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Abuela's Apple Pie Recipe

Abuela’s Apple Pie

Apple Pie is a classic dessert. The first ever apple pie recipe actually comes from England. Through time it has evolved and changed whether it be which apples go in the filling or whether the upper crust is plain or latticed.

One thing that is pretty consistent about the Apple Pie is that it can be found on a Thanksgiving table. At least it is found at Thanksgiving tables we want to be invited to. There is no better day for Apple Pie than Thanksgiving. It is the perfect combination of savory and sweet, and especially when served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This recipe is near and dear to me. When I left for culinary school my grandmother, Alita Marta, told me to come back home with a recipe for apple pie. It was one of her favorites. Unfortunately she passed before I could make it for her. I think of her every time I make any pie but especially this one. 

Funny enough I didn’t love the recipe for apple pie I learned in culinary school. It was more like an overstuffed tart. But after a lot of trial and error here is a recipe we are happy to share. There are a lot of versions of apple pie out there. This one is classic. It’s rustic inside and out from the imperfectly sliced apples to the lattice crust. A balance of spices coats the tart apples and a very flaky crust keeps everything moist. 


There is one cardinal rule in our Abuela’s Apple Pie Making

Everything must be cold. EVERYTHING. The blade of your food processor, the board you will use to roll out the dough and the rolling pin are among the tools you want cold before you start. Once something is measured, put it in the fridge or freezer as directed. As you will see in the recipe there are moments when you need to pause and place the dough in the fridge. This ensures that the fat stays cold. A cold dough bakes into a flaky crust. 

Although homemade apple pie is best made the day of, you can make it the night before. Ideally, you would make all the components before and assemble and bake just before serving. You can make the pie crust 3 days before and leave it in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap until ready to roll out. (You can even roll it out and freeze it for up to 3 weeks)

The filling can be made 3 days before and kept in the fridge. Breaking up all these steps makes it less daunting to tackle this recipe. 

Following these simple steps assures a great pie crust fit to match this delicious filling. If you are intimidated by the crust, you can absolutely get a store bought crust and just make the filling. You can make the filling and top it with ice cream and some nutty granola and call it a crisp, or follow the steps to our Mango Crisp and just sub the mango for apples. 

This recipe is special enough for your dessert table or just something you want to bake your Abuela.


Abuela’s Apple Pie

Recipe by Abuelas Cuban CounterCourse: Desserts


Prep time


Cooking time






  • Keep cold all the ingredients and tools you will use for the dough including the food processor blade, cutting board, bench scraper, etc. 

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, in fridge

  • 3 teaspoons granulated sugar, fridge

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, fridge

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes then kept in freezer until ready to use

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes then kept in freezer until ready to use 

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, fridge 

  • 10 to 14 tablespoons of cold water

  • ¼ cup of heavy whipping cream

  • Ingredients for Pie Filling
  • 4 to 5 Granny smith apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • 2 cups of water

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon of fine salt

  • 1/3 cup cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg freshly ground if possible

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract 

  • 1 stick of cinnamon


  • First make the pie dough to give it a chance to rest. To start add 1 cup of water to a measuring cup. Add ice to be sure it is very cold. Set aside.
  • Then blend flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and lard. Pulse until the chunks of butter are the size of peas. Don’t pulse too much.  Slowly add ice water a tablespoon at a time as you pulse. You know it is ready when the dough is wet and crumbly but when pinched it will stay together. 
  • Empty onto a board and push dough together. Don’t knead. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour. The dough needs to rest so it isn’t tough and it needs to stay cold. 
  • While the dough is resting make the filling. Start by adding the sliced apples to a sauté pan with lemon juice, cinnamon stick, butter, sugar and salt. Let them cook together for 5 minutes on medium heat. 
  • In a bowl add the water, corn starch and ground cinnamon. Whisk everything together until completely combined. Add the cornstarch mixture to the apples.
  • Raise heat to medium high. Stir and once it boils, lower the heat to the low. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. 
  • Allow the apples to cool completely. If you are pressed for time, remove them from the saute pan and onto a plate and let them cool in the fridge. Discard the cinnamon stick. 
  • Remove one of the dough discs from the fridge. Lightly dust a cold board with flour.
    Place the dough in the middle of the cutting board. Move your rolling pin vertically from the middle up and then down to the bottom. Turn the dough clockwise every so often being sure there isn’t any piece of the dough sticking to the board. Use the bench scrapper to free the dough from the cutting board. The dough should be thin, about 1/8-inch thick and about 11 to 12 inches round. (If you are making the dough in advance this is when you would wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the freezer)
  • Wrap the rolled dough onto the rolling pin then fit it over the pie plate. Cover with plastic and refrigerate about 15 minutes again to ensure it stays cold.
  • Roll the other disc of dough the same way. Once you roll it out, if you are making a lattice cover, cut 1-inch slices. Refrigerate until ready to use. If not leave it whole after you have rolled it, and refrigerate it.
  • Remove the pie plate with the dough. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Add the apple mixture to the pie dough. 
  • Remove the lattice strips from the fridge. Lay 4 strips vertically over the apples. Be sure to use your longest strips as the middle pieces. Lay one strip on the top half horizontally. Fold over every other strip. Continue to lay the strips horizontally and weaving under and over the vertical slices. Repeat until you are done. 
  • Fold over the excess dough onto the inside. Press the rim evenly. You can leave it like this or use you knuckles and pointer finger to crimp the edge of the crust. 
  • Freeze for 15-30 minutes. This is an important step. Since you’ve been handling the dough it can get hot. Remember you want to put it in the oven as cold as possible. 
  • Brush the heavy cream all over the dough. This will help it brown. 
    Be sure the oven rack is at the lowest point. (this will avoid the bottom crust from getting soggy).
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake for 55-70 minutes. If the edges of the crust start to brown remove from the oven and wrap lightly with foil.   
  • Cool on a wire rack to ensure the bottom doesn’t steam. Serve warm with a scoop of your favorite ice cream.