Zucchini Mock Apple Pie Filling
The first time I ate zapple (that’s what we call zucchini “apples”) pie was when my grandma made it and didn’t tell us it was actually zucchini pie. When she finally confessed, after we’d eagerly consumed the entire thing, we didn’t believe her that the pie was made with zucchini and not apples.
It was too darn yummy to be zucchini!
My grandma says that different types of squashes were regularly used for pie filling (and not just pumpkin pie) when she was growing up, not too long after the depression. According to The Long Winter, housewives like Caroline Ingalls used them then, too. It’s a frugal thing!
Most apple varieties store pretty well through the winter in a cool, dark place, so you don’t have to do anything special to preserve them. Same with winter squashes. We just box them all up in our cold cellar and they stay good through at least April.
Not so with summer squashes. You have to use them up right away or preserve them by canning or freezing, and apple zucchini pie filling is my very favorite way to do just that.
This filling tastes almost exactly like apple pie filling and it looks exactly like apple pie filling! Nobody would ever know the difference if you didn’t tell them it was actually full of zucchini.
If you taste zucchini apple pie filling and regular apple pie filling side by side, you’ll notice that the zucchini is slightly tangier (from all the lemon juice) and that it is slightly softer. But only slightly on both accounts. Both are delicious!
This is a fantastic way to use up those club-sized zucchini that you lost track of in the garden for a few extra days. In fact, I prefer the taste/texture of overgrown zucchini for zapple pie filling because they are more bland than young zucchini.
I use this zucchini apple pie filling recipe to make pretty much everything you can make with apple pie filling. I’ve included canning instructions so you can enjoy it all year long.
Because you can get zucchini FREE (just leave your car doors unlocked at church during zucchini harvest — you’ll see) this recipe only costs you pennies. And it is so convenient and yummy to open a jar and eat it over waffles, topped with whipped cream for the ultimate comfort food!
I make this zucchini apple filling recipe keto for myself, substituting stevia or monkfruit for the sugar. I’ll leave those instructions below, too.
We like our apple pie filling with plenty of yummy fall spices, but you can adjust it to your own taste.
First, the recipe for the filling. This is a huge recipe that will make 7 quarts of pie filling. Adjust it if you want to make a single pie or a cobbler. I can about 70 quarts every summer and my family devours them throughout the winter.
1 club-sized zucchini is about 4 cups, so you probably need about 6 large zucchini. Just look under those jumbo leaves, there are probably some hiding from you!
Zucchini Apple Pie Filling Recipe
- 24 cups of peeled, cored, sliced zucchini
- 2 c lemon juice
- 2 3/4 c white sugar
- 1 1/2 c brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/4 cup Clear Jel (not instant)
- 4 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 2 Tbsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp nutmeg
- 3/4 tsp ground cloves
- 3/4 tsp allspice
- 3/4 tsp ginger
- 1 Ttbsp vanilla extract
- Wash and peel the zucchini, then halve it lengthwise and core it with a large spoon to remove the seeds and any stringy fiber. Cut it into thin slices like you would an apple. The slices should resemble apple slices. Place zucchini in a large pot with the lemon juice and the spices. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer on low for about 15 minutes. Stir very gently so as not to break up the zucchini slices.
- For canning, you want to be sure to use regular Clear Jel, not the instant type. It holds up to the high heat of canning without making the juices look cloudy. Cornstarch won’t hold up to the heat either. Mix 1/4 cup Clear Jel into 1/2 cup apple juice, then add the mixture to the hot zucchini mixture.
- Add vanilla, white and brown sugar and simmer another 5 minutes, or until thickened.
- Fill warm, sterilized jars (I sterilize mine in the dishwasher) with hot mixture, topping with remaining juice to leave ½ inch headspace. Clean the rims with a damp washcloth before placing the sterilized lid and band on the jar and hand tightening.
- Fill your pressure canner with hot water (the jars are already hot and jars will crack if you subject them to a temperature differential), making sure the water covers the top of the jars. My grandma always processed hers in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes, but I’ve read recently that water bathing squash is no longer considered safe, so I pressure can my quarts at 10 lb pressure for 30 minutes. If you want to can pints instead, hold them at 10 lbs pressure for 25 minutes.
Use as you would any type of apple pie filling. I’ve listed ideas and recipes below.
Please refer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation for pressure canning info. They no longer recommend canning squash and now recommend freezing it instead. I’m going to keep pressure canning mine because I feel there is sufficient acidity in this recipe from all the lemon juice, and because I’ve been doing it for twenty years with no problems and my grandma has water bathed hers for probably seventy years with no problems. Plus, we keep our freezer stocked with meat and freezing/thawing changes the texture. It makes things mushier. But I wanted to make you aware of the expert opinion.
