Baking with Apples Article -
Add a Comment

Baking with Apples

What makes a great baking apple? The best have a good sweet-tart balance and their flesh won't break down as they cook.

For a dessert that's complex in flavor and pleasing in texture, mix tart apples with firm baking apples.

Look for regional and heirloom varieties at farmers' markets and specialty grocers. And when in doubt, ask the grower which apples are best for baking.

Commonly available apples:


Cortlands are juicy and slightly tart, with bright red skin and snowy white flesh. They are a terrific baking apple: use in pies, cobblers, and crisps. When sliced, Cortlands are a welcome addition to fruit and cheese plates, as the flesh doesn't brown and discolor quickly.

Cortland apple


Empires are a cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious apples. Firm-textured and slightly tart, the Empire is a fine all-purpose apple good for sauce, pies, baking, salads, fresh eating, and freezing.

Mutsu (Crispin)

This large, yellow-green fruit is very juicy and super crisp. It has a sweet, refreshing flavor and is great for fresh eating, salads, freezing, sauce, and baking.


A crisp, sweet apple with a mild flavor, Galas have yellow-orange skin with red striping. They're best for salads, eating out-of-hand, and applesauce.

Golden Delicious

The Golden Delicious is sweet, with a rich, mellow flavor. It is one of the best all-around cooking apples, as it maintains its shape after baking.

Golden Delicious apple

Granny Smith

One of the most popular tart apples, Granny Smiths are crisp and quite sour. They're a good all-purpose cooking apple, and their flavor is enhanced when paired with sweeter, spicier apples in pies and crisps.

Granny Smith apple


Developed in Minnesota and introduced fairly recently, Honeycrisps are fantastic eating apples. As the name indicates, they are crisp and juicy, with a honey-sweet and tart flavor. Honeycrisps are also good for baking and sauce.

Ida Red

A very old variety, Ida Reds have a tangy flavor and a flesh that is sometimes tinted a rosy pink. It makes beautiful applesauce: cook the apples with the skins on and strain the sauce to get the best pink color. Ida Reds keep their shape during baking and are also excellent in salads and for freezing.


Jonathans are quite tart, with a rich, slightly spicy apple flavor. They hold their shape well when baked. They are also good in salads and for applesauce.


Sweet and aromatic, Macouns are excellent for snacking, in salads and for sauce. With bright red skin and juicy white flesh, they make an attractive apple on a cheese plate.


A blend of Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples, Jonagolds have a tangy-sweet flavor. With a yellow-green base and a blush stripe, is excellent both for eating fresh and for cooking.

McIntosh apple


Tiny, doll-like lady apples are sweet-flavored and are a beautiful decorative apple.

lady apple


A classic bright red apple with green undertones, juicy, crisp McIntoshes tend to break down when cooked. They are delicious eaten out of hand or in sauce, and are best paired with Golden Delicious or other apples in pies and other baked goods.

Red Delicious

Bred to be an eating apple, Red Delicious are unsuitable for baking. They are mild-flavored, sweet and juicy, with a deep ruby skin and a classic heart shape.

Red Delicious apple


The Winesap is very firm and aromatic, with a spicy bite. A sweet-flavored apple, Winesaps are good in sauces and for baking.

