Guess who makes the best apple pie? My mom. You might think it’s actually your mom, but you’re wrong. It’s mine.
Just ask anybody.
When the Best Apple Pie also happens to be gluten-free, everyone is happy.
So when I decided that I had to recreate the iconic dessert paleo-style, it was of course hers that I was trying to emulate. The result? It’s not exactly the same, but it’s pretty damn close. It’s buttery and flaky and has some bite to it. The crust is good enough to be eaten on it’s own, and the apples inside taste like fall itself. They’re barely sweeter than a fresh apple, and have just a hint of cinnamon. To me, it’s paleo apple pie, perfected.
Full disclosure: You are going to find yourself hating me while making this recipe. I wouldn’t even attempt to make this pie without swearing. The crust is not easy to work with. You will hopefully love, (or at least like) me again, once the smell of apple pie fills your home.
And you might even do a happy dance when you pull it out of the oven And when you cut into it, you might say something like “Maybe Simone isn’t such an (insert expletive here) after all” Okay, ready? Let’s make apple pie. (Have a food processor? Head on over to my easier way to make pie crust, and then come back here and pick up at step 8!)
After the egg yolks and vanilla get mixed in, the consistency will seem too dry to become a crust, but it should be able to do this when you squeeze it in your hand:
Once everything is mixed, the dough is divided into two disks, wrapped in plastic wrap, and refrigerated. While the dough is chillin’, peel and slice your apples, and toss them with the apple filling ingredients.
And now, it’s time to hate me a little. Take the pie crust out of the fridge and roll the first disk out. (the smaller of the two if they’re uneven) Lightly dust a sheet or parchment paper, and dust the dough, too. You’ll want about a 10 inch round. Transfer the rolled out crust by picking up the parchment paper and flipping it over into the pie pan. OR, you can try and roll it around the rolling pin and transfer it that way. I tried both, and I found the former easier. This is how mine landed in the pan:
But don’t throw it out the window, all is not lost!
And it’s ready for the oven! At this point, your kitchen should look something like this:
All that’s left to do is wait. (and clean) Please note: The following recipe is based on several attempts to get the desired result. There are potentially endless possibilities for substitutions, but without trying them (which I just don’t have time for), I cannot speak to how they will change the recipe. If you want or need to make substitutions, please do, and let me know in the comments how it turned out!
PIN THIS RECIPE!
Paleo Apple Pie
For the crust:
3 cups almond flour
1 cup arrowroot powder, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 eggs + 1 white
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
For the filling:
3 pounds apples (about 8 medium), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon (more if desired but cinnamon should be subtle, IMHO)
You will also need aluminum foil, parchment paper, a pie pan and a baking sheet.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place a baking sheet in the oven to heat up as well. (Placing the pie on a hot baking sheet will help keep the bottom crust from getting soggy)
- In a large mixing bowl, Whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot, coconut sugar, and salt.
- Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the dry mixture. Cut it in with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
- In a small bowl, combine the whole eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine.
- In another small bowl, lightly beat the egg white. Set aside. You’re saving it to brush on the crust.
- Add the wet ingredients (minus the egg white) to the dry, and stir / cut in until incorporated.
- Gather the dough into 2 balls and form into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- While the crust is resting, make the filling: Combine the apples, coconut palm sugar, arrowroot powder, lemon juice and cinnamon. Use your hands to mix it all up and get all of the slices coated.
- Remove the crust from the fridge. If one is slightly smaller than the other, start with that one. To roll out the dough, dust a piece of parchment paper liberally with arrowroot, and dust the dough as well. Roll out into a 10 inch round. Transfer to the pie pan by picking it up with the parchment paper, and flipping it into the pan. (Alternately, place the pie pan on the crust and gently slip your hand under the parchment to raise it up and flip it into the pan)
- Brush the bottom crust with egg white.
- Pour the apple filling into the bottom crust and arrange to be as even as possible.
- Repeat step 9 with the top crust. Pinch and fold the edges together to form the outside edge, and crimp.
- Bake in the center rack of your oven for 30-35 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Loosely cover the pie with a sheet of aluminum foil and bake another 25-30 minutes. Allow the pie to cool completely before cutting.