Uses for Zucchini Apple Pie Filling:
- Dump Cake
- Apple German pancakes
- Apple pie bars
- Warmed over waffles and topped with whipped cream
- Warmed, as a topping over vanilla ice cream
- As a yummy dip for cinnamon sugar tortilla chips
Use the seeds
One added benefit to using up those enormous zucchini is that the seeds are also enormous. If you like to eat salted, roasted pumpkin seeds, you’ll probably like zucchini seeds as well.
Rinse the seeds to remove any fiber. Spread them out on a paper towel until dry to the touch. Place in a bowl and add 1 tsp. olive oil. Stir until seeds are lightly coated.
Spread the seeds out on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, as desired.
Bake at 400° F for 15 minutes, just until the seeds begin to brown. Stir midway through cooking time, so they dry evenly.
Keto Zucchini Apple Pie Filling Recipe
Zucchini are naturally lower in carbs than apples. Bonus!
I haven’t tried making a huge batch of this and canning, because keto sweeteners are expensive and not particularly nutritious, so I typically just choose to forego dessert when my family has it.
But whenever I make a big batch of filling to can, using the above recipe, I usually make myself a smaller pan of filling using this recipe. I enjoy it warm, topped with unsweetened, fresh whipped cream. Yum!
It’s still a pretty big batch, but I just put the rest in the fridge where it should last about two weeks.
It’s basically the same recipe as above, except I add butter to this recipe (I add butter to the canned filling when baking), I nix the thickener (waste of carbs) and I cut the recipe down to a smaller size.
- 8 cups zucchini
- 1/3 cup Pyure (which is stevia/erythritol) granulated (most any brand keto sweetener will work, just keep in mind that most with stevia are twice as sweet. Pyure is one of those, so if you use monkfruit or another sweetener, you will probably need 2/3 cup instead of 1/3.)
- 2/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup butter
Prepare the zucchini as outlined above. Mix the lemon juice, sweetener, spices and zucchini in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer on low for about 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Use it in your favorite keto apple recipe or enjoy it all by itself like I do. Don’t eat it all at once!
Zucchini Apple Pie Recipe (Crust)
This recipe makes one 9-inch double crust. You’ll use a jar of your home-canned zucchini apple filling (above) to fill it. Or, if you’re like me and like your pie a mile high (hey – more filling!) you might want to use two jars.
I make pie crust in my food processor because it takes like two minutes, but you can make it by hand with a pastry blender if you want.
- zucchini apple pie filling
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (2 sticks) very cold, salted butter, cubed
- 4 to 8 tablespoons ice water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg yolk (for egg wash)
- 1 Tablespoon heavy whipping cream (for egg wash)
- 1 tablespoon coarse sugar to sprinkle on top of pie (optional)
- Add butter cubes to 1 1/2 cups flour and salt in a food processor with the blade inside. Pulse until a dough begins to form, about 15 seconds.
- Scrape the sides then add remaining cup of flour. Pulse again until flour is evenly distributed. Your Dough will look broken up and crumbly.
- To avoid developing the gluten in the flour, transfer the dough to a bowl for the next step. Add half of the water and use a fork to very minimally mix the dough just until it begins to stick together. If you stir it, you’ll develop the gluten and ruin the pie crust. Once the dough holds together it’s ready. If the dough falls apart, add another tablespoons of water at a time and continue to press water into dough until it comes together and forms a ball.
- Cut the ball in half then flatten each half into discs. Wrap them with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months (just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using).
- I use pastry mats to roll my dough, but you can also use waxed paper or just your counter top. Sprinkle a little bit of flour onto your rolling surface and your rolling pin, then roll the dough into approximately the right size/shape. Just cover the rolled dough with your pie plate to make sure it will be large enough. The bottom crust should extend an inch or more beyond the lip of the pie plate because it has to cover the sides of the dish as well. When rolled, fold the bottom crust gently in half and transfer it to the pie plate. Let the edges just hang over — don’t cut them yet. Unfold it.
- Fill the pie plate (containing the uncooked bottom crust) with your zucchini apple pie filling. Cube 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) and dot the top of the zucchini filling with butter.
- Roll the top crust the same way and position on top of the pie. Press the edges together, then use a sharp knife to trim the dough around the edges of the pie plate. Crimp the edges between your thumb and index finger.
- Make an egg wash by whisking one egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of cream in a small bowl. Brush the top crust with egg wash, then sprinkle with sugar. Cut 3 to 4 slits in top of pie to let steam escape. Bake on the center rack of your oven at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes or until crust is light golden brown and shiny.
Zucchini Apple Crisp Recipe
Some apple crisp recipes don’t use oats, which is totally fine if that’s your thing, but I holy freaking LOVE the crispy oat topping! Sometimes I even double just the topping in the recipe so it’s extra thick.
Honestly, if you’ve already canned your zucchini apple filling (above) this recipe will take you about five minutes to whip together and then 20 minutes to bake. Easy, peasy!