Winesap apple
Sep. 16, 2009 6:39 am
good info. thanks!
Sep. 17, 2009 10:08 pm
How do I prevent browning of cut apples?
Sep. 18, 2009 12:04 pm
I realize that this is not an exhaustive listing of apple types, but is there a reason Roman Beauty apples are not included in the list? I have strong memories of this type of apples when I was younger. There are orchards on the western slope of Colorado that my parents would travel to and purchase apples every fall and the Roman Beauty apples were so sweet/tart crisp.
Sep. 23, 2009 11:13 am
My grandmother (who would be over 100 years old if still alive)swore by winesaps for baking and applesauce. They are not always easy to find, but worth the hunt in my book. She was one of the best cooks I have known (along with my mother of course).
Sep. 25, 2009 6:34 am
This was great information, thanks for braking it all down.
Oct. 3, 2009 12:01 pm
Great info! Will keep with my recipes. Thanks!
Oct. 4, 2009 1:12 am
Pink Lady, Jazz and Pippins are all very good eating apples. Winesaps are also called Stayman in some areas and are crisp sweet/tart. Rome apples are great for baking.CandyApples are also great all purpose apples which do not oxidize (turn brown). To stop apples from turning brown sprinkle with lemon juice or purchased Fruit Fresh powder.
Oct. 6, 2009 9:43 am
great information, living in FL for decaded, I sometimes forget what to get for baking...grew up with a cortland apple tree in the back yard and started baking pies at age 65! Sorry for long windy comment, sometimes hard to find cortlands
Oct. 7, 2009 7:26 am
@ Staci01rn - soak them in a mixture of lemon juice and water. I usually go with 3 parts water to 1 part lemon juice. This will prevent the flesh from browning!
Oct. 7, 2009 1:57 pm
Just got back from a run to Michigan to help parents get ready for winter and to pick up "Spy" apples for my apple pies. This is a very old apple and hard to find but is crisp and sweet/tart. It is the only apple my gmother would use, I like to mix it with Johngold and one other type of apple for a perfect pie.
Oct. 9, 2009 1:11 pm
I love honeycrisps! Coblers and pies can be made in bulk and then frozen. Bake from frozen covered loosely by foil until done. Usually twice the baking time for frozen desserts.
Oct. 9, 2009 9:57 pm
I need to slice up some apples and pears for a fruit plate but how do I keep them from turning brown.
betty o 
Oct. 11, 2009 4:43 pm
Thank you for explaining how to use the different variety of apples. I often look in different magazines and recipe books on how to use apples for recipes and are not able to use them to make more delicious desserts. Thank you!!!
Oct. 11, 2009 8:31 pm
My home economics students loved honeycrisps when we did a taste test comparison lab last fall.
Oct. 16, 2009 11:28 am
which apples work best with a rice flour based crust? gluten free foods tend to suck up moisture and have a bland flavor can u help me?
Oct. 17, 2009 11:41 am
Exactly what I was looking for - good information on each of the different kinds of apples.
Oct. 28, 2009 4:29 pm
What is the best apple to make just plain apple dumplings? I core and peel my apple and then put into a dough and fold the corners. The last apples that I used was Cortland and it did not hold its shape.
Oct. 29, 2009 4:56 am
The gal that asked how to keep apples from turning brown when sliced, should soak them in 7up or sprite for a few minutes. Works perfect and keeps them crisp as well.
Oct. 29, 2009 2:04 pm
I find that Northern Spy apples making fantastic apple dumplings, which is an apple I don't see listed here. It might be only a regional apple to the east coast or northern east coast. I'm in Michigan and it's a very popular baking apple here.
Nov. 2, 2009 11:40 am
For the person regarding the Northern Spy apples- I too live in Michigan and was surprised to not see the description on here. BUT, I did find it on copy and paste this link into your browser for more info on one of my favorite baking apples!!!
Nov. 2, 2009 11:42 am
And what about the Ginger Gold apples from Michigan? Wondering if they are suitable for baking and cooking...
Nov. 15, 2009 7:28 am
