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Canned Amish Apple Pie Filling Recipe


This Home-canned Amish apple pie filling recipe is so much tastier than anything you can buy – and it’s surprisingly easy too! We use it to make the best gluten-free apple pies every fall.

What can be more satisfying than seeing your pantry shelves filling up with food that you’ve canned with your own hands? Not much, I’d submit, but there’s something extra special about canning pie filling. It’s like making convenience food, and you can use gluten-free recipes to do it.

Once you’re done, it just sits on the shelf, and literally all you have to do is open a jar and dump it into a pie shell when you’re ready for it. Hey presto! You just made homemade apple pie from scratch!

Homemade Apple Pie Filling Recipe - For Canning!

Needless to say, I’m excited about the onslaught of Fall apple harvest, and the opportunities to buy in bulk through local food co-ops, because there’s nothing like being able to pop open a jar of home-canned apple pie filling during the dead of winter to make a quick dessert. 

Isn’t the change of seasons, and seasonal food amazing? Your taste buds never get bored!

I find that I never really stop canning. In the summer it’s canning green beans, and vegetable soup. Wintertime canning is mostly meats. We’re canning pork a lot, as well as making canned chicken

In the fall, we freeze pumpkin pie filling a lot, and can this Amish apple pie filling, as well as make canned apple sauce and caramel apple butter. Not to mention also making spiced pear sauce – especially since pears are something we can actually grow here in Texas. 

This is a recipe I picked up during my days in the Amish community. 

Amish food has a well deserved reputation for being delicious, and when it comes to canning and preserving, they really know their stuff. I’m blessed to have spent much of my childhood learning from them and now, being able to pass this Amish apple pie filling recipe on to you.

What are the best apples for pie filling?  

Braeburn apples are top tier for pie filling, and other baking recipes, because they keep their texture so well. 

Granny smith are classic, and while they don’t have a lot of flavor – just a lot of tartness, I do like to add some to the mix for that tartness. 

Jonathon, and McIntosh are also excellent. But I also like to add a big “do what you can with what you’ve got” caveat to all recommendations. Maybe it’s because I grew up with such “use it or do without” mentality. I’ve done a lot of canning with fruits, vegetables, and even meats that weren’t the varieties you’re “supposed” to use, and guess what? They put food on the table. 

Tools needed for making canned pie filling

You don’t really need a lot. 

  • A water bath canning kettle. You can get a relatively inexpensive one like this, or make more of an investment with one like this.
    If you have a large enough stock pot, you can use that too, just be sure you have a rack to put in the bottom to separate your jars from the kettle bottom.
  • Jars and lids. You can usually pick up jars at a big box store like Walmart, or even Dollar General. Or you can order them from Amazon. I recommend using quart jars for apple pie filling since that’s about the volume of filling you need to fill a pie shell.
  • For lids, I really like Denali canning lids. These seal so much better than most of the brands that come with the jars. They also have a 30 day money back guarantee.
  • A way to peel and slice your apples. I have an apple peeler which really helps speed things up when you’re making large batches to can. but it’s not strictly necessary. Goodness knows a lot of apples have been peeled with a knife over the years. Also, a note on the peeler, I don’t love the slices it makes – they’re just too skinny to suit my preference – so usually don’t use that function, and slice them with a knife.  

So, are we ready? Here we go!

Canned Apple Pie Filling

Canned Amish Apple Pie Filling Recipe


  • 12 cups sugar
  • 2 ¼ cup Clear Jel (my amish friends use cornstarch, but according to Ball, it’s not safe)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 quarts water
  • 6 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 12 quarts of apples, peeled, cored, and chopped



  1. Mix first five ingredients together in a large stock pot.
  2. Stir in water and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Add apples and lemon juice. Stir well.
  4. Fill clean jars leaving half an inch of headspace.
  5. Wipe rim of each jar before capping with new lids, and clean rings.
  6. Process in a water bath canner for 25 minutes.

1 quart jar fills a 9” pie shell.

Makes 14 quarts.

apple pie filling jars

A brief overview of waterbath canning:

(You can see an overview of canning methods here.)

