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Best Apples for Baking

Baskets of apples at a "farmers market" at Rogers, Ohio.

Credit: Annette McCarthy

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Almost any apple can be enjoyed when eaten fresh. However, not all apples are ideal for the kitchen. Below is a chart with some of the best baking and cooking apples in North America.

Note: When it comes to cooking with apples, it may be helpful to know the following:

1 pound of apples = 2 large, 3 medium, or 4 to 5 small apples

1 pound of apples = 3 cups peeled and sliced apples

As you cook those apples, here are some of our favorite apple recipes:

Parsnip and Apple Soup

Caramel-Covered Apples

Baked Apples Filled With Sausage

Perfect Apple Pie (The Classic)

Apple Butter

Green Cabbage and Apples

Apple Oatmeal Crisp

Rutabaga and Apple Compote

Apple Puff

Indian Summer Applesauce

For more about apples, see our Related Articles (above) and see recipes using apples.

Please post your favorite apple varieties and any cooking tips below! 

NAME Best Uses Flavor Characteristic, Appearance
Braeburn Sauce Tart, sweet, aromatic, tall shape, bright color
Cortland Pies, Sauces, Fruit Salad Tart, crisp, larger than 'McIntosh'
Fuji Baking Sweet and juicy, firm, red skin
Gala Dried, Cider Mild, sweet, juicy, crisp, yellow-orange skin with red striping (resembles a peach)
Granny Smith Baking Moderately sweet, crisp flesh, green skin
Jonagold Pie, Sauce Tangy-sweet, Yellow top, red bottom
Jonathan Sauce Tart flesh, crisp, juicy, bright red on yellow skin
McIntosh Sauce Juicy, sweet, pinkish-white flesh, red skin
Newtown Pippin Pie, Sauce, Cider Sweet-tart flesh, crisp, greenish-yellow skin
Rhode Island Greening Pie Very tart, distinctively flavored, grass-green skin, tending toward yellow/orange
Rome Beauty Baking, Cider Mildly tart, crisp, greenish-white flesh, thick skin
Winesap Sauce, Pie, Cider Very juicy, sweet-sour flavor, winey, aromatic, sturdy, red skin

 See "Related Articles" above for more about apples—planting apple trees, apple crafts, apple recipes!

 

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Comments

My mother used to burn sulfur

By Wilma Patterson on October 6

My mother used to burn sulfur and "smoke" apples. Does anyone know how to do this? I remember she would wash them before use and they were as white and crunchy as a fresh apple.

The 20 ounce apple is our

By Cecil Sayre

The 20 ounce apple is our favorite apple for pies. we have a lot of choice here in upstate NY.

Its APPLEFEST here in

By Paula Pierce on October 17

Its APPLEFEST here in Layfayette Ga and I work for a Adveristing company and this month I demonstrate different apples at a sample stand in a Walmart store.... people love APPLES here in the south and its amazing the different flavors and textures that a apple has, for instance a Gala Apple has a vanilla taste to it... grown that way... but the rest I am told my by company are just apples... but the question that I am asked the most in GA are "WHAT ARE THE BEST APPLES FOR BAKING" and I never have a answer... I dont know the best for baking but it would be fantastic to have some input on it :) Thank You if you respond

I live in New Mexico but hail

By Cammy S. Kinstedt

I live in New Mexico but hail from Central Illinois. During a recent visit to see my Dad, who still lives there, I got a chance to eat a Burgundy apple. I ate all of my apples which were sweet and tart. OMG! I want to get my hands on some more and try them in a pie when I go to Illinois in November!

Also live in New Mexico and

By Dean Ramaeker on October 8

Also live in New Mexico and from Chicago area. I'm trying to find out which apple to use in a bread recipe. Stores carry red and golden delicious- some times Granny Smith, What's best? It only calls for 1 apple - hardly seems like enough.

Dean, you should use an apple

By Almanac Staff on October 8

Dean, you should use an apple that is best for baking such as Granny Smith, Fuji, Rome Beauty, or Winesap.

Norhern spy is the best for

By MiserblOF

Norhern spy is the best for apple crisp, and many other things. What makes it particularly good for cooking is that it is a very large apple. It takes only a few of these big ones to make a big apple crisp. There are two minor downsides: First, they are not smooth and it takes a little practice to peel them. Second, some of them are too big for the round corer / slicers and have be be cut with a knife.
A tip for apple crisp: I have tried leaving the skins on the apples and didn't like the results, but I later tried running them through a food processor and then adding them to the apples in the pan. This gives an interesting texture to the dish. No guarantees you'll like it, but it's worth a try. No sense just tossing or composting the skins if you can use them. My apples are minimally sprayed, so I have no qualms about using the skins.

