Freezing Apple Pie Filling

Freezing Apple Pie Filling
There are lots of good reasons to freeze or can apple pie filling, including:

* It gets most of the work for apple pie done ahead of time, making whipping up a pie for a special occasion much easier

* It's good for more than pie! Apple pie filling is terrific for apple crisp, apple cobbler, a topping for ice cream...

That said, my favorite apple pie filling contains flour, which isn't safe for canning. Using cornstarch wouldn't solve this problem, because cornstarch isn't safe for canning, either. I could buy Clear Jel to use as thickener (not to be confused with Sure Jel brand pectin), but I can never find it locally and I never seem to get around to buying it online. Someone once told me I should can the my recipe without any thickener, adding flour or cornstarch just before making the pie, but since my favorite recipe isn't a tested-safe one for canning, I'm not up for it. So I freeze my apple pie filling - and it's delicious!

I use a recipe from a 1980s version of the Ball Blue Book. (And, despite the fact that Ball is known for canning, this recipe, even then, was considered a recipe suitable only for freezing.)

What You Need:

6 lbs. apples
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Apple Peeler/Corer (recommended, but not absolutely necessary)
Large pot
Large spoon
Freezer bags

How to Do It:

1. Wash the apples, then use the apple peeler/corer to core, peel, and slice them. (Or use a paring knife to peel, core, and slice.)

2. Dump the apple pieces into a large pot and add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes.
 3. Add the lemon juice, stirring to combine. Cook over medium heat until the liquids begin to thicken.

4. Allow to cool, then transfer to freezer bags or containers. Mark with date and contents before freezing.

UPDATE 11/11/13: How to Make an Apple Pie from this Apple Pie Filling:

A lot of people have asked how to turn this filling into pie. Happily, it's easy! If you like thinner pies, quart sized freezer bag packed full of this apple pie filling is about right. If you like a thick pie, use two quart sized bags. To assemble the pie, place a pastry or graham cracker crust into a pie plate, then add thawed filling. Add a top crust or strudel, if desired. Bake at 425 degrees F. until pastry crust is golden and filling is bubbly, about 40 to 50 minutes.


  1. When I've made my freezer apple pie filling, it's just one step simpler than yours. It is the same ingredients, but just put all ingredients into the Ziploc bag. Do the hokey-pokey and shake it all about... let it sit on the counter for the afternoon (letting the juices run) and pop it in the freezer to use later. It uses less dishes and time! time. - Monica

    1. You make me want to try this just so I can do the hokey pokey with my kids:)

  2. I canned it using flour and it fermented in my basement! It blew the lid right off of one jar and I had even left the ring on!!! Such a mess...
    How do you make it with clear jel? That is super easy to find around here and I have some on hand, too.

  3. Lindsay, here's the approved recipe for canning apple pie filling (with Clear Jell):

    Monica, interesting! Are the proportions the same? It seems like it would be too runny.

  4. I too use flour in my recipe. I was going to can my filling this year but that notion never occurred to me until I read your freezer recipe. Good thing I did because that was on my agenda for tomorrow. As for it being too runny...I can't say as I haven't attempted this yet. However, when I make a pie from scratch I always mix up my filling before my dough so the juices will run. My pies are never runny so I would think they would be fine. Only one way to find out!

  5. Help does this make filling for just one apple pie or more? Do you just thaw and place in pie crust?? I have 2 bushels of apples and this recipe sounds very good. Thanks.

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  7. Mrshippiewolf, if you like a thinner pie, use one pint bag full of filling. If you like a rather thick pie, use two. It is best to thaw the filling; then just dump it into a crust and bake. I also updated the blog post with how-tos on baking the pie.

    1. I have now been using this recipe for 3 years. It is still a family favorite. Thank you so much for sharing this post!

  8. Mrshippiewolf, I'm so happy to hear that!

  9. The Ball recipe calls for fresh fruit protector. Doesn’t the lemon take care of the browning color? Just curious.

  10. Yes, "fresh fruit protector" and lemon juice accomplish the same thing: A lessoning of browning of the fruit.