From taste to texture, the best apples for apple pie include Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, and Braeburn.
They’re sweetly tart and hold their shape beautifully. But of course, they’re not the only apples on the chopping board!
There are thousands of apple varieties worldwide, so finding the best apples for apple pie is tricky.
While some are great for pie, others will turn to mush in the pastry, leaving you with a soggy mess. #nothankyou
So the texture is a huge factor. But what about taste?
Well, you should go for something with a nice blend of sweet and tart, with a bit more emphasis on tart, because nine times out of ten, you’ll add sugar to the filling.
So, what’s sweet and tart and able to stay firm after a spin in the oven? Let’s find out!
Top 10 Apples for Apple Pie and Baking
1. Granny Smith Apples
Granny Smith apples are tart, light green apples with a firm texture. And they’re one of the most (if not THE most) popular choices for baking.
That’s because Granny Smith apples hold onto their firmness better than almost any other apple.
So when you cut into your pie, you’ll still see layers/chunks of apples instead of gloopy applesauce.
Yes, they will soften as they cook, but they don’t turn to mush. Unlike some other apples… *cough* Red Delicious *cough*
Unfortunately, the downside to Granny Smith is the flavor. Some might even call them sour.
So if you want to make sure your pie is balanced without adding a bunch of extra sugar, use a mix of Granny Smiths and something sweet, like Pink Lady.
PIE RATING (1-10): 5
2. Pink Lady
Pink Lady apples are bright pink, tart-sweet apples with a firm texture. They’re not used too often for pie but are one of my go-to’s.
Like Granny Smiths, Pink Ladies can handle some heat. And the texture holds up really well to baking, so there’s no mush here!
Plus, where Granny Smith apples lose points, Pink Ladies earn them: flavor.
This beautiful fruit is just as pretty inside, with a lightly sweet apple flavor and crisp texture. Better yet, they get sweeter as they bake.
That makes them a top choice in my book!
PIE RATING (1-10): 8
If you’re looking for the perfect apple to give your teacher, bring a Rome apple.
They’re the most apple-looking apples around with their bright red color and perfectly round shape.
And since their nickname is Baker’s Buddy, it’s safe to say the Rome apple is a top choice for pies, too.
At least, some people think so. For me, they’re kind of…meh.
Rome apples have a mild sweet-tart flavor that I actually think is pretty bland – though it vastly improves when they’re cooked.
As for the texture, they hope their shape okay, if you cut them into sizable chunks. But if you go for thin slices, they’ll soften a lot in the oven.
Do yourself a favor and stick with the two above for now, and use Rome apples for applesauce instead.
PIE RATING (1-10): 3
4. Northern Spy
Northern Spy apples are one of the best secrets kept in the apple world. They’re a lovely red and green apple with a sweet-tart flavor.
And they’re great for pies!
Okay, they’re not really a secret, but they are hard to come by. In fact, you probably won’t find them in your local grocery store… bummer!
But if you can find them, I definitely recommend grabbing as many as you can.
They keep their texture while baking and have a sweet, delicate apple flavor. They’re also a little tart, so you won’t be overwhelmed by sweetness.
PIE RATING (1-10): 7
5. Golden Delicious
The Golden Delicious apple is the gold standard of pie apples. And honestly, they’re just an excellent all-around apple.
They’re bright yellow with a crisp, sweet flavor. And that flavor only gets better after a spin in the oven.
The downside? They lose a few points for texture as they break down a little – but only a little!
The resulting pie will be softer than a Granny Smith pie. But it will be tastier than a Pink Lady pie (which is a good pie).
That’s pretty darn fantastic!
PIE RATING (1-10): 8
6. Jonathan or Jonagold Apples
These two apple varieties are related and have similar tastes and textures. That’s why I’ve lumped them together.
Jonagold apples are a cross between Jonathan apples (red and firm, with a tangy tart-sweet flavor) and Golden Delicious.
They both have a lovely yellow-red hue with a slightly sweet (though still tart) flavor, and they’ll hold up pretty well in the oven.
So both are solid pie apples if you can find them.
PIE RATING (1-10): 7
Braeburn apples are another fabulous option for pie.
They have a stripey, red-orange appearance and firm texture. Their flavor is a nice balance of sweet, tart, and floral.
Although Braeburns are fairly juicy, they don’t release a ton of liquid when they bake. That means they’ll soften nicely without turning gloopy.
And their lovely floral flavor makes them taste like pears when they bake, which is just a nice plus.
Braeburns are a fantastic choice if you want a more uniquely flavored pie.
PIE RATING (1-10): 7
Honeycrisps are the best apples for apple pie – bar none.
They’re a lovely reddish-pink color with a really crisp texture (hence the name) and a sweet, honeyed flavor that’s simply irresistible.
Honeycrisp apples hold their texture very well, too. Granted, not as well as Granny Smiths, but they’re miles ahead in the flavor department.
Perfect for all your baking needs, they’re best used in September when they’re in season.
Outside of then, you’ll find they’re pricey and hard to find.
So, when you feel that first chill of fall, head to the orchard and get a whole bushel!
(The high price is the only reason they’re not rated a 10.)
PIE RATING (1-10): 9
If you need a middle-of-the-pack apple, go for Gala.
They’re not the worst option, and they’re not your best. But they’ll do well in a pinch.
These reddish-orange apples have a mellow, sweet flavor and a firm but grainy texture.
When they bake, Gala apples keep both their texture and their flavor. So, your pie filling will taste sweet and mildly like an apple.
And it will have a decent, though grainy, texture.
The best part is that they’re available year-round in most places. So, you always have a satisfactory apple available when the pie cravings strike.
PIE RATING (1-10): 6
Cortland apples are solid apples for eating. They’re red and green and perfectly round. They’re also sweet, with just a hint of tartness.
Cortlands are known for their ability to fight oxidation. This means they don’t turn brown very quickly.
So appearance-wise, Cortland apples are very attractive.
And when it comes to texture, there is no questioning their toughness. So they’ll about as well as Granny Smiths.
These apples are delicious to eat raw, but they lose their flavor when baked.
PIE RATING (1-10): 4
Apple Recipes You’ll Love
Now you know what the best apples for apple pie (and for baking in general) are, it’s time to put them to the test!
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