Can anyone tell me why the apples in some of my apple pies I bake remain semi-hard AFTER baking the recommended time? This doesn't happen everytime, but does happen on occasion. The last pie I made I used Ida reds from a local orchard in Michigan. I baked the pie the recommended time and temperatures (15 mintes at 425, 30 minutes at 350) and the apples remained somewhat hard. I returned the pie to the oven and baked it an additional 30 minutes, almost double the recommended time, and the apples were still somewhat hard and semi-crunchy. Three weeks earlier, I made an apple pie with the same apples, same recipe and that pie was perfect with soft apples after baking only the recommended baking time -- no additional baking time. Another thing I noticed is that the second apple pie -- the one that had the hard apples after baking -- also had a great deal of runny liquid when I cut the pie open. Can anyone help solve this mystery?
Nov. 27, 2009 5:23 pm
I have baked a Dutch Apple Pie for years but struggle with what apples to use. Want one that is tart, holds its shape and isn't "runny". Have used Rome,, Jonathans and more recently, Granny Smith. The Granny Smith are wonderfully tart and are not runny but they don't stay firm after baking. Any suggestions, please?
Dec. 17, 2009 8:44 pm
I wanted to make sausage, apple and raisin stuffing and I don't know what kind of apple is best. Any suggestions would help. I wanted to add raisins and apples to stuffing to make a nice light mildly sweet stuffing.
Jan. 4, 2010 4:13 pm
I make an old family recipe for fruit mincemeat - very secret recipe! British Columbia, Canada is a major apple growing Province, but I have not been able to find Gravenstein apples here this year. Is there an equivilent apple to that one? Thanks for any suggestions!
Mar. 19, 2010 9:42 am
What about spartans? I'm making apple crisp, are they a good pick?(pun intended)
Apr. 10, 2010 8:26 am
Jun. 10, 2010 8:26 pm
This was awesome never knew all of this! Lets me know which apple to bake my apple pies with :)
Jul. 20, 2010 11:23 am
this was marvellous. i dun know we hav to find a right apples before. thank you.
Jul. 22, 2010 3:45 pm
Thanks for all the helpful information! Into the recipe box it goes! Advice on baking apples: to avoid skin the texture of vinyl upholstery, PEEL THE APPLES BEFORE BAKING THEM. Also, if you sautee them in butter with a bit of brown sugar before baking and BAKE THEM IN THE SAUCEPAN, they will be divine. If you're making a filling, use a melon baller to make large cavities. My favorite filling is oats, walnuts, dried cranberries, brown sugar, butter, and finely chopped apples.
Sep. 7, 2010 12:30 am
i love spy apples in my apple pie. They come out in south western Ontario, Canada end of September. Perfect time for baking a pie! Alot of people use granny smiths, l asked my gramma and she always uses a mix. Everyone has a little bit of different recipe :}
Sep. 20, 2010 5:35 pm
To Joyfullness: About the problems ur having with your pies cooking could be your oven not heating up to the right temperature on different occasions. It could be ready to go out and just not heating up/cooking your food properly.
Sep. 28, 2010 8:42 pm
SAVE The Article to Your Recipe Box. SOMETHING I LEARN THAT YOU CAN DO. GO READ ABOUT IT JUST BEFORE THE COMMENT SECTION. Thanks for the article. I saved it, and thought it was worth having for later and now it's in my recipe box.
Sep. 29, 2010 6:04 am
Just moved from Michigan a few months ago, and missing the apples! Reading the comments from all the Michigan cooks has made me so homesick. The 5 LB bag of North Carolina apples I bought yesterday are almost tasteless. I don't even know what to do with them.
Sep. 29, 2010 8:55 pm
I like to use Jonathan, Cortland, or Rome apples in my pies, but I generally can only find Granny Smith. But it was Granny Smiths in the ones that won the awards.
Sep. 30, 2010 11:37 am
We here in Pa also have banana apples
Oct. 1, 2010 8:19 am
My mom 85 years old, swears by wealthy
Oct. 3, 2010 9:23 am
I have always used Fuji for my pies and breads. They always turn out very flavorful.
Oct. 6, 2010 1:45 pm
If making applesauce I just peel and cook a small batch of apples at one time & put in water til you are ready to cook. Also don't put salt in the water as that makes a bad taste to the applesauce. I have always used golden delicious apples for my sauce. (Only tree my neighbor had) Very good and I do like a chunky sauce.
Oct. 6, 2010 8:21 pm
Great information, thank you
Oct. 10, 2010 7:58 am
