An "Apple Pie" That Swaps Apple For a...Vegetable?

September 29, 2017

I take pie seriously. Fall weather ushers in apple pie season, and I welcome baking as much as I can. The classic apple pie is hard to beat, with its sugary filling of soft, cinnamon-scented fruit nestled inside a buttery, flaky crust. But given the recent spate of ridiculously warm weather in New York, I'm caught in that funny phase in between seasons. It's not quite chilly enough to embrace autumn, and the markets are still spilling over with corn and zucchini and peaches.

There's a perfect solution! Instead of unpacking your flannel shirts and baking an apple pie, make a dessert that bridges the seasonal gap perfectly: zucchini pie.

The point here isn't to make a 'mock' apple pie.

I know, I know. This sounds weird, but bear with me. Zucchini is well-loved as a staple for baking. To wit, we're inundated with zucchini bread and zucchini cakes and zucchini muffins as the summer wanes. So why not pie?

A buttery crust like that should tell you this has nothing to do with wellness. Photo by Posie Harwood

Years ago, I read about a very polarizing recipe for "mock apple pie" from the back of the Ritz cracker box. The recipe is exactly like a classic apple pie recipe, but it swaps out apples for crumbled Ritz crackers. True Ritz believers swear that it tastes exactly like an apple pie. It sort of makes sense; what we really experience when we eat apple pie is texture (soft) and flavor (cinnamon and sugar). I refuse to believe that the Ritz pie doesn't dissolve into a terrible mess upon baking, and on principle, who wants a cracker-filled pie?

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But the core concept resonated with me. When baked, zucchini has a similar texture to an apple; it gets soft in the oven but retains some texture. Add the same warm, fragrant spices as an apple pie recipe (cinnamon, nutmeg, and so on), plenty of lemon juice, extra sugar to compensate for sugar in apples, and you have yourself a very similar dessert to a classic apple pie.

Photo by Posie Harwood

The point here isn't to make a "mock" apple pie. It's to make a similarly delicious pie that uses up this in-between seasonal produce. If you have a garden that's overrun with zucchini, and they're too big to taste good on their own, this is the recipe to use. Apple pie is beloved for good reason! The flavors are excellent and comforting, and I love that there's a way to get the same effect before apple season kicks in.

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Top Comment:
“It wasn't great, but it tasted a lot more like apple pie than you would have guessed. We supposed it must have had a Depression Era following. ”
— Greenstuff

That being said, I gave my fiancé a slice of this pie for dessert the other night. I told him it was an apple pie, and asked him how it rated on a scale of 1 to the best apple pie he's ever had. He rated it a solid 8. I told him it was zucchini, not apple, and he swore up and down that he could not tell the difference! Try it on someone who loves pie, and see if they can.

Have you cooked zucchini in pie form before? How'd it go? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lori Rabideaux
    Lori Rabideaux
  • Mlanterman
  • Greenstuff
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


LPGA1AB August 21, 2021
For this zucchini pie... recipe calls for 4 large (oversized) zucchini. Any idea how many pounds of zucchini this equates to? Thanks
Lori R. September 29, 2017
I used to make "apple" pie with green tomatoes. It tasted surprisingly like apple pie.
Mlanterman September 29, 2017
My Grandma used to make this pie as a practical joke! She would even slip a few apple seeds in there (as if there were ever apple seeds in her apple pie).
Greenstuff September 29, 2017
We made one of those Ritz cracker pies when I was in college, a couple million years ago. It wasn't great, but it tasted a lot more like apple pie than you would have guessed. We supposed it must have had a Depression Era following.