How to Dress up Apple Pie

Apple pie with meringue topping

The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

Take your favorite apple pie recipe and give it a quick make-over with these easy and delicious additions that dress up humble, old-fashioned apple pie.

  • 01 of 11


    Photo © Jon Boyes (Getty Images)

    Give your apple pie a Scandinavian twist by using ground cardamom instead of ground cinnamon. Buy cardamom seeds still in their pods and grind them fresh for a real hit of flavor, but know that ground cardamom works fine too. Use about as much cardamom as you would cinnamon and take in the heavenly aromas while the pie bakes.

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    Chopped Nuts

    How to Toast Walnuts
    Photo © Molly Watson

    Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of chopped nuts to your favorite apple pie recipe. Walnuts and pecans are particularly delicious. You might want to toast the nuts first to bring out as much of their flavor as possible and to help them keep more of their fabulous texture while they're tucked in with the apples.

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    Fresh Cranberries
    Deborah Pendell/Getty Images

    Throw in 1 cup of cranberries and an additional 1/4 cup sugar with the apple mixture for a great little tart kick and a pretty burst of color. Dried cranberries work, too, but you probably won't need the extra sugar, since they're pre-sweetened.

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    Dark Spirits

    Bourbon Whiskey
    Greg Pease/Getty Images

    Sprinkle the apple mixture with 2 tablespoons, using your favorite dark spirits for a deeper, more grown-up apple pie flavor. Calvados and Applejack, both made from fermented apples, are particularly good choices, but bourbon or plain whiskey​ will work well too.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Dried Fruit

    Fresh Dates
    Photo © Molly Watson

    Add 1/2 cup raisins, currants, or other chopped dried fruit like dates or figs for a twist on traditional apple pie flavor and an added bit of texture to each bite. Most dried fruits will carry quite a bit of sweetness with them, too, so be sure to add less sugar than usual and taste the filling to adjust the sweetness level to your taste.

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    fresh ginger
    Photo © Jon Boyes (Getty Images)

    There are lots of ways to add a ginger edge to an apple pie. Add 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, or 1 tablespoon minced crystallized or candied ginger to bring a nice bright bite to this homey dessert.

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    Heavy Cream

    Photo © Brian Yarvin (Getty Images)

    Make that apple pie Dutch by cutting a large vent in the top crust before you pop it in the oven. About half-way through the baking time, pour 1/2 cup heavy cream through the vent and continue baking the pie as directed.

  • 08 of 11


    Jar of honey
    Antonio M. Rosario/Getty Images

    Substitute up to half the sugar in your apple pie recipe with honey for a deeper, sweeter, thoroughly honey-flavored dessert. Start by adding just a small portion of honey and tasting the filling. Honey can easily over-sweeten and over-power other flavors!

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  • 09 of 11


    Fresh Forelle Pears
    Foodcollection/Getty Images

    Substitute half the apples in a recipe with pears. Increase the thickening agent (flour, cornstarch, or instant tapioca) by about a third to handle the super juicy nature of pears.

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    Photo © Molly Watson

    The bright, slightly sour flavor of quince adds a great dimension to apple pie. Replace one or two of the apples with a quince. Note that you will need to poach the quince first so it bakes sufficiently with the apple.

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    Streusel Topping

    Cinnamon streusal topping

    The Spruce


    Use only the bottom crust and instead of topping your pie with a second crust, sprinkle pie with 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon that you've either worked together by hand or pulsed in a food processor for a wonderful streusel topping.