Caramel Dutch Apple Pie with Brown Butter
This caramel Dutch apple pie with brown butter streusel is a classic fall dessert. Crisp autumn apples are baked with brown sugar, apple pie spice, and salted caramel sauce and topped with toasty brown butter streusel to amplify the caramelized flavor. It is without a doubt one of the best apple pies ever!
It’s no secret that I wholeheartedly and firmly stand with Team Pie. When done correctly, the buttery crust, flaky layers, and spiced flavors just get me. Bourbon caramel pecan pie? Brown butter strawberry crumble pie? Count me, I’m there.
On the other hand, there is an entire sector of people who think they don’t like pie. And I can’t say I blame them because while apple pie is arguably one of the best desserts, they also have the ability to just absolutely blow. Soggy, flavorless pies are downright depressing, but I am so convinced that if you have a *really* good pie, it is completely life-changing.
Luckily, through a tedious process of trial-and-error, and using lots of tips I learned in pastry school, I have developed an apple pie that no one can say no to. Let’s make it!
Why this Dutch apple pie is so good
I never even knew Dutch apple pie existed until I learned about it in pastry school and made approximately 6,000 mini versions of them. But, it wasn’t until recently that I made another 6,000 to perfect my recipe. And here it is, folks! Let’s talk about it.
- The caramel apple pie filling is the perfect mix of juicy and jammy.
- We’re making brown butter streusel (which basically tastes like unsweetened caramel) to boost the caramel flavor in this pie.
- The pie is tart, buttery, caramelized, decadent, and flaky.
- It’s a lovely dessert for holidays, dinner parties, or cozy autumn nights.
The ingredient list
For the pie
- Pie Dough – a good pie crust makes a huge difference here. This is my best pie dough recipe – it’s absolutely amazing!
- Apples – opt for something crisp and tart to offset the sweetness from the caramel. I use a mix of Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, and/or Granny Smith.
- Lemon juice – to help prevent the apples from browning too much and to add a little brightness.
- Brown sugar – this will add to the caramel flavor in the filling!
- Flour – a bit of all-purpose flour will thicken the pie filling while keeping it nice and juicy.
- Cornstarch – this will also thicken the filling, giving it a jammy texture.
- Spices – a mix of cinnamon, apple pie spice, and cardamom will give the pie those cozy autumn flavors.
- Kosher salt – just a pinch to offset the sweetness of the filling.
- Egg – the egg wash will make the crust nice and golden-brown!
- Caramel sauce – you can go with salted or unsalted depending on your tastes. I use salted! Also, feel free to go either store-bought or homemade. I usually just stop by my local candy shop to get a jar of caramel or opt for a higher quality variety at the grocery store.
For the streusel
- Butter – we will brown unsalted butter to add to the caramelized flavor in the pie.
- Flour – all-purpose flour will work as the base for this streusel.
- Brown sugar – to add sweetness and complement the brown butter.
- Cinnamon – just a dash of cinnamon to give the streusel extra flavor.
- Kosher salt – a bit of Kosher salt keeps the topping from being too sweet.
- Pie dough – if you don’t want to make your own dough, store-bought will work too.
- Brown sugar – feel free to use white sugar. It won’t have as much depth but still tastes great!
- Spices – feel free to use any warm baking spices like nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and the like.
Let’s make this pie
Prep the pie dough
- On a floured surface, roll the chilled pie dough until it’s about 1/8” thick.
- Then, roll the dough over a rolling pin and unroll it into a deep 9” pie dish.
- Crimp the edges of the dough. Refrigerate while you prepare the streusel and filling.
Brown the butter
- Next, brown the butter. Melt the butter over medium low heat.
- Let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the butter has brown bits on the bottom and smells nutty.
- Immediately pour the butter into a bowl and let it cool slightly.
Mix up the streusel
- In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Use a fork to stir the mixture until there are no clumps.
- Add the brown butter to the flour mixture.
- Then, use a fork to stir the streusel until it’s crumbly and there are no dry streaks. Set aside for later.
Slice the apples
- First, use a vegetable peeler to peel the apples. (This step is totally optional!)
- Next, cut the apples into 1/4ths around the core. Discard the cores.