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Just to clarify – do the egg whites get added in the “wet ingredients” phase, or are they reserved just for brushing the crust? This look AWESOME!!!!
Yes, Egg whites only get brushed on the inner crust and the top. You’ll have much more than you need, which I should add to the post so people aren’t wondering!
Suzette R says
Please please post if anyone attempts a dairy free version! I don’t think coconut oil would sub well, but maybe palm shortening or even fresh rendered lard? Curious!
I would think the closest sub would be ghee (if casein, not dairy itself is the issue) and my next guess would be a combo of shortening and lard, maybe half and half. Let me know if you try and variations!
Suzette, I used half palm shortening (chilled), and half ghee to replace the butter. For me, casein is the problem (not dairy itself) so ghee works for me… Anyway, it tastes delish!
I used avocado oil successfully
Ok, I’m so glad I saw this on the way to the grocery store. Hooray! Apple pie tonight!
I must say, this was a pretty dang fun read. And then at the end there’s pie TOO!!
This has “go to” recipe written all over it. Thanks for that!
LOVE…the KITCHEN SHOT!!!!! Mine looks VERY similar to yours post-baking…and the “dirty dishes” in the sink?—Check!!….Obviously SO worth it to obtain your perfection results…Thank you for my new and improved PALEO Apple Pie…Cannot wait to roll up my sleeves and get to it!!!
Libbi Johnson says
oh my god is that crust finicky. i think that was the most traumatic pie making experience i’ve ever had. 🙁
🙁 I know, it’s a tough one! You saw the picture of my attempt of getting it in the pan, right? I was a bit traumatized about that one. I have vivid memories of my mom cursing in the kitchen making pies. We had pretty close to scientific proof that the more difficult the crust was to work with, the better the pie came out. I hope this one worked that way for you!
I found the perfect solution for the top pie crust this afternoon!! I rolled mine out and used Pie Crust Cutters from Williams-Sonoma ( I don’t mean to advertise) but they worked like a CHARM! rolled out the dough and popped the shapes onto the crust, brushed with egg white and sugar BOOM! 10 min and NO frustration. The kids could even help. I have a picture, but don’t know how to add it. Here is the link for the crust cutters. They have different ones for each season.
Oh how COOL! What a great idea. I might even add those pie crust cutters to my Amazon shop if they have them there, to offer people another option for the top crust. Thanks so much. I’m not sure if you can add a picture to a comment, but feel free to post it on my facebook page if you follow me over there! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.
Here is a link to the page with the videos of how they work, and a picture of the finished pie like the one I made with your recipe.
P.s. I did the starburst pattern…sorry for all the separate posts
Alima Frank Deneke says
The crust was a little more difficult to work with, but worth it! The bottom crust wasn’t too bad, but the top crust was more difficult because I couldn’t piece it back together when there was nothing solid underneath it to press it into. So mine wasn’t as pretty as yours, but super delicious! And now I’m thinking of all the other amazing things I could make with that crust. It almost had a graham cracker taste to me (which is my favorite) so I may try to roll it out and bake it into graham crackers!
Bill Ottemann says
Made this tonight and it was great. Excellent recipe ! (I did mess up with the crust and added the egg whites but it still came out fine). Thank you thank you thank you
Mary Jo Durkin says
Bill, I did the same thing and it made my dough too wet and extremely hard to work with. Just put it in the oven so we’ll see how it turns out. Thanks for all the hard work to put this up!
Kimber Bennett says
Trying rolling it out on a piece of parchment or waxed paper, then just flip that sucker over into the pie pan. Ta-da!!!
Whoever coined the term “easy as pie” must have been cooking with gluten! Grain-free pie crusts are just plain difficult… I’ve tried a couple of different recipes… And this one is no exception. However, the taste is spot-on! My pie doesn’t look pretty (I had to patch and press the crusts together on both the top and the bottom) but it is delicious. The crust is so flaky and crisp (but tender)… Great recipe!
PS — I used a combination of half ghee, half palm shortening to replace the butter.
