Best Apples for Baking and Cooking

Choosing the Right Apples for Apple Pies and Other Recipes

August 29, 2019

Not all apples are ideal for cooking! Below is a chart with some of the best apples for baking and cooking—from apple pies and apple crisp to applesauce and cider.

Choosing an Apple Variety

Ever eaten a mushy apple pie? Often, the cause of this is a soft apple variety that doesn’t hold up in the oven. When you use the right kinds of apples for your recipes, your dishes can go from good to delicious!

Below is a list of the best apples for baking and cooking. Note that some familiar apple varieties may be missing because they are best eaten fresh.

If you have apple varieties in your region that aren’t listed here, please comment below and let us know what you prefer to use!

The Best Apples for Baking

Name Best Uses Flavor Characteristics, Appearance
Braeburn Applesauce Tart, sweet, aromatic, tall shape, bright color
Cortland Pies, Applesauce, 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, Applesauce Tangy-sweet, Yellow top, red bottom
Jonathan Applesauce Tart flesh, crisp, juicy, bright red on yellow skin
McIntosh Applesauce Juicy, sweet, pinkish-white flesh, red skin
Newtown Pippin Pie, Applesauce, 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 Applesauce, Pie, Cider Very juicy, sweet-sour flavor, winey, aromatic, sturdy, red skin

Here’s a fun video to help you see what each apple looks like:

Best Apples for Apple Pie & Crisp

Many of us cook apples to use in a pie or crisp. For these baked goods, you need to use “firm” apples. 

Even better, use more than one firm apple variety to give the dish different textures and tastes.

We recommend using both 1) a firm “sweet” apple plus 2) a firm “tart” apple for depth of flavor. Examples of firm apples which are “sweet” include: Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, and Jonagold. Examples of firm tart apples are Granny Smith and Northern Spy.

Tip: To keep the apples firm so they fill the crust, try pre-baking the apples for about 10 minutes, cooling in your fridge, and then adding to the pie plate.

Apple Cooking Measurements

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

Have you ever made apple cider before? Learn all about apple cider pressing.

Apple Recipes

As we’re talking about cooking apples, here are three of our favorite recipes using fresh apples!

Double-Apple Walnut Bread 
This double-apple walnut bread is a great seasonal alternative to traditional banana bread. Whether served warm or cold, it makes a great breakfast, snack, or dessert!

Double-Apple Walnut Bread
Photo Credit: Sam Jones/Quinn Brien

Fresh Apple Crumble Bar

Photo Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner.

Apple Pie With Cider Pecan Crust

Photo Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner.

Learn More

Want more recipes? Check out our Almanac cookbooks!

See 10 more delicious apple recipes and pictures or learn how to grow apple trees in your garden!


Reader Comments

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Northern Spy was the very

Northern Spy was the very first thing that came to my mind. I was surprised to see it was missing from the list. The very best pies I have ever eaten are made from Northern Spy apples. Thinly sliced please, and a fair amount of cinnamon too.

snow apples

I did not see snow apples on this list. I baked many a pie from them. Also, having grown up with a orchard, we had about 7 different types of apples. They all made good desserts, they were never the same twice.

I disagree

My mother use McIntosh apples for everything. We loved them, and she made the best apple pies ever.I've never had an apple pie nearly as good. Also, her applesauce was the best. Her grandchildren loved it, too. :} Having said this, I like almost any kind of apple to eat.

I love MacIntosh apples but

I love MacIntosh apples but seem to be becoming less available with all the new apple varieties.

Best cooking apple

Wolf River!

Has anyone heard of Sheridan Delicious apples

Has anyone heard of Sheridan Delicious apples.. Two tears ago. a friend gave me some apples and I made apple butter from them. And they made good apple butter. I asked him the name of the apples and he said they were Sheridan Delicious. And the reason he knew the name is because a Cornel named Sheridan invented the apple. It is a red apple.

I live in Alberta but am

I live in Alberta but am originally from the UK. I've been looking for an equivalent of the standard cooking apple there, the Bramley apple. So far I haven't had much success. They aren't available here and most varieties I've tried- including Granny Smiths- are much sweeter. Bramleys also have a tendency to become fluffy when they're baked. Is there a similar apple available in Canada?

Hi, David: This is a tough

The Editors's picture

Hi, David: This is a tough question on a number of levels, as we know neither what is available for purchase near you nor whether your main concern is to replicate the Bramley's relative tartness or consistency or both. Be sure you have checked out the tarter apples in our chart above. Then the best way forward might be to contact either the U of Alberta's Dept. of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science or the provincial government's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Or ... ask the British Consulate-General in Calgary -- they love to help ex-pats. The key here may be to find a British chef in Alberta/Canada who has already solved this challenge. Good luck! 

Bramley apple

Bramley trees are available from Raintree Nursery in Morton, WA.

Raintree is a Great Nursery for fruit trees

They have a huge variety of fruit trees...not just the same old half dozen that you find in the big boys. Their catalog is a TREAT. If you haven't checked them out, do.

My mother used to burn sulfur

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 process is called

The process is called sulfuring. You can do a search for it. There is more than 1 way I ran into for doing it. But you should have no trouble finding the instructions for doing with the smoke.

The 20 ounce apple is our

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

Its APPLEFEST here in

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

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

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

The Editors's picture

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

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

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

The Editors's picture

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

These apples sound like Honey

These apples sound like Honey Crisp. Hard,"crispy" and very difficult to use in a sauce. I will be using them ground up from now on..

I live in KY, I think the

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.

i currently live in PA but

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!

You are so right. The honey

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

Honeycrisp are great for pies

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.

When looking for information

When looking for information on a specific variety, here is a pretty good website, . 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

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

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

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.


If you love apple pie then

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.