All apples are the same, right? While many might agree with this assumption, heading into the kitchen with this misconception in mind will spell disaster for your baking and cooking.
Contrary to popular belief, not all apples are for baking and cooking. Some are better when consumed fresh, while others lend themselves to prolonged storage and cooking.
Which Apple Should I Use?
Selecting the right apples is crucial to creating the best dishes and desserts. However, with the amount of apple types on the market — trust us, there are plenty — you, like many other chefs and bakers, might experience paralysis-by-analysis.
Luckily, I am here to get to the core ( yuck yuck) of the issue and compare apples to apples. Below are the best apples to use for your dishes and desserts.
Apples for Baking and Cooking
When in doubt, go with Honeycrisp.Honeycrisp apples are one of the most versatile apples you’ll find at the grocers. These apples boast a crisp exterior that allows for prolonged storage — they can
stay fresh for up to a week when you leave them in the basket.
Durable on the outside and the inside, Honeycrisp apples have a unique crunch to
them that makes them perfect for eating raw. Honeycrisps have a unique honey-tart flavor that also makes them perfect for apple juice, applesauce, and apple tarts. If you’re about to bake up a storm using these apples, the best time to look for them is between September and October.
Ready to eat and ready for baking and cooking, Honeycrisp apples should be your go-to if you’re getting your bearings in the kitchen.
For added sweetness, you can’t go wrong with Jonagold. Jonagold apples owe their
sweetness to their high sugar content. These apples have resilient skins, though they
aren’t perfect for long-term storage. You’ll want to get baking and cooking pretty
much as soon as you get a bag of Jonagolds.
Jonagold apples have a tangy-sweet flavor that you won’t find in many other types of
apples. This makes them perfectly irresistible for making apple crumbles, or really
any dessert that you could pair with cream or ice cream. Get ready to fight over the
last piece of apple creme brulee tart if you used Jonagolds to make it.
Jonagold apples are ubiquitous in the fall, so plan your beautiful bakes between
September and October if you’re planning on baking and cooking up some sweet
Best Apples for Baking
Braeburn apples are some of the sweetest apples you’ll find. These delectable apples
begin blossoming in spring and are best picked during the fall — preferably in
October. The aroma and taste of Braeburn apples make them perfect for desserts,
particularly oven-baked ones.
Braeburn apples have resilient skins and flesh that lend them well to being baked in
the oven. Even after baking, the flesh retains integrity. The resilience of the apple
also makes it an excellent topping for cakes. Even with salads, slices of Braeburns
are a crunchy and tart-sweet addition.
Granny Smith Apples
If you’re making apple tarts, look no further than Granny Smith apples. Granny
Smith apples are one of many green apple varieties. They’re famous for their color
as well as their well-balanced taste.
In addition to these qualities, Granny Smith apples are also popular for their long
shelf life — up to six months, to be exact.
Granny Smith apples are the go-to choice for many bakers, chefs, and even cider
makers. The unique flavor of the flesh gives the bubbly character cider is famous for.
The balance between sour and sweet also makes Granny Smith apples perfect for
when you’re making desserts like Dorset Apple Cakes.
Granny Smith apples are also excellent on their own. Just grab some honey or
peanut butter to add a touch of sweetness to your apple slices.
Pink Lady Apples
Is apple bread on the menu? If so, a Pink Lady is the perfect apple for the job. Pink
Lady apples boast a unique tannic and sweet taste that makes them the perfect
addition to anything with cinnamon, hazelnut, and caramel. The flesh of the apple
holds up well even at high temperatures, remaining solid but still caramelizing
Pink Lady apples add body to any apple cake recipe due to their pulpy flesh. The
flavor of this apple variety pairs perfectly with hazelnut, cinnamon, and caramel.
Surprisingly, Pink Ladies can also add a complementary flavor to your dish or
dessert if you’re baking and cooking with coconut.
Ida Red Apples
Ida Red boasts a distinctly tangy flavor that borders on citrus. It’s usually red,
though some sub-varieties possess rosy pink skin. Due to its flavor, it’s perfect for
making applesauce. However, Ida Red shines the most when you add it to dishes
that require more character, like salads.
Ida Red is also one of the few varieties of apples that are resilient enough to
withstand freezing. If you’re looking for an apple you can store long-term for future
recipes, Ida Red is the perfect apple variety for you.
Macoun apples originated in New York as a hybrid between two other varieties of
apple. Macoun is famous for having an extremely sweet taste that makes it an apple
that you can easily eat on its own.
However, despite their sweet aroma and flavor, Macoun apples aren’t the best for
desserts like pies and cakes. The sweetness of the Macoun can be overpowering,
causing your desserts to be too sweet.
Nevertheless, it’s the perfect apple to slice and serve alongside a charcuterie board
or cheese plate. You can also incorporate some Macoun slices into a dish that needs
a bright pop of sweetness, like a salad.
Winesap apples have an intense flavor that makes them the go-to apples for cider
makers. Due to their strong flavor, Winesap apples are also sublime base ingredients
for fillings and custards.
If you use Winesap apples to make your apple sauce this year, you’ll be amazed by the unique and tangy flavor that the apples add.
Their tangy flavor also allows them to be a stand-in for other types of baker-chosen
fruits. Feel free to substitute figs or grapes with Winesap apples if you have any on
When you ask someone to name an apple dessert, most people will immediately
think of apple pie, and for good reason — it’s a delicious treat. While many apples
are perfectly fine for baking this All-American dessert, if you want to wow guests
and yourself, you need to try using Mutsu apples.
Unlike most apples used in apple pies, Mutsu apple flesh is incredibly tolerant to
high temperatures. As a result, the slices won’t disintegrate, even when you leave
them in the oven. The slices retain their shape and integrity with an added softness
fresh out of the oven.
Mutsu apples also give off a sweet aroma after you take them out of the oven. Pretty
much anything that you bake using Mutsu apples will be inviting and scrumptious.
Jonathan apples are pretty red apples that often get paired with Fuji apples or
Washington Red apples. The redness of the skin, at times, takes on an oxblood hue,
usually indicating a hint of sourness.
Jonathan apples have a flavor that can only be described as “spicy and tangy.” Given
their flavor, they’re perfect if you want more sourness in your applesauce. The
unique palate-waking flavor of Jonathan apples can also add some serious character
and flavor to your salads.
Jonathan apples become harvest-ready between September and October, so
schedule your hauls for this time of year if you want to try them out. They’re also
perfect for long-term storage, usually lasting anywhere from three to six months.
So, How’s About Them Apples?
When you’re baking and cooking anything apple-based, these 10 apple varieties are
sure to add flavor and character to your dish. When you incorporate these apples,
your creations will be the apple of someone’s eye — or, rather, their palate