Apple pie epitomizes fall. Apple pie is the perfect way to warm up your kitchen; it’s the solution to all apple-picking problems, the main ingredient in holiday dessert spreads and the most fragrant way to keep your kitchen warm.

Apple pie can be difficult to make. You can have a different experience with a recipe depending on the apples you choose, how they are sliced, what type of crust you use and how you cut it. There isn’t much agreement about what produces the best results, despite many people’s countless hours of research and testing.

This is partly because everyone has different tastes in what an apple pie should taste. It was especially evident when other Kitchn employees tasted the pies. Some prefer an all-butter crust, while others prefer the flakiness of a shortening crust. Some prefer tart pies, while others prefer sweet pies. Some prefer a filling with a little bit, while others like all the gooey goodness they can get.

When it was time to choose from four popular pie recipes, I wasn’t just trying to decide which one would be the best. It was about which pie would produce delicious, successful results for as many bakers as possible.

How I Choose the Apple Pie Contestants

Our showdown candidates are often chosen based on the most-searched-for recipes on the Internet. This means that the same few celebrities keep popping up repeatedly: Alton Brown and Martha Stewart, Ina Garten and Pioneer Woman. This didn’t work.

It turns out that people don’t like Ina Garden’s apple pie (the inclusion of citrus zest seems to be very polarizing). Alton Brown’s pie has some difficult-to-find ingredients and has received a lot of negative feedback. Similar reviews were found for Martha and Ree’s pies.

So I did a little extra digging.

Gordon Ramsay’s pie was my favourite because it won Buzzfeed’s bake-off and used an innovative caramelizing apple. After running several tests, I remembered that Smitten Kitchen had just updated her beloved pie. It felt right to include it. Many commenters have praised King Arthur Flour’s pie. Grandma Ople’s pie on has over 10,000 reviews. It is the first result when searching for “apple pie” online.

How I Tested the Pies

In all of our recipe battles, I tried to keep as many things consistent as possible. All the pies were made with the same ingredients. They were all baked in the same style and brand of pie plate. Let them cool completely before I cut them. (This is a good idea, as apple pies take a long while to set up.

Apples were the main factor that made pies different from one another. It was important to follow the instructions exactly to make a winning recipe. This meant that I had to use the correct type of apple.

Smitten Kitchen calls out for mutsu. She describes it as a mix of Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith. I had difficulty finding Mutsu at first, so I tried a mixture of Granny Smith and Golden. However, I was able to find mutsu again for my second test. Gordon recommends “tart baking apples,” so Granny was my choice. King Arthur Flour suggested using several varieties and gave a list of their favourite. I chose three varieties: Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. Grandma Ople called Granny, which seemed to be on-brand.

Meet Our 4 Apple Pie Contenders

The Best Pie for Fried Apple Lovers is Gordon Ramsay’s Caramelized Apple PieThis pie was the only one that required you to pre-cook your apples. They were delicious! Cut them into cubes, not slices. You chop them into cubes, not slices. Then you saute in butter and sugar until they are caramelized. Finally, could you place them in the crust and bake them? It reminded me of Cracker Barrel’s skillet-fried apples — which is my highest compliment.

This pie was easy to make due to its short ingredients list, simple assembly, and short baking time. The crust was the only exception. This pie uses a sweetened tart dough instead of the traditional pie crust. It was more difficult to work in. It didn’t crisp up and brown as well as I expected.

My suggestion: My suggestion? To prevent the crust from sticking, flour the surface well.

Overall rating 7/10

The Best Pie for a Quirky Baking Project is Apple Pie by Grandma Ople

This was the fastest of all the pies that I made. This is because the apples are not sliced or peeled. You just put them in a pie crust and then place a lattice top crust on top. Finally, pour buttery syrup over the unbaked pie.

It was a delicious, gooey pie that bordered on being mushy. The crust had crispy bits and a caramel-like flavour. The recipe could be disastrous if you follow it exactly as written. I’m glad that I read through the reviews and learned how to make a pie. This pie is great for anyone who enjoys trying new things. Before you begin, make sure to check out my tips at the link. You’ll also need to choose your pie crust recipe. This one is our recommendation.

Overall rating 7.5/10

The Best Pie for Apple Lovers: Smitten Kitchen’s Even Better Apple Pie

The only pie I made required me to macerate the apple slices before assembling it. This allowed them to soften and then slump to add more into my pie crust. I used nine whole apples!

This pie was very close to winning first place. It’s time-consuming, but it’s very easy to make. The pie has classic apple pie flavours (it’s made using all warming spices) as well as a golden-brown crust. I enjoyed the all-butter crust technique. It turned out different every time, and the apples didn’t soften as much as I expected. You may like the apples to have some texture in your pie, which many people do. This is the pie you want.

Overall rating 8.5/10

King Arthur Flour’s Apple Pie is the Best

This is my favourite type of apple pie. It is made with butter and vegetable shortening and flaky and crispy. Thanks to a secret ingredient, the filling was one of the most flavorful. It was boiled cider. You can also substitute apple juice concentrate for it, but that is more difficult to find.

The filling was not too soft, but it was still well-done. Every bite of the flaky crust and gooey filling with vanilla ice cream was exceptional. This pie is one I recommend to all bakers.

Overall rating 9.0/10