Old-Fashioned Spicy Apple Pie Recipe

by | Aug 28, 2014

“But best of all Almanzo liked the spicy apple pie, with its thick, rich juice and its crumbly crust. He ate two big wedges of the pie.”

Farmer Boy

Apple pie is an American classic. People have been enjoying this warm, comforting dish for generations. We typically think of it as a dessert, but in the pioneering era it was also enjoyed as a breakfast pie.

Apple pie isn’t a quick convenience food. It takes time to make, so it’s best to enjoy the process and savor every last bite.

Old-Fashioned Spicy Apple Pie Recipe
Old-Fashioned Spicy Apple Pie Recipe Inspired by Little House on the Prairie

The first step in making an apple pie is getting the apples. My family loves to go apple picking every fall. We’re able to bring home the best apples for a pie because we can pick a mixture of different varieties. Grocery store apples work too, of course. To keep with the frugal spirit of the pioneers, see if there are any apples in the “reduced produce” section. Apples with dings and dents are fine for a pie, and you can often get them for a bargain.

Little House Apple Pie Orchard Trip

Ingredients for Two Pie Crusts (known back then as “Common Family Paste for Pies” as described in The Little House Cookbook)

  • 2 ½ cups flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ⅔ cup butter or lard (10 tbs.)
  • 6 Tablespoons ice water (as needed)

Roll out pie crust like Ma

Directions for Ma’s Old-Fashioned Pie Crust

  1. Chill the crust ingredients, along with a 2 quart bowl, in the refrigerator. Prepare a cup of ice water.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Mix the flour and salt together in the chilled bowl. Slice the cold butter into small pieces and add them to the flour. Blend together with your fingertips until the mixture is uniformly coarse. Continue to toss the mixture with a spoon as you add up to 6 tablespoons of ice water.
  4. Shape the dough into two evenly sized balls and chill them in the fridge while you prepare the pie filling. (In summer, Ma Ingalls might have set the dough bowl in a pan of cold well water.)

Ma's Pie Crust Recipe

Ingredients for Spicy Apple Pie Filling

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 lbs. tart apples
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tsp. flour
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbs. butter
  • Heavy cream for serving

Directions for Spicy Apple Pie Inspired by Little House on the Prairie

Peeling Apples for Homemade Apple Pie

  1. To make the filling, zest the lemon with a lemon zester or microplane. Set the zest aside, then halve the lemon and squeeze the juice into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Peel, core, and slice the apples into the bowl with the lemon juice. An easy way to do this is to quarter the apples, then peel the quarters, cut the cores out, and slice. Toss the slices with lemon juice. (Note: If you have children underfoot, this is a good time to put them to work. They can help peel the apples.)
  3. Dust a work surface lightly with flour and flatten one ball of dough on it. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a circle 2 inches wider than your pie pan and 1/8 inch thick. Roll from the center of the dough to the edge, giving it a slight turn after each roll.
  4. Butter the pie pan. Transfer the dough by folding it in quarters, placing it in the pan and unfolding. Trim with a knife around the pan edge.
  5. Line the bottom pie crust with a layer of apple slices. Sprinkle the layer with a third of the brown sugar, and sift a third of the flour on top. Repeat the layers until these ingredients are used up. Sprinkle the lemon zest and spices over the top of the apples and dot with butter.
  6. Roll out the top crust as you did the bottom one, transfer it on top of the apples, and trim the edges. Pinch the edges together with your fingers or press with the tines of a fork. Vent the top crust by slashing it in a simple design or piercing it a few times with a fork.
  7. Bake the pie in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 35 minutes more, until the crust is brown. Serve warm in bowls with a pitcher of heavy cream.

Little House on the Prairie Old-Fashioned Spicy Apple Pie

Apples are one of the most common fruits mentioned throughout the Little House books and a major part of Laura’s life even as an adult. In 1894, Laura, Almanzo, and their daughter Rose moved to Mansfield, Missouri and bought land outside of town, which they named Rocky Ridge. Here they worked together to turn the stony land into fertile farmland and planted an apple orchard.

