Easy Apple Pie Filling Recipe: Canning Made Simple

Minnesota mom blogger


Easy Apple Pie Filling

Canning. The thought of preserving fruits and vegetables in a way that doesn’t take up freezer real estate truly makes me happy. Canning also keeps me on my toes! Knowing I have to be extra-diligent and follow a detailed process when canning amplifies the sense of accomplishment once I’m all done.

I’ve been canning for about 6 years, but I’ve limited myself to time-tested and well-instructed recipes for salsa, grape jelly, strawberry jam and, after I was presented with a big box of apples from a neighbor’s tree and a highly-recommended recipe for apple pie filling several years ago, apple pie filling.

Most people start preserving with simple stuff like jam or tomatoes. I have a surprise for you: there’s such a thing as easy apple pie filling. It’s the first thing I ever canned, and I’ve followed the same process over and over again, always with fantastic results!

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I love this recipe because it makes so much more than apple pie! Here’s how I use it:

  • 1 jar of easy apple pie filling is enough to make one apple pie.
  • 2 quarts of apple pie filling will make a 9×13 pan of apple crisp. 1 quart will make a 9×9 pan of apple crisp.
  • Open 1 quart, warm it up and serve over pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, ice cream or even pork chops.
  • Make a yellow cake mix and stir in a quart of pie filling. Bake in a bundt pan according to directions on the box.

I’m not going to lie, the first time I tried this easy apple pie filling recipe I turned my kitchen into my own little apple pie filling factory, it took a long time. Too long. Probably about 4 hours. I also didn’t realize that I was about to make 20 quarts of pie filling!

Since that first time, I’ve learned to scale down my recipes to make the process faster and easier. In fact, I think that I could honestly make 8-10 quarts of apple pie filling in less time than it’s taking me to write out this whole article!

I’ve been using this easy apple pie filling recipe since I started canning, and it’s been a huge success every time I’ve made it.

I do want to note that, since the recipe was published, the USDA no longer endorses using cornstarch in canning. The liquid does sometimes separate from the “gel” if the jars sit for a while, but a quick shake of the jar breaks up the gel and the heat from baking returns the contents to a delicious, syrupy consistency.

Honestly, I’ve not had any issues in using cornstarch with this it, but my lack of problems doesn’t mean that you’ll get the same stellar results.

The USDA now recommends ClearJel modified cornstarch instead of traditional cornstarch. A big bag of ClearJel is about $10. Just use 1 cup of ClearJel instead of cornstarch and make the easy apple pie filling recipe as described.

See below the recipe for two alternatives to canning your apples with cornstarch.

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After a long introduction, here’s my highly-recommended instructions and recipe:

Easy Apple Pie Filling Recipe


  • 4 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup cornstarch 1 cup ClearJel modified cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground cloves (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 10 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 pounds apples, peeled and cored

Canning Supplies Needed for Easy Apple Pie Filling

Canning Prep:

  • Thoroughly wash your jars and rings in hot soapy water and set them on a towel to dry.
  • Fill your canning pot halfway and put it over high heat on the stove.
  • When the water gets to a simmer/boil, submerge the jars, lids and rings for at least 30 seconds to sterilize them.
  • Pull them out of the water with tongs or a magnet and put them on a towel to dry.
  • Leave your water on the burner so it’s ready to go when you’re ready to start canning.

Making the Homemade Apple Pie Filling

  • In a large pan over medium heat, mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Add 5 cups water and mix well. Cook and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved.
  • While the first mixture is heating, whisk the other 5 cups of water with the cornstarch in a separate bowl until thoroughly mixed.
  • Add the cornstarch mix to the sugar and spice mixture and continue heating and stirring until the mixture is boiling, thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.
  • Fill your jars halfway with sliced apples. Ladle the syrup over the apples, then add more apples to about one inch from the top of the jar. Add more syrup until the apples are covered, but be sure to leave at least 1/2 inch of room between the filling and the jar top to allow for a little expansion.
  • Slide a thin plastic, silicone or wooden knife around the sides of the jar to remove air bubbles, then put the lids and rings on the jars.
  • Add a few cups of cold water to your boiling water bath to equalize the water temperature to the temps of the filled jars and place jars in the boiling water, making sure there is enough water to cover the jars with at least a 1/2 inch of water.
  • Bring canning water to a rolling boil. Once the water is at boiling, let the jars sit for 25 minutes.
  • Remove the jars and place on a thick towel to dry. As they cool, the lids will begin to make audible “popping” sounds as they seal up.
  • After they cool, press down on the top center of each of the jars to make sure the lid doesn’t pop up and down. If it does, the jar wasn’t properly sealed.
    • If your jar didn’t seal during the canning process, don’t worry. You can remove the ring and the lid, clean all around the top and rim of the jar and reposition the lid and ring. Then go ahead and repeat the process with a boiling water bath.
    • Don’t feel like reprocessing the jars that didn’t seal? Just throw them in the fridge and remember that the apple pie filling won’t keep nearly as long as the stuff that was properly sealed and canned. Use it within a week or two and you’ll be fine!

If you want, there are two alternative methods to make this easy apple pie filling recipe without the cornstarch:

1. Omit the cornstarch from the recipe and proceed to can and cool the jars. When you’re ready to open a jar to use the pie filling, add 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch to each jar. Put the cover back on and shake the jar to mix everything together. You’ll end up with the same final result.
2. The USDA now recommends ClearJel modified cornstarch instead of traditional cornstarch. A big bag of ClearJel is about $10. Just use 1 cup of ClearJel instead of cornstarch and make the easy apple pie filling recipe as described.

Happy canning!


