The Best Streusel Apple Pie Ever

I know the title is braggy, and I’m sorry, but this Streusel Apple Pie deserves as much hyperbolic praise as it can get. The apples are blanketed and bound up with a custardy coating, and a thick layer of sweet, crumbly streusel topping makes this like an amazing apple crisp in a pie crust.  It’s the best apple pie topping ever (says me).   Also, streusel is a highly enjoyable word to say.

The Ultimate Thanksgiving Apple Pie

I make three of these every year for Thanksgiving, and have for many, many years.  Thanksgiving is always at my parents’ house, usually with twenty-some-odd people, and there are a number of other desserts on the table as well.  One pie is gone in moments, and the second pie gets carved into, though there will almost always be some left.  Almost everyone is a bit-of-this-and a bit-of-that when it comes to desserts and you don’t want to miss my sister’s cheesecake.

The third pie almost never leaves the kitchen.  More on that shortly.

The Best Streusel Apple Pie Ever

In this Streusel Apple Pie, the apples are blanketed and bound up with a custardy coating, with a thick layer of sweet, crumbly streusel topping.

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A Word About Thanksgiving

Let’s take a moment from the discussion of pies to say that Thanksgiving is both my favorite and most tension-producing holiday of the year.  I know there are many of you with me on this.  All of our family dynamics are on full display, and at some point buoyed by a glass of wine too many someone says something they shouldn’t, or a dog greets a cousin’s crotch with too much enthusiasm, and a mini-drama ensues.

The Best Streusel Apple Pie Ever

Or I forget to put a pan under the pie, and that causes the fire alarm to go off.  Or the timing of the day gets wayyyyy off, and my father-in-law asks theatrically —  intended comically — when exactly we are going to eat, more like, “Hey, oh my God, where’s the food?  We’re starving out here!” which puts a pained smile on my mother’s face.

Apple Pie with Streusel Topping

Anyway, back to that third pie.  For a long time I made them all at my parents’ house, the morning of Thanksgiving, at which point my mother always said with disingenuous surprise, “Oh! You’re making three pies?  Do we need three pies?  We never seem to cut into the third.  Really, never.”  And I try to unclench and remind her that I, too, like leftover pie, and since Thanksgiving is not at my house, I make that third pie to feed my family and the 6 to 10 in-laws I have staying with us for the weekend.  Who also like leftover pie.

The Best Streusel Apple Pie Ever

And now, problem solved, I make the pies at my house!  I bring just two to her house! And as I walk out the door on Thanksgiving morning with the two pies, I give a little wave to the third pie sitting on my counter and whisper, “I will see you later, my sweet apple streusel pie.”

The pie is great still warm from the oven, and as you can see, I firmly believe a wedge for breakfast the next day is a gift.

The Best Streusel Apple Pie Ever

What’s the Difference Between Dutch Apple and Regular Apple Pie?

This type of apple pie, with its streusel topping, is also known as Dutch apple pie. The streusel, a combination of sugar, flour and butter, and in this case, cinnamon and ginger, is what makes it “Dutch” as versus Regular apple pie which involves a pastry top.

Dutch apple pies sometimes involve a binder or custard filling along with the apples, as does this pie.

Best Apples for Apple Pie

Unless you have an apple that really loses its texture quickly when it is cooked, most apples are pretty great for apple pies. I like to use a combination. I always have some slightly tart Granny Smiths as part of the mix. Some other apples that make great apple pies are:

The Best Streusel Apple Pie Ever

How Long to Bake Apple Pie

Apple pie needs to bake for long enough for the apples to become fork tender, but not turn to mush. It also needs to bake long enough for the crust to cook through, and not remain doughy, even on the bottom. This apple pie bakes for a total of about 70 minutes. The first 20 minutes the pie bakes with just the apple filling in the crust, then it bakes for another 50 minutes or so once the streusel topping has been added.

Streusel Topping for Apple Pie

You can make streusel topping in a number of ways:  you can use your fingers to cut in the cold butter, or two knives, but the easiest way I know, especially if you are making a sizable amount is to use the food processor. See How to Make Great Streusel Topping in the Food Processor — a perfect crumb topping recipe for apple pie or just about any other fruit pie you can think of.

What is Streusel Topping Made Of?

I can’t think of a pie, or many desserts for that matter,  that streusel topping will not improve.  That lovely crumbly sweet topping is really just pure joy. Streusel is a combination of butter, flour and sugar, sometimes, with other ingredients added in, such as oats, nuts, and spices, particularly cinnamon. Sometimes it’s called a crumble topping.

The Best Streusel Apple Pie Ever

Cooling the Pie

Make sure the pie cools on a wire rack until it is either just barely warm, or comes to room temperature. The custard will then have a chance to firm up. If you cut the pie while it is still too warm the filling will be loose and not hold together into slices. Slice the pie with a sharp knife to get the neatest pieces.