- zucchini apple pie filling
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 cups old fashioned oats
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, diced into small cubes
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish, pour in 2 quarts of your canned zucchini apple filling and set it aside.
- Mix brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, salt, and diced butter in a bowl. Cut the butter into the oat mixture with a pastry blender, using a slight downward twisting motion, until mixture resembled pea-sized crumbs.
- Spread the dry topping over the apples in your baking dish, and gently pat to even it out. Bake 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees F until golden brown and bubbly.
- Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and/or caramel sauce.
Zucchini Apple Cobbler Recipe
Cobbler is different from pie and crisp in that the topping is kind of a mix between a cake and biscuits. It has a slight crisp on the top but is soft in the center. It looks like cake batter when you pour it atop your apple zucchini pie filling and is completely delicious!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups milk
- 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) melted butter
- 1/2 cup cold, diced butter
- Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish, pour in two quarts of your zucchini apple filling (recipe above), top with diced butter and set it aside.
- In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk and melted butter, just until combined.
- Pour the batter evenly atop the zucchini apple mixture in the pan. Spread it right to the edges.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for about 35-40 minutes. Serve warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Zucchini Apple Dump Cake Recipe
What is dump cake? Well, you literally dump the ingredients in a pan and bake. Thus the name.
The result is a cross between an apple crisp and apple cobbler. It’s just as easy as it sounds, and with only 3 ingredients might take you three minutes to assemble if you’re slow. This is my kind of recipe!
- 1 quart zucchini apple pie filling
- 1 cake mix: white, yellow or spice
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, diced
- Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish, dump in your quart of zucchini apple pie filling.
- Dump the dry cake mix on top of the zucchini mixture.
- Dot the top of the dry cake mix evenly with the cold, diced butter.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for about 50 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream cream or cold with whipped cream.
Zucchini Apple German Pancakes
Also known as dutch babies, these baked german pancakes are a yummy, simple breakfast. Make them extra special with some zucchini apple pie filling for minimal extra effort!
- 1 quart zucchini apple pie filling
- 12 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- powdered sugar
- Turn your oven on to 415 degrees F. Place the stick of butter in a 9 x 13 baking dish in the oven to melt while you mix the other ingredients.
- Crack eggs into a bowl and use an immersion blender to beat them until frothy. Add the milk, flour and salt, and whisk minimally until just combined. Ideally, there will still be lumps of flour.
- Remove the hot pan with the melted butter from the oven and pour in the egg mixture. Return to the oven and bake at 415 degrees F for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F to bake another 10 minutes, or until edges are puffed, brown and crispy.
- Remove the pancake from the oven and immediately pour the jar of zucchini apple pie filling into the pan. Return the pan to the oven for just a few minutes to warm the filling, then dust the whole pan with confectioners sugar before serving.
Zucchini Apple Turnovers
Turnovers feel like a lot of work to me, so I don’t make them very often. A little trick to make them less time consuming is to make one giant turnover, then serve it in slices. I use pie crust (recipe above) to make mine, but they taste even better made with puff pastry, in my opinion.
- 1 jar zucchini apple pie filling (recipe above)
- 1 recipe pie crust (recipe above)
- 1 egg yolk (for egg wash)
- 1 Tablespoon heavy whipping cream (for egg wash)
- 1 tablespoon sugar to sprinkle on top of turnovers (optional)
- 1 cup powdered sugar (for glaze)
- 2 Tablespoons milk (for glaze)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (for glaze)
- Make one recipe of pie crust (above), only roll it out in a rectangle, approximately the same size as a jelly-roll baking sheet. Place the dough on a buttered baking sheet and pour a quart jar of your homemade zucchini apple pie filling down the center of the length.
- Fold both edges of the pie crust together, as if you were folding a blanket. Crimp or fork the edge to seal the zapples in the crust. Before baking, brush the top with the egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bale at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
- While it’s baking, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and flavor extract. Drizzle the turnover tops with glaze once they’ve cooled slightly.
7 Dessert Recipes Using Zucchini Apple Pie Filling
There you go. SEVEN different, delicious ways to use up all of that extra zucchini! Talk about spinning straw into gold!
Not only will these recipes spare you from having to surreptitiously dump zucchini on your poor unsuspecting neighbors, but you’ll be stocking your pantry with delicious comfort food for mere pennies, since you can get zucchini totally free.
When life hands you zucchini overload, thank your lucky stars and make yummy zapple desserts!
What are your favorite ways to use up extra zucchini?
Are you overloaded with zucchini? Do you need a few more zucchini recipes?
Zucchini Apple Pie Filling cost breakdown:
- Zucchini: free
- Sugar: $0.40
- Spices: $0.20
- Lemon juice: $0.85
$1.45 for 7 quart-sized jars of zucchini apple pie filling; about 20 cents per jar.
Save all of these recipes for zucchini apple pie filling desserts for later!