Gramma John’s Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

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Gramma John’s Blue Ribbon Apple Pie is one of the simplest desserts that packs the biggest punch in flavor and texture. Make one today!

slice of apple pie and cup of coffee

Pie is probably one of my very favorite desserts. I have wonderful memories of watching my Gramma John or my mom magically transform fruit, flour, sugar, and butter into something amazing.

Amazing, I tell ya!

I was about ten when I first tried to make a pie on my own. Lemon Meringue with fresh lemons from our tree in the back yard was the first for me to tackle — and perfect. But it’s funny that I didn’t start with an easy, surefire winner: our family classic, Gramma John’s Blue Ribbon Apple Pie.

As the story goes, my Gramma John entered a number of dishes in the fair every year. And every year she nabbed a prize for her blue ribbon apple pie.

Tradition back then dictated that the winner share his or her recipe over the radio. But, sly woman that she was, Gramma always changed the recipe so that no one, least of all her competition, could steal the spotlight from her the following year.

As a result, her daughters-in-law always wondered if they had the right version of the recipe!

But, you know me, I’m all about sharing the wealth. So, here it is, Gramma’s masterpiece, complete with my own tweaking.

But first let’s answer some questions, easy as, well, apple pie.

slice of apple pie on plate with mug

How do you make homemade apple pie?

Apple pie is typically a sweetened apple filling between two crusts. The top crust can be a rolled crust, like the bottom, or it can be a streusel or crumble type topping that serves as the second layer of crust.

  1. Line a pie plate with pastry.
  2. Fill the pastry with a mixture of sugar, spices, sliced apples, and lemon juice.
  3. Dot the filling with small bits of butter.
  4. Place the top crust, either rolled, lattice, or streusel.
  5. Bake until the filling is bubbly and the crust is nicely golden browned.

Can you make apple pie in advance?

A baked apple pie is good for about three days, stored at room temperature.

Can you freeze apple pie?

Yes! When I’ve found apples at great prices, I’ve spent a few hours making many apple pies at once.

  • Freeze the pie unbaked, well wrapped in foil.
  • When you’re ready to bake, vent the top crust and brush it with milk or an egg wash.
  • Bake at 450° for 15 minutes and then reduce heat and bake at 375° until crust is browned and filling bubbles, about one hour more.

apple pie on checked cloth with plates and forks

Do I need to buy canned apple pie filling?

Please don’t. Canned apple pie filling came into existence when fresh fruit was not easily obtainable. Unless you live somewhere where fresh apples are not at all obtainable, you don’t need canned apple pie filling.

The exception to this rule would be when you or someone you know has a glut of apples and needs a way to preserve them for later use, aside from freezing. Then homemade apple pie filling is allowed. 😉

How is apple pie different from an apple tart?

An apple pie has both a bottom and top crust while an apple tart only has a bottom crust.

What are the best apples for apple pie?

Some apples are great for eating, but not good for baking. Be sure to choose the right apples for you pies. Your selection may vary depending on where you live.

Recommended varieties include the following:

  • Jonagold
  • Granny Smith
  • Rome Beauty
  • Golden Delicious
  • Honeycrisp
  • Braeburn
  • Crispin
  • Winesap
  • Pink Lady

basket of apples lined with white napkin

How to make Apple Pie good and cheap:

To make this recipe more economical:

Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. Fall is your best time to find best selection, freshness, and price on apples, though it’s true you can buy apples all year-round. My target price on apples is $1/pound, though I will go as high as $1.50 if they are organic. Watch for sales and stock up.

However, you can watch for sales year-round for things like flour, butter, and sugar. Stock up when you see a sale and store those items for when you want Apple Pie.

