Honest Fare

Pretty Provisions and Notes from the Kitchen

A Crustless Pie.

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A Crustless Pie., Honest Fare by Gabrielle Arnold

I know half of you are immediately turned off because, for you, the crust is the best part of the pie. And sure, the crust is great, but it’s not necessarily the best part. Take this pie for instance. It’s all about the filling, and it’s damn good!

Just look at this thing.

Can it even be called a pie though if it lacks that fundamental flaky element? Semantics. If it looks like a pie and it feels like a pie, it’s a pie! No crust means less fuss and a whole lot healthier pie (in most cases), so lets just go with it.

For me, the only issue going crustless presents is a structural one. How can you get the whole thing to stay together without first laying that crusty foundation? I’ll tell you: It’s all in the fruit you use and how you slice it. Here, we went with apples – the most structurally sound of fruits. First, you’ll want to peel the apples and then use a mandolin or sharp knife to slice the fruit into 1/8-inch rounds. Don’t cut the fruit into wedges before doing this because you want your slices of fruit to be as large as possible. They should be like sheets. So just work away at one side of the apple until almost reaching the core and then flip it over and do the other side. Then you can slice the excess pieces off the core and reserve them for the binding sauce we’re going to make.

Binding sauce? I don’t know, that’s just what I’m calling it. The binding sauce is basically an apple sauce made by cooking down the excess apple pieces with some water, sugar and a thickening agent like cornstarch or arrowroot. Then you blend it up to make the silky sauce that’s brushed between each layer of apples as you build your pie. It holds all the layers together, like cement, so it’s not a step you can skip!

Assemblage of the pie is pretty simple. You start by lightly greasing the bottom of the pie pan, and then sprinkling with some cinnamon and sugar. Then you do a neat installation of apple rounds, followed by the binding sauce. And so on, until you get to the top of your pie dish. Like so…

And stacking it all up this way will ensure that you get a nice and neat cross section. Like so…

The blueberry sauce is cooked in the same exact way. It’s totally optional, but I recommend it for a little extra flair (the color bleeds through and is so pretty). Spread it on top of the pie just before baking.

I didn’t add the walnuts until the end so they wouldn’t burn. Another option is to sprinkle on some granola if you for that crunch you might miss without the crust.

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Preheat oven to 350° Prep time: 30 minutes. Serves 8. Sweeten with honey, agave or raw sugar (or a hybrid of all three) depending on preference. Blueberry sauce topping is optional. If you decide to top with walnuts, be sure to add towards the end of baking (5-10 minutes before removing from oven) so they don’t burn. Cool before serving or it won’t slice neatly. Store in fridge.

You need:

  • 3 lbs golden delicious or granny smith apples
  • 1/2 lb frozen or fresh blueberries (optional for topping)
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional for topping)
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 1/2 tap nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • Agave, honey or raw sugar (to taste)
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2-3 Tbs thickening agent like cornstarch, rice flour or arrowroot


  1. Wash and peel apples. Slice whole apples into clean and even as possible 1/8 inch rounds. You should have a good amount of fruit left on the cores. Set cores aside. Gently toss apple rounds in spices, lemma juice and sweetener and set aside. Cut remaining apple from around the cores and keep separate from apple rounds.
  2. Place apple scraps in a small saucepan with a splash of water, some sweetener and cook until soft. Mix thickening agent with some of warm mixture in a separate bowl, then add back in to the pot and continue cooking until bubbling. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit before blending until silky fine. This is your apple binding sauce.
  3. Now place blueberries in the same saucepan with a cinnamon stick and cook in the same way. Remove from heat when soft and do not blend. Set aside to add to top of pie before baking.
  4. Rub some butter on bottom of pie pan and sprinkle with cinnamon and raw sugar. Arrange a layer of apple rounds and then brush with thin layer of apple binding sauce and continue as such until you reach the top of your pie pan. Spoon on blueberry sauce.
  5. Place pie on baking sheet in oven (this is in case of any runoff) and bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until apples are cooked through. Add walnuts towards the end of baking so they don’t burn. Allow to cool fully and serve at room temp or cold (I like it cold).



  1. Posted January 27, 2012 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

    Love the colors on that pie.