I'm in East TN and was given

By charlee

I'm in East TN and was given a bushel of apples and I dont know what variety they are...They are diferent shades of red with some yellow, white flesh and it takes forever for them to cook for applesauce..They are juicy but not a lot of flavor or aroma any ideas as to what they might be? Thanks

Here is an Apple Fruit ID web

By Almanac Staff

Here is an Apple Fruit ID web site: http://www.fruitid.com/#
Once there, click on the green button for "Quick Identification" and you'll see picture of apples to help you figure out your variety.

I live in KY, I think the

By Rosilenda

I live in KY, I think the Granny Smith is the best for apple pies, but I would love to try some of the apples that are mentioned , they sound wonderful, some of them I have never heard of.And I think the best eating apple is the Honey crisp.

Honeycrisp are great for pies

By Puglover

Honeycrisp are great for pies too. I can hardly wait to make a Honeycrisp pie this fall. LOVE to eat them too. Can't get enough. They are expensive here in MD.

You are so right. The honey

By oregongirl

You are so right. The honey crisp are awesome. If you ever get a chance, try jazz apples. Yummy!

i currently live in PA but

By ballcaplover

i currently live in PA but hail from central OH. whenever i get back to Columbus, during season, i go to my local fruit farm and bring different varieties back home. The best eating apple I have run across yet, other than the granny smith of course, is called PIXIE CRUNCH. Per the propietors of the farm(Lynd's Fruit Farm), this is a fairly new variety and hot dang is it good!

When looking for information

By Richard13

When looking for information on a specific variety, here is a pretty good website, www.orangepippin.com . You'll find pictures, descriptions, uses, histories, and many times you'll find where to buy. There is also a section on plums and another on cherries.

Haralson is an excellent pie

By DGH

Haralson is an excellent pie apple....also a good keeper. I like the tartness as an eating apple too.

I am looking for a good apple

By Annette shoemaker

I am looking for a good apple that you can deep fry for apple fritters. I live in Canada. some of the apples mentioned above are here for sure. courtland,macintosh, spy,
can anybody help me find a good one to deep fry? Thanks annette

Hi Annette. I'm in Southern

By Anne R

Hi Annette.
I'm in Southern Ontario, and been baking using Northern Spies for more years than I care to admit. They are often not available until early October, but keep a very long time, properly stored. They hold their shape well in baked goods and are not overly juicy as some other baking apples seem to be. I also use them in side dishes where I don't want the fruit melting into the mixture. I am thinking specifically of a scalloped apple and rutabaga dish. For an apple crisp, I like to mix different apples such as a spy and a courtland and anything that needs using up, like the last macintosh! I don't find spies at regular supermarkets, usually, but do find them at the farmers markets and shops that are exclusively produce. I think of the Apple Market at 7 (?) and Mississauga Rd. or Tiveron's Market at Queensway and 10.
I hope this helps.

Anne

If you love apple pie then

By Addi

If you love apple pie then you should buy the granny smith apple. They are super yummy in a apple pie. Next time you bake a apple pie buy a granny smith apple. they are the best.

Thank God someone mentioned

By Ammers

Thank God someone mentioned Cortland! I love these Apples. I grew up in Westford, MA and worked on a fruit farm as a kid. Only problem with these is they need the cold. Can't get them in San Diego CA!

The empire apple is great for

By Steve Carp

The empire apple is great for pies, and for eating fresh also. A great all-around apple. And it was named at the NYSAES, with the monicore for NewYorkState, Empire.

Remember eating fantastic

By Tammie from Colorado

Remember eating fantastic apple butter growing up in KS as a kid. Haven't been able to find good apples for this. Any ideas?

We suggest Cortland apples,

By Almanac Staff

We suggest Cortland apples, which don't oxidize as rapidly when cut as do other varieties.

I love Mutsu but they are

By Elaine Robinson

I love Mutsu but they are hard to find.

Any one know anything about

By old south

Any one know anything about Carter Blue?

I got a bag of them four

By AppleGuy

I got a bag of them four years ago and we ate them all - no pies. They were great. Large green apples with a strong blue blush/color on one side. Intense apple taste, a cross between freshness and jolly rancher green apple - but natural and fresh. I've read that some have called the aroma rosewater but I didn't experience that. I planted one three years ago but no fruit yet. They and the Russets were some of the most exciting apples.

the Honeycrisp apple is the

By hawgbug

the Honeycrisp apple is the best all around. It's sweetness, firmness, and tartness make it an ideal apple for eating raw and for baking.