- Lastly, thinly slice each chunk of apple into 1/8” slices.
Make the filling & bake
- In a large bowl, toss the apple slices and lemon juice to keep them from browning.
- Then, add the brown sugar, flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, apple pie spice, cardamom, and salt. Toss to combine.
- Brush the bottom of the pie crust with two layers of egg wash.
- Then, spoon the pie filling into the crust. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the apples and top the pie with the streusel.
- Bake the pie at 400°F for 45-50 minutes until the crust is a deep golden brown and your kitchen smells like heaven.
- Lastly, let the pie cool completely, slice, and serve with ice cream and more caramel sauce.
For a crisp (never soggy!) bottom pie crust, bake the pie in the lower 1/3 of your oven. Also, if you have a pizza stone, it’s a great tool for pie baking! Just place the pie on the hot pizza stone and it will help crisp up that bottom crust. If you don’t have a pizza stone, throw a sheet pan in the oven while it’s heating up and bake the pie on the hot sheet pan instead!
You can serve this pie on its own, or you can add extra toppings to make it extra special! Here are some of my favorites:
- Add a scoop of vanilla or butter pecan ice cream.
- Drizzle the pie with extra caramel sauce.
- For crunch, add toasted pecans on top.
Storing & make-ahead
To store the leftover pie, cover it with a cake dome or cover it loosely with tin foil. Let it sit at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Or, you can store the pie in the fridge for up to 5 days. Make sure to let it come to room temperature for about an hour before serving.
To make this pie in advance, just bake it the night before. I actually prefer to make pie the night before because the longer the pie sits, the more flavorful it’ll taste!
What kind of apples should I use?
Because we’re using both brown sugar and caramel in the filling, you’ll want to go with apples that are a bit tart. However, we’re not using a whole lot of brown sugar, so a touch of sweetness is still important!
- Honeycrisp – super crisp, excellent flavor, and they hold up well in the oven. This is my desert island apple and my go-to when it comes to baking.
- Pink Lady – these apples are both sweet and tart. Plus, they retain some good texture even when they’re baked.
- Braeburn – crispy, yet juicy, and they have a flavor that goes along perfectly with apple pie spice.
- Granny Smith – the classic “apple pie apple”. They are crisp, firm, and great for baking.
- Gala – when firm, these make good baking apples! They’re easy-to-find, sweet, and won’t get mealy in the oven.
For more interesting flavor, use a mix of different apples. I like a combo of Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and/or Granny Smith!
A few helpful tools
These are just a few of my go-to kitchen tools that I use every time I make pie. Most of these tools are totally not necessary but nice to have on hand if you’re a big fan of baking pies, tarts, and galettes.
- Food processor – I love using my food processor to pulse the butter into the flour when I make pie dough. It’s so much easier than doing it by hand.
- Deep pie dish – there are quite a few apples in this recipe, so a deep 9” pie dish helps keep everything together.
- French rolling pin – any rolling pin works but I personally love a French rolling pin. I just find it so much more comfortable than using one with handles.
- Marble pastry board – the marble stays nice and cold which helps prevent the butter from melting. I love this one!
Tips & tricks
- Cut the apples uniformly to ensure that they all bake evenly. I like to slice apples about 1/8-1/4” thick but you can go thicker if you want more of a bite.
- If the pie warms up, pop it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so before baking. This will just help really firm up any butter chunks in the pie dough so it’s nice and flaky.
- Make sure you bake the pie long enough! The filling should be bubbling (so it gets jammy) and the crust should be a deep golden brown. Even if it looks done, let it have another 5-8 minutes to really crisp up that crust!
- If the streusel is getting too browned, tent the top of the pie with tinfoil.
- This pie filling is juicy! For a more jammy pie, use extra cornstarch instead of flour.
- Let the pie cool completely before serving, at least 4 hours. I know it’s torture but it really helps firm up the filling so it cuts nicely!
What pie dish should I use?
For the crispiest crust, I definitely recommend a metal pie dish! They transfer heat better than ceramic, which makes for a nice brown crust. But don’t worry, ceramic will also work! The bottom may not be as crisp but it’ll still get browned. Also, go for a deep dish, because there’s lots of apples in this filling!
