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Which Are the Best Apples for Cooking?

Updated on October 9, 2017

Here you'll find a list of the best apples for cooking, baking, and canning. If you've ever tried baking an apple that was only for fresh eating, you know why you need to buy different apples for baking. They turn out mushy. So many apples are available now in the stores that making a choice can be difficult. Hopefully, this list will help you.

If you are in a hurry, apples made in the microwave taste really good too. I prefer McIntosh because they are so juicy. Others prefer a different taste. Try several varieties and find out which your favorite is.

Most say that apples with a sweet/sour blend taste best for pies. Others believe that the more varieties in a pie, the better it will taste. You want to use one known for its firmness for pies.

McIntosh Apples
McIntosh Apples | Source

Apples Good For Cooking

When choosing a baking apple, you want one that will hold-up its shape when being cooked if they are used in pies, apple crisps, etc. Included here are many varieties that cook well. Some of these may be available in your area and others may not. Not all apples are listed here because over 100 varieties are available. I've listed the most commonly found.

A few of these are best for applesauce or cake baking, because they cook well, but don't hold their shape. Others are better for baking a pie because they are crisp and have some tartness. For a baked apple, you would something a little sweeter unless you plan on adding sugar.

Apple Varieties

  • Braeburn is known for making great applesauce. This is a tart apple that also works great in pies.
  • Cortland - These are good for pies and applesauce. They are also good to eat fresh.
  • Earligold - Earligold is good for fresh eating, making applesauce and pies.
  • Fuji - Fuji is especially good for baking and is a sweet juicy apple. It holds up well in pies. It is very firm and may take a little longer to bake. Many consider it one of the better varieties for sauce.
  • Gala - Gala are known as one of the best apples for sauce. They are also good raw, in pies, or as juice. They are sweet and juicy with firm flesh. They are used often for drying. Galas can be stored for only a couple of weeks, so use them quickly.
  • Granny Smith - I asked the cook of the best apple pie I ever tasted what apples she used. Her answer was Granny Smith. She said she always used these for pies because they tasted so good. This is a sweet/tart version and an older variety. Now many new varieties are said to taste just as good. It isn't considered good for sauce unless you add a lot of sugar, because of its tartness. Granny Smith is a green apple.
  • Golden Delicious - This is a good one for pies, sauce, and cooking. It should be refrigerated for storage. Golden Delicious is a yellow/gold apple.
  • Gravenstein - The Gravenstein holds up well in pies and makes good sauce. It is also good for eating fresh. This is a very old apple variety.
  • Honeycrisp - This is a newer variety that everyone is talking about as a good fresh-eating apple. It is also good for cooking, but is a bit watery, so is considered good for apple juice. It can also be used in pies and baking.
  • Johnagold - This one is a cross between a Johnathon and a Golden Delicious. It is good for applesauce, pies, baking, and fresh eating.
  • Johnathon - Sweet apple that is good for pies. It is a good all around version for both cooking and fresh eating. Some consider this one of the best apples for making sauce. This is one I've tried for sauce and it was good.
  • Jersey Mac - This version is good for both fresh eating and cooking.
  • Lodi - These are good for sauce. They ripen in mid-July, so may not be the best choice if you do a lot of other canning. They need to be stored in a refrigerator.
  • McIntosh - This is an all-around apple because it is good raw, tastes great in sauce, and tastes luscious baked or microwaved.
  • Orin - These make great pies and sauce. This new variety was developed in Japan and is becoming a favorite. It is said to have a slight pineapple taste and some say it taste more like a pear taste. It is tasty raw too.
  • Paula Red - This is a good all-around apple for all types of cooking and for fresh eating. It is related to the McIntosh. These were found in Kent County Michigan growing among McIntosh apples. This is just miles from where I live, so I have a special affection for this variety.
  • Pink Lady - Pink lady is a brand name rather than a type. Apples that don't meet their high quality standards for this type are called Cripps pink. These have a long storage life. They are great for pies.
  • Pippin - The apple is considered good for pies with a sweet/tart flavor. This is a light yellow/green apple with an orange/red blush.
  • Rome Beauty - This apples holds its shape well, so should make great pies. It isn't considered one of the best apples for fresh eating though.
  • Winesap - These are considered good for pies and applesauce. Winesap is a beautiful red variety that is also good for fresh eating. They are tart, juicy, and firm.

How Many Apples Do I Need?

When cooking, 1 pound of apples equals 2 large, 3 medium, or 4-5 small apples.

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    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      RTalloni, I'm happy to hear it was helpful. I like links to my hubs, so that would be fine. Thanks and have a great day.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      This is a helpful look at what the best cooking apples are--thanks! Linking to my newest hub if you have no objection--thanks again. :)

    • Barbara Kay profile image
      Author

      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      Rachel, I'm not sure that I've tried those, but will buy a bag the next time I see them. Thanks for visiting.

      Cat R, What wonderful memories. My dad rented a huge apple orchard one year. I guess he lost a lot of money on the deal, but we kids ate apples every night for the entire winter. I still have fond memories of that. Thanks for commenting.

    • Cat R profile image

      Cat R 5 years ago from North Carolina, U.S.

      When I was a child our 'backyard' in Germany was an old, abandoned orchard. We grew up on a diet of apples, pears, cherries and plumbs. The best apples (no idea what they were) came from a small tree in a corner. They were small and not exactly good looking, but they were the best of all. Always loved apples and wish they wouldn't be so expensive now!

      Very interesting information!

    • Rachel Richmond profile image

      Rachel Richmond 5 years ago from California

      I love Fuji apples! My husband and I discovered a store (before leaving VA) that carried the Fuji...! Yay! Needless to say we got our grub on. Thanks for the hub :)