Gravenstein(sp) which is no

By MSG1947

Gravenstein(sp) which is no longer grown commerically is beyond great for pies! Not a 'pretty' apple which is a prime reason why they aren't grown anymore. Fujis which hold their shape and have a syrupy juice in sauces. As apple consumers we have been taught to buy based on color, size and use. We have forgotten what a real apple tastes like!

You can purchase Gravenstein

By Alyce

You can purchase Gravenstein apples locally in Sonoma County, CA. They are also available in many stores in Northern California. They are the very best apples for applesauce and pies!

Melrose apples are very good

By Mark Lisowski

Melrose apples are very good for eating or pie. They will keep til spring if stored in a cool dry place.

I love good old Macintosh and

By App lover

I love good old Macintosh and jonamacs are good as well, also Empire. We peel and cook them in a pan with butter, a greet desert. my least favorite is the gala, probably fine for eating with a sandwich but you can't cook or do anything with them.

I really enjoyed this web

By Pinkenstein

I really enjoyed this web site. Very helpful very useful. I've marked it as a favorite place.

I just made upside down apple

By HeatherAnne

I just made upside down apple cake, and I used Paula Reds. They are incredibly flavorful, soft, and just right sweet-tart. They have the most intense apple aroma I ever experienced! I hope I can find them again.

The Macoun (pronounced

By rachelk@yankeep...

The Macoun (pronounced "McCowan") is one of the finest eating apples in the whole Northeast. It is a cross between the McIntosh and a Jersey Black variety, and first grown in Canada. We picked a half bushel of Macouns yesterday!

I LOVE Mountaineer (I think

By jennie-xenia

I LOVE Mountaineer (I think they might be called York as well). They are wonderful in sauce and pies, especially together with Honeycrisp.

I live in apple country -

By Jane Umstead.

I live in apple country - Central VA. Some of the BEST here are these wonderful eating apples - Honey Crisp and Pink Lady. I think they would taste food in pie, too, but they usually disappear too fast!

I agree! Two years ago for a

By Gustavos

I agree! Two years ago for a Mixed religious celebration (I think it was Hanukistmas, as we call it ; ) I volunteered to make the pies- one pumpkin cheese cake and my very first apple! I live in Portland, OR and did a little checking into some of the better baking apples I should look for. Low and behold, Pink Lady was at the front of the line, along with the steadfast Granny Smith- so I went for those... And, boy-O-boy, did I get accolades and rave reviews through mouths stuffed with pie!!! If you can find em, give Pink Lady's a whirl!!!

I live in Southern Cal, not

By Charlotte Keyes

I live in Southern Cal, not far from the coast, and not many apples grow well here. However, there is one, "Anna", and it makes a TERRIFIC pie!! I am so lucky to have a tree in our backyard.

Hi, Happy Thanksgiving! I

By Sandy Plubell

Hi, Happy Thanksgiving! I work on an apple farm in central PA & used to use only Rome apples for pies, now I use a mixture of apples for my pies, usually Golden Delicious, Cortland, Jonagold & Rome . My boss things they taste wonderful.... YUM !!!

Love granny smith pie holds

By Barry Gratt

Love granny smith pie holds up great

I have to vote for the

By Joan Jackson 3

I have to vote for the Northern Spy also. Just picked up the last peck a local apple grower had for sale.These will go for the Thanksgiving pies.

I like jonadells,or

By Karen Betts

I like jonadells,or johnathons for baking has any one ever heard of a wolfriver apple. I saw one once as a little girl on my uncles' farm it was huge and when you bit into it there were big sugar pockets all through it.

Hi, I have been growing the

By Jeannineann

Hi, I have been growing the wolf river apples for about 18years.... they are huge and produce tons of apples,they are biennial,but still produce in the off year. This year I had to give a lot of them away, too much from one tree......... they were really sweet this year too, not usually that juicy.... great for applesauce. We had one on the property that was close to 100 years old and when it died, we had to plant 2 more..... lost one to some kind of bug, but its buddy is doing well.....some years you can't put your hands around them, other times they are huge, but not that big... depends on the weather.....we are in the upper peninsula of Michigan right on lake superior...

I planted a Wolf River 12

By Jean Tansill

I planted a Wolf River 12 years ago and have had not one blossom. Can you tell me what to do to get this tree to bear? I need help on this one.

We picked Wolf River apples

By Carlenne

We picked Wolf River apples as kids but that orchard was bulldozed and I've never seen them again - they were HUGE! And so good. Two made a whole pie! I'm from Michigan - seen Wolf River anywhere else?