Starbucks caramel apple spice copycat recipe
If you’re in the mood for more apple goodness don’t miss my Copycat Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice recipe!

cake mix pumpkin bread

Want more fall baking recipes? Check out my Cake Mix Pumpkin Bread. It’s so easy and so delicious!

Recipe adapted from Canned Apple Pie Filling. (credit for images)


  1. I want to learn how to can! I just pinned your recipe to give it a try

  2. It’s worth it to get clear gel. It sets up beautifully, and it’s $2 a pound in the grocery store. It’s well worth it. We’ve been enjoying many yummy apple desserts with my home canned filling this winter.

  3. Have you ever had problems with pie filling coming unsealed after time? I’m an avid canner (grew up with it), and rarely have a jar come unsealed. EXCEPT for with pie fillings. These are pretty common to find molding on the shelf 6 months later. I’ve used clear jell for years with many different kinds of fruit & berries, and make my “syrup” pretty thick. I would say, at the end of the day, perhaps 20% of my jars spoil (after seeming tight at canning time). Just wondered if you have any advice.

  4. I have made this for years. I do not have a problem with cornstarch. also I use about 2 /3 water and I / 3 apple juice.

  5. I’d so try this, if anything, to make my kitchen smell this good. Pinned so I can actually give it a go. Too bad blogs don’t come with smell (or taste) vision.

  6. Hi! I have a question about one of your directions:

    “Bring canning water to a rolling boil. Once the water is at boiling, let the jars sit for 25 minutes.”

    Does that mean I shoul.d let it keep boiling? Won’t water boil out and leave the jars uncovered?
    Hoping to try this today 🙂


  7. LoriAnn says:

    Hi Deb!
    I’ve been canning for about 15 years and although most of what I can 10-15 minutes is required, 25 would not be enough time to have the water evaporate. Put a lid on the pot, that should do it.

    I wonder if I should use the same amount of sugar if I’m using very tart Pippin apples or something similar. My tree is overwhelmed with a huge harvest. In fact, we’ve had 2 big branches break. 🙁

    Good luck and have fun! Nothing better than knowing what’s in it and who made it!


  8. Hi how would I adapt your recipe, to make just enough filling for 2 apple pies? Thanks.

  9. Can you use brown sugar as a substitute for white sugar?

  10. I have tried this twice and both times the apples expand and seep out of the jars during the boil. The second time I left 1 1/2 inches from the top empty. Any suggestions?

    • I think I’d suggest leaving 2 inches of headspace at the top of the jars if 1 and 1/2 inches isn’t enough. I’ve made this recipe several times. EVERY TIME I have one jar where the filling seeps out during canning, the rest are fine.

  11. Joy said
    Have you ever had problems with pie filling coming unsealed after time? I’m an avid canner .

    Hi Joy
    my mom made a lot of different pie fillings,jams n jellies , she sealed her jars with paraffin .
    I don’t remember her having any spoilage It worked pretty good.

    now thats my 2 cents ans i’m stickin to it.

  12. I have a few questions. When you make the actual pie, do you bake it the same length of time in the crust? I would think that the 25 minutes of time in the hot water bath cooks the apples and baking them again they would turn to mush. I have not canned apples before. what are the baking directions?

    • Hi, I am not an expert by any means, but I believe that it will be similar to the canned pie fillings in the store. They have been canned by heat as well, and cook up fine in a pie.

    • I still follow the directions for baking pies and apple crisps as directed. The hot water batch doesn’t really cook the apples. They’re pretty crisp when you dump out the jar.

  13. Jackie Kern says:

    My understanding of not using any thickener or even noodles in canning is that it can create gas in the jar and raise the lid to release the seal and then the jar can almost reseal itself and create a false seal. In that case the food goes bad. That is my understanding anyway. Apple pie filling in a can says to bake as normal pies I make so thinking the time would be the same and not turn to mush although I am sure the type apples used matters there. Going to try this for my first time. Getting a pressure canner soon so next time will be in that. Thanks for sharing your recipe. Going to try only 4 quarts first to see if they are too full. Thanks!

  14. Amanda Mulvay says:

    I want to start canning and to be honest its the timings I don’t know about, If sealed properly how long does it last unopened i.e. weeks or months? and what kind of conditions should I store the jars in? and how long does it last when opened? I live in England and my trees are still young but I grow raspberries as well and would love to preserve rather than always freeze. Thank you.

  15. For those of you not using cornstarch… I just tried it without and was a complete fail. Ended up with sugary applesauce. Epic canning fails are so disheartening!

  16. Can I use flour or something else as substitute for cornstarch?..my husband has an allergy but I’d stI’ll love to try this!

  17. Patty Urban says:

    I made this batch twice, before I saw the comments. I – like others – had seepage out of the jars. I remade the jars, left more headspace and still had leakage. I agree with another reviewer that pie fillings tend to leak out – and I have no idea why. I had a lot of issues with this recipe, the seepage, the messiness of all the clean up (I had to wash all the jars) and then I had a jar break due to the long water bath. I was wondering if anyone had tried to pressure can these? The contents are super tasty so worth the effort. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    • i’m so sorry, Patty, but I truly appreciate your comment. I’ve never had a jar break and I’ve kept them in boiling water for longer than directed. I can’t even imagine the mess!

      I’m updating the recipe right now to state that readers should check out the comments before making the recipe.

  18. Do you have a recipe for apple crisp? I have a local cider mill and use their recipe for apple crisp (which is delicious) but it is nothing like the recipe for the pie filling you have. But since I am canning up all these jars of filling I’d love to know what recipe you use for the crisp. Thanks so much.

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