How to make this recipe easily:

Having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:

Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:

  • food processor or pastry blender – Either of these tools make quick work of the short dough. You can do it by hand with two knives, but I prefer my food processor.
  • large cutting board – I use this super size cutting board for a work surface for all my doughs. I can easily clean and sanitize it and move it around the kitchen.
  • rolling pin – Necessary for making homemade pie crust.
  • plastic wrap – Too much flour can make your dough tough, but too little makes it stick to your work surface. I use plastic wrap to help me roll the dough easily and transport it to the pan without tearing it. Stretch-Tite is the best, in my opinion.
  • pie plate – obviously ?
  • liquid measure – these beakers are more accurate for liquids
  • kitchen scale – Love this one! I have had mine for over ten years.
  • Apple corer – to easily core apples, handy if you’re making many pies at one time or use an apple peeler and a knife.
  • stainless steel mixing bowl – great for mixing the filling
  • citrus reamer – for juicing the lemon

Not quite sure how to slice an apple? I’ll show you four different ways to make easy apple slices.

hand holding crumbs from food processor

If you prepare this recipe, be sure to take a picture and hashtag it #GOODCHEAPEATS. I can't wait to see what you cook up!
0 from 0 votes
Gramma John’s Blue Ribbon Apple Pie
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Resting Time
10 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
Gramma John's Blue Ribbon Apple Pie is one of the simplest desserts that packs the biggest punch in flavor and texture. Make one today!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple, apple dessert, apple pie
Servings: 8
Calories: 323 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1 single unbaked pie shell use this recipe or this one
  • 6 apples peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Place a pie plate lined with a single crust on a rimmed baking dish to catch the drips.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir gently to distribute the components evenly. 

  3. Spoon this mixture into the prepared pie shell. 

  4. In a food processor bowl fitted with a metal blade, combine the flour, butter, and brown sugar. Pulse until coarse crumbs form. Stir in the almonds.

  5. Alternatively, prepare the streusel top in a mixing bowl with a fork or pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour and sugar.

  6. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the apple filling.

  7. Bake the pie 45-50 minutes, or until the filling bubbles and the topping is browned. If the topping and crust brown too quickly, cover with aluminum foil until baking is complete. 

  8. Allow the pie to cool on a rack for about an hour before serving.

Recipe Notes

Note: This pie is extra special served with whipped cream, whipped topping, or vanilla ice cream.

The unbaked pie can be frozen for up to six weeks. Wrap well with foil and freeze. Bake from frozen in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375 and continue baking until filling bubbles and top is brown, up to an hour more.

Nutrition Facts
Gramma John’s Blue Ribbon Apple Pie
Amount Per Serving
Calories 323 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 8mg3%
Sodium 116mg5%
Potassium 216mg6%
Carbohydrates 56g19%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 34g38%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 161IU3%
Vitamin C 7mg8%
Calcium 32mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Gramma John’s Blue Ribbon Apple Pie | Good Cheap Eats

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Zimms Zoo says

    This isn’t fair! I can’t make a pie crust to save my life!

    I can’t wait to see everybody else’s and try again to make a decent pie crust.

  2. Ryann says

    Joined in on the pie fun but I’m
    missing the Toolin’ Up Tuesday post… I wrote anyways. Find my post here


  3. JessieLeigh says

    I don’t have a pie recipe to share because, well, I actually don’t like pie. At all. Sorry!

    I do like to imagine how yummy all of your kitchens must smell though… especially that caramel apple pie, Lynn! Mmmm!

  4. FishMama says

    Zimmszoo, my way is really easy. But, then again, so is Ryann’s. You’ll have to scroll to the bottom of her recipe for her secret. 😉

    Ryann, thanks for being flexible on TUT today. You wanna be my guest blogger for TUT next week?! Email me.

    JessieLeigh, you crack me up, as is often the case. Can’t believe you don’t like PIE!!!

  5. JessieLeigh says

    I KNOW, crazy huh? Strangely enough, I don’t like cooked fruit or raw vegetables. No idea.

    BTW, I forgot to mention earlier that I just adore that pic. You both look so sweet and happy… that’s even more heart-warming than than the pie!

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