Waterbath canning is essentially boiling jars of food in a large stock pot. Your pot needs to be taller than your jars by at least three inches to allow for a rack (or, in a pinch, kitchen towel), on which to set the jars so that they are not in direct contact with the source of heat, and also, to allow for two inches of water over the jars.

You will place the jars in the water bath canner, and add water ideally of the same temperature as the contents of the jars to at least a two inch depth above the jars.

Timing of the canning process begins when the water comes to a rolling boil.

After the processing time is over, it is very important to cool the jars carefully. If lifted from the canner immediately, the jars could explode upon contact with any cool drafts.

Sounds scary, I know! To tell the truth, I’ve never personally had one explode, it’s just important to take precautions when dealing with hot glass.

If you can’t let the canner and jars slowly cool together, let them cool as much as you can, and then remove them them, making as sure as you can that there are no stray breezes coming through, while shielding yourself with a towel. Place on another towel, and finally, cover the jars with yet another towel to minimize chances of cracking glass.


Home-Canned Apple Pie Filling Recipe

  • Author: Elise New


  • 12 cups sugar
  • 2 ¼ cup Clear gel
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 quarts water
  • 6 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 12 quarts of apples, peeled, cored, and chopped



  1. Mix first five ingredients together in a large stock pot.
  2. Stir in water and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Add apples and lemon juice. Stir well.
  4. Fill clean jars leaving half an inch of headspace.
  5. Wipe rim of each jar before capping with new lids, and clean rings.
  6. Process in a water bath canner for 25 minutes.
  7. 1 quart jar fills a 9” pie shell.
  8. Makes 14 quarts.



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    1. Yes. Your only problem might be a bit lumpiness when it thaws. With apple chunks in it, it will be difficult to beat smooth again. I’d try a small batch before going all out with a large one.

    1. A measuring cup will work (there are four cups in a quart), or a quart jar. I have a mixing bowl with measurements marked in quarts up the side, so that’s what I usually use. 🙂

  1. I got in a hurry to start a second batch of beans with ham in my pressure canner once….one exploded just like you were talking!! I have never before or since had anything like that…I was just sure I was burnt bad but nothing….all except for my ceiling and along my walls being covered in beans…even across my kitchen (14 foot to the other side)!!! So, yes…let your jars cool as much as possible before the air hits them!!

  2. I was wondering if the liquid gets thick? I made a batch with a different recipe and the liquid isn’t thick but I used sure gel instead of cornstartch!

    1. I’m not sure how well sure gel would set up, or how long it would take since it’s a pectin and much different than cornstarch or clear gel. But yes, the filling should be thick. 🙂

      1. Mine too. And I had much left over, so I had to use more apples which was ok. I gues I will just thicken the syrup a bit more when I open a jar.

  3. I think it would be more helpful if instead of quarts you say about how many apples it would take for the recipe.

    1. Apples come in too many sizes for that to work. And, as they are measured AFTER their peeled, cored and chopped, it still wouldn’t work.

  4. I am making your recipe today. I have the second batch in the water bath now. I followed the recipe as written with leaving half an inch of headspace. My apples expanded in the water bath and the lids wouldn’t seal. Maybe if the apples are cooked down a bit before putting into the jars and the water bath for a shorter time? This is my first time making pie filling. Any advice?

    I tried to fix my first batch by quickly spooning out some filling, washing the seals and lids and letting them sit upside down while praying they seal. I gave the second batch a one inch head space. Hopefully they all seal up. It all tastes really good.

    1. i just used thick gel in blackberry pie filling (just like clear gel). it expands so much furing processing that one jar lid completely came off in the canner. the canning instructions called for 1 1/4″ headspace. I reproccessed with 1 1/2″ headspace. They sealed. once cooled the pie filling shrinks back down to your origial head dpace.

  5. Just finished making first batch. I have 5 cups of syrup left over! Hate to throw away, any suggestions on what I could use it for?

    1. Well, assuming you don’t want to make more pie filling, it would make great pancake or waffle syrup! You could add more seasoning, fruit juice, or purée if you want. 🙂

      1. Use it as an ice cream topping. Or can just the syrup, then you’d have it for drizzling over the pies you make when you serve a slice of pie a la mode!

