Double crusts and lattice toppings may look impressive, but you can still bake a delicious apple pie with a single crust.

By Patricia S York
September 18, 2020
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Mark Edward Atkinson/Tracey Lee/Getty Images

Among the many desserts Southerners will be baking this season, a golden, juicy apple pie is on everyone’s Top Ten list. If it is your turn to bake an apple pie and the thought of manipulating a lattice crust is keeping you up at night, go rogue and ditch that top crust. A single crust apple pie is amazing because it needs no embellishment to prove how gorgeous it is. Since they cook uncovered, the apples take on a roasted flavor, baking up soft and tender with a touch of crispiness on the edges. If this is your first apple pie or you just don’t want to fuss with a braided crust, here are the secrets to nailing a perfect single crust apple pie. 

Choose the Right Apples

When picking apples for pie baking, use the same though process as you would when making caramel apples. The best apples for baking a pie are those that are firm and won’t fall apart under pressure–you aren’t making applesauce, are you? When it comes to taste, don’t grab just one variety.  A combination of sweet and tart apples makes for a more balanced pie filling. Granny Smith and Jonagold apples are popular tart choices, and Pink Lady, Gala, and Honey Crisp apples are ideal sweet selections.

Keep Your Dough Chilled

You want all your ingredients to be cold when you make a homemade pie crust. If it's a particularly hot day, throw everything (including the flour) in the fridge before you make the dough. If the fat starts to melt as you cut it into the flour, set it back in the fridge or freezer until it firms up again. Melted fat won't give you airy, flakey crust. Even if you use a store bought pie crust, allow your dough to chill for at least 15 to 30 minutes before you roll it out.

Precook the Filling

To make sure the apple filling is juicy and flavorful, cook the apples before pouring them into your crust. It’s important to let the filling cool to room temp so air pockets don’t end up forming in your crust. Some recipes will direct you to simply toss the apples with sugar, let them sit and soften, then drain the liquid before adding the apples to the pie shell. This step makes the apples more tender and gets rid of excess liquid, which can lead to a soggy crust.

Brush Inside of Crust with Egg Wash

To avoid a soggy crust, brush a layer of egg wash over the inside of the crust before adding the apple filling. The egg wash creates a protective layer that keep the apple’s juices from softening the crust.

Layer the Apples

Don’t let your apple filling just pour out of the pot into pie shell. Spoon it in and evenly arrange the apples, making sure there aren’t any large gaps, uneven mounds, and air pockets in the filling.

Even if you don't use a top crust, you can still add visual impact to your pie with some decorative crimping techniques. | Photo:

Watch the Bake Time

Since you don’t have a top crust to fuss over, simply keep an eye on the apples. When they are deliciously golden and the filling is lightly bubbling, take the pie out of the oven. Let cool a bit before serving (if possible) and add a dollop of ice cream, whipped cream, or a wedge of Cheddar cheese