I don't know if you'll get

By writerlygirl

I don't know if you'll get this, but I get them at the Michigan State University fruit sale. They are gigantic and my kids love them. Don't know if you're in the range of the university, but it's the only place I've seen them.

WolF River Apples...YES! I

By bluemooner

WolF River Apples...YES! I saw some at Freeman's Orchard in Hendersonville NC last week. Haven't had any in quite a while, but they're an old time favorite around this area. :~)

Yellow Transparent! Grandma,

By Elizabeth Donald

Yellow Transparent!
Grandma, in west-central Ohio, grew several apple trees, and would use ONLY yellow transparent for making apple sauce, but they were good in pies too.

I think you forgot one of the

By Jim Krug

I think you forgot one of the finest pie apples...the Northern Spy from upper NY state. My mother wouldn't use any other for her great apple pies!

I live in MI and we grow

By piemakingmama

I live in MI and we grow Northern Spy's here. They have to be the best pie apple ever! I have used many others, but nothing can beat a Northern Spy on taste and texture.

Absolutely!!!! the best for

By Bob from NYC

Absolutely!!!! the best for cooking. Northern Spies were my dear friend Bici's favorite. She would buy a box in the Fall and the whole apartment would smell like an orchard. She let them marinate overnight sliced with peels on in brown sugar and lemon juice and then cook. Served hot or cold with a dollop of sour cream. Great. She was my best friend and mentor when I was a younger man. A lovely Victorian lady born in 1886.

Northern Spys... In our

By kingskid312

Northern Spys... In our house, the rule was: "Spies for Pies!" They are a Michigan favorite, too! But, if you like a "crunchy " apple in your pie, this is NOT the apple for you.

Thank You for mentioning NY

By Cathie R

Thank You for mentioning NY apples! They are the best. My NC daughter loves to receive these tasty apples when we visit. Have you heard of Seneca apple chips? Read the back and discover that this company uses Washington State apples. Shame on you Seneca apple company.

Re: NY apples...depends on

By Lynne C.

Re: NY apples...depends on where you live for your idea of the best apples. So, I respectfully disagree with you...GOOD for you, Seneca company! Speaking from taste experience, Washington State apples are VERY good! Lots of research is done at Washington State University, and Tukey Orchard at WSU has GREAT organic apples, and other fruit and vegetables! They open to sell to the public in the fall, and I can't wait to go there to stock up for winter. Some of the old varieties are grown, with limited amounts available for purchase. (Last year, they had Ben Davis, remmbered from my childhood in N.C., excellent for sauce or pies.) My stash from last fall lasted until mid 2012!
(Thanks for providing this website, I love it!)

WSU's research has helped me

By AppleGuy

WSU's research has helped me lots with my little home orchard in TN. I love them.
Yellow transparent are great for sauce - but they don't keep or ship at all. Check out Calhoun's book on Old Southern Apples for loads of great cooking apple options! Carter Blue, Kinnaird's Choice, Yellow June, Limbertwigs, all the winesaps, Blacktwig, Virginia Beauty!

I totally agree!! Spy apples

By Krissy Johansen

I totally agree!! Spy apples are the best for apple pie AND apple butter making! Jonathans are good too!

Another great one is Yellow

By Cheryl Clark 2

Another great one is Yellow Transparent but no one seems to grow them. My Grandma had a tree at her farm and she made the best apple pie with them.

I help at a produce stand in

By Beth Nowlin

I help at a produce stand in Blfd., WV and we get a big variety of apples. Lodi-early transparent are first. Then Ginger Gold, which i believe are the yellow transparent you are talking about. They are like Lodi at first, tart and crisp; then turn gold and get sweeter. People love these for cooked apples. Ours come out of Virginia! Find some and enjoy, almost gone!

Look for Lodi apples. That's

By kingskid312

Look for Lodi apples. That's the new name for the Transparent. They are early apples so it is probably too late for this year. I grew up on Transparent applesauce & no other EVER measures up!

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Yes,Yellow Transparent made

By DGH

Yes,Yellow Transparent made the best applesauce. Grandma in Spokane would treat us with that sauce.

You are right! They do make

By plaid46

You are right! They do make the best applesauce I've ever eaten! My Mom had a tree too. I was told by a farmer that Transparent apples bruise too easily to make it possible to ship. I surely do miss them!

My mom made the best pies

By Gail Springsteen

My mom made the best pies with those! And no, you don't see them anywhere . . . but we had a tree. It was a softer apple, so you didn't have crunchy apple pie. I don't like when the apples crunch in pie! :-)

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