Seriously! Even conventional pie crusts… Not easy! My mom used to swear up a storm making pie crusts out of wheat flour. We had a joke that the more she swore, the better the pie came out 😉 At any rate, sorry it was stressful, but glad the end result was good! Happy to hear it worked with ghee and shortening, too!
Bummed Out says
could you specifically call out that the eggs whites are to be reserved for crust brushing in the actual recipe? we included all of them with the direction to “add the wet ingredients”. tried adding more flour, chilling for longer, but we never got the crust to work since it was a soupy mess. we don’t have enough ingredients on hand to try again. only figured out where we went wrong by reading the comments – wish it was noted in the recipe instead. 🙁
It says “egg whites separated” in the ingredients list, and then specifies to add the egg yolks to the crust in the instructions, as well as to beat the egg whites in another small bowl. I’m happy to make changes, but please let me know how I can make this more clear than I already have; I obviously posted it the way I thought it made sense. Sorry it didn’t work out for you, and I appreciate the feedback.
Jennifer L. says
I read a lot of food blogs and I just stumbled across yours today, again. I really appreciate the behind-the-scenes kitchen scene! I cook *All Day Long* it seems sometimes and my kitchen looks like that after every major enterprise (breakfast, lunch, dinner, pie….).
Nice looking pie! One thing that might help if everyone is getting hung up on the crust is to maybe make the top a crumble crust, after rolling out the bottom crust (which is easier to repair and hides the flaws). I’ll have to try this in a few weeks after we’re done with our current round of apple pie goodness.
This was so good! Made it last night and ate some for breakfast too 😉 I unintentionally left the “flour” and butter mixture sitting out for a couple of hours and the butter became soft. But this seemed to make rolling it (on the parchment paper) easier. No trouble at all flipping it into the pan — I laid a metal pie dish on top of the rolled-out dough and flipped that way.
We didn’t have any lemons and I think the apple filling definitely needs that tartness. Perfect thickening with the arrowroot, though. I like to add orange zest to my usual wheat-crust apple pie so might try that with this crust next time. Now I’m curious how adding walnut meal to the almond meal would work out. Maybe walnuts burn too fast? Thanks for a great recipe!
I have been searching for a paleo pie crust, and am confused with your recipe. Always thought butter was an absolute no-no on the paleo plan???
I’m not sure what “paleo plan” you’re looking talking about, but a lot of paleo recipes include butter, or more often, ghee, which has the casein removed, leaving just the fat. I don’t believe in a one size fits all approach, so please make any changes that coincide with your health goals. I, for one, consumer copious amounts of butter, and am not 100% anything. 🙂
Erin C says
I seriously missed my special Thanksgiving apple pie since going paleo, but no more! Your recipe is absolute perfection. I replaced the butter with half duck fat (for flavor) and half palm shortening (for texture) in the crust only because I can not tolerate dairy at all and duck eggs instead of chicken. I even had enough leftover dough to throw together a couple of hand-pies with leftover cranberry sauce. So yummy!
Anne Rogers says
I want to make this, but didn’t want to mess with my usual amazing wheat pie crust over the holiday. I always find a little lard added to crust makes it amazing. What do you think about substituting a couple Tbsps. of lard for the butter in this recipe?
I think lard is always a good choice for pie crust! I would definitely go for it. Let me know how it turns out.
I made this pie for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit in my family! They were none the wiser that it was Gluten-free and actually healthy! I loved the fact that it wasn’t super sweet, like some pies that I’ve had in the past. The pie crust was a little tricky, as most people stated, but it was really easy to fix. Also loved the fact that I had all the ingredients on hand. The only ingredient/product that I used differently was Honeyville Almond Flour, which worked great due to it’s super fine texture (even though I still sift). Thanks for sharing a fabulous and healthy recipe! I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes.
Thanks Judy! And that’s the goal: being able to serve any of my recipes to people who don’t follow a gluten-free or paleo diet without them knowing the difference. I love hearing success stories, so thank you!
And I use almond flour too, but have started using the Digestive Wellness brand instead of Honeyville. It’s just as finely ground as Honeyville. So any recipes that state almond flour, assume it’s the finely ground blanched variety, as opposed to almond meal.
