The 8 Best Apples for Baking, from Honeycrisps to Braeburns
You have your heart set on making the most adorable mini mason jar apple pies. But once you’re in the produce section, you’re suddenly swimming in a sea of apples and can’t decide which is best to use. Honeycrisp? Fuji? It can’t be Golden Delicious, right? Woo, deep breaths—your dessert dream is still within reach. Here, the eight best apples for baking.
She’s sweet, versatile, available basically everywhere and super crunchy. What’s not to like? This apple’s skin is a gorgeous sunset of red and yellow, but it tastes even better in dessert thanks to its ridiculously crisp texture. It’s killer in tarts, pies, bars, dumplings, applesauce and just about any baked treat. Honeycrisps are at peak deliciousness from September to November, but typically available year-round.
2. Granny Smith
These green gems are famous for their bright tartness and juiciness. As it turns out, tart, firm apples like these (plus Empire and Cortland apples), hold their shape wonderfully in the oven under a layer of pie crust. A mix of sweet and tart apples is ideal for desserts like pie, but feel free to just follow your heart (er, tummy) if you want to go all-tart. Their skin is a bit thicker than some other less-firm choices, so feel free to peel before baking. Granny Smiths are typically harvested in mid-October, but you’ll always see them in the produce section.
3. Pink Lady
Isn’t she gorgeous? Also called Cripps Pink apples, these ruby cuties are prime for everything from bread to pie to cake. They’ll stay firm after a stint in the oven and offer both acidity and sweetness to desserts, not to mention distinct tannic notes. Their signature crisp, almost fizzy bite is also super refreshing when eaten raw. Pink Lady apples are typically harvested in late fall and available through spring. Don’t bother peeling their rosy skin before baking with them.
4. Golden Delicious
These sunny picks are sweet but balanced with buttery undertones. Since they break down easily when baked (like Red Delicious and McIntosh varieties), use them in applesauce, preserves, apple butter, cake or any recipe that won’t benefit from the slices maintaining their shape and texture. They’re harvested from September through October, but odds are you’ll see them year-round at the supermarket. If these yellow beauties are your favorite, try Jonagold apples next.
You love ’em straight out of the fridge, but they can have a whole new life in your favorite baking dish. They’re sweet, juicy and firm with red skin, and—best of all—they’re not mealy at all. Pies, crisps and baked goods in general call for firm apples, and these will definitely hold their own against the oven and additional wet ingredients. Fuji apples ripen late in apple season, so you’ll most likely see them on shelves come November or December.
Search for these sweet-and-sour cuties when you have a baking project or cider making on the brain. They’re crisp and sturdy but packed with lots of winey, aromatic juice. Their flavor is pretty robust and complex, so they’re great for recipes that call for cranberries, plums or lots of spices. Keep an eye out for them at a local orchard or grocery store come mid fall or early winter. If you’re all about the combo of sweet and sour in pie, cider or applesauce, try Newtown Pippin apples too. Rome Beauties are also great for baking and cider.
Raw, they’re aromatic, crisp and tart. But baked into a galette or pie, they take on a deliciously sweet pear-like flavor. Braeburns are a hybrid of Granny Smith and Lady Hamilton apples, hence their signature tartness. They’re a pretty red-yellow gradient in color and taste complex with notes of spice and citrus, making for really tasty applesauce. You can likely find them near you from late fall through early spring.
The love child of Jonathan and Golden Delicious varieties. Intensely sweet, slightly tangy and crisp, they can totally handle the oven and are a great choice for everything, from pie to applesauce to apple chips. They vary in color but are usually a pretty red with streaks of golden- or green-yellow. Jonagolds are harvested in the fall, so they’ll likely be on a shelf near you from then until early spring. They’re not great for storing though, so use them ASAP once you bring them home.