inch thick and trim to 10-inches in diameter. Carefully lift the top crust and center it over the pie plate. Tuck the very edge of the pie crust under itself, crimp the edge all the way around and press together with the bottom crust to seal. Alternatively, you can tuck the top crust under the bottom crust all along the edge of the pie and press gently to crimp. Brush the top crust and edges generously with the egg wash, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill until the crust is firm. This will prevent the crust from shrinking during baking.*

    *Note: At this point, the assembled raw pie can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to a month before baking and serving.

  • Place the pie in a bag and bake. Place the paper bag open on its side, and slide the assembled and chilled pie inside so that the back edge of the pie is about 1-inch away from the bottom of the bag. Fold the bag opening over on itself and stable shut. Place the pie in the bag on a large rimmed baking sheet and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cut a large hole in the top of the to expose the top and sides of the pie. Return to the oven and bake until the pie is golden brown all over (about another 10 minutes). Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly so the filling sets before slicing and serving.


Comments are closed.

  • Kristy B.
    November 17, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    I didn’t have a staple gun, so I sealed the bag shut with tin foil. Worked like a charm :)

  • youngbaker2002
    November 16, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    hi Nicole, I was just wondering, do we have to use kosher salt? is there a reason why your recipes call for kosher?

  • jillian
    November 10, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    I smiled when seeing this paper bag recipe. forty years ago I learned to cook a turkey in a paper bag (butter it all over and staple it in…cook as usual) and the results are so great that we have always done this. moist and delicious. so of course I will be trying this for a pie!

    • November 12, 2014 at 8:21 AM

      That sounds amazing, Jillian! I’ve never heard of that but now I simply must try it. Maybe even this Thanksgiving…

  • Cyn
    November 10, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    I was just wondering if you had ever figured out a dairy free hack for pastry flour?

    • November 12, 2014 at 8:20 AM

      Yes, Cyn, please use the search function. It’s there!

  • kittywitty
    November 10, 2014 at 8:00 PM

    Quick question…if I freeze the pie after assembling, do the baking instructions change? I’ve seen some recipes say to bake from frozen at a higher temp first, then lower the temp for the remaining time. Any pointers on baking your pie from frozen? Thanks SO much!! :)

    • November 12, 2014 at 8:22 AM

      Kitty, it’s not necessary to cook it at a higher temperature at first, and in fact I wouldn’t recommend that at all. You just might have to increase the baking time in the second stage (after cutting open the bag). That’s all.

      • kittywitty
        November 12, 2014 at 3:38 PM

        Thanks, Nicole! :)

  • Donia Robinson
    November 10, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    I just placed an order for Better Batter, and wanted to let any other Better Batter buyers ;) that they are having a huge sale right now. A 5-pound package is $12.50. This is the lowest price I’ve ever seen. Plus, if your order is over $50, you get free shipping. Just wanted to pass this along to all my GF peeps!

    • kittywitty
      November 10, 2014 at 8:32 PM

      Oooh…good to know, Donia! Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Mare Masterson
    November 10, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    Well I, for one, have never precooked apples for my pies. I will make my normal apple pie (with Macintosh apples and honey instead of sugar) using Nicole’s amazing pie crust recipe (had it last Thanksgiving for the first time and I was literally dancing and singing for joy). I turn Better Batter into the mock cup 4 cup. Only difference this year, I will cook it in the bag. Rock on Nicole!

    • November 12, 2014 at 8:25 AM

      Sounds perfect, Mare!

  • kittywitty
    November 10, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    This pie looks amazing, Nicole! I haven’t made GF pie crust yet, but this looks so good and I was looking for something to make this week that I could freeze for Thanksgiving. I think this is it! By the way–you have the BEST blog and cookbooks on gluten free baking, hands down. I’ve made so many of your recipes and they are all amazing. Thank you!!

    • Donia Robinson
      November 10, 2014 at 3:54 PM

      I second this!

    • November 12, 2014 at 8:22 AM

      Thanks so much for the kind words, kitty. That means a lot to me!

  • Rachel Porada
    November 10, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Can you use a glass pie pan, or must it be metal for some reason?

