16 Absolute Best Ways To Use Canned Pie Filling

Every ingredient has its place, but there's one item some people tend to treat with skepticism: canned pie filling. For those unfamiliar, canned pie filling isn't the same as canned fruit. It's often already sweetened and spiced, and is meant to serve as a convenient option when you don't want to pit, peel, cut, slice, and cook fresh pie filling. 

There are clearly reasons for canned pie filling to exist, but many avid bakers prefer to make their own from-scratch versions. They have their own flavor combos in mind, or perhaps they don't like how sweet pie filling tends to be. Yet we believe pie filling has its place in the kitchen — even ones owned by those who distrust this product. That's because pie filling is more versatile than you might imagine. Ready to be convinced? We've rounded up some of the best ways to use this sugary product that don't actually involve pies. 

1. Use it in a bubble up dessert

We don't blame you if you have absolutely no clue what this sweet masterpiece is. Bubble up desserts are essentially a hybrid between a bread pudding and a cobbler. The base of the dough is made from store-bought biscuits coated in a layer of fruit filling, enhanced with cinnamon, sugar, and spices. Compared to a cobbler, the biscuits have a bit of extra fluff to them, which makes for a satisfying mouthfeel. This is perfectly complemented with a topping of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

You can infuse your bubble up dessert with a range of canned pie fillings — there's no wrong way to use it, really. Apple is an especially great choice, though, especially in the colder months, since the filling already has warming spices in it. But in the heat of the summer, you might opt for a classic Southern peach instead.

2. Make your overnight oats fruity

We're always looking for ways to upgrade our overnight oats into something truly spectacular. Rather than settling for a mediocre and bland batch of oats and almond milk, step up your overnight oats with the addition of canned pie filling. You can also add Greek yogurt for extra protein, chia seeds for crunch, and some almonds to boost the fat content and ensure a well-rounded start to the day. If you're a pie lover, you might even consider adding a sprinkle of granola on top to mimic a crunchy crust or crumble. 

Pie filling is naturally hyper-sweet, so you'll want to tone down any other sugary elements you add, to avoid making your breakfast cloying. You can also mix in some contrasting flavors, like a bit of lemon juice or zest. This does a particularly excellent job of balancing out blueberry pie filling. 

3. Add it to the top of your cheesecake

There's nothing wrong with plain cheesecake, but there's something incredible about a plate of cheesecake that's been coated in a syrupy, fruity garnish. Canned pie filling is a great way to take your cheesecake to this over-the-top place. All you have to do is pop the can open and drizzle it on your cake, and you'll be good to go. The best part about using pie filling is that you only need a small serving to add a ton of flavor to your pie. After all, it should complement the cheesecake and the crust rather than steal the show entirely. 

The classic choice for cheesecake is strawberry pie filling, but you can also experiment with mixed berry, apple, and cherry. If you want to take your dessert to the next level, you can also elevate canned pie filling by adding extra fruit. Although it requires a bit of extra prep work, this addition results in a more satisfyingly fruity bite. 

4. Toss it into Texas pie

No, we're not talking about Texas trash pie, that gooey play on pecan pie that also incorporates pretzels, caramel, and the kitchen sink. We're focusing on a fruity variation of the similarly-named Texas pie using canned pie filling. This dessert consists of a fruity base, sprinkled with boxed cake mix, pecans, shredded coconut, and melted butter. It's kind of like a cobbler or a dump cake with a Texas twist, made from the sort of shelf-stable ingredients people are likely to have on hand.

Many Texans stick to equal parts cherry pie filling and canned crushed pineapple, but you can easily branch off and explore other pie fillings. Apple would be a terrific complement to pecans, a spiced cake mix, and coconut shreds, while a peach pie filling could complement tropical flavors. 

5. Make an easy cobbler

All of you folks who love the taste of baked goods but hate the chore of making them need to listen to this handy tip: Canned pie filling and cake mix are all you need for a delicious cobbler. Simply add your fruity mixture to the bottom of your baking tray (including the sugary syrup), then pour your dry cake mix over the top of it. Before baking, finish off the dish with a layer of melted butter or butter pats, stick it in the oven, and bake it. This recipe is super easy to make vegan or gluten-free; you just need to ensure you have an appropriate cake mix and swap it out with plant-based butter. 

