A sweet, flavorful dutch caramel apple pie with a brown sugar oat crumb topping. Ditch the top crust and go for a buttery crumble on this classic apple pie base and top it with a drizzle of caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Flavor - tart apples and warm spices paired with salted caramel sauce, sweet brown sugar, and buttery pie crust.
Texture - a flaky pie crust with a toothsome apple filling layer (no mushy apples here!) and a soft, yet slightly crispy topping with oats.
Crowd-pleaser - it's like an apple crisp and traditional apple pie combined, but adding in a sticky caramel component! It would be a perfect addition to thanksgiving dinner, or during the holiday season. This caramel apple pie is the kind of dessert that you'll be getting into at midnight or slicing up for breakfast...
Dutch Apple Pie vs. Apple Pie
The difference between an apple pie and dutch apple pie is the type of layer on top of the apple pie filling. The dutch version has a crumb (or streusel) topping, while a traditional apple pie has either a double crust pie (a full top crust) or lattice crust pie. However, both types typically have a flaky bottom crust.
- Homemade pie crust. Unsalted cold butter, flour, salt, and cold water for this flaky crust.
- Apples. Granny smith apples are a classic, but other tart baking apples such as pink lady, braeburn, or honey crisp are also the best apples to use.
- Spices. Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Homemade Caramel Sauce. Butter, sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla to make it homemade. The caramel can also be store-bought if you don't want to make it yourself (but you should give it a try)!
- Sugars. Brown and granulated sugars are needed for this recipe.
- Oats & Pecans. For the crumble topping; the nuts are optional.
See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
Variations & Substitutions
- pie crust - a pre-made pie shell or frozen pie crust can also be used, but I suggest making it with the all-butter pie crust.
- caramel - store-bought caramel can be used.
- nuts - substitute almonds, walnuts, or pepitas in the streusel topping, or omit them completely.
How to Cut Apples for Apple Pie
To cut apples for apple pie, first, peel the apple completely, then cut it in half (through the stem). Remove the core by using a melon baller, spoon, or cut a wedge into the center with a sharp knife.
Slice the apples into ⅛-1/4" thick slices, going from stem side to bottom side, then add the apples into a bowl and toss with lemon juice to keep them from browning while you prepare the rest of the pie.
How to Make This Recipe
Before beginning: Make the pie crust, then make the caramel (see video below) while the pie crust is chilling in the fridge. Once ready, roll out the pie dough on a lightly floured surface, set the dough in the pie plate, crimp the edge of the crust, then place it in the fridge while preparing the apples.
One: Peel, core, and slice the apples, then toss them with the flour, spices, lemon juice, and sugar to combine.
Two: Layer the apple mixture into the pie dish, mounding up the apples in the center, then press down gently all over.
Hot tip! Take a bit of time to get the apples layered flat (get them into the sides, too!) and try to limit gaps between the apples.
Three: Pour the rich caramel sauce all over the top of the apples, drizzling it on evenly across the entire pie.
Four: Mix together the streusel topping with a fork, then sprinkle it onto the top of the pie. Bake until golden brown, and add the pecans (optional) in the last ten minutes of baking.
Hot tip! Try to keep the streusel "loose", leaving some slight holes when adding it to the pie. If it gets too compacted, the apples can steam too much and become mushy.
Allow the pie to cool completely before slicing, then add a caramel drizzle all over the top and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
- Make the caramel apple crumble pie ahead of time. This is a great dessert to make a day ahead of time since it's best to eat at room temperature.
- Lightly tent the pie with aluminum foil if it's browning too quickly.
- Move the pie to the bottom third of the oven for the final 10 minutes of baking. This will keep a dutch apple pie from getting soggy.
- Allow the pie to cool completely at room temperature before slicing in. Cutting into a hot pie will result in a runny mess with apple slices sliding out all over the place.
A classic crumb topping is made with butter, sugar, and flour. This can be made with either granulated sugar, or brown sugar, and oats and nuts can also be mixed in for extra texture and flavor.
No, this pie recipe can be stored at room temperature for up to five days, lightly covered with foil.