  2. Posted January 27, 2012 at 12:13 PM | Permalink

    Wow, that is a gorgeous idea! I love the idea of a crust-less pie, and binding everything together with a starch-thickened sauce is genius. Looks like a great option for gluten-free folks like me, too!

  3. Posted January 27, 2012 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

    This is wuu-onderful! Thanks for such a simple, beautiful recipe.

  4. Rosie
    Posted January 27, 2012 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

    Saw this via TheKitchn…this is pure genius! What a wonderful idea. Thank you.

  5. Posted January 27, 2012 at 7:59 PM | Permalink

    Oh wow, I just came across your blog and this recipe already has me convinced that you are a culinary genius. This “pie” sounds awesome and looks absolutely delicious. I’m one of those rare people out there who think pie would be great except for the dang crust. I just don’t like it. So thank you thank you thank you for coming up with a wondeful alternative. I will be making this recipe ASAP. Do you think blackberries could be subbed for the blueberries? I ask because those are what I have on hand right now.

  6. Posted January 27, 2012 at 8:07 PM | Permalink

    The apple sauce “glue” is a great idea. I would definitely go for the blueberries and a nutty granola topping. It makes it feel special.

  7. liz
    Posted January 28, 2012 at 8:16 AM | Permalink

    I just had something similar at a local restaurant. The topping was phyllo dough and was served warm with a scoop of yummy vanilla bean flecked ice cream.

  8. Posted January 28, 2012 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

    So beautiful and inventive! Do the apples on the bottom get brown or crispy, or is everything the same texture?

  9. Posted January 28, 2012 at 9:00 PM | Permalink

    i’m deathly afraid of making crust so i’m very into this pie!!! with a side of cookies, of course….

  10. Posted January 29, 2012 at 1:12 PM | Permalink

    What a wonderful idea! I have a wonderful cranberry-ginger relish that I’ll be would work with something like this. Thank you!

  11. Posted January 29, 2012 at 10:57 PM | Permalink

    i love this idea!! definitely will be making this soon.

  12. Posted January 30, 2012 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    I love the idea of a crust-less pie. The crust is always the part that can make or break the dish, so not having that variable would be a blessing (needless to say, I have not perfected my pie crust). That said, my husband’s favorite part of the pie is the crust… but I think I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the idea.

  13. Posted January 31, 2012 at 6:24 AM | Permalink

    This is brilliant! I love pastry but I have to watch my weight, and this is so much healthier. I am buying apples later today.

  14. NatInTheKitchen
    Posted February 1, 2012 at 12:17 AM | Permalink

    I made this tonight for my birthday as I am on a detox so couldn’t indulge in pie with crust… a great success! We loved it. Threw on some pecans as well. And with a side of vanilla coconut milk ice cream took this from “Yumm” to “This is AWESOME”. cheers

  15. Posted February 5, 2012 at 3:53 PM | Permalink

    As a kid, I only liked pies for the buttery crusts, but now I’m more a fan of the fillings! Your crustless pie looks marvelous.

  16. Posted February 14, 2012 at 10:13 AM | Permalink

    This is just gorgeous!

  17. Kirstin
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 8:00 PM | Permalink

    My dream dessert! I made it the other night and it turned out beautifully. Next time I am going to try a cranberry version of the topping. Thank you!

  18. Posted March 27, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

    Such a good idea! Anyway, I just wanted to stop by and say that I’m loving your blog and I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award here; http://glutenfreetravelette.blogspot.com/. It’s just a fun way to recognize some new-to-me blogs that do awesome things!

  19. Posted May 25, 2012 at 6:44 PM | Permalink

    I never would have thought of crustless pie. I recently had to stop eating gluten for the sake of my breast-fed little one who’s gluten intolerant. Plus we are vegan. Meanwhile I’ve got a major sweet tooth. So I needed this!

  20. Posted June 12, 2012 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

    I love all of the fresh pops of flavor that you have added to this traditional dish. Crustless works well for me since I eat gluten free.

  21. Posted June 20, 2012 at 7:40 AM | Permalink

    This looks so delicious..and super healthy. I think a nut cream would work well with it too.

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