I just found a new variety (to me anyway) called Arkansas Black. Very crisp and not so good to eat raw, but I made the apple peach sauce (slow cooker recipe). Turned out great! Has anyone ever heard of these?
Nov. 7, 2010 7:47 am
I could sit here all day and save a million recipes. Thanks so much, Bonnie
Nov. 17, 2010 8:27 am
I found a site that has a VERY extensive list of apple varieties...just looking at it gave me a headache...for those of you who check it out, enjoy!
Nov. 22, 2010 3:42 pm
I've eaten Granny Smiths, and the ones I've had weren't at all sour! They had a nice, what I personally consider perfect, balance of tartness and sweetness, in other words, the quintessential apple-y flavor. They're VERY good! Not only are they good for snacking, but, because of their low moisture content, they hold up very well in baking and cooking. They're the ideal all-around, all-purpose apple!
Dec. 16, 2010 2:44 pm
This is great information to have about all types of apples. I enjoy making applie pie which I have been making over 10 years now. I'm trying to find dry apples which are good for making fried apples turnovers.If anyone find out that I can use a certain type of apple to make fried turnovers please let me no. Thanks
Jan. 12, 2011 6:46 pm
I don't see ROME Apples here... BEST for BAKED APPLES!
Jan. 30, 2011 12:50 pm
Great to know! Now I will add some yellow delicious to the granny smiths that I use in my apple pies! :)
Feb. 15, 2011 7:59 pm
the best secret for keeping apples from browing is to pour pineapple juice over the apples - tastes better than using lemon and works just as good : )
Feb. 22, 2011 1:15 am
Interesting article about the different types but some recipe ideas besides the basic pies, sauces and crisps would have been nice!
Apr. 5, 2011 9:10 pm
if i prepare my applepie could i bake it late?
May 17, 2011 1:39 pm
has anyone ever used frozen apple slices for baking? and if so how well do they work?
Aug. 5, 2011 6:56 am
I always use granny smith for my apple pies since I made Grandma Ople apple pie recipe from this site...before that I would only use Courtland, which I still use in my Apple Bread recipe when I can find them!! Why are they not available?
Aug. 12, 2011 7:34 pm
No list of apples is complete without Gravenstein Apples. They are the perfect apple for every occasion, and don't require sugar in baking because they are so delicious. Trader Joe's sells a Gravenstein Applesauce with no sugar, and its amazing.
mother goose 
Sep. 20, 2011 5:08 pm
I recently moved to goose creek sc and i miss my favorite plac to get apples. Patterson fruit market in chesterland ohio. they make the best apple cider and i always brought small bags of what was called seconds which uasally were gala, jonagold,empires, and cortlands mixed them all together and made 1 heck of a pan of fresh apple sauce, boy i miss pattersons
Oct. 5, 2011 7:05 pm
I make my apple pies with Cortlands, and they do hold their shape. Last apple pie I made was apple crumb pie. Delicious.
Oct. 5, 2011 9:49 pm
I would like to know whatever happened to the Pippin apple. It was a bit more tart than the Granny Smiths, thereby making it perfect for cobblers and pies and out of hand eating. Does anyone know?
Oct. 6, 2011 3:58 am
thanks for the info!!Especially about what kind of apple to use on Grandma Oples apple pie.I've been dying to try it and want to get it right !!!!!
Oct. 6, 2011 2:45 pm
I am waiting for the Spy apples to come out. My Hubby's favorite for pie. THey told me it would be a week yet here before they are picked. I am from Michigan.
Oct. 9, 2011 5:27 pm
Has anyone used Melrose apples for applesauce?
Oct. 10, 2011 8:42 am
Very little is mentioned here about holding the shape during cooking/baking. I would like to know which apples hold their shape best.
Oct. 16, 2011 10:59 am
I just made my first apple pie using Wolf River apples. They were very tasty and held up to baking.
Nov. 8, 2011 7:34 am
Um....Rome Apples anyone? I mean, they are THE default and best known baking apple....yet they weren't listed?
Nov. 23, 2011 9:31 am
You prevent apples from browning by adding an acid, Lemon juice should work phenomenally
Dec. 23, 2011 1:32 pm
help! lately every apple pie I make comes out with the apples looking brown! they used to look like cooked apples, but now the pie looks more like a rhubarb/strawberry pie!
Dec. 23, 2011 8:27 pm
To keep apples from browning toss them in lemon juice after cutting them and if cutting multile types of fruit for say fruit salad cut them last
