The Perfect Apples for Apple Pie

Apple pie is a classic and delicious dessert. There are several different ways to make an apple pie.

Delicious apple

Common apple pie seasonings include autumnal cinnamon, caramel, or lemon. You can also use several different crusts, including a sweet pie crust, ground cookie crust, and a rich shortcrust.

No matter how you make your this classic American dish, the consistent ingredient will be the apples themselves. These fruits grow on trees and can be of several colors and flavors.

Some apples may be tart and delicious additions to salads, while others have a sweeter flavor.

While all apples have their moments of deliciousness, they do not all necessarily work in apple pie. Some apples are too mealy when they cook, and others do not have a good flavor for pies.

Choosing the right apple or mix of apples is key to nailing the perfect apple pie. Luckily, there are tons of apples to choose from.

Best Apples for Apple Pie 

Read on to learn about the best apples to use for apple pie.


The Braeburn has a yellow-orange color and crisp yet juicy flesh. It manages to be refreshing and sweet at the same time.

When baked, the structure of the apple holds up nicely and does not release too much liquid.

Depending on the timing of your Braeburn harvest, the flavor may be similar to a pear.

Balance is the name of the game when it comes to this apple.

This apple is a great option for apple pie because the fruit has a complex flavor that adds depth to your baked goods.

I love combining the Braeburn with other apples to create a unique pie. In the northern hemisphere, you can find this apple from October through April.


The Cortland apple started in the late 1800s. This apple is a result of the breeding of McIntosh. It is one of the most popular apples in North America.

The skin of this apple is a combination of green and red. The flavor is sweeter than its McIntosh parents.

However, it maintains some tartness. This apple’s texture is somewhat soft, like the McIntosh, but it still bakes nicely.

One thing I love about this apple is that it does not brown very quickly after being cut.

So, when I use it in a pie, I can cut it and then deal with the pastry rather than leaving the cutting for the last minute.

Granny Smith

The bright green Granny Smith is a beloved tart apple. The flesh is juicy and crisp, and it remains intact when baked.

As a result, this fruit is a great choice if you want a tart apple pie. If you want to enjoy the tartness of this apple but want more sweetness, consider mixing this apple with a sweeter variety in your pie.

The Granny Smith has a long history, originating in Australia in the mid-1800s. I love the Granny Smith for snacking and baking alike.

Besides pies, this versatile variety does well in cake, cobbler, crumble, and cider.


The Crispin apple, also known as Mutsu, is a cross between the Golden Delicious and Indo.

They originated from the Mutsu Province in Japan. This medium-sized apple has green skin with some small red spots.

Since the flesh is sweet yet crisp and aromatic, this apple is a great choice as a snack or in a pie.

It maintains its shape when cooked and provides plenty of flavors.

I love this apple when I want a pie on the sweeter side without it being too sweet.

Golden Delicious

It is easy to see why the Golden Delicious apple is one of the most popular varieties in the United States.

The apple emerged in the late 1800s as a chance seedling. This variety has several descendant cultivars.

The Golden Delicious gets its name from the golden color of its skin and the tasty flavor of its flesh. 

I love using this apple in a sweet apple pie, thanks to its sweet flesh. The only drawback to this apple is it is somewhat prone to bruising, shriveling, and other damage. So, be careful as you handle it.

Honey Crisp

The Honey Crisp is one of my favorite all-around apples.

It has a lovely balanced flavor for snacking and also bakes well in a pie. It is a cultivar developed in the later half of the 20th century.

This apple has red and green skin and flesh that does not brown quickly. This cultivar was bred for its flavor. So, it is no surprise that it tastes delicious.

The flavor is a good balance between sweetness and tartness. The flesh is firm, which makes it hold up nicely in a pie.


The Jonagold is a cross between the Jonathan apple and the Golden Delicious.

As a result, it has a combination of the GD’s crispness and Jonathan’s sweetness.

The skin is a combination of yellow and red. Since these apples are large, they are an ideal choice for growing.

I like using this apple in a pie because it has a complex and reliable flavor and texture. Several varieties need a partner in an apple pie. When I use this apple in an apple pie, it does well by itself.

