After our test kitchen decided to develop a vegan apple pie for Our Best Recipes series, nailing down the filling was a cinch: Instead of granulated or brown sugar, we swapped in raw. We love its caramelly, butterscotchy flavor—not to mention how, when sprinkled on top, it adds crunch and glitter, to boot. You’ll notice that we call for pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon. Why? Well, pumpkin pie spice is mostly cinnamon (apple pie’s signature flavor). But it also has bonuses like ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves, depending on the brand. If you want to make your own, go for it. When it comes to apples, look for a variety that’s well known for its baking prowess. You want lots of sweet-tart contrast, and a crisp structure that holds up well in the oven. Our favorites include Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, and Pink Lady.
Naturally, the vegan pie crust was a little more complicated. All-butter recipes are a pie favorite for their flaky results and, well, buttery flavor. Common vegan alternatives are shortening (which is a classic pie dough pick in itself) and, more recently popular, coconut oil. After trying both, we found the shortening crust’s flavor to be utterly bland. This led us to coconut oil (using refined means you won’t end up with an apple pie that tastes like coconut). We love how creamy oat milk (versus water) adds subtle grainy-nutty flavor. It also makes a great pseudo egg wash to brush on top and help the sugar stick. (If you can’t find oat milk, another non-dairy milk, like soy or almond, works in a pinch.)
Make sure to let this pie cool at least a couple hours before slicing into it and serving. This gives the jammy fruit a chance to set up and means you won’t end up with hot lava on your plate. Once properly cooled, serve with coconut whipped cream or your favorite vegan ice cream. —Emma Laperruque
This is one of Food52’s Best Recipes. In this series, our test kitchen sets out to create the ultimate version of your favorite recipes. Let us know on the Hotline if there's one you'd love to see next. —The Editors