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The author drew ideas and inspiration from The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories by Barbara M. Walker (New York: Harper & Row, 1979). You can read a review of this wonderful resource by clicking here.

Annemarie Rossi is the creator of Real Food Real Deals and the author of Conquering Your Kitchen. Her website provides recipes and tips to help families eat healthy food on a budget. Annemarie’s work has been featured in many places, including the Non-GMO Cookbook, Edible Boston magazine, Fox News Online, Babble, and Huffington Post. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and two children.


  1. Kate

    Yummy! I LOVE the show. Im using whole whest flour for my pie crust!

  2. David

    Can you please share other recipes Laura’s family would have had back in the day.

  3. Joy

    Why is it called spicy apple pie?

  4. Cherie Hobday

    Hi I live in Australia my dad was an American serviceman when he met and married my mother in Melbourne Australia. I was born there in Seattle after the war. My Mother joined my father there as a “War Bride” When I was 6 months old they returned to Australia to live. My Mum must have been shown this recipe by my Dad’s Family, because Appie pie is not typically an Aussie dish. However every Sunday, for as long as I remember, my Mum would make this, my Dad’s favourite and all the family looked forward to it every Sunday! This recipe sounds exactly like she would make it.
    Thank you for your stories Myself, hubby and our children all watched the little house series on TV when they were little and it was such a favourite of my whole family.

    By the way for anyone wanting to know
    Self raising flour as it is known here, is not used for a pie crust, we use plain flour which I think is all purpose flour there.
    ❤️ Cherie Hobday.

  5. Brenda Lucian

    I’ve made that apple pie recipe before,and the pumpkin pie recipe from the Little House Cookbook-they were delicious!I used half butter and half Crisco in the crust-I think next time I’ll use lard, seeing I have it in the fridge anyway!

  6. janelynn

    Interesting that you talk about “chilling in the fridge” and “ice water”–where did the pioneers get the refrigerator???

    • Angela England

      Most of the recipes have been adapted for modern audiences and measurements. 🙂 Let us know how it turns out!

  7. MM

    This website has become my homepage! I need gentleness and repose, and everything about Little House on the Prairie gives me a relaxed feeling. Helps me to cope with this world. Love the beauty of simple living. Thank you for this cute website. Makes me smile!

    • Angela England

      Thank you so much for saying that. We work hard on the site so it reflect the faith and hopefulness of Laura’s writing.

  8. Laurence Pierna

    I ‘m gonna do this apple pie tomorrow for my daugthers and tell you after how it was. I’m a great fan of Ingalls’ Family too since I’m 7 and I’m 47 now !
    God bless America !!

    Laurence from France

    • Angela England

      Thank you so much – we would love to hear how you like it!

  9. Sean

    I love apple pie.

  10. Bonnie

    on one of the episodes the Ingalls were having apple pudding and on another one Ma was making dough like fritters .

  11. steven cave

    i would like to say i watched the drama from very young i am 47 now
    and have the dvd collection i still watch it hits my feelings with
    depth and inspiration and makes me want to know more about the real
    laura and family it has been my dream to visit all the places of laura
    but could never happen cause i am in the uk and diasabled and poor so
    all i can do is enjoy the pictures is there a dvd on the real laura i
    can watch thanks s cave

  12. Shirlene Mullen

    I love Little House on the Prairie series and read every book. My grand daughter now has the books and has read each book. When my husband and I were in Missouri last we visited the museum and took the tour of her house.



  14. judy hall

    is that self rising or all purpose flour??

    • Brenda

      I’m thinking it’s not self rising as back in the old days I don’t think they had it

    • Bettye Duhon

      Shouldn’t need self rising due to a flat crust, but might need a pinch of salt for flavor.!



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