The Unexpected Ingredient That Will Majorly Upgrade Your Apple Pie

There are probably as many different apple pie recipes as there are varieties of apples, which at last count was around 7,500. As one of the most quintessentially American desserts, the humble apple pie has endless variations and tweaks. You can find deep-dish apple pie, Dutch style with a streusel topping, or even versions topped with cheddar cheese. When baking at home, you can tweak the spices you use or even add dried apples with fresh ones for a mix of textures.

However, there's one unexpected ingredient you might not have thought of using in your apple pie, and it can help you majorly upgrade your favorite recipe. Sour cream. Yes, sour cream.

Sour cream atop a taco? Sure! Used in a 7-layer dip recipe? Obviously! Mixed into mashed potatoes for a tangy twist? Done and done! Sour cream is perfect when used in savory applications, so you're forgiven if you were immediately skeptical about using it in a dessert, especially one as classic as apple pie. But we promise, it's the secret ingredient you've been missing.

Why sour cream works so well with apple pie

Adding sour cream to your apple pie is an upgrade you should try for two reasons: texture and taste. First, mixing sour cream into your apple pie filling creates a creamy texture that can't be replicated by using apples alone. Pennsylvania Dutch apple pie, a longstanding version of the classic, usually calls for the inclusion of sour cream.

Second, the sour part of sour cream helps add a tang that complements the sweetness of apples. Humans and other animals have very likely evolved to crave sour tastes. This could be part of why sour and sweet flavor combinations are a hallmark of some of the world's most popular cuisines, like Chinese food. 

It can be intimidating to break with tradition. And when it comes to desserts, it's hard to find one that's more traditional than apple pie. But if sour tastes have been part of our diet for thousands of years, and if the Pennsylvania Dutch figured out generations ago that sour cream works well in apple pie, don't you think it's one change worth trying? You just might end up with the best apple pie you've ever baked.