      2. I just made half a batch and it seems to have turned out well…but I also have about 2 qts of liquid left. I plan to make more tomorrow…how would you store the syrup until you can use it? And would you just bring it to a boil again before adding the apples? Also, how do you keep your apples from ‘floating’ to the top of the jars?
        Thank you for a great, easy to follow recipe!

        1. I would just refrigerate the liquid, and if you’re going to can the pie filling, I don’t know that it would be necessary to re-boil it before packing into jars. I’d probably just cold pack it.

          As to floating apples, that can be a result of not pre-cooking the apples in the filling before canning, or of the filling not being thick enough to “hold’ the apples.

          Either way, it’s not a big deal as it will all be mixed up again when you pour it into a pie shell. 🙂

  6. Have you ever cut this recipe in half for only half a batch? I am wondering if any adjustments would need to be made. I would like to try it, first, before making the big batch.

    1. I never had, but I’d say the you could probably just cut it straight in half. The only risk you would be taking is that it might be a little thicker, or thinner than it should be.

  7. 12 quarts of apples is the amount needed after peeling/coring/chopping correct? There’s a discussion happening here…

  8. Pingback: Creating Your Secret Garden Part 4: Keeping Your Harvest | Plenty of Recipes and Tips to Help You Enjoy Your Garden Year Round – The Olive Shoe
  9. I’ve tried canning apples for pie filling before. The main problem was mushy apples with little to no flavor. The syrup they are canned in had great flavor so how do I keep the apples from getting mushy and bland? In fact I was hoping the article/recipe would talk about what kinds of apples are best for flavorful and firm apple pie filling. If anybody has ideas about which apples work best please post here. I’ll be pressure canning mine unless waterbath has significantly better results. With pressure canning I can get a batch done in about 10 minutes (no cornstarch or thickener)

    1. I’ve never canned pie filling in a pressure cannner, but I know that canning plain apples sure are more firm when water bath canned.

      I really like the flavor profile of this recipe, but if it’s not spicing enough for your taste, definitely feel to add more cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg.

      As for apple variety, the tarter, the better. Green apples tend to hold a firmer texture, but I also like fuji and cameo.

  10. I tried this today. I’m new to canning and really don’t know what i’m doing. I really packed the apples in the jars, or so I thought. But after the water bath, the apples had floated to the top, so it’s about 2/3 apples and 1/3 syrup. How do you keep that from happening? It happened with my peaches too, even though I mushed them down and couldn’t fit another piece in! Also, my syrup didn’t get thick. Do you drain it off before putting it in the pie shell? Thanks for the recipe though. I had a taste of a few leftovers and it’s yummy!

    1. You could try pouring it into a saucepan, adding a tablespoon of cornstarch, and re-thickening it. As for the floating, check out the troubleshooting tips in this article.


  11. I’ve never made a pie with thick chunks of apples but noticed your apples are thick. I tried a different recipe and the uncooked apples went to mush in the water bath. I used the pampered chef apple slice cooler tool. Any advice?

    1. It looks like autocorrect made a few changes to what I wrote. I used the apple slicer corer tool that makes slender spiral slices.

    2. I cut mine in chunks because that’s how my mom use to do it, but slices work equally well. I would probably make sure they’re at least a 1/4 inch thick though, because like you said, the peeler/slicer makes them so thin they turn to mush – at least mine does. I think they come out less than 1/8 inch thick using that thing. 😛

      Hope that helps!

  12. Hi Elise, thanks for publishing the recipe. My question concerns the amount of sugar in the recipe because I typically make French apple pie, with much of the sugar being in the topping instead of in the filling. Will the amount of sugar in the filling affect it’s canning quallity? Thanks!

    1. It won’t affect texture or taste quality, however, it may affect it’s longevity as sugar is a bacteria retardant. I do frequently can apples without sugar for other recipes, and I do find that they are more prone to spoilage, but again, that’s apples with zero sugar.

      I guess what I’m saying is go for it, but be aware that some of them may spoil.

