The Best Apples for Apple Pie, According to Baking Experts

TikTok may have boosted corn sales in grocery stores across the country for the past two months, but as summer melts into fall, it’s almost guaranteed that the produce section will be revamped featuring a tried-and-true fall favorite: apples.

Although apples are available in most grocery stores year-round, they are at their peak in season in the fall in North America.

On the surface, baking an apple pie seems simple. But choosing the wrong kind of apple can turn a potentially epic pie into an abyssal one, and trying to choose between the myriad apple varieties can leave you stuck before you even begin. Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Cortland, Northern Spy…

Does it make a difference to who you choose? Apple varieties differ greatly in taste and texture, which will affect the outcome of your pie.

If you’re not sure which ones to choose, consider this your baking cheat sheet. Top bakers known for their apple pies reveal which varieties they love and why. Plus, they share cooking tips that will take your dessert to a whole new level.

Don’t commit to just one variety of apple

Every expert baker we spoke to shared the same pro tip: use more than one type of apple.

“It’s not unusual for me to put six to eight varieties of apples in a pie – some for the sweetness, some for the tartness, some that hold their shape and some that don’t,” said Kate McDermott, l author of “Camppie. “Every bite is a taste adventure.”

A few of his favorites include Newtown Pippins (which are mildly sweet), Golden Russets (known for their slightly spicy taste) and Bramley’s Seedlings (which taste tangy and sour).

Ken Haedrich, creator of the blog “The Pie Academyprefers Northern Spy apples. “Spies are for pies, as the saying goes,” he said, adding that these apples are tart, tart, juicy and firm.

Haedrich is also a fan of Honeycrisp apples (which taste more sweet than tart) and Gala apples (which have a hint of vanilla). “An apple should have a bit of a bite to it,” Haedrich said. “The juiciness and complex flavor are a real plus.” One type of apple that he says is too one-dimensional for making pies is the Red Delicious.

While Red Delicious may be absent, the Granny Smiths are definitely on board. »The Essential Pie Book author Will Kline andWant a piece of me? » author Jenell Parsons both say good old Granny Smiths are their favorite for making pies.

“In my bakery, we use Granny Smith for the tartness it brings and it holds its shape well during baking for those distinct apple layers, and Gala apples because they are sweeter, which balances the tartness and breaks it down a bit adding a nice contrasting texture,” Parson said.

No matter what types of apples you decide to pick, Kline said to make sure they aren’t bruised already, because they’ll go soft faster — not ideal for making pies. “Also, a wrinkled skin means the apple is old and would be better used to make apple butter than a pie,” she said.

OK, so you have your apples. But the expert pastry chefs haven’t finished giving their advice yet. It’s important to pay close attention to your fruit throughout the pie-making process, from start to finish.

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Don’t stick to one variety for your pie – mix it up!

Spice up and bake your apple pie to perfection

Cinnamon and nutmeg are staples of apple pie spice, but Kline also likes to add cardamom, allspice, ginger, and cloves to the mix.

Pro tip: Haedrich advises using cinnamon lightly, as it’s a strong spice that can overpower the apples, which is what you want to show off the most.

Want to try something unexpected? Haedrich recommends adding a pear — a trick he learned from his father. “Pears have a beautiful floral personality that apples rarely have. They can enhance an apple pie like no other fruit, without being intrusive,” he said.

When slicing your apples, deciding whether to peel them is a personal decision. Kline always peels hers because she doesn’t like the texture of unpeeled apples in pies, but McDermott leaves them.

“Most skins get soft when cooked, and their tannins add flavor to the pie,” McDermott said, adding that dark skins add a nice rosy hue to the filling when cooked.

It’s also important to consider thickness when slicing your apples. Parsons recommends slicing them thinly (about an eighth of an inch), which she says helps them stack better and create nice layers. She said they would cook more evenly that way too.

Speaking of baking, one mistake experts say most people make is not letting their pie bake long enough. Kline’s recommendation is to bake it at 350℉ for an hour and a half.

“You have to wait until you see thick, bubbly juice rise around the breadcrumb topping or through a steam vent that you cut into the top dough,” Haedrich said. “If you take your pie out too soon, the apples will not be cooked enough and the juice will be runny because the thickener hasn’t had time to do its job.”

With all of these tips, you’re well on your way to making a pretty, stellar apple pie. But even if it doesn’t go exactly the way you want the first time around, Haedrich said pie-making is a journey, not a destination.

“You don’t become good overnight,” he said. “I often tell people that they can be 80% competent with several months of regular weekend pie baking. The other 20% is all about nuance and moving targets, like the relative juiciness of your fruit. So just learn to enjoy the process and accept your ugly pies. They will taste good.