Feb. 15, 2012 6:49 pm
Staci01rn: spray the apples with lemon juice and that will prevent browning.
Mar. 18, 2012 6:11 pm
I have some Gala apples that are a little old.... wrinkled skin after a couple of weeks in the fridge :( Can I add them to my Ida Reds for a pie I want to turn out fairly well for company?
May 19, 2012 1:52 pm
salt water or lemon juice will prevent browning
May 23, 2012 1:50 pm
AWESOME!! I almost made apple crisp using Red Delicious...looks like I ll be going back to the store.
Jul. 19, 2012 9:09 pm
Excuse if others have already answered but you can keep cut apples from turning brown by sprinkling with lemon juice. That way you can keep a bowl of cut apple wedges looking fresh in the frige for a healthy snack that's always ready.
Jul. 26, 2012 9:52 am
When cooking with apples, remember these facts: 3 medium apples 1 pound apples = 1 pound of apples = 4 small apples = 3 cups of diced apples = 3 medium apples = 2 3/4 cups of sliced apples = 2 large apples = 1 1/2 cups applesauce To make a 9 inch apple pie, use 6-8 medium apples. 2 lbs. of apples make 3 cups of applesauce. 1 bushel of apples makes 16-20 quarts of applesauce.
Aug. 23, 2012 9:40 pm
you like da pickles?
Aug. 29, 2012 9:29 am
This is a great explanation of all the apples is there a printed format would love to put it in my cookbook.
Sep. 4, 2012 1:25 am
I am astonished then the Bramley apple is not mentioned. I have read that many countries use eating apples to cook with but having tried that myself they seem insipid and tasteless. The first Bramley was 'found' by a little girl not cultivated. It's history is well worth reading.The original tree is still alive. If you asked anybody in the UK to name a cooking apple it would be the Bramley, it's that good. Mind you if I get a bad year on my Bramley tree Ida Red is useable - but not the same by any means.
Sep. 11, 2012 11:20 am
Mac's are my apple of choice...u can use them for everything....:)
Sep. 26, 2012 12:05 pm
Carole..... in my opinion if you can get Northern Spy they hold their shape in the pieces you cut them in very well. They are the only apples I use for pies. I'm kind of shocked to hear that some of you use Mac's for pies. To me, they are too juicy of an apple for baking and best for just an eating apple. I'm not in to my pies being like applesauce. Sorry... but that's my experience.
Oct. 11, 2012 9:40 am
just finished freezing a bushell of CORTLANDS,our pie spice,alittle butter,salt,brown and white sugar or splenda.Peel and slice,cook til tender in a small amt water.SOOO good.can do in micro ,too
Oct. 11, 2012 9:44 am
the previous is for great applesauce.Freeze in quart bags.
Oct. 19, 2012 10:37 am
Very helpful. Thank you much :)
Nov. 10, 2012 7:10 pm
Outsanding information! After this no one can tell me an apple is apple.
Mar. 25, 2013 7:19 pm
Grateful for the information. I am always working on my "favorite." I have been unable to find McIntosh this year, I live in midwest. Finding Honey Crisp a great eating and cooking apple. Always, always love the good ol' fashioned Granny Smith, they work every time for however you choose [fruit & cheese plate, pies, name it.] Pink lady's are good, but difficult to find fresh.
Subscribe Today!

In Season

A Day To Remember
A Day To Remember

Memorial Day is a time to get together with friends and family for food, fun, and memories.

Potato Salad
Potato Salad

Nothing beats a big bowl of cool, creamy potato salad at your cookout.

Subscribe Today! Only $7.99
Subscribe Today! Only $7.99

Delicious recipes, party ideas, and cooking tips! Get a year of Allrecipes magazine for $7.99!

Related Videos

Caramel Apples

See how to make chewy, gooey caramel apples!

Sauteed Apples

See how to make this versatile recipe for Sauteed Apples.

Southern Fried Apples

This sweet treat is great for breakfast, dessert, or even as a side with meats.

Most Popular Blogs

Read our blog

Recently Viewed Recipes

You haven't looked at any recipes lately. Get clicking!
Quick Links: Recipe Box | Shopping List | More »
Argentina  |  Australia & New Zealand  |  Brazil  |  Canada  |  China  |  France  |  Germany  |  India  |  Italy  |  Japan  |  Korea  |  Mexico

Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Quebec  |  Russia  |  SE Asia  |  United Kingdom & Ireland  |  United States