Everyone knows McDonald’s Apple Pies were better in the 90s. Even after they stopped frying them, the original baked ones were yummy! Nowadays…maybe it’s just me but the lattice-topped version is damn near tasteless. So let’s take it back! These Apple Pies are full of sweet and spiced tender apple chunks, encased in a flaky all-butter pastry crust, and either deep fried or sprinkled with sugar and baked in the oven.
I love Apple Pie – it’s pretty much the only pie I’ll eat – but this site is surprisingly sparse when it comes to apple pie recipes! If you haven’t checked out my Apple Crumble French Toast recipe let me take this time to plug it: it’s AMAZING. Alright, onto the 90s Apple Pies recipe!
90s Apple Pies Ingredients
Feel free to jump to the full recipe, but here are useful notes about the ingredients you will need to make this 90s Apple Pies recipe:
- All-purpose flour: For the pastry (pie) dough. Use unbleached, always.
- Salted butter: If you choose to use unsalted you’ll want to add a teaspoon or so of fine sea salt to your flour. The crust for these 90s Apple Pies will be flavorless without it!
- Granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, turbinado sugar: White sugar in the crust and the filling, brown sugar in the filling to add some caramel notes and deepen the color, and turbinado sugar just for sprinkling on top.
- Ice water, cold water: Ice water for the crust, cold water for the cornstarch slurry. Make sure the ice water is actually ice water – we want to keep the butter cold as we process the dough so the crust is flaky.
- Granny Smith apples: Green apples! Don’t use red! Too soft! Too much moisture! If you don’t like ‘tart’ apples just add a bit more sugar: we need the texture of granny smiths or another tart apple or else you’ll end up with a 90s Apple Pie full of applesauce.
- Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed, please. Adds brightness to the filling so it’s not just sweet and cinnamon.
- Ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, fine sea salt: Spices for our filling! Only a pinch of ginger and nutmeg, as cinnamon is the star. I like to roll the crust out on a surface dusted with both flour and a pinch of cinnamon for appearances and a hint of that extra flavor.
- Cornstarch: Optional. Dissolved into the aforementioned cold water it’ll serve as a thickener for the filling. If your filling is already thick and kinda dry, you won’t need this.
- Egg: For brushing and sealing the edges of the pies. If you’re baking them you’ll also use this to brush the tops of the 90s Apple Pies.
How to Make 90s Apple Pies
Full instructions are included in the recipe below, but here is a basic overview of what you’ll need to do, along with some important tidbits to help you make the most of this 90s Apple Pies recipe:
- Make the crust. Add the flour, sugar, and frozen butter to the bowl of your food processor.* Pulse the ingredients together in 2-second pulses until combined – the mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. Pour in the ice water and continue pulsing just until a dough has formed – don’t let it pull into a ball – as soon as you start being able to see large gaps between the coarse crumbs as they congeal, stop processing. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and form it into a ball with your hands. Divide that bowl into two even parts, shape those into discs, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least two hours. You need the butter to chill completely. In the meantime, start on the filling so it has time to cool to room temperature before assembly.
- Prepare the 90s Apple Pies filling. In a mixing bowl – or directly in the medium-sized saucepan you’ll be cooking the filling in – stir together the diced apples, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Make sure the apples are coated in the sugar, then set them aside to let the apples macerate for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes place the saucepan with the apples over medium-high heat. Simmer until the remaining sugar is dissolved, then stir in the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer it until thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the filling is simmering dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water. Remove the filling from heat and stir in the cornstarch slurry. Once it’s been incorporated fully – no streaks of white – set the filling aside to cool and thicken further.
- Roll out the dough. Flour a clean work surface lightly with all-purpose flour*. Roll out your pie dough, one disc at a time until it’s about 1/4″ thick. Try to work it into a rectangle if you can so it’s easier to cut the pies out. With a sharp knife cut the dough into long strips about 3 inches wide, then cut those strips into rectangles, just under 5″ if you can. If your dough is 1/4″ thick you shouldn’t have any problems with this. Place the cut-outs on a plate and stick them in the fridge while you roll out the other disc of dough. Expect to end up with between 10-15 rectangles, I usually end up with 12.
- Assemble the 90s Apple Pies. In a small bowl whisk together the large egg and water. Give the cooled filling a good stir. Spoon about a tablespoon or so of filling in the center of half of the rectangles, spreading it the length of the pie but not too close to the edges. Brush the edges of each lightly with egg wash. Top the filling with a second rectangle. Press it down with flat fingers and flatten the pie a little to express any trapped air, then press the edges together. Use a fork to crimp the edges together for an extra tight seal. After all the pies have been assembled and sealed take the tip of a chef’s knife and jab the tops of the pies in three places. You don’t need to widen or open the cut, just up and down is fine. Then, continue based on which version of the pies you want —
The (Superior) Fried Version:
- Fill a large stockpot or dutch oven halfway with vegetable oil and heat it to around 325°F. Add your pies to the oil gently, taking care not to crowd the pan. Fry the pies for 2 minutes, then flip and fry for another 2 minutes. Transfer the pies to a wire rack over a baking sheet. Continue until all the pies have been fried.
- Increase the heat and bring the oil up to 375°F degrees. Add the 90s Apple Pies back to the oil, this time frying them until they’re as golden brown as you want them to be – for me about 4 minutes more, total.
- Transfer the cooked pies back to a wire rack above a baking sheet and sprinkle them with the turbinado sugar. Continue until all the pies have been double-fried to crisp, golden perfection. Serve hot!
The (Also Very Good!) Baked Version:
- Preheat your oven to 425°F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet and set it aside.
- Arrange the pies on the baking sheet, leaving a couple of inches between them. Brush the tops of the 90s Apple Pies with egg wash, taking care to apply it evenly, then sprinkle the tops of each pie with turbinado sugar.
- Bake the pies in the preheated oven for 16-20 minutes, until deeply golden brown. Serve hot. Dassit!
Obligatory Pinterest graphic options –