Although it's tempting to stick your spoon into the mixture and give it a good stir, we recommend against it. The ideal cobbler has a hard, crunchy, bready top, which is disastrously disrupted by any manipulation. 

6. Spoon it into your kolaches

Kolaches are the treat you need to try making if you love jam thumbprint cookies. These goodies feature a soft, yeasted base filled with a  fruity, chocolatey, or savory center. You can easily whip up sweet kolaches with canned pie filling by your side. It's much less labor-intensive than making a batch of filling yourself, which allows you to dedicate more time to the finicky yeasted dough. During the last proof, create a little nest in the center of your dough rounds using the back of a measuring cup. Then, carefully spoon your pie filling into the nest and bake. 

As a baker, you have some creative liberty in deciding what kind of filling to use. Cherry pie filling and blueberry pie filling are two classic options; they don't have the sizeable chunks that, say, apple or peach filling do, which can be awkward to keep in the small kolache nests.

7. Whip up mountain pies on your next camping trip

Mountain pies might sound like an oddity if you're not an avid outdoors person. But they're an actual camping recipe, and one we think everyone should try — even if your version of camping doesn't involve leaving the backyard. 

These treats, sometimes called campfire pies, involve placing a piece of sliced bread in a pie iron and topping it with pie filling. When you close the iron and cook it over the fire, the bread becomes supple, and the filling is pressed into a panini-like pocket. The cooking process takes about five minutes. You can also try savory variations of the recipe using cheese, pepperoni, and pizza sauce, or deli meat and cheese. But if you're going with the sweet pie route, be sure to slather the blueberry, cherry, or strawberry pie filling on thick. 

8. Spoon it on top of your ice cream

There's essentially no wrong ice cream toppings, just ones we wish we could improve. For example, the grocery store squeeze bottle of strawberry sauce is much too thin and artificially flavored, while chopped fruit interferes with the smoothness of the ice cream and doesn't always give us enough sugary notes. The Goldilocks compromise is opting for canned strawberry pie filling. You get the textural chunks of strawberries and the syrupy, sweet sauce. 

The sheer number of pie fillings in existence allows for much experimentation. We recommend an apple pie sundae with maple walnut ice cream, apple pie filling, crunchy granola, whipped cream, and a caramel drizzle. Or, stick with a berry-forward pie filling to help curb the acidity of a lemon sorbet, or bring life to a bland blueberry ice cream. Regardless of the combo you choose, don't forget the cherry on top.  

9. Spread it on waffles, pancakes, or French toast

Keep things fruity and fabulous by putting leftover canned pie filling atop your favorite sweet breakfast goods. Canned pie filling meshes well with almost any diner-style breakfast, including pancakes, waffles, and French toast. And, since your pie filling is likely already sweet, you may not even need to add a few glugs of pancake syrup to make it into a decadent treat. 

While you could just pour the pie filling directly onto your Belgian waffles or short-stack of pancakes, you can also use a bit more finesse to give your breakfast a sophisticated feel. Make your French toast heartier by filling it with rich cream cheese and canned pie filling. Essentially, you make a sandwich with sturdy, cream cheese-schmeared bread and pie filling, then dip it into your custard mixture. Cherry and strawberry pie filling are especially excellent choices for this approach.

10. Add fruity flavor to your crumb bars

We cannot tell you how much we absolutely love eating crumb bars. It's like shrinking an entire crumb cake into a small square and loading it up with extra streusel. While plain crumb bars adorned with pieces of cinnamon-sugar streusel are delicious, there's also something special about adding a fruity component into the mix. Canned pie filling makes this a snap.

Consider making a variation of Ina Garten's apple pie bars by substituting the homemade apple filling for a canned variety. Layer the fruit on top of the thick crust before sprinkling a layer of crumb coating on top. If you like the texture of the apples, you can tweak the recipe and add some pre-cooked ones to your canned filling. Alternatively, you can opt for a blueberry, mixed berry, or cherry pie filling with a decadent layer of cream cheese. The texture and tangy bite of these bars will forever change how you think of this recipe.  

11. Stuff it into crescent rolls

Much like canned pie filling, crescent rolls are a must-have in any kitchen. Not only can you use a handy roll of crescent dough to encase your mini weenies, you can also use it for simple desserts that will wow a crowd. There are two avenues for intertwining your crescent rolls and canned pie filling. For individual dumplings, add a spoonful of filling to the center of the roll and carefully roll it back up. Bake according to the instructions listed on the crescent roll package. 