    • November 12, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      I do not recommend using a glass pie pan, Rachel. The pie will bake too fast.

  • Sarah
    November 10, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    I made mine this morning. In the oven as I type, so excited to see how it turns out. By the way, this is the first time I’ve ever had a pie crust NOT fall apart!! Hurray!

    • November 12, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      That’s awesome, Sarah!

  • Rebecca Terry
    November 10, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Do you think this pie would work with a mock apple pie, made with zucchini instead of apples? I would LOVE to try this but allergic to apples,(and other tree fruit as well).

    • A Living Doll
      November 11, 2014 at 8:31 PM

      What fruits can you eat? Are berries okay? Guava, pear and jicama taste similar to apples if that helps. Jicama is a root not a fruit so its worth the try. :) Its more potato like in consistency but apple like in taste. These are my opinions though so look into it first and see if its something you’d like. ^_^ If you can eat custard apple (its not an apples its a seed fruit) then that would be an amazing option too.

      • Rebecca Terry
        November 12, 2014 at 12:07 AM

        I can have berries, but no pears, nothing that grows on a tree, that I have found. I have never tried Jicama or Custard Apples. Nor have I ever heard of a Custard apple! I would be very intrigued to try it. I would probably have to order it as I live in a smallish town. If Jicama is like a potato I am probably allergic as I am allergic to potatoes as well. The list I am not allergic too is shorter than what I am allergic too. I know, ridiculous. Plus I think I am adding rice to that long list.

      • A Living Doll
        November 12, 2014 at 2:40 AM

        Aww, I’m sorry. :( I also have a lot of food allergies (more than 16 . . .) so I know what its like to dodge all sorts of foods. >_< I think berries would work well and zucchini would be good but I get the feeling it would be better for a savory pie than a sweet pie. Umm, custard apples grows on a tree but is more like a Lychee than a apple type fruit. Hmm, I suppose pumpkin and and kiwi are some other options too. o . o Jicama isn't a potato its a root like a potato but you can research it to see if its related to your potato allergies (I think its a nightshade allergy? Asking your allergist would be wise.) If you like savory pies then you can go really wild with the zucchini filling though. : D (Like with carrots and cauliflower too.) Oh! Carrots are good for sweet pies too. : D Anyways, I hope you get some awesome filling ideas. ^_^ If all fails why not try a banana filling? (It's technically a berry. o . o )

      • Rebecca Terry
        November 12, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        Thank you for the ideas! I have already tried a mock apple zucchini before, just not with your recipe.(which looks amazing!) The zucchini absorbs the spices and sugars and taste almost exactly like apples. But it can get a little mushy if not cooked correctly. But a savory pie sounds good too, now I am hungry!

  • Davida
    November 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    My grandmother baked in paper bags, and I had forgotten about this method. Thanks for the reminder. I think I’ll give it a try.

  • November 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    Fascinating, I’ve never heard of this method. The pie looks so uniformly golden and delicious!

    • November 12, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      It’s the only way to make apple pie, if you ask me, Lauren! ;)

  • Lucy
    November 10, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Nicole, your pie looks wonderful… I have never tried the brown bag method, I’m sure to try it next time for sure.
    Your pie crust recipe it to die for! Look what I baked yesterday! And no one could tell it was GF and I even prefer this recipe over the gluten filled pie crust…many thanks Nicole…HUGS :)
    PS; My pic isn’t as fancy as yours …;)

    • Donia Robinson
      November 10, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      That is awesome, Lucy!!

    • November 12, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      That looks amazing, Lucy!!!

  • Donia Robinson
    November 10, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    I have never heard of this method! Where have I been? The pie filling looks very well cooked. I hate it when there are huge slices of barely cooked apple in a pie. I read through the instructions just to make sure you didn’t cook the filling in advance (which is cheating, in my book). I don’t make many pies, but maybe I’ll have to do this one for Thanksgiving. I think my mom would get a kick out of the process (and results!).

    Thanks, Trader Joe’s bag, for your ultimate sacrifice to our GF cause…

    • November 12, 2014 at 8:25 AM

      Nope, no precooked filling here, Donia. The beauty of making apple pie in a bag!

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