There’s nothing better than baking a fresh apple pie on a lazy Sunday. Once you put the dessert in the oven, you’ll start smelling all the different spices come to life.
Although, you’ll have to start by gathering your ingredients first. As you get closer to the produce aisle, you’ll notice there are many apple varieties.
Because of that, it can be a little tricky to pick one type. So, you may wonder, what apples are best for apple pie?
If that’s your question, then we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll walk you through all the types of apples that’ll work in a pie.
We’ll also talk about a few fruit varieties that you should stay away from.
There are quite a few varieties of apples you can opt for when making a pie. Some are more suited than others to handle the heat and mix with spices.
So, before you head out to the store, there are a couple of factors you should be aware of.
When picking out apples for pies, you have to keep an eye on a few aspects.
First off, you should take the firmness of the fruit into account. That’s because when you bake apples, they’ll soften.
So, you want to make sure they don’t turn into mush in the heat. For that reason, it’s best to choose a firm apple that can hold its shape.
Other than that, the acidity of the fruit will play a major role. Typically, it’s a good idea to pick tart apples for pies.
These bring a welcomed sharpness to the dish. Plus, they’ll compliment the spices and sugar that you’ll add to the dessert.
Finally, consider the taste of the fruit. Some apples have complex flavor profiles, while others have more simple ones.
Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to move on to apple varieties. In this section, we’ll cover the best types of these fruits to use in your pies.
Honeycrisps are one of the most popular cooking apples in the world. That’s because they’re sweet with a strong apple aftertaste.
This makes them a great choice for snacking and juicing.
On top of that, they have a distinctive juicy crispness. That means they have a hard outer shell, with plenty of gooey goodness inside.
For that reason, these apples are the perfect choice for pies.
McIntoshes are sweet with a hint of tartness. Because of that, they’ll be able to infuse a lot of apple flavor into your dish.
Plus, the sourness of the fruit balances out the sweet nature of the dessert.
In addition, McIntoshes are on the firmer side. They can handle spending a little time in the oven.
Although, if you heat them for too long, these apples will turn into a paste.
Galas are almost a mix between Honeycrisp and McIntosh. They have tough skin with a mellow sweetness.
This makes them ideal for apple pies.
Yet, that’s not the only reason people prefer using Galas in desserts. These apples are available all year round.
So, you’ll be able to enjoy a homemade apple pie at any time.
Cortland apples are an amazing choice if you’re a beginner baker. That’s because the fruit doesn’t brown as fast as the other varieties on our list.
This means you’ll have more time to work through the recipe.
On top of that, Cortlands have a mild apple flavor that you can boost with spices. Plus, they’re not overly sweet, which means you can add sugar to taste.
If you’ve ever bitten into a pink lady apple, you know that it can be a bit bitter. This makes it less than ideal for eating, but excellent for baking.
The tannic notes give this fruit more dimension in its flavor profile. As pink ladies heat up, they’ll caramelize and lose some of this bitterness.
So, if you like tangy apple pies, this variety of apples is for you. On top of that, it has a distinctive rosy shade that looks stunning in a dessert.
Granny Smith apples are arguably the tartest variety of the fruit. They have an intense sourness to them that’s obvious from the first bite.
Besides that, they give off a bright aroma, that’s almost like that of citrus fruits. Because of that, they add a wonderful freshness to any apple pie.
To top it all off, Granny Smith apples are on the firmer side. So, they can spend a lot of time in the oven without softening too much.
Rome apples have a sturdy enough texture to withstand the heat of the oven. In addition, they’re easy to slice and core.
This will make baking your pie a simpler task.
Yet, Romes don’t have a pronounced apple flavor. Instead, all you get is a faint aftertaste.
For that reason, people don’t usually use this variety on its own. They’ll mix in another apple type, like Honeycrisp, to boost the flavor profile.
Jonagolds provide an impressive balance between tartness and sweetness. They’re a little sharp, to begin with, but then the flavor mellows out into a sweet aftertaste.
Because of that, they can result in apple pies with plenty of dimension.
The only drawback of these apples is that they’re difficult to find. You’ll have to head out to your local farmer’s market to buy some.
Northern Spies don’t look all that appetizing on the outside. Their surface is a little bumpy and they come in a faded red shade.
Although, you shouldn’t let their appearance put you off. In fact, Northern Spies work better than most other apple varieties in pies.
That’s because they can hold their shape even after spending a while in the oven.
Yet, like Jonagolds, these apples can be challenging to find.
Braeburns are close cousins of Granny Smith apples. For that reason, they also have a citrusy aroma.
This flavor concentrates and sweetens during the cooking process. That creates an almost spicy filling that’ll warm you up in no time.
Plus, since Braeburn are firm, they don’t turn mushy in the oven. This, in turn, will ensure that your crust comes out flaky and not soggy.
There are a couple of apple varieties that won’t hold up to the oven’s heat. So, in general, it’s best to avoid these types when baking.
In this section, we’ll jump into the apples you should stay away from.
When you heat up Fuji apples, they’ll begin to break down quickly. Within a few minutes, you’ll notice the once-solid fruit is almost a liquid.
This can be a major problem in a pie. If the filling is too runny, it’ll soak into the crust, which will soften it up.
Because of that, the filling may burn before you finish baking the dough.
Red Delicious faces a similar problem to Fuji. Neither apple can handle the heat for a long time.
Although, that’s not the only reason you should avoid using this fruit in your pie.
These apples have particularly sweet flesh. This excess sugar can interfere with the final result of a recipe.
So, using Red Delicious apples will lead to an overly sweet dessert.
The simple answer to this question is yes. You can use canned apples as a substitute for fresh produce when making a pie.
Although, you may have to tweak your recipe to ensure that it turns out right.
For starters, you have to remember that canned apples are softer than fresh ones. Because of that, they won’t be able to last as long in the oven.
So, you’ll need to decrease the cooking time.
Other than that, take a minute to consider the consistency of the canned apples. If they’re too runny, then you may need to add cornstarch to stiffen it up.
Finally, pay attention to the sugar content. Most canned apples come pre-sweetened.
For that reason, you may have to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe.
Dutch apple pies are incredibly similar to the American variety. The main difference is in the topper.
With an American apple pie, there’s a layer of crust on top of the dessert. Yet, the Dutch iteration uses a crumble instead.
Other than that, most of the ingredients and cooking processes are alike. So, it should stand to reason that you can use the same apples for both desserts.
That means, when making a Dutch apple pie, you can use:
- Granny Smith
The answer to this question will depend on the size of the pie you’re planning to make.
To fill a nine-inch pie dish, you’ll need about 10 medium-sized apples. These should be enough for the filling and a few slices of garnish on top.
As a general rule, it’s best to have more apples than you need. That way, you ensure you never have to serve a half-empty pie.
If you’re wondering what apples are best for apple pie, there are a few factors to consider. First off, you have to take the texture of the fruit into account.
Other than that, the flavor and acidity of the apple will play a major role.
The best apples for a pie include Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, and Rome. These are readily available and work perfectly every time.
Other than that, you can use Jonagold or Northern Spy.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to stay away from Fuji and Red Delicious apples. These won’t hold up under the heat of the oven.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.