This brown butter apple pie without cinnamon recipe really leans hard into pure apple flavour and uses only a handful of ingredients for its filling. While many apple pie recipes go hard on the warm spices (so much that it can overpower the apples themselves) or, in my opinion, use far too much sugar on already sweet fruit.
I wanted to develop a recipe for apple pie that didn’t use cinnamon for a few reasons. One was to provide an option for a classic, American apple pie that someone may have all of the ingredients for but didn’t realise there was no cinnamon to be found in their house.
And the second reason was that I wanted to include a more classic apple flavour – similar to what one would find in a European-style apple tart.
Whatever your reasons for looking for a recipe for apple pie that doesn’t use cinnamon, this recipe is a winner. It’s simple enough to make and super craveable. I highly recommend it for everything from a Thanksgiving dessert (along with my pecan pie bars!) to a mid-week treat for your family.
How to Make Apple Pie without Cinnamon
The first step to making this apple pie is to ensure you’ve made your pie crust. I recommend using my all-butter pie crust recipe (make sure to double it to make a double crust!) rather than using store-bought crust.
The store-bought pastry never tastes as good and because there are so few ingredients in this pie, you really want to ensure that you use the highest quality of everything that you put in your pie. Keep your pie dough in the fridge until ready to use it.
The next step is to prep your filling. Take the time to peel, core and thinly slice your apples and add them to a very large bowl.
Many apple pie recipes call for Granny Smith apples, but I really like using Pink Lady apples here. I don’t add a lot of sugar to the filling, so it works well with a sweeter apple.
Next, it’s time to brown your butter. You can skip this step, but the nutty flavour brown butter adds to the pie is super crave-able and I highly recommend taking the extra minute to brown your butter rather than simply melt it.
To brown butter, add it to a small saucepan (it can be easier to use a light-coloured pan so you can gauge the level of browning) and set the butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, keep it on the heat until it begins to foam up.
Once the foam begins to subside, you will notice some light browning appear on the bottom of the pan and a nutty aroma arise. Remove the pan from the heat when you notice this happen as it can burn quickly after that.
Now it’s time to mix your filling. To your apples, add the browned butter. Also, add in the zest of one lemon along with some of its juice. Add a bit of dark brown sugar (this adds a nice, molasses-y flavour to the apples that white sugar doesn’t possess) and some flour to act as a thickener.
Mix this until everything is well combined and transfer the filling to the refrigerator while you roll out your dough.
Roll out the bottom crust first, keeping the other round in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. Dust a work surface with flour and use a rolling pin to roll out your dough so that it has an even thickness and is about 12 inches in diameter.
Transfer the crust to a standard, 9-inch pie dish – I like to use metal because of the heat conductivity, but many bakers prefer glass as it allows you to easily gauge how brown your bottom crust is becoming when baked.
Allow a bit of overhang in the dough (this will help with crimping later) and then transfer the pie plate and bottom crust to the freezer for 10 minutes.
While the bottom crust is chilling, roll out your top crust to the same specifications. Transfer that to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it.
Remove the bottom crust from the freezer and the filling from the refrigerator. Transfer the filling to the pie crust, ensuring that the apples are even distributed and that there are no large gaps.
There is a lot of filling here so it will mound above the edges! The apples will break down a bit as they cook, but I also like the look of a mounded pie rather than a completely flat one. Just ensure that no apple slices are hanging over the edges of your pie plate.
Remove your top crust from the fridge and gently place it over the apple, pressing lightly to ensure even coverage. Then, use some scissors to trim the excess pastry from the edges and crimp in any way you desire – you can go simple with the tines of a for or opt for something more fancy!
After this, refrigerate your pie for another 10 minutes. All of this refrigeration has a few objectives – first, it keeps the pastry chilled which will ensure optimal flakiness when baked. Second, it relaxes the gluten in the crust and prevents it from contracting or slumping while it’s baking.
Take the pie from the refrigerator and brush it lightly with a beaten egg – this will ensure it comes out golden and burnished. Then, sprinkle the crust with some demerara sugar. Now, all that’s left is to cut a few steam vents in the pastry!
Transfer the pie to a baking tray and then bake at 350°F (180°C) for about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the crust is very golden and the pie is super fragrant.
Make sure you allow the pie to cool completely before serving – at least four hours.
A better indication is that you feel no warmth on the dish when you pick it up. This is likely the hardest part, but it’s well worth the wait! Top a slice with a scoop of ice cream or, if you’re serving this for the holidays, with a delicious glass of eggnog!
- 50g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 8-10 (1.5kg or 3lbs) baking apples, such as pink lady or granny smith, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 25g (3 tablespoons) plain flour
- 35g (3 tablespoons) dark brown sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 30ml (2 tablespoons) lemon juice
- 1 double recipe for easy pie crust, chilled
- 1 egg, beaten
- 12g (1 tablespoon) demerara sugar
- Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Add the butter to a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter, stirring or swirling occasionally, and cook until it begins to bubble, the bubbles subside and you notice the butter beginning to turn brown on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a very large mixing bowl, add the sliced apples, flour, brown sugar, lemon zest and juice and browned butter. Mix until very well combined and move to the refrigerator while you roll out your pie crust.
- Remove one portion of pie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for a few minutes. Lightly dust your work surface and both sides of your pasty with flour. Applying even pressure, gently roll the dough into a circle about 30cm in diameter (12 inches). Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate and move it to the freezer for 10 minutes. Repeat with the other dough portion, this time setting on a parchment-lined baking dish and moving it to the refrigerator.
- Remove the pie plate and pastry from the freezer and add all of your apples to the dish. It will mound over the sides of the dish - this is normal. Just ensure that no apple slices are overhanding the edges of your pie plate.
- Remove the other pastry round from the refrigerator and gently cover the apples, smoothing it over the apple slices. Use kitchen scissors to trim the excess pastry from the edges and crimp along the edges, either decoratively or with the tines of a fork. Move the pie to the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
- Remove the pie from the refrigerator and brush the crust with the beaten egg. Evenly dust the surface with demerara sugar. Cut 3-4 large slits in the pie to vent steam.
- Move the pie to a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake the pie for about 1 hour, or until the crust is deeply golden brown and the juices are beginning to ooze from the pastry. Allow the pie to cool completely before serving - at least 4 hours.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 44mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 2gSugar: 15gProtein: 2g
Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
And that’s how you make a brown butter apple pie without cinnamon! This pie is simple to make but it is so incredibly delicious. It’s sure to be a star for whatever application you choose to serve it.
Are you looking for an apple pie recipe that doesn’t use cinnamon? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!