The other way is less labor-intensive and will yield a stunning display for your next party. Start by placing all of your crescent rolls in a sun shape on a baking sheet, with the tops of the triangles pointing outward. Then, spoon your pie filling into the ring of dough. Wrap the skinny end of the triangles up and over the filling and bake your dessert until it is perfectly golden brown. What results is a gorgeous ring of fruit-laden pastry.

12. Keep your brownies super moist

You probably don't see brownies and immediately think of pie filling — but you should. This canned ingredient is viscous and thick, which means it can add moisture to your brownies and blondies and prevent them from coming out of the oven a dry and crumbly mess.

The tricky part of adding canned pie filling to your brownie batter is finding a flavor that matches well. Apples and chocolate are not at the top of our list for flavor combos, but a cherry filling mixed with a decadent dark chocolate brownie mix gives us Black Forest cake vibes. We could also see adding a bit of strawberry pie filling for a romantic (yet simple) date-night dessert. You can also drop the chocolate and stick to a more versatile blondie recipe. Try berry-based flavors, or experiment with wild combinations like lemon, peach, and blackberry. As with all of our suggestions, you should feel free to mix different pie fillings together to find a truly extraordinary flavor combo. 

13. Fill your pull-apart bread

Pull-apart bread, sometimes known as share-and-tear bread, deserves greater appreciation than it currently has. Not only can you go the savory route with bright chives, cheddar, and salty bacon, you can also opt for a sweeter variation brimming with fresh fruit. But if, like us, you're always in a rush, you might not have the time to whip up a filling for your bread. That's where canned pie filling comes in as a key asset. 

This recipe uses an enriched dough, which includes ingredients like eggs and milk, to give it unprecedented pliability and softness. You can start with a pull-apart milk bread recipe, then gradually add your pie filling to it. If you want an even easier way to hack this recipe, use unbaked dinner rolls and canned pie filling. The texture will resemble more of a bread pudding than true pull-apart bread, but it will be just as delicious. 

14. Make it a component of your layer cakes

Your cakes don't have to be boring. In fact, they really shouldn't be — there are so many ways to spruce a basic recipe up. Rather than go for the dense peanut butter or chocolate spread, though, you should grab a can of pie filling. It's viscous enough that it won't soak down into the sponge and make it limp, and it's also intensely fruity, ensuring major flavor in every bite. 

You can customize your recipe to whatever sponge variety and pie filling you have on hand. While many people will choose a plain strawberry filling to adorn a vanilla cake with buttercream frosting, we recommend using lemon pie filling in your recipe. It has the texture of lemon curd, with a surprising brightness that can elevate a standard sponge to new heights. If you opt for a three-tier cake, you can even add lemon on one layer and blueberry or strawberry on another.

15. Substitute it for whole fruit in your muffin recipe

A batch of muffins can make or break your breakfast. They're also a lot of work — but they don't have to be. Instead of spending so much time slicing, dicing, and otherwise preparing fruit for muffins, opt for canned pie filling. Stick to adding the filling to the muffins after you've already mixed together the dry and wet ingredients, however — if you pour in the fruit filling and overmix the batter, you risk overdeveloping the gluten and turning your soft, plush muffins into hearty bread. 

There are a ton of different muffin options to explore, depending on the pie filling flavors you have available. Opt for a blueberry muffin topped with a sugary sprinkle, or make a cinnamon-sugar batter flavored with apple filling. There's no wrong move when it comes to making a plate of homemade muffins — having a can of pie filling will just make the process so much easier. 

16. Give your trifle some fruity flavor

Trifles are the perfect low-key dessert. They're an especially easy way to use up your leftover cake, or make the most of a sponge that didn't come out like you imagined. All you have to do is crumble the cake into small pieces and layer it in a jar with whipped cream (or pudding). If you want to infuse even more flavor into your trifle, you should also grab a jar of canned pie filling. It adds virtually no prep; you only have to layer it into the bowl or cup to create the desired visual effect. 

Since your trifle is layered, you can play with different pie fillings to create the perfect flavor combination. Regardless of your choice, it's important to be mindful that the pie filling is super sweet already, so pairing it with sweetened whipped cream and sugary cake could result in an overwhelming dessert — even for us. Consider using a more lightly sweetened cream, or tossing in other ingredients for contrast.