Food & Drink

“Tastes Like Apple” Zucchini Pie

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie

Okay, just trust us on this one

Photo: Phillip Rhodes

The problem with zucchini is how fast they grow. Leave your garden unintended for a beach trip and you’ll come back to find those green batons have morphed into baseball bats.

The really big zucchini aren’t easy to use: Once they get longer than your hand, they also become tough. The really big ones are best for the compost bin. But if you wind up with a pile of large zucchini, not monsters, it’s time to pull out the Mock Apple Pie.

America has a long history with fake pies, most stemming from the desperation of the Depression: There’s the Mock Apple Pie from the back of the Ritz Cracker box, where a hot syrup is poured over crumbled Ritz crackers in a pie shell. There’s the kidney bean version of pecan pie, where the cheap beans take on the crunchiness of nuts.

Zucchini versions of apple pie, like this one from Dori Sanders, the novelist and cookbook author from Filbert, South Carolina, fall into that same category. During World War II, apples got expensive. Transporting fruit from one area of the country to another wasn’t easy to do when rail transportation and gasoline were saved for the troops. Zucchini were easy to grow in victory gardens, and they came into season long before apples were on the trees.

Why revisit a pie like this today? Well, it does give us some appreciation of how people dealt with scarcity. But it’s also a good pie. It’s not as sweet as a real apple pie, and has a more complex flavor. Zucchini, even peeled, keep a hint of green at the edges, looking a lot like Granny Smith slices.

See more summer zucchini recipes


    • 4 to 6 larger zucchini

    • 2 quarts water

    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    • 1/8 teaspoon salt

    • 1 3/4 cups sugar

    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

    • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

    • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar

    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

    • 5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces, divided


  1. Peel the zucchini with a vegetable peeler, removing all the green skin. Cut in half lengthwise. Use the edge of a spoon to scrape out the seeds from the center, then cut each piece in half lengthwise again, then cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. You’ll need about 6 cups of sliced zucchini.

  2. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the zucchini, reduce the heat to medium and cook briefly, about 3 to 4 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain well in a colander, then place in a mixing bowl with lemon juice and salt.

  3. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cream of tartar, flour, and cornstarch. Mix well. Add to the zucchini and mix well.

  4. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

  5. Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate with crust. Dump the zucchini mixture, juices and all, into the crust, and dot with 4 tablespoons of butter, cut into small bits. Cover with the top crust, turning the edges under and crimping.  Cut several vents in the top with the tip of a sharp knife, then scatter the remaining pieces of butter over the crust.

  6. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until golden-brown. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

From From Dori Sanders’ Country Cooking