You walk through the door and automatically the sweet smell of apple crisp and cinnamon waft up your nose. Aah, you are home! The leaves are on the ground, the earth is filled with bright, beautiful colors, and the air is crisp.
Now, this may sound like a scene from a movie, but it isn’t for most. It doesn’t matter where you live, you probably see these familiar sights and smell these familiar smells when the season turns to fall each year.
So how can you recreate this feeling in your home year after year? Well, apples are a key ingredient to it, of course. Apples say ‘fall' to me. We go picking apples each year, and we preserve and cook them each year