Store the pie lightly covered with foil at room temperature for up to five days, or in the fridge for one week. Enjoy the pie cold, at room temperature, or slightly warmed by the slice in the microwave.
The entire pie can be reheated in a 375℉ oven for 5-7 minutes if you'd like it to be slightly warm.
This pie can be frozen either baked, or unbaked. To freeze the pie after baking, place it in the fridge to firm up, then wrap the entire pie (with the pie plate) in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil. Freeze the pie for up to three months. Unwrap it completely and thaw in the fridge, then move it to room temperature for one hour. Bake at 375℉ for 15 minutes to re-crisp the top of the pie.
To freeze the pie before baking, follow the same wrapping instructions as above and freeze for no more than six months. Unwrap the pie completely and allow it to stand in the fridge for one hour, then bake according to recipe instructions. For this method, you will likely need up to 15 minutes more bake time. Tenting the pie with foil is recommended.
Note: freezing pies in a glass pie dish can cause it to crack. It's best to do this in a disposable aluminum pan or metal pie plate.
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Dutch Caramel Apple Pie with Crumb Topping
- Food processor or pastry cutter
- Rolling Pin
- 9" pie plate
- 1 cup granulated sugar 200g
- 6 tablespoon unsalted butter room temperature (85g)
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream 120ml
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup light brown sugar 200g
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature (113g)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour 90g
- ⅔ cup rolled oats 75g
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup chopped pecans optional
- 1 disc pie dough homemade or store bought
- 6 large Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, and sliced ¼" thick (~800g)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup granulated sugar 100g
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour 30g
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ cup caramel sauce homemade or store bought
- If using homemade pie dough, begin by making the all-butter pie crust and allowing it to rest in the fridge for at least one hour. Make the caramel sauce while the dough rests.
Homemade Caramel Sauce
- Add the sugar to a medium saucepan over medium-low to medium heat and stir about every 30 seconds until melted and turning amber. It will start to get wet, will then clump up and crystallize, then will begin to melt and change to an amber color.1 cup granulated sugar
- Add the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring to combine before adding the next tablespoon.6 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Add the heavy cream and continue mixing. The caramel will bubble up at this point, but don’t be alarmed. Once combined, turn off the heat, stir in the salt and vanilla, and carefully pour it into a heat proof bowl or jar to cool slightly.½ cup heavy whipping cream, 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Add the softened butter, flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, and salt to a bowl and mix it together with a fork until small to medium crumbles form. Place the bowl in the fridge while you prepare the pie.1 cup light brown sugar, ½ cup unsalted butter, ¾ cup all-purpose flour, ⅔ cup rolled oats, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 400℉/205℃ and arrange one rack in the middle and one in the lower third of the oven.
- Roll out the homemade or store bought pie dough, then set it and crimp it in a 9" pie plate. Place the pie crust in the freezer while you prepare the rest of the filling.
- Peel, core, and slice the apples into ¼" slices. Add them to a large mixing bowl and toss with the lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves until fully coated.6 large Granny Smith apples, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ cup granulated sugar, ¼ cup all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- Add half of the apple to the pie crust and use your hands to arrange the apples so there aren't any large gaps. Add the second half, following the same instructions and mounding the apples in the middle, then gently press the apples down with your hands to compact the gaps even further.
- Drizzle ½ cup of the caramel sauce all over the apples, leaving about ½" bare around the edges so the caramel doesn't bubble over the crust.½ cup caramel sauce
- Remove the crumble topping from the fridge and separate any overly large chunks with a fork, then sprinkle it all over the top of the pie. Do not press the crumb topping down.
- Place the pie on a cookie sheet, then bake in the center rack and bake for 20 minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 375℉/190℃ and bake for another 20 minutes.
- Transfer the pie to the lower third of the oven for the final 10 minutes of baking. If using the chopped pecans, add them to the top of the crumble at this time.½ cup chopped pecans
- Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to fully cool at room temperature on a wire cooling rack. This typically takes about three hours.
- Drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce (heat it in the microwave for about 15 seconds if it's no longer a drizzling consistency), then slice the pie and serve!