Where was apple pie invented?

Nothing tastes homier and more comforting than apple pie. Apple trees originated in Asia, and this fruit has spread across the world. In fact, apples are one of the most popular fruits on the planet. Apples are often baked into tempting pastries in many countries and cultures around the globe. So, where was apple pie invented? You might be surprised to learn that apple pie was invented in England. Read on to learn about the origin of this fruit-filled dessert!

Discover where apple pie was invented!
Discover where apple pie was invented! (Photo credit: studioM, Depositphotos.com)

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English Apple Pie

The first known recipe for apple pie dates back to 1381 in England. It was included among other recipes in A Cook’s Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

This 14th-century confection included apples, figs, raisins, pears, and a pastry shell. However, the first apple pies did not contain sugar. The crust was likely made with hard cheese, which is why apple pie is often served with cheddar cheese today.

Today, differences between apple pies in the U.S. and England remain. The British version tends to be more mellow in flavor than the sweet apple filling of America. That’s because American apple pie often contains much more sugar than its English inspiration. There tends to be a higher crust-to-apple ratio in the old-world version as well.

Despite the common slogan in the U.S., the English have a similar saying that goes, “As English as apple pie.” In fact, apple pie was one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite pies!

British apple pie
As English as apple pie! (Photo credit: Anneleven, Depositphotos.com)

English Apple Pie Recipes

Is this dessert as American as apple pie?
Is this dessert as American as apple pie? (Photo credit: belchonock, Depositphotos.com)

American Apple Pie

We’ve all heard the phrase, “as American as apple pie.” This beloved dessert, however, did not originate in the United States.

For Mom and Apple Pie

How did apple pie become known as American then? Another phrase, “for Mom and apple pie” became famous in the U.S. during World War II. American soldiers often gave this answer when asked why they were heading off to war. In turn, apple pie became an American synonym for prosperity.

Johnny Apple Seed

Apples are one of the most popular fruits in North America. We can at least partially thank Frontiersman John Chapman, a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed, for that. As an entrepreneur wanting to expand his hard apple cider business, he traded apple seeds (mostly for crab apples) with other pioneer men. Thus, he became known for spreading apple orchards throughout the U.S. in the early 1800s.

Immigrant Nation

This dessert’s popularity amongst so many cultures may be another reason apple pie has become a staple of American cookery. After all, the U.S. is known as an immigrant country where people from many different world cultures have made their homes.

The apples we eat today are likely descended from trees in Central Asia. Then, European settlers brought their recipes for fruit pies to the New World. Somewhere along the way, apple pie became America’s favorite dessert.

Apple pie à la mode
Apple pie à la mode (Photo credit: HHLtDave5, Depositphotos.com)

Apple Pie à la Mode

Although it is not responsible for apple pie’s initial origins, the United States can stake claim to one bit of the history of apple pie. Serving classic apple pie à la mode is a distinctly American experience. This fancy-sounding French term basically means “in fashion.” It was bestowed upon the humble apple pie when topped with vanilla ice cream.

Mock Apple Pie

This country loves apple pie so much that many Americans made mock apple pie from Ritz or saltine crackers during the Great Depression. In fact, this faux fruit pie dates all the way back to the mid to late 1800s. When the cost of fresh fruit was too great, the texture and taste of apple pie could be replicated using crackers and spices baked in a crust.

American Apple Pie Recipes

  • For an all-American dessert, try this double-crusted American Apple Pie from AllRecipes.com.
  • American apple pies are often topped with a lattice crust. Wow your guests with this Lattice-Topped Apple Pie from Taste of Home.
  • What could be more American than Martha Stewart? Take a look at her Antique Apple Pie recipe.
Dutch apple pie with crumble topping
Dutch apple pie with crumble topping (Photo credit: chasbrutlag, Depositphotos.com)

Dutch Apple Pie

There is some debate over whether Dutch apple pie originated in The Netherlands or Germany. Both forms of Dutch apple pie are surely delicious. But the traditional Dutch apple pie most Americans envision is likely German in heritage.

Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Pie from Germany

The word, “German,” when written in the German language is “Deutsch.” Over time, this was likely interpreted as “Dutch” in written apple pie recipes in the U.S.

Pennsylvania Dutch residents in the U.S. were originally German immigrants. Today, they continue German traditions, including speaking German and making German recipes. A fall favorite dessert in Amish Country is Pennsylvania Dutch apple pie, served with a crumble top pie crust instead of pastry crust.

Dutch Apple Pie from the Netherlands

Meanwhile, evidence of Dutch apple pies goes back to the 1500s in The Netherlands. In addition to apples, Dutch bakers often include lemon juice and cinnamon and sometimes raisins and icing.

Dutch Apple Pie Recipes

French Tarte Tatin
French Tarte Tatin (Photo credit: studioM, Depositphotos.com)

French Tarte Tatin

Although there are other types of apple tarts in France, the Tarte Tatin is the most famous version of French apple pie. It was created by accident by hotel co-owner Stéphanie Tatin.

Some accounts claim Tatin was trying to make a traditional apple pie. Others say she overcooked some caramelized apples for some other traditional French dish and threw a pastry over the fruit in an attempt to avert disaster. Either way, a beautiful caramelized upside-down apple tart was born.

Tatin prepared her tempting apple pastry for the first time in the 1880s. It quickly gained popularity among guests at the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beauvron in France’s Loire Valley.

Today, you can sample the original Tarte Tatin in the Tea Room at La Maison Tatin. This 16-room inn opened in 2021 in the same building as the original 19th-century Hotel Tatin.

Tarte Tatin Recipes

  • View a Classic Tarte Tatin recipe from a French home cook named Audrey at Pardon Your French.
  • Although American by birth, no chef loved French cooking more or has done more to teach home cooks the art of preparing French cuisine than Julia Child. Take a peek at Julia Child’s 1994 Tarte Tatin via Epicurious.
  • Studded with almonds and apricots, learn how to make this unique version of Tarte Tatin by Jacques Pépin, the famous French chef.
Apple pies in many different forms
Apple pies in many different forms (Photo credit: maya_shustov, Depositphotos.com)

A Worldwide Dessert

Apple pie can be made like the English original, served all-American, baked Pennsylvania Dutch style, or as a caramel-coated Tarte Tatin. This pie can be prepared with only apples, additional fruits, or even crackers. It can be served cold, at room temperature, or heated. This pastry can be topped with a buttery crust, a crumble topping, or even a scoop of ice cream. Regardless, apple pie is a dessert beloved around the world.

National Apple Pie Day

Are you bananas for apple pie? Celebrate on May 13, National Apple Pie Day. Celebrate this little-known American holiday by baking a pie or ordering a slice for dessert!

Homemade apple Dutch pancake with powdered suga
Homemade apple Dutch pancake with powdered sugar (Photo credit: bhofack2, Depositphotos.com)

Learn More Fun Facts

Hungry to learn more? Test your knowledge with additional Travel Trivia questions.

Set your tastebuds on an adventure to find the best pancake houses in the Netherlands.

Read about traditional British foods with funny names and learn how to make them.

For the ultimate in comfort food, discover the best grilled cheese sandwiches around the world.

Where was apple pie invented?

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  1. Also, up here in the northeast, a breakfast of pie (usually blueberry) and coffee is called a New England breakfast- but this morning my New England breakfast was coffed and apple pie. 😀

  2. I just pulled an apple pie out of the oven! We didn’t wait for it to cool down much, and ate it with maple whipped cream. I was thinking afterwards, wow! What a comfort food! -for how long has it been such a comfort food? I typed in “the very first apple pie”, and your article came up! And, really? Back in the1300’s, England, a recipe from Chaucer? I don’t use sugar, either. I must’ve tapped into my DNA…
    Thanks for the info! P.S. I love that your dad posted a comment! 😀

  3. We met some people from England at a convention years ago and they commented that something was “as English as apple pie.” We accused them of stealing our American phrase but I’m afraid it’s the other way around.

  4. Some people think it’s strange that my husband and I like any kind of fruit pie for breakfast (usually left over from a get-together the night before.