  13. I am loving this! I made a half batch this evening and was measuring out the sugar when I realized to my horror that I didn’t have enough sugar. So I did half white sugar and half brown sugar, and the syrup I ended up with was beautiful. Chocolate brown and rich! I had plenty leftover after spooning the apples into the jars and canned it separately to pour over the baked apple pie and ice cream.
    Thank you for sharing this recipe, I can’t wait to bake a pie with this mix.

    1. I’ve heard varying opinions on this, but I’ve also known a lot of people who use cornstarch, so I suppose it’s one of those things that’s up to you.

  14. How do you measure out your “quarts” of apples? Because a quart is 32oz(2lbs), or did you measure it in a 4-cup glass measuring cup after chopped? If so, did you press it down or did you just loosely throw it in the 4c measure? Just asking because I made a recipe he other day and it was off because their measuring methods weren’t clear to me. Thanks so much in advance for clearing up my confusion!

    1. For something I’m canning, I measure in volume – in this case, cups – because I’m measuring to fit the space inside the jars. Hope that helps!

  15. Your recipe isn’t a safe recipe for canning. Cornstarch isn’t safe for canning and clear jel should be used instead. Check with ball recipes, usda, or your local county extension office for a safe recipe.

  16. I combined this recipe with another and somehow ended up with 5 min of boiling time, followed by 5 min in covered pot with burner turned off. My jars all sealed, but wondering if boiling less than 20 min will effect safety???

  17. The first time I canned apple pie filling was in 2015; we are now hooked! I love the way it looks in the jar for gift-giving (although my husband doesn’t let too many jars out of the house), and it is so easy to use for pies, crisps, turnovers, etc. I have even mixed some into greek yogurt for a yummy breakfast! Like you, I do get a certain amount of satisfaction out of knowing that I canned this, and I know exactly what is in it, with no chemicals or artificial ingredients.

  18. I have done some investigating on the corn starch / clear gel thing. It isn’t that corn starch isn’t SAFE to use, but visually, it isn’t as nice looking. It does NOT affect the safety of the product, as many many years of usage will attest to. Corn starch will make a more cloudy appearance, and could separate into clumps, causing it to be visually unappealing. Clear gel is available in many Amish or Mennonite stores under the name of Perma Flow. According to the label, it is a modified food starch refined from waxy corn.

  19. Hi, I made your recipe for apple pie filling and it is very thin, watery. I purchased clear gel online and followed the directions carefully. Definitely not my first time canning. Please tell me it will thicken up, or I just wasted a lot of good apple and a whole bunch of my time.

  20. I made a 1/2 batch (7 quarts) as that’s all my canner can hold. It looks like there’s more liquid than apples in each jar. Do you put the apples in first and then pour the syrup in? Just trying to get the apples and syrup ratio correctly in each jar. I have a ton more apples to prepare and can. Thanks for any help anyone can give me!

  21. Hi, my name is Cathy and I would love to can your pie filling, but I have a question…. What is…. Clear gel (my amish friends use cornstarch, but according to Ball, it’s not safe).

    1. It’s a modified food starch. I’ve only ever seen it at an amish store, but you may be able to oder it on Amazon.

    1. I would do a 1:1 ratio, but I have to warn you that using cornstarch in canning recipes is not recommended.

  22. Where is the recipe ? I can not find it. Everyone says how wonderful it is but its not here. Where do i have to go to get it?

  23. Oh my that’s a lot of sugar.
    Depending on the type of apples, I guess.
    My apples Goodland are sweet to begin with.

  24. Hi. Last year I made 20 qts or so of this fabulous apple pie filling. This year I came into a very large slam of pure caramel candy. Mmm fingertip licking good.
    what I’d let to know is, have you ever put caramel into the canned filling, or should I wait until in put my pie together? My kids are eating it quickly is why I wonder!

    1. Hi Joy, it’s actually a modified food starch that, for lack of better terminology, behaves better during the canning process than cornstarch.

  25. Have you used a steam canner? I have been using this instead os the big bailing water canner. The steam canner is so much faster and easier to use.

