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The Best Apples to Bake With

Learn everything you ever wanted to know about choosing the perfect apple, baking with apples, how to make apple pie and more!

By: Jamie Garcia, Editor, RecipeLion.com
The Best Apples to Bake With

With this handy guide to apples, you'll learn which are the best apples to bake with, the best apples for apple pie, and more! Enjoy this fruit to the fullest this fall with our easy tips and apple recipes below.

In this article, you will learn which are the best apples to bake with, what flavors and textures to expect in different types of apples, how to identify different apple varieties and how to pick the best apples for apple pie. Baking with apples is one of those seasonal traditions we look forward to every year, and we hope you do too. For your convenience, we've also added some delicious apple dessert recipes below. Enjoy the fruit of the season!

Choose the Very Best

We've come up with a few tips what will help you choose the best apples for baking. Read carefully, and your apple-baking experience should be just as pleasant as your apple-eating experience!

  1. It's All About Texture!
    Good baking apples have a balance of sweet and tart flavor, and will not fall apart or become mushy when thrown into the oven. They should hold their shape when baking, otherwise, you might as well be making applesauce. (Which is also delicious!)

  2. Taste Isn't Everything.
    Sometimes, the best apples for baking won't align with your palate for snacking. Their raw form might not taste great to you, but it will be perfect for baking. The best apples for baking tend to sweeten up as they cook, especially when combined with other ingredients.

  3. Apple Prep is Key.
    Always peel your apples beforehand. The skin becomes tough in the cooking process and it will not break down. Vegetable peelers are very efficient for this task (see our tutorial below!) To prevent browning, toss cut apple pieces with water and lemon juice. You can use overripe or bruised apples for sauce so that nothing goes to waste!

  4. Popular Baking Varieties: 
    - ​Crispin/Mutsu
    - ​Gala
    - ​Golden Delicious            
    - Honeycrisp              
    - ​Braeburn    
    - Jonagold
    - Granny Smith

Defining Apple Varieties

When you're set on making an apple dessert, nothing else will do. It's important, however, to know your apples because they don't all taste the same, nor do they cook the same. Below we'll identify 8 apple types that are great for making desserts in general, apples that are ideal for baking, and apples that work especially well for salads, sauces, ciders, and more!

A couple terms to define before we start for those who may not know, apple skin is the outer layer of the apple where you'll see the pigmentation of the apple. Apple flesh refers to that inner layer you see once you take a bite. The flesh is usually a light yellow color varying slightly by variety.

  1. Red Delicious: Crisp, sweet, juicy, deep red skin, yellow flesh.

    Great for: snacking, salads
    Not so great for: pies or baking 
    Seasonality: Red Delicious apples are harvested in September and October and are readily available to be enjoyed year-round.

  2. Honeycrisp: honey-sweet, a little tart, crisp, light red skin, very crisp, yellow flesh.

    Great for: snacking, salads, sauces, baking, and pies.
    Seasonality: September through February.

  3. Fuji: super sweet and juicy, extremely crisp, cream colored flesh, dull red skin.

    Great for: snacking, salads, and sauces.
    Seasonality: October through June.

    Pro Tip: Fuji apples are so sweet, if you make applesauce with them, you won't need to add any sugar.

  4. Granny Smith: firm and juicy with thick, bright green skin and bright white flesh. Tart and subtlely sweet.

    Great for: Cobblers, pies, cakes, muffins, and tarts. This is one of the best varieties of apples to use for baking!
    Seasonality: mid to late October

    Pro tip: The Granny Smith apple is an ideal complement to savory foods, like onions and salty foods like cheese. Try making a grilled cheese and apple sandwich!

  5. Pink Lady: reddish-pink blush colored fruit, very firm, tart and effervescent.

    Great for: Snacking, salads, baking, cooking.
    Seasonality: November through July.

  6. Gala: juicy, mildly sweet flavor, crisp, bright yellow-red skin, creamy yellow flesh.

    Great for: Snacking, salads, juicing, baking, freezing.
    Seasonality: Available year round.

    Pro tip: These are the best choice for kid's lunches!

  7. Jonagold: Honey sweet, with a hint of tartness, juicy, crisp, creamy yellow flesh.

    Great for: salads, sauces, cider, baking, and freezing.
    Seasonality: October through May.

    Fun Fact: Jonagolds are a cross between mellow Golden Delicious apples and tart Jonathan apples. They create a wonderful aroma when baked in apple pies!

    Pro Tip:  Jonagolds are great if you like fried apples. Just sauté them in a little butter and add a touch of cinnamon. No sugar necessary!

  8. Cortland: Sweet, with a hint of tartness, juicy, tender, snow-white flesh.

    Great for: Snacking, salads, sauces, pies, baking, and freezing.
    Seasonality: September through April.

    Pro Tip: Cortland apples are best for kabobs, fruit and cheese plates, and any kind of garnishes. Why? Because they don't turn brown quickly when cut.

    Fun Fact:  Cortlands are a cross between the McIntosh and Ben David Apple.

Other Apple Tips

  1. How to Make Apple Pie Filling - ​Whether it's apple-picking season, the holidays, or some other special occasion, there's never a bad time to learn how to make apple pie filling.

  2. How to Prepare an Apple - ​Whether you are making an apple pie, apple cobbler, or apple cider, you'll have to deal with pesky apple cores when you're preparing your apples for the recipe.

Easy Apple Desserts

  1. Brown Butter Apple Custard Pie by The Baker Chick

  2. Sweet and Simple Apple Pie by the RecipeLion Test Kitchen

  3. Easy Mini Apple Strudels By The Midnight Baker

  4. Mom's Easy Apple Coffee Cake by The Seasoned Mom

  5. Apple Pie French Toast by Small Town Woman

How to Use Up Apples Before They Go Bad

While it's always great to use the freshest ingredients when cooking and baking, sometimes you have some fruits or veggies left over that aren't still fresh, but also that haven't gone bad. Apples usually stay fresh, when refrigerated, for 1-2 months and 2-4 weeks on a shelf in your pantry. If you notice your apples are starting to soften, it's time to use them up. Here are a few ways you can use up apples that aren't strictly baking.

  1. If you have apples that are going soft, you can make applesauce, cook apple butter, boil them down in a cider, or blend them into a smoothie.

    Here are a few recipes you might enjoy:

    1. Slow Cooker Easy Applesauce
    2. Homemade Apple Butter
    3. Skinny Caramel Apple Cider
    4. Apple Crisp Smoothie
     

  2. Chop them up and throw them in your hot morning oatmeal.

  3. Dry them in an oven for some crispy apple chips. One of our favorite bloggers has a great apple chips recipe. Find it here!

  4. Puree them and use that puree in a soup! Try this Roasted Squash & Apple Soup for a starter recipe.

  5. Make baked apples! We love this recipe from the Kitchn.

What's your favorite thing about apples?

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