Make Your Apple Pie Filling Superior With One Extra Ingredient

It's often said that nothing's as American as apple pie, but that doesn't mean we have to stop remixing and reinventing the simple, OG recipe. After all, apple pie is a straightforward, relatively no-fuss recipe on its own, but people have long been adding unexpected ingredients and accompaniments to the formula — a slice of American or cheddar cheese with that pie, anyone? The basic formula of cinnamon-sugar drenched rich, syrupy apples and buttery flaky crust works beautifully as is, but begs to be ramped up with a sidekick of fatty, rich goodness — a scoop of vanilla ice cream, the classic slice of cheese, or via an unexpected ingredient of sour cream baked right into the filling. 


This addition pushes things over the top flavor and texture-wise and adds richness and luxury to the fairly homespun recipe. The super-short ingredient list for a basic filling — sliced apples, sugar, and cinnamon for the most pared-down rendition — gets a silky rich upgrade with the addition of just a touch of sour cream, coating the fruit in a custard-like layer that won't even be noticeable to most, but lends a certain je ne sais quoi to the classic baked good. You may never give the old-school recipe another look once you've tried this leveled-up version.

Sour cream adds luxe texture and tartness

Adding perhaps just ⅓ cup, or a few hearty dollops of sour cream to the filling is all it takes to infuse the pie with extra delicious flavor for an elevated take on the mainstream recipe. Otherwise, you can make your pie as you usually would and add all the other typical ingredients to your apple mix to the crust and seal it up with the double crust on top. Much like adding sour cream to other baked goods like brownies, sour cream's fattiness can add moisture and richness, while turning up the dial on other flavors, as studies have found that fat sources can do. 


After slicing your apples into uniformly thin slices so they bake through at the same rate, add to a large bowl and pour in your sugars and spices to your liking, then add a bit of sour cream to the mix. The addition of the wet ingredient to the filling creates a smooth, creamy mixture that coats each sliver of apple and adds a delicately tart flavor note to the sweet sugary apples and crust. You could even try this rendition with dairy-free sour cream — store-bought or homemade if you're passing on animal products. Try making your own with a rich base of silky blended cashews for example.

This is not a sour cream apple pie though

There are all sorts of hot takes and strong opinions on how the best apple pie is made — and no one way is right or wrong. The apple pie has been in the culinary lexicon for all of modern history, far beyond just the existence of modern America — dating all the way back to the Ottoman Empire, around the 1300s. With all those centuries on the culinary map, you can bet there's been plenty of apple pie innovation, too. You can use a store-bought pie crust or make a homemade crust extra luxe with simple ingredient swaps. You can leave the skin on or peel, and choose a variety of apples for differing flavors and crunch levels. 


But don't mistake this tip of the addition of sour cream as the same thing as pies like Amish Sour Cream pie, or Pennsylvania Dutch Sour Cream Apple Pie. These rich, sour-cream-forward creations are more creamy than apple-forward, often made with a nutty or crumbly streusel-y top. Delicious in their own right, they're a completely different dessert than what we're talking about here, which is really just your tried and true basic apple pie with a note of tart cream added.