Pink Lady

The Pink Lady, along with the Honey Crisp is one of my favorite apples when it comes to snacking and baking.

It is also known as Cripps Pink. This hybrid is a combination between the Golden Delicious and Lady Williams. Pink Lady inherits hardiness from both parents.

The skin is usually somewhat pink with green accents. The flesh has a balanced flavor that is both sweet and tart.

Plus, it offers a bit of effervescence in the taste. I love adding this apple to a pie because of its firm texture and acidity.


The Gala apple has its origins in 1930s New Zealand. It is a cultivar from Kidd’s Orange Red and the Golden Delicious.

By the early 21st century, this variety was the most popular apple in the United States.

While the apple usually grows from January to October, storage allows year-round availability.

You can recognize this apple by its red-orange skin. This apple has a crisp bite and a mild flavor.

If you live in an area with limited access to some of these varieties, the Gala should still be available.

Gala has several descendants, including Jazz, Envy, Delfloga, Sciros, and Sweetie.


The McIntosh apple has red and green skin and flesh that is a nice combination between shift and crisp.

This variety is another one I enjoy if I am looking for a tart option. The fruit is on the smaller side. A big benefit of this apple is that it cooks faster than other apples.

This variety originated in the early 1800s. By the 1900s, McIntosh was one of the most popular varieties of apple in North America.

As more apple varieties developed, including McIntosh’s offspring, the Cortland, this variety became overshadowed.

Northern Spy

Also known as King, the Northern Spy apple has a beautiful taste and charming appearance.

The skin is mostly green, with a few red touches. It is a nice balance of crisp and juicy.

This apple is more on the tart side. However, it is somewhat sweet.

I do not usually have this apple as a snack. However, it is ideal for a pie, thanks to its balanced flavor and crisp flesh.

This apple is fairly acidic compared to other varieties. So, it is a good idea to adjust your seasoning accordingly.

Red Delicious

Despite their similar names, the Red Delicious is not related to the Golden Delicious.

This apple is a chance seedling with Iowan origins in the mid-1800s. For 50 years, starting in 1968, the Red Delicious was the most produced apple in the US.

Living up to its name, Red Delicious is indeed red. The skin is a pure red, and the flavor is on the sweeter side.

The flavor can be somewhat mild, and the texture of the flesh is soft. Often when I make pies with Red Delicious apples, I enjoy pairing them with a tart and firm apple to get a more balanced texture.


A fun thing about the Winesap apple is that it is such an old variety that the exact origins are unknown.

These apples are a delicious balance between sweet and acidic. Winesaps also have an element of spice in their flavor.

They are also very versatile, making them a good choice for snacking and baking. Plus, people love making them into cider.

With the increased development of other apples, the Winesap lost some popularity. Even though this apple is less popular than it used to be, I love using it when I have the chance.

The crisp flesh and complex flavor lend themselves well to baked goods.

Since this apple is so old, I love using it in more classic recipes. Many traditional apple pie recipes forgo cinnamon and opt for a mix of sugar and cloves.

Best Apples for Apple Pie 

  1. Braeburn
  2. Cortland
  3. Granny Smith
  4. Crispin
  5. Golden Delicious
  6. Honey Crisp
  7. Jonagold
  8. Pink Lady
  9. Gala
  10. McIntosh
  11. Northern Spy
  12. Red Delicious
  13. Winesap

Final Thoughts

Apple pies may seem like a simple dessert. However, if you want the most delicious dessert, it is worth spending some time finding the right apples for your apple pie.

Whether you like a bit of tartness, pure sweetness, or a balance of both, many types of apples work well in a pie.

Do not be afraid to let your choice of apple direct the type of pie you make. For example, when using sweeter apples, create balance with the addition of an acid like lemon juice.

I love experimenting with different apples to see which bake well. However, my tastes may be different than yours. So, you should have some fun testing out different apples in your pies.

Check out other classic American desserts like the apple pie!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin is an editor and food writer who loves traveling and trying new foods and fun cocktails. Erin has been writing and editing professionally for 5 years since graduating from Temple University, and has been on the Restaurant Clicks team for 3 years. She has a long background working in the restaurant industry, and is an avid home chef and baker. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.