The Best Apples for Baking

Texture is as important as flavor when it comes to choosing the types of apples to use for the pie. As my colleague Aaron Hutcherson says, “You don’t want a soft or mealy apple to start with, because it might break down too much and turn into something resembling the texture of baby food.” (For example: McIntosh apples are great for eating on the fly, but they don’t hold up well to baking.) And then there are others that are either completely lacking in the flavor department or just plain one-dimensional. (Red Delicious, we’re looking at you.)”

For texture, look to the crunchy apples listed above, as well as a few other Farmers Market finds, such as Cameo, Northern Spy, Stayman, and Winesap. Also consider flavor. Because apple pie fillings already tend to be sweet, many bakers prefer to rely on tart or sweet varieties. Tart Granny Smith is a must for this reason, and you should consider Goldrush, Paula Red, and Northern Spy for the same reasons. Jonagold, Ginger Gold and Empire are also pie-worthy tart apples. Another point in favor of tart or sweet apples is that it is easier to add a little more sugar to the filling if needed than to reduce the sweetness of sweeter apples.

For a complete and reliable choice, you won’t go wrong with Golden Delicious, which in my opinion is among the best grocery apples.

Another option is to mix and match several varieties in a pie, so you get a mixture of flavors and textures, as in Spicy apple pie.