How Many Apples You Need For A Perfect Pie

The phrase "as American as apple pie" has been used for nearly a century as a point of patriotic comparison. It's a somewhat ironic sentiment, given that the dessert dish actually originated in Europe. Americans sure do love apple pie, though. We love eating it, and we love making it, despite the fact that it takes a rather substantial amount of apples to make properly.

How many? The amount depends upon the type of apples used — some recipes call for more than one variety — as well as individual recipe specifications. But on average, about 10 apples are needed for a nine-inch pie as well as ingredients like flour, sugar, salt, and butter to make the crust. If you want to put whipped cream on top of your apple pie, or even a bit of melted cheddar, you can add those ingredients to your shopping list, too.

It bears noting, however, that many apple pie recipes don't specify the number of apples, but rather the number of pounds of apples, or the number of cups of apple slices needed. So it helps to know how these ratios work. Typically, three medium apples equate to one pound, and each cup of apple slices requires about three-quarters of a medium-sized apple. That means each medium-sized apple is more than one cup (one and one-third cups, actually). But as the reference to size suggests, this ratio varies according to the size of the apple varieties used for your pie.

How apple varieties and their sizes affect apple pie recipes

If you've never baked an apple pie, it may come as a surprise that Red Delicious apples — one of the most popular varieties in the U.S. — are not a recommended option for pies. Gala apples work well, however, as do Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, and many other varieties.

What determines which apples are good for apple pie and which aren't? It's all about flavor profile and firmness. Apple pies need a certain amount of tartness to balance sweet flavors, and Red Delicious apples simply don't have enough to qualify for use. Granny Smith apples, by contrast — the most popular apple pie variety — are perfect in this regard. Sweeter Gala, Golden Delicious, and Honeycrisp apples also have the requisite tartness, and like Granny Smiths, are firm enough not to become overly mushy when cooked.

These apple varieties are all a bit different in terms of average size, so that means the amount you'll need to buy for perfect apple pies can vary slightly according to your preferred recipe instructions. The size differentials aren't very big, however. There are about 2.8 Golden Delicious, and 2.9 Gala and Honeycrisp apples per pound, for example. Granny Smiths, slightly smaller (although still considered medium-sized), average out to 3.1 apples per pound.

The perfect number of apples is determined by the recipe

As these numbers suggest, there is no standard number of apples needed to make a perfect pie. The number will vary from recipe to recipe and can be influenced by other factors besides the preferred variety (or varieties if more than one is used to achieve a well-rounded blend of flavors and textures). The size of the pie pan, adjusted to serving sizes, also plays a role in the number of apples needed.

But in most cases, the number of apples will be in the range of eight to 12, with 10 as the average. There are outliers, it should be noted. Some recipes can call for five pounds of apples (the equivalent of nearly 15 Granny Smiths). But recipes specifying three or four pounds of apples are much more common. All of this goes to show, of course, that the perfect number of apples for your apple pie is what's recommended in your favorite recipe and the type of apple (or apples) you decide to use.