I was going try doing this pie for Christmas but my husband is not fond of apple. Is it possible to do mixed berry instead? Has anyone tried to sub the filling? Let me know. Look forward to hearing from you.
Hi Patricia! The only thing I’d be concerned about would be the moisture content making the crust soggy, but if you brush the inside crust with egg whites, that should help! I also have a recipe for strawberry pie with a shortbread crust; it’s a bit more sturdy… Take a look and see if you could maybe combine the two recipes to get the result you’re looking for.
Katie G. says
I was going to make this today but I have something in my oven for the next 4 hours. Do you think completely assembled this would freeze well until I can put it in the oven? Another solution, freeze or refrigerate the pie and filling separately? I know you may not have experience with doing this, but just looking for your thoughts on how it might turn out 🙂 thanks!
I can be more confident saying that refrigerating the crust and filling separately will work than the freezer idea, but that might work too! Let me know how it turns out!
I used tapioca flour instead of arrowroot. Turned out great! Delicious recipe! The crust was not easy but homemade pie crust never is.
I have to send a HUGE Thank You out to you and your brilliant recipe!!
I made this apple pie for Thanksgiving today (I’m Canadian, eh) and was so impressed by how everything looks and smells… I can’t wait to cut into it and enjoy.
The crust, unlike what most said, was easy to do and looks absolutely beautiful! I commend you for creating such a masterpiece! (It’s difficult to create but easy to criticize.) My father-in-law was a professional baker and he’d be proud! The dough was so much like the “real thing”.
If you do not precook your apples on the stove before putting them in the crust, they will not cook through in the oven. There is nothing more disappointing than having raw apples in the pie.
I’ve never cooked apples before putting them in a pie, nor do any of the professional bakers I know. If they’re cut the right thickness, they absolutely cook in the crust.
Would this crust work for pumpkin pie?
Definitely! You could halve the recipe, since you’ll only need the bottom crust. I’m not sure about cooking time, I would base that on how long the filling needs to cook and go from there. You could also use the crust from my Strawberry Pie, it has a more shortbready crust. Happy Thanksgiving!
Sam Word says
So though it was a pain in the butt and took me roughly 2 hours, my pie is in the oven!!! I honestly am very pleased with the way it’s looking and can’t wait to taste it. P.S. I subbed with ghee and it took to it perfectly….I’ll chime in when I get a big bite of the finished product! Thanks so much for the recipe.
Firstly, I love you Simone! This recipe is the bomb! Rather than trying to roll the dough out I just pressed it into the pie form and flattened it out evenly with my hands, and for the top I worked in sections flattening out chunks of the dough between my hands for a ‘rustic crostata look’. It was SUPERB! xx
Aw I love you too! 🙂 And great idea about pressing instead of rolling!
I’m excited to try this pie for Thanksgiving in a couple of days. I’m driving to my sister’s house in the am (day before) and I could make it there but I’d rather make it at my house, considering the mess! Do you think the crust will hold out two days and an afternoon or will it be soggy?
I think it should hold up! Of course it’s crispest right out of the oven, but I recall eating leftovers of this pie for days and being perfectly happy 🙂 You could always pop it in the oven to warm it a bit and re-crisp the top. Keep it in the fridge in the meantime.
Thanks for your speedy reply! I will give it a go! 🙂
I’ve made this twice in the past month- first for my non-paleo parents and sister and then for my husband. Everyone (myself included of course) absolutely loved it! I haven’t tried playing around with the recipe yet, but am thinking of what I could do with it. I think my favourite part is the crust, so perhaps some mini-tarts are in order…
Thank you for the wonderful recipe, I know I will be making this again and again!
So glad to hear it, Sonya! And yes- the crust is great for mini tarts. There’s a recipe in the zenbelly cookbook for just that- I know dealing with the crust can be tricky so figured making them mini would be more user-friendly 🙂
This is absolutely delicious. I have numerous food allergies and have tried multiple pie recipes over the years, many of them are very good but this is the first time I feel like I’m eating the real deal – the apple pie of my childhood. While the crust is finicky, I didn’t find it that difficult and I have never been a strong pastry maker. Thanks for all your great recipes.