Best Apples for Baking: Apple Pie, Applesauce, Cider

Best Apples for Apple Pies and Other Recipes


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

Ever eaten a mushy apple pie? Often, the cause of this is a soft apple, such as a McIntosh. Have no fear! When you use the right kind of apple, you may find you actually like apple pie!

Below is a list of the best apples for baking and cooking. (Note: Some familiar apple varieties may be missing because they are best eaten fresh out of the hand.)

If you have apple varieties in your region that aren’t listed here, please comment below! We all learn so much from our Almanac community.

Best Apples for Baking

NAME Best Uses Flavor Characteristic, Appearance
Braeburn Applesauce Tart, sweet, aromatic, tall shape, bright color
Cortland Pies, Applesauces, 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

Many of us cook apples to use in a pie or crisp. For these baked goods, you need to use “firm” apples. Also, we recommend using more than one apple variety, such as a firm “sweet” apple plus a firm “tart” apple for depth of flavor. 

  • Examples of firm apples which are “sweet” include: Golden Delicious and Jonagolds.
  • Examples of firm apples which are “tart” include: Granny Smith, 

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 Baking Measurements

When it comes to baking 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!

Apple Cheese Bread

Photo Credit: C. Quinnell.

Fresh Apple Crumble Bar

Photo Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner.

Apple Pie With Cider Pecan Crust

Photo Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner.

Do you love to bake? Find more great recipes in our very own Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Baking Cookbook.

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

Reader Comments

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Apples Pies

Hi I am new to this, but I want you to know that this is my second year of making dutch apple pie. I have been using different apples. First year, I learned by mistake using Gala Apples, the pie was watery. So this year I bought my apples from the farmers market, The pies I hope come out better. I am learning. I am going to make my pies an annual.

Summer Rambo

We live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, moved into a house with the remnants of a commercial orchard in the yard - 9 mature Summer Rambo apple trees. Thirty years later, only 2 still survive storms and old age, but we had bushels and bushels of apples that made fabulous applesauce and apple butter.


How could you possibly leave out GRAVENSTEIN apples??? These are absolutely the best eaten fresh off the tree, in pies (I know, I make about 40 pies to freeze every year)....and applesauce - best ever!

Honeycrisp Apples make great fried pies!

For fried pies aka hand pies I prefer dehydrated Honeycrisp apple.
Honeycrisp is an apple cultivar developed at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station's Horticultural Research Center at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Designated in 1974 with the MN 1711 test designation, patented in 1988, and released in 1991, the Honeycrisp, once slated to be discarded, has rapidly become a prized commercial commodity, as its sweetness, firmness, and tartness make it an ideal apple for eating raw. It has much larger cells than most apples, which rupture when bitten to fill the mouth with juice. The Honeycrisp also retains its pigment well and boasts a relatively long shelf life when stored in cool, dry conditions. The name Honeycrisp was trademarked by the University of Minnesota, but university officials were unsure of its protection status in 2007.

Apple Pie

I love to make apple pies, but must limit my sugars (Diabetic), I like using Jonagold Apples for the flavor and natural sweetness and I like the apples to remain somewhat firm after baking the pie. I use a touch of brandy in my recipe as it tends to release the natural sugars in the apples so that I don't need to add much sugar...... any suggestions?


I grew up in Sebastopol CA and in my opinion there is no better cooking apple than the Gravenstein! my daughter is fortunate to have a high producing tree in her yard, I made pies and applesauce this summer and had several people tell me they were the best apple pie they've ever had. I have to give credit to the apples!


I have a 15 year old Harlred tree in my yard. I was told it was a cross between a Harlson and a Red delicious. I picked 10 plastic milk crates of apples and ended up with 22 gallons of undiluted juice. I live in south central MT. Thanks


No mention of the Spartan? Is it found only in my area (Quebec)?

Golden Delicious Apples

I was born and raised in the heart of apple country, Washington State. Golden Delicious Apples are by far the best Apple Pie apples. Jonagold are the next favorite (a cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious). I was raised with applesauce made with Jonathan apples, such a pretty pink color! Some of the newer varieties listed above are OK, but Goldens are still my favorite.

I am amazed that NO ONE has

I am amazed that NO ONE has even mentioned STAYMAN apples. They are great for applesauce, pies, and tarts. A firm, slightly sweet apple, in abundance here in Virginia. My favorite.

Apples for Baking

Don't forget the Northern Spy. My mom would only make apple pies and cobblers using this apple. They were wonderful! We live in Michigan.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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..