  26. This is the 2nd time I have made this recipe. Absolutely delicious! I added 4 extra quarts of apples and used 4 cups of brown sugar to replace 4 c. sugar the 2nd time I made it.

    This makes a fabulous apple crisp and cobbler also.

  27. I made this using cornstarch because my grocery store didn’t have clear gel!! It looks wonderful and smells delicious!! Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    1. Clear Gel is a thikcener used in canning in place of cornstarch. It has more stable results in jars, and is less prone to growing bad bacteria, so it’s safer. You can order it from Amazon, and sometimes find it in the canning section at Walmart.

  28. I just wanted to thank you for writing a complete canning recipe. So many, do not include the process time. I am a newbie to canning, so I just wanted to reach out and show my appreciation for your work. Plan on giving it a whirl and trying your recipe. Thank you.

  29. Hi! I’ve been canning homemade apple pie filling for YEARS with cornstarch and never had a problem! Don’t believe everything you read ????

    The best use for this recipe is making apple crisp. I use 2 quart jars, dump them into a 9×13 pan & throw a nice oatmeal crumb topping on it! Great for breakfast too!

  30. The problem I’ve run into in making my own filling and canning it is it gets over cooked by the time it’s baked up in a pie. Can I leave the apples undercooked? I like gluten free flour in mine, hope ball isn’t against that.

  31. You say your Amish friends use corn starch for thickening instead of clear jel. Do you happen to know how much corn starch they would use for the apple pie filling recipe? Thank you so much. Sue

  32. I have used clear gel.and sold it at Ace hardware where i worked. The difference is that the gel looks so much better than cornstarch. I made rhubarb sauce one time , with cornstarch. The filling discolored and became clumpy. The clear gel can handle the heat without breaking down. The next time with clear gel it was great! I also use it in soup for thickening if I don’t have cornstarch and canning soup is great with it.

  33. Hi, would like to try this apple pie filling. Would it be possible to thicken with flour as I don’t care for them”jelly like” texture of the other thickeners.

  34. Has anyone had leftover liquid that did not fit in the 14 jars after the 12 quarts of apples were put in?
    Also, how long does it usually take to set/gel up?

    1. It’s a modified food starch that is more consistent during processing and storage than cornstarch, which can get chalky.

  35. So happy to find this recipe! I grew up on home bottled apple pie filling. Never asked my mother how she made it, bit I definitely remember she used minute tapioca. Perhaps I’ll experiment with that. Thanks!!

  36. Add some flour like most recipes suggest, and stir it in when you actually used the pie filling. KISS Keep it simple stupid-it only took me 5 years to come up with this idea-I guess I’m kinda slow. Works great!

  37. Was wondering if you’re trying to cut down on sugar intake, is there a way to use less sugar or some other kind of sugar?

  38. Hello,
    I really enjoyed reading your apple pie recipe! Apple pie is one of my favorite parts of fall. I have recently started my own blog and posted my apple pie filling recipe and would love to have you stop by and check it out! My blog is Minnesotaminifarm.com. I look forward to following your blog and learning more of your wonderful recipes.

  39. I followed this recipe exactly and used Honeycrisp apples – I only wound up with 7 quarts of finished product and 7 EXTRA quarts of “syrup”. Hate to throw it out because it’s such a waste.

    Where did I go wrong?

      1. If you have always used it for canning apple pie filling – then use it… I have never canned apples other than to make applesauce… & when I try something new to can, I usually make it in a much smaller batch as I’m on my own & don’t can as many jars but love canning.

        Is your recipe the same?

  40. Is the 12 quarts measurement after or before peeling & chopping? It seems like it’s written as measuring before, but measuring in quarts would be much easier after dicing & chopping.. Just want to make sure my amounts/ratio is correct – this is a big recipe to make a mistake on.

    1. So would I. I had the same question when reading the ingredients list. 12 quarts of whole apples is way different than 12 quarts of chopped apples.

  41. I am looking forward to making this, but I need to know how long the water bath is.
    I can’t wait to try this!

  42. After you put the apples into the sugar mixture..how long do you cook the apples?? All you say it’s… Add apples and stir well!

