The taste of fried apple pie in a big tin? Yes, please

Vegan apple pie with spiced shortening crust
Slices are packed with apples.
(Evan Sung/For The Times)

The first time I baked this pie, I was pleasantly shocked by how it smelled exactly like a McDonald’s apple pie when I opened the oven. It tastes much fresher and more complex but is no less satisfying or nostalgic. The secret is shortening, which not only makes the crust extra flaky, but also eliminates the need to chill the crust before rolling. Fresh apple cider adds a subtle sweetness to the crust and makes it tender.

Here are the reasons why you should try a vegan Thanksgiving menu of classic dishes like sweet potato casserole and bread stuffing and tips that make it easy to pull off.

Oven-fried Apple Pie with Spiced Shortening Crust

2 ½ hours, largely unattended. Serves 12.

Shortening crust:

  • 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated or organic sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup trans-fat-free vegetable shortening, cut in cubes and chilled
  • ¼ cup fresh apple cider


  • 3 ½ pounds apples, preferably a mix of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅔ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated or organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  1. Position a rack on the lowest setting in the oven and heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Make the crust: Whisk the flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Add the shortening and cut in with a pastry cutter or mix with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pebbles. Add the cider and stir with a fork until the mixture comes together in large clumps. Press the clumps into one mass, then divide into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Form each into a 1-inch-thick disk.
  3. Place the larger disk on a sheet of parchment paper and cover with a large sheet of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to roll into a 12 ½-inch round, lifting and replacing the plastic wrap as needed. Flip the dough over so the plastic-covered side is down and peel off the parchment. Flip the dough into a 9-inch pie dish (not deep-dish), centering it, then press gently into the bottom and up the sides. Peel off the plastic and refrigerate the dough in the dish.
  4. Place the other disk on the parchment, cover with plastic wrap, and roll into a 12-inch round. Cut the round into 1 ½-inch-thick strips, using a fluted-edge cutter, if desired. Slide onto a baking sheet and refrigerate.
  5. Make the filling: Peel the apples, then cut into quarters. Cut each quarter into 1/4-inch-thick slices crosswise. Whisk the cornstarch, salt, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2/3 cup sugar in a large bowl. Add the apples and lemon juice and fold until evenly coated.
  6. Place the chilled bottom crust on a rimmed baking sheet. Take a handful of apple slices and spread in the crust, pressing into a flat layer. Repeat with the remaining apples, flattening each addition to eliminate any gaps before adding the next. Pour any accumulated liquid from the bowl over the apples. Arrange the dough strips on top parallel to one another so that they’re nearly touching. Trim the edges of the top and bottom crusts so that there’s three-quarters-inch overhang. Tuck the overhang under so the edges are flush with the rim of the pan. Crimp the edges decoratively.
  7. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush a dough strip with water and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Repeat with the remaining dough strips (working one strip at a time gives you enough time to sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on before the water evaporates).
  8. Bake until the top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Continue baking until the crust is golden brown and the filling tender and bubbling, about 1 hour. If you slide a paring knife into the filling, it should slide through easily. Cool completely in the pan on a rack before serving.

Make ahead: The cooled pie can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and kept at room temperature overnight.