What’s the difference between regular apple pie and Dutch apple pie?
Regular apple pie and Dutch apple pie have a couple of differences! They both have a bottom crust and apple filling. But, traditional apple pie is topped with more pie crust and Dutch apple is topped with streusel. Long story long, Dutch apple pie is basically a mix of apple pie and apple crisp.
How do you keep this pie from getting soggy?
To keep this apple pie from getting soggy, make sure it bakes long enough. The crust should be very deep brown and the filling should bubble so it thickens. You also need to let it cool completely so the juices don’t seep out and soften the crust.
Why is my pie runny?
First, let me say that this pie is a bit juicy. I like it that way! But, if you want a jammy pie, replace the flour in the filling with cornstarch. You also need to make sure the pie cools for at least 4 hours so the filling has time to set completely. Otherwise, the juices will seep out.
Can this pie sit at room temperature?
Yes, I actually recommend it! The moisture in the fridge can make the crust soggy, so after the pie cools completely, loosely cover it and store it at room temperature.
More apple desserts you’ll love
Simple strawberry and apple crumble
Baked apple cider donuts with cardamom sugar
Apple cider whoopie pies with caramel frosting
Apple butter cinnamon rolls with brown butter icing
Gluten free apple crisp with whiskey
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Caramel Dutch Apple Pie with Brown Butter Streusel
Caramel Apple Pie
- 1 homemade pie crust (or store-bought)
- 3 pounds apples (1,350 grams)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice (23 milliliters)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar (65 grams)
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (15 grams), plus more for dusting
- 1/4 cup cornstarch (30 grams)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup good-quality salted caramel sauce (160 grams), plus more for serving
- Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Brown Butter Streusel
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (150 grams)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (100 grams)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Deep 9-inch pie dish
- Pizza stone or metal sheet pan
Prepare the pie dough
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of your oven. If you have a pizza stone, place it on the rack while the oven is heating. (If you don't have a pizza stone, use a sheet pan instead.)
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled pie dough. Turn the dough after every few rolls until you have a circle of dough that is about 1/8-inch thick and 12-inches in diameter.
- Roll the pie dough over the rolling pin and then carefully unroll the dough into the pie plate. Gently press the pie dough into the pie plate with your fingers.
- Next, crimp the edges of the dough. Refrigerate the dough while you make the filling and streusel.
Make the streusel
- To make the brown butter, melt the unsalted butter in a light-colored pan over medium-low heat. It will start to simmer and foam up. Stir constantly until the butter smells caramelized and there are golden-brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the butter into a heat-proof bowl to keep it from burning. Let it cool for 5-10 minutes. (Watch how to brown butter here).
- Add the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt to a small bowl. Use a fork to mix it until there are no clumps.
- Then, add 6 Tablespoons (84 grams) of the brown butter to the flour-sugar mixture. Use the tines of a fork to mix the streusel together until it's crumbly and there are no more streaks of flour.
Mix up the filling
- Start by peeling and coring the apples. Cut the apples into 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch slices. Keep them as uniform as possible to ensure even baking.
- Place the apples in a large bowl. Drizzle the lemon juice over the apples and toss to combine.
- Then, add the brown sugar, flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, apple pie spice, cardamom, and salt. Mix well and let the apples sit for a couple of minutes until there are no dry spots.
Assemble & bake
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and 1 Tablespoon (15 milliliters) of water until smooth. Brush the pie dough with 2 layers of egg wash.
- Then, pour the apple filling into the pie crust. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the apple filling. Then, crumble the streusel evenly over the top of the pie.
- Place the pie on the hot pizza stone or sheet pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the crust is a deep golden brown and the filling is bubbly. (If the streusel is getting too browned, tent it with tinfoil to prevent it from burning.)
- Let the pie cool on a wire rack at room temperature for at least 4 hours. Slice, re-warm if desired, and serve with vanilla ice cream and extra caramel sauce. Enjoy!
xo Sara Lynn
Song of the day – If You Need To, Keep Time on Me by Fleet Foxes
Recipe originally posted on November 22, 2021.