When you set out to make an apple pie, there are decisions to be made. First, you must decide if you'll use pre-made pie crust or make your own. Also, determining whether you want the top to be open-faced, have a lattice topping, or a crumble topping is also essential.
But arguably, the most crucial decision in the preparation process is choosing the right apples. Believe it or not, not every type is ideal for baking. This all comes down to flavor, texture, and water content. When the pie bakes in the oven for an extended time, some apples can't hold up to the heat and turn to mush. Other types of apples just don't taste as well after baking. Don't let this information get you down, though; over 100 apple varieties grow in the United States, according to US Apple.
This means that wherever you live, you can surely find a variety that works for your dessert. Look at this list to see what some of your options are so that your apple pie can have the perfect level of flavor and the most appealing texture possible! These varieties are in no specific order, as the ranking has much to do with your own personal preferences in taste! However, you can be confident their textures are right.
Braeburn apples are an incredible choice to use for apple pie! This is due to their consistency. Even when you cook them under high heat, they hold shape. So, when you bake them in a pie and slice it, you can still see the individual apple slices. Their juices also stay intact, meaning that the pie doesn't taste dry. Another great quality of the Braeburn apple is that it is sweet but not too saccharine. For people who want their pie to have a bit of tart undertones, this is a good option.
According to Minneopa Orchards, the Cortland breed of apple is actually a cross between the McIntosh and Ben Davis apples. Although McIntosh apples are popular, they are much too soft to bake with. However, the Cortland apple has a firmer consistency. In terms of flavor, it has the perfect balance of sweet and sour notes. This is an excellent option for when you are making multiple apple pies since these types of apples take longer to oxidize. This means while prepping your recipe and chopping lots of apples, they won't turn brown immediately.
The Fuji apple is a very popular variety that you can easily find in local and chain grocery stores. This variety is for folks who want their apple pie to be undeniably sweet! It doesn't have as tart of a taste as other apples on this list. Nevertheless, it has a crisp flesh, which makes it ideal for apple pies. If you want to make a low-sugar pie, this is a fantastic option since the natural sweetness shines through, leaving you room to decrease the sugar amounts in the recipe. It also has unique undertones that are somewhat reminiscent of citrus fruits or pears.
These apples grow large in size, have a honeyed yet puckery undertone, and a nice, crisp bite. With all of those attributes combined, it's no wonder why this is a top-tier variety for apple pies. According to Home for the Harvest, this breed has multiple parent trees, including but not limited to Honey Gold, Macoun, and Keepsake varieties. People typically enjoy eating these fresh since they are so good eaten raw, but they might get overlooked in the baking world. However, they don't turn mushy in pies and have a complex flavor, so they are wonderful if you mix them with another variety.
This apple breed has been around for over 200 years (via Home for the Harvest), and many bakers use it as a staple in their desserts. The interior has a yellow tint and a pleasant flavor with tangy and spicy notes. As you could probably guess, it pairs with baking spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice (which we all know are common ingredients in apple pie). This is the right choice if you prefer your desserts to be slightly sweet but not overpowering. These apples create a pie that's not too rich!
6. Granny Smith
You know we couldn't leave out the famous Granny Smith apple! This is the go-to baking apple for many people because it's enjoyably tart. It also has a juicy yet snappy texture. Stemilt World Famous Fruit reports that this variety is successful in baking because of its pH level. It is highly acidic, so it holds up when you cook or bake it rather than turning super watery or breaking down. When you search for apple pie recipes online, odds are that many recipes will suggest this type. The good news is that it's accessible as you can find it in nearly any supermarket.
This is another popular type. Believe it or not, this apple breed originated in New Zealand (via Home for the Harvest). They have a thin peel and a sweet flesh that’s white. Although these apples are extremely refreshing when you eat them raw, they also work in many desserts and even in savory dishes. When you use them in apple pie, you can pair them with a sourer variety for balance. Another reason why you might want to pair them with another type is because they get slightly soft when you bake them. Nevertheless, they are easy to find and get the job done!
This type of apple will give your pie an excellent structure. If you like to bake apple pies where the filling gels up and isn't saucy when you slice into it, these can help you! Their skin is a yellowish-green color, and they have naturally sweet and astringent properties. If you decide to buy them, they are also known as Crispin. Therefore, they might be labeled that way instead. Specialty Produce reports this breed was originally cultivated in Japan, where people commonly make desserts with them!
These apples have a deep red, striking appearance. On the inside, the flesh is cream-colored and has a very complex flavor profile. For instance, if you were to eat this apple raw, you would get hints of both fruitiness and spiciness combined. You can be confident that your pie won't turn soggy when you use these apples. Since they pair well with baking spices, they're a great match for a traditional apple pie. In fact, they would taste wonderful in a Dutch apple pie that has a cinnamon streusel topping!
Have you ever heard of this variety? Home for the Harvest states that this breed originated in New Zealand but became more popular over time for its juiciness and wonderful flavor. The parent trees of this variety are the Braeburn and the Royal Gala, so it makes sense why this is a good baking apple. On the outside, they blend red, orange, and yellow tones. They grow smaller than other types of apples on this list. So, rather than choosing a recipe that asks for a certain number of apples, measure your apples by volume or weight.
This variety has a snappy bite and a sweet-tart flavor. Specialty Produce describes these apples as having a “dense, crunchy nature that holds up to cooking.” Although it's usually not everyone's first choice for baking, it likely gets put on the back burner since there are much more popular varieties like Gala or Granny Smith, which you can purchase at nearly any store or farmer’s market. Although you can find them through distributors, they are only grown in a few select states.
12. Pink Lady
It's hard to forget an apple with such a unique name and appearance. Their skin is yellowish red, but they can sometimes look more like pink and green. If you prefer the more acidic apples, this is a fantastic choice for you (they do have a honeyed essence, too). When you bake them in a pie, they become tender but still have an al dente texture and remain juicy. Many people claim this as their favorite apple for both snacking and baking, so it's easy to understand why so many stores carry it.
Piñata apples are unique since they have tropical, floral notes that many other apples lack (via Eat Like No One Else). While they have an astringent flavor, their fruitiness shines in a dessert like apple pie. One way that you can improve the flavor of the pie is to use brown butter in the base to complement this apple. The first US state to grow this variety was Washington state, which most commonly cultivates them to this day. However, you can find them in certain stores since they distribute them.
Ultimately, Granny Smith is the most popular choice for apple pie because many people enjoy its sweet and sour balance. It is also available at most stores, which makes it easier because you don’t have to search for it. However, all of these apples each help you produce a scrumptious pie, so there’s no going wrong no matter which one you choose! You can even mix and match with multiple varieties in one pie.