Understanding Apple Varieties

Woman grocery shopping next to a row of apples

Apples are harvested in autumn, which is a great time to enjoy warm home-cooked meals and delicious baked goods. Although most people have their favorite, go-to apple when it comes to snacking, but certain apples are better for cooking and baking.

Based on tartness, color and texture, here is a simple list to help you when choosing among the dozens of apple varieties.

Best for Cooking: Granny Smith

With their firm, crunchy texture, Granny Smith apples pair well with savory dishes. Create mouth-watering meals by pairing apples with pork, chicken or sausage, and with hearty vegetables like potatoes, beets or cabbage. Crunchy, mild apples also pair well with soft, creamy cheese like Brie or goat cheese. Another apple that serves well in savory dishes are Braeburns, because of their spicy-sweet taste.

Best for Baking: Jonathan, Braeburn and Granny Smith 

These apples are sweet, thin-skinned, and crunchier than other varieties. Apples are naturally sweet, so when baking with them, you can add less sugar. Whether you are baking an apple pie, cobbler or creating your own applesauce, apples that are tart and tangy are the way to go. Need to add some texture without losing sweetness in your apple pie? Try using a combination of Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Braeburn apples.

Best for Snacking: Pink Lady, Fuji and McIntosh

Often smaller apples are better for snacking, since they are filling but not overwhelming.

Most Versatile: Gala 

They are crisp and mellow, with a slight natural sweetness. They retain their firmness in cooked dishes but are still great for snacking.

Peak Pick: Honeycrisp 

These apples are tangy and tart, yet mild and juicy. They are perfect for snacking, enjoying raw in fresh salads, or adding into any of your favorite desserts.