- I made apple pie using recipes by Gordon Ramsay, Ree Drummond, and Alton Brown to find the best.
- Ramsay’s was the easiest to make compared to Brown’s, which took all day to prep, bake, and chill.
- Drummond’s buttery caramel-filled pie was my favorite, perfect to make for fall and Thanksgiving.
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Here’s how they turned out:
Ramsay’s pie recipe uses caramelized apples
For many pie recipes, you can throw in the raw apples – tossed with spices, lemon juice, some flour, and sugar first – into the crust and they’ll soften as they bake. But Ramsay’s apple pie adds depth to the filling by caramelizing the apples first.
It includes a simple, sweet-tart pastry crust, plus bitter apples, butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and egg wash.
This was the easiest pie to make, but the crust gave me some trouble
The entire pie is made with kitchen staples, and it came together in no time.
I started by creaming butter and sugar together in a food processor. I added an egg and all-purpose flour to form the crust.
Once the dough started to stick together, I placed it onto a floured cutting board to knead it. I rolled it out slightly and wrapped it with plastic to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
I cooked half of the apples at a time to avoid crowding the pan.
I let them cook for about 10 minutes per batch. They smelled amazing and made my entire apartment smell good, too.
After 30 minutes in the fridge, I removed the dough onto a floured work surface, cut it in half, and rolled one part out.
When it was time to lift the crust into a tin, it fell apart.
I was able to patch it up and luckily the top crust rolled out and wasn’t too patchy or torn.
Finally, I brushed the top crust with egg wash, sprinkled it with sugar, and baked the pie for about 40 minutes.
Despite the crust issues, the pie turned out great and looked better than I expected
The crust was crispy and flaky, although the caramelized juices did leak out a bit along the edges, making some parts extra crispy and hard to cut into.
The apple filling was flavorful, thick, and gooey.
My only complaint is that I wanted more apples in the stuffing. Ramsay’s recipe called for about four apples, but the others I tested had seven or eight.
The ingredient list for Drummond’s apple pie was long and featured a crumbly topping
Drummond’s recipe for caramel-apple pie has a long list of ingredients for each component: the crust, the filling, and the topping.
This recipe uses Granny Smith apples for the filling, but the most notable part was the amount of butter and shortening it needs.
The dough for the crust includes 12 tablespoons of butter and nearly a cup of vegetable shortening, or lard. The topping includes another stick and a half of butter.
This pie took a couple of hours to make
Despite the intimidating list of ingredients, this pie was pretty easy and quick to make.
I made the crust first, and because I didn’t have a pastry cutter, I had to work the butter and shortening into the flour and spice mix with my fingers.
I cut it into two pieces, formed two dough balls, and stored each in a plastic bag, rolling them out slightly so they’d be easier to work with later. I let them chill in the freezer for 20 minutes while I prepared the filling.
The filling was easy to make. All I had to do was combine diced apples with sugar, flour, salt, and lemon juice.
I removed one dough ball from the freezer, which was a breeze to roll out. It didn’t stick to the cutting board or rolling pin and transferred easily to the pie tin.
The dough recipe makes enough for two pies, so I kept the extra in the freezer and ended up making a second pie later on.
I added the filling to the pie crust, then started working on the crumble topping.
Again, I had to work the butter into the flour for the topping with my hands before adding in brown sugar, a little salt, and oats.
I added the topping to the pie and put it in the oven for an hour.
I’m glad I put a baking sheet on the bottom rack of my oven because the pie dripped a lot while it baked.
After an hour, I poured pecans on the top of the crust and baked it for another five minutes. When it came out of the oven, I topped it with half of a jar of premade caramel sauce.
This buttery, sugar-loaded pie was so delicious that I made a second one
Unfortunately, when I cut into the warm pie, it completely fell apart and looked more like an apple crumble. But it still tasted amazing.
The bottom crust wasn’t soggy at all, but it was so flaky it couldn’t hold the weight of the apples. I stored the pie in the fridge and when I cut cold slices of it, each piece held together.
The crust was incredibly buttery and flaky, and the added spices in the crust kept it flavorful.
The softened apples contrasted perfectly with the crunchy topping. I made a second pie with the leftover crust and omitted the nuts for my partner, who is allergic, and the topping was still very crispy.
The added caramel on top might make this pie a bit too rich, but it’s still really, really good.
I enjoyed it both plain and à la mode. It hit the spot every time.
Brown’s sweet and spicy pie has a shortcrust and one spice that was hard to find
The ingredients for Brown’s apple pie are pretty standard, but I did have to order the grains of paradise for the filling online because no grocery stores near me carried it.
The crust includes butter, shortening, flour, sugar, salt, and one surprising ingredient: apple brandy.
The filling also included different types of apples, salt, sugar, apple jelly, apple cider, lime juice, and tapioca flour.
This pie is an all-day affair
I started by chilling the brandy, butter, and shortening for the pie crust in the fridge for an hour.
Once it was cold I started making the crust in the food processor per the recipe’s instructions.
After the dough was ready, I divided it into two pieces, wrapped them, and chilled them in the fridge for a few hours. The recipe advises chilling the dough for at least one hour or up to all night.
I sliced the apples into wedges and combined them with sugar.
I had to let them drain over a bowl for an hour and a half. I cooked the juice on the stove until it was reduced to about 2 tablespoons.
This mixture was meant to replace an egg wash, but it was too sticky and tore the top crust. I was only able to brush on a tiny amount across the top of the pie.
After they drained, I tossed the apples with the tapioca flour, sugar, apple jelly, apple cider, lime juice, and the freshly-ground grains of paradise, which were not easy to grind.
The dough was pretty manageable to roll out and held together as I transferred it into the pie tin. I placed a pie bird in the center, then layered the apples into the center.
I topped the pie with the second piece of dough for the top crust and crimped the edges.
I tried brushing the reduced apple juice on top, but it kept tearing the crust so I gave up.
I baked the pie for 30 minutes on the bottom of the oven, then 20 minutes on the lower rack.
I had to cover the edges with foil halfway through baking because they were browning too much.
The toughest part was letting the pie rest for at least four hours before enjoying a slice.
I thought both the crust and the filling were a little bland
After hours of chilling the dough, draining the apples, and cooling the pie, I was ready to eat it.
But it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. The crust was a little dry and slightly overdone.
The center tasted strongly of apple but nothing else. I didn’t get any hints of spiciness from the grains of paradise.
I would have loved more spices like cinnamon or nutmeg for more flavor.
Overall, this pie took the longest, and I wouldn’t make it again.
Drummond’s apple pie is my new go-to, but I’d make Ramsay’s recipe again
Anything loaded with butter and sugar is bound to be delicious, and that’s definitely the case with Drummond’s caramel-apple pie. It’s rich and indulgent, and I hope to make it for many Thanksgiving and fall dinners to come.
For a classic pie with crust instead of a crumble topping, I would make Ramsay’s recipe again but with double the number of apples for the filling.
Both of these pies were pretty easy to make and turned out to be very impressive for homemade creations.