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Do you cut the skin off apples for apple pie?

Whether or not to peel apples before making an apple pie is a debated topic among bakers. Some prefer to leave the peel on for added texture, flavor, and nutrition, while others find it gives an unpleasant mouthfeel. There are pros and cons to peeling vs. not peeling apples for pie that are worth considering before deciding on your approach.

Pros of Leaving Skin On

  • More fiber – Apple skin contains a significant amount of fiber that can provide health benefits and add textural interest.
  • More nutrients – Apple skin contains nutrients like vitamins A, C, E, K, calcium, and polyphenols that can be lost when peeled.
  • More flavor – The skin adds apple flavor and subtle bitterness that enhances the taste.
  • Easier prep – Not peeling saves time in preparation.
  • Added texture – The skin provides a delicate crunch to contrast the soft filling.
  • Better hold – The skin helps the apples hold their shape during cooking.

Cons of Leaving Skin On

  • Tougher texture – The skin can seem unpleasantly chewy if not cooked enough.
  • Appearance – Skins may give the filling a speckled look.
  • Wax coating – Wax on commercial apples should be washed off before cooking.
  • Pesticides – Unwashed skin may contain pesticide residues.

Whether the pros outweigh the cons depends on personal preference. Many bakers find the best approach is to peel only the top third of the apple skin to get some of the benefits without an overly tough texture.

Common Questions About Peeling Apples for Pie

Here are answers to some common questions about whether and how to peel apples for apple pies:

Should you peel Granny Smith apples for pie?

Granny Smiths have thin, tender skins that cook up nicely, so many bakers prefer to leave the skins on. Their tart flavor gets a boost from the skin as well. However, if you find the texture bothersome, go ahead and peel them.

Do you peel apples for Dutch apple pie?

Dutch apple pies traditionally do not have peeled apples. The slices are layered unpeeled both for appearance and the textural contrast. Some recipes may call for peeling if they want a softer pie filling.

Should apples be peeled for apple crumble?

Apple crumble recipes can go either way when it comes to peeling. The chunks of apple hold their shape well during baking, so leaving the skins on provides fiber and texture without becoming tough. However, peeling gives a more uniform appearance and softer chunks if desired.

Do you peel apples for apple turnovers?

For apple turnovers, it is best to peel the apples. The thin pastry layers and shape of turnovers mean the filling cooks longer than in a typical pie. Peeling prevents unpleasant toughness from developing.

Should you peel apples for apple pie filling?

If making a pie filling that will be used right away in pies, you can leave the peel on for added nutrition and texture. However, for canned or frozen pie fillings that will bake later, it is better to peel the apples. The extended cooking during canning and later baking can make skins too tough.

Do you peel pink lady apples for pie?

Pink lady apples have tender skins, so it is not necessary to peel them for pies. Leaving the skin on provides a pretty pink hue to the filling as well as fiber and nutrients. Just be sure to wash them well first.

Should you peel apples for apple crisp?

For a classic apple crisp, peeling is optional. Many recipes call for leaving the skin on since the chunks of apple hold their shape well during baking. The skins provide texture to contrast the crunchy topping. However, peel if you prefer a softer apple filling.

Do you peel apples for apple cake?

Apple cakes can go either way in terms of peeling. Sliced apples may be layered into cake unpeeled for appearance and added texture. However, diced apples are often peeled for a more uniform texture and appearance. Personal preference rules here.

Should apples be peeled for apple muffins?

For apple muffins, it is best to peel the apples. The diced pieces of apple will cook through fully during baking, and peeled chunks will be tender rather than tough. Leaving the peel on leads to an uneven texture.

Expert Opinions on Peeling Apples for Pie

Many expert bakers and chefs have shared their thoughts on the best practices for preparing apples for pies and other baked goods. Here are some of their tips:

Cook’s Illustrated

Cook’s Illustrated found that while peeled apples held their shape better during baking, the skins added valuable apple flavor and nutrients. They suggest peeling just the top third of the apple skin.

Bon Appétit

Bon Appétit recommends always peeling the apples since they found the skins never fully softened, even with prolonged baking. They compensate for lost nutrients by tossing peeled slices with vitamin C powder.

New York Times

Per the New York Times, leaving the peel on Granny Smiths provides texture, while softer apples like Golden Delicious may need peeling to avoid mushiness. They ultimately recommend peeling just a strip around each apple’s equator.

Food Network

On Food Network, Ree Drummond echoes the advice to peel just the top and bottom thirds of the apple skin. She finds this provides the right balance of texture and nutrients.

Better Homes and Gardens

Their test kitchen prefers peeled apples for a tender filling. However, they suggest those who prefer texture can leave skins on firmer varieties like Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, and Pink Lady.

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart falls into the anti-peel camp, finding the skins provide visual appeal, nutrients, and textural contrast. She suggests flavorful heirloom varieties with edible skins like Winesap or Esopus Spitzenburg.


Their community recipes tend to prefer peeled apples for a smooth texture, but suggest leaving skins on firmer varieties if you don’t mind the texture. They recommend seasoning the filling to balance out any lost flavor from peeling.

Nutrition Comparison of Peeled vs. Unpeeled Apples

Many of the nutrients in apples are concentrated in the skin, which is lost when peeled. Here is a nutritional comparison of a medium peeled vs. unpeeled apple:

Nutrient Peeled Apple Unpeeled Apple
Calories 72 93
Fiber 2.7g 4.4g
Vitamin C 6mg 8.4mg
Vitamin A 54IU 127IU
Potassium 159mg 195mg

As you can see, leaving the skin on provides significantly more fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium. The peel also contains antioxidant compounds like quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid.

Test Kitchen Experiments: Peeled vs. Unpeeled Apple Pie

To get some first-hand experience, I tested making apple pie both ways: one with peeled apples, one unpeeled. Here is what I learned:


The pie with unpeeled apples had noticeably more apple flavor. The skins seemed to help retain and concentrate the apple juices and sugars during baking, giving it more intense apple taste.


My peeled apple pie had a very soft, uniform texture. The unpeeled version had pleasant texture from the tender skins. However, a few larger pieces of skin were a bit tough and chewy.


Visually, I preferred the rustic look of the unpeeled apple pie with varietal colors peeking through. The peeled pie looked more uniform in color.

Overall Preference

I preferred the pie with unpeeled apples overall for the flavor and appearance. But next time I will peel just the top and bottom portions of the skins to help avoid any tough bits, getting the best of both approaches.

Tips for Working with Unpeeled Apples

If you opt to leave apple skin on, here are some tips for success:

  • Select firm, thin-skinned apple varieties like Granny Smith, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, or Pink Lady.
  • Wash apples well to remove wax and pesticides.
  • Use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove top and bottom thirds of peel.
  • Cut apples larger to ensure insides cook through before skins over-soften.
  • Dip cut apples in lemon juice to prevent oxidation.
  • Cook 10 minutes longer than usual recipe time to fully soften skins.
  • Add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or vanilla to boost flavor if needed.


Whether to peel apples for pies and baking comes down to personal preference for texture versus nutrition and flavor. For balanced results, peeling just the top and bottom skin may provide the happy medium many bakers seek. Make a test pie to determine your own ideal apple skin approach before baking your next pie masterpiece.