  43. My thoughts are this: If the Amish use cornstarch when canning this & they are still alive & well, then there is nothing wrong with using it. It’s really annoying when a company who makes a product different than originally is used makes out as though the original product should not be used.

    When you think about it, why not make an apple jam & use that as pie filling. It’s thick, sweet & you can spice it as you like. Might be worth the try. I prefer to use what I have in my cupboard than to have to run to the store to buy a new product to replace an ingredient someone doesn’t want to use.

  44. Hi there! So glad to see a recipe using clear gel! Have you ever added fresh cranberries to this? If so, how does the canning process change, if at all? Thanks!

  45. its clear jel not sure jell. Sure jell is for making jam, very different. clear jel is with one L they have cook or instant. when canning use the cook not instant.

  46. I’m a rebel and have canned with cornstarch before. How much cornstarch would your Amish friends use with this recipe?

      1. Why doesn’t the recipe state this? I did NOT cook the apples 25 minutes after adding them to the liquid.
        Not sure if I will recommend this recipe for a variety of reasons.

        1. You cook the apples until they thicken. Then you place it into jar, wipe top or jar/ put lid and rings on/ place all in a water bath and boil for 25 minutes. Remove from canner onto a folded towel on counter to cool and seal. Note: I usually place another kitchen across the top

    1. I had difficulty finding Clear Gel. After checking for it at several different places, I finally found it at a Mennonite/Amish store. I wasn’t quite sure of what it was so I googled “what is the difference between Clear Gel and Sure Jell” and the answer became much clearer. Clear Gel is a modified food starch that is used as a thickening agent in canning recipes. It is most commonly used in canned apple pie filling, but can also be used in other pie fillings, other preserves, canned soups, etc. It is actually a modified corn starch (not regular corn starch) that is resistant to breaking down under high temperatures and various pH levels. It has no flavor and comes as a white powder. The advantage of Clear Gel is that it is able to thicken the food evenly (without lumps) even when it is subjected to the sustained temperatures of the canning process. When used in canned pie filling, it will bake into a beautiful pie with just the right amount of thickening and you never even know it is there. Clear Gel has nothing to do with the safety of your canned product. IMPORTANT: FOR CANNING, YOU WANT TO STICK WITH REGULAR CLEAR JEL, NOT INSTANT… INSTANT CLEAR JEL IS CLEARLY MARKED AS SUCH. The instant does not work as well for canning because it breaks down when heated for long periods of time.

      Sure Jell is a standard pectin. It comes in a standard and a low-sugar version. It is used to gel or “set” your preserves such as jam and jelly and as you know, it can be easily found. Sure Jell does not work as an apple pie filling. It would turn your filling into jam!

      NOTE: I have seen some recipes that call for this Clear Gel during the canning phase. However, if you don’t have it available, some say that you can go ahead with the canning recipe, leave out the Clear Gel and just thicken the pie filling when you are actually making the pie. Hope this helps! Have a great day!

  47. Question. My son was helping me make the apple pie filler and he grabbed the regular sure gel not the clear one. I didn’t notice till it was to late and we were finishing up. Is it going to me ok to eat and use or do we just throw it out.

  48. I measured the chopped apples exactly 12 quarts. However, when packing the jars, the apples only filled 4 quart jars. This recipe claims that it makes 14 quarts. I finished with a total of four. What happened to the other ten quarts?

  49. This was excellent! I canned 28 quarts! Do you bake the pie shell first when using it? Hen add the filling and brown the top crust? Please advise!

  50. Hi there. My neighbor has celiac and won’t eat clear gel because it’s made in a facility with wheat. I’m trying to make her my Christmas apple pie filling without gluten products. Help!

  51. I used about 40 medium to small apples. I cut the recipe in half. It came out great. I used the clear gel. I got 7 quarts with a small amount left over. My husband will love it for ice cream.

  52. I love this recipe! First time I made anything like this. Read through the comments. I noticed my first batch (7) in canner didn’t gel up. Second batch did because I boiled water correctly. So I just boiled the others additionally to get them to gel.

    My only question is how long of a shelf life do these have?

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