Other Apple Dessert Recipes (and a Cocktail!):

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Best Apple Streusel Pie

A slice of this for breakfast the next day is a gift.
Yield: 8 People
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

For the Streusel Topping:

  • cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon kosher or coarse salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces

For the Pie Filling:

  • 6 large Granny Smith apples or a mixture of Granny Smith and any other firm baking apple, peeled, cored, and sliced about 1⁄2-inch thick
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • whipped cream or vanilla ice cream optional, but well worth it, for serving

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Make the streusel topping: Combine the 1⁄3 cup of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of flour, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, the ginger, and salt in a food processor and give it a good whirl. Add the pieces of butter and pulse until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. Do not overprocess; you don’t want a paste (see Cooking Tip #1). Set the streusel topping aside.
  • Make the pie: Put the apples in the pie shell.
  • Combine the 1 cup of granulated sugar and the 3 tablespoons of flour, the 1⁄2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and the cloves in a small bowl.
  • Beat the egg in a large bowl, then add the cream and vanilla and blend well. Add the sugar mixture to the egg mixture and stir to blend. Pour the custard mixture over the apples; if the mixture comes more than three quarters of the way up the side of the crust, stop pouring so it won’t bubble up and overflow.
  • Place the pie on a baking sheet in the oven (see Cooking Tip #2) and bake it for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the pie from the oven, making sure the custard mixture doesn’t pour over the side. Evenly and carefully (take your time) distribute the streusel topping over the top of the pie. Carefully (again) return it to the oven and bake until the top is browned and a knife inserted into the pie ensures that the apples are cooked through, about 50 minutes longer.
  • Let the pie cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes until room temp or barely warm, then serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired (and who wouldn’t desire that?).

Notes

Cooking Tip #1

If you don’t have a food processor, you can make the streusel topping by using your fingers to rub the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the topping is fairly uniform and crumbly.

Cooking Tip #2

It is a good idea to put a baking sheet under the pie pan as it bakes (you can put it right under the pie pan, or on a rack below if you have the oven space), as the streusel topping can tend to bubble over the side a bit, and trust me when I tell you that your kitchen will get more than a little bit smoky if that happens.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 610.83kcal | Carbohydrates: 81.62g | Protein: 4.47g | Fat: 31.36g | Saturated Fat: 16.57g | Cholesterol: 91.32mg | Sodium: 269.85mg | Potassium: 219.17mg | Fiber: 4.16g | Sugar: 54.28g | Vitamin A: 890.6IU | Vitamin C: 6.46mg | Calcium: 47.83mg | Iron: 1.46mg

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Comments

  1. Can’t wait to try this tomorrow but have a couple questions.
    1) I have all the ingredients but the ground cloves, do you think it will make a big difference in flavor if I do not add it? Would you recommend increasing any of the other ingredients in the absence of the cloves?
    2) Do i have to put the apples in the pie first and then put the custard or can i mix they apples with the custard and then put everything in at once?
    3) Lastly, I have always put the streusel for my pies on the pie before putting it in the oven (without having to take it out). I was wondering what your reasoning was for not putting it on right before it goes in the oven the first time. and if I did decide to put it in right before should I still cook it for the 70 minutes or would the timing change as well? Thank you for your time!

  2. I have made this pie before and LOVED it. I am planning to make it for Thanksgiving, but would love to do some prep work today. Other than making the pie crust and strudel ahead and putting them in the fridge, could I make the custard separate and store it overnight, then fill the crust tomorrow before baking? Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. I am so sorry I didn’t see this until after Thanksgiving! Did you try it? I have made the dry mixture ahead of time, and then mixed the custard right before baking, and I have made the streusel a couple of days ahead of time and kept it in the fridge.

  3. I am on pie number 20. My entire family is demanding it almost every night. And I have started cheating because I am making so many and using lucky leaf. This is apple pie on a whole new level. Thank you thank you thank you!!!
    PS even if i run out of heavy cream and sub in milk and butter it is still amazing!!

  4. I hate to say this but the filling was just a tad underwhelming! Easy enough recipe. SMELLS amazing! And when I tasted to ingredients before I mixed it all together, the notes of clove, cinnamon and vanilla read really well. But when I baked it, most of their flavor seemed to get lost in the cream base~ All around a very nice recipe! Great for the holidays! Might try again with a couple of tweaks to the spices lol

  5. When ever I try a new recipe..it’s always a week ahead of any dinner I am planning. . My main reason is I don’t like surprises or frowns .. here is a tip I use. Successfully..chil everything..the pie crust the pie after it’s assembled and then put it in the fridge for 30, minutes before putting the pie in a hot oven.. My Aunt taught me this simple trick many years ago .. and I never forgot her words. “Kid the dough needs to be cold before baking.”. I make pies ahead of time..put them in ziplock bags and freeze . Then when you want a delicious pie for dinner.. it’s ready to bake. Freezing the butter before making the strudel topping works great too. You can put the flour sugar and spices in a bowl..grate the frozen butter in to the mixture toss and top the pie. I did not put the clove n ground ginger.. like the recipe called for..I use those spices in pumpkin custard pie . But I would recommend anyone trying this recipe. Always remember..SAVE YOUR FORK…THERE’S PIE.

  6. I made this last thanksgiving and it was a HUGE HIT. I want to make it again this year, but am curious: has anyone /can you substitute the cream for canned coconut milk? Can you sub the cane sugar for palm sugar? Can you sub the buyer for coconut oil(should I add a little salt if so?)???

  7. I made this yesterday for Thanksgiving and followed the recipe exactly. It was a sloppy, gooey (but tasty) mess. Most people passed it over and those that did eat it used it as their ice cream topping. We had 16 people over and for the first time ever I have LOTS of the apple pie leftover. Also I prefer a streusel topping with visible crumbs. This topping mostly just dissolved. 5 stars for flavor but 1 for looks. I will say I baked the pie in an unfamiliar oven so that always throws a wrench in the works. But I think a custard apple pie is not for me and I will go back to more traditional recipes. Thanks for sharing though! The texture of the apples was perfect so my kids are happy to have so much left for their ice cream!

  8. I made this pie for Thanksgiving. It was my first time making an apple pie with custard.
    It turned out DELICIOUS!
    I saved the recipe for my favorite apple pie.
    Thank you for sharing!

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