This secret ingredient makes apple pie extra apple-y.  

By Corey Williams
Updated December 17, 2018

Love it or hate it, McDonald’s knows how to keep customers coming back for more. We already know why its Coke is so much better than anywhere else--now it’s time to uncover another McDonald’s mystery: What makes the apple pies so. damn. good?

Mickey D’s added its first dessert in 1968 and fans have been smitten ever since. Here’s why:

First, the apples themselves play a role. If you thought you could make a comparable pie with basic Red Delicious apples, think again.

WATCH: How to Make Pie Dough

The recipe calls for six different apple varieties including Jonagold, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Gala, Rome, and Ida Red.

That’s a lotta apples. But the real reason the $1 dessert is in a class of its own has to do with how it stays together.

Many fruit pies rely on processed thickening agents to set their fillings. McDonald’s, Stella Parks tells Thrillist, uses a dehydrated apple powder that pulls double duty: It soaks up the liquid that’s released during the baking process, and it also adds a flavor punch for an extra apple-y apple taste.

There ya have it. Next time you’re guzzling McDonald’s Coke between bites of McDonald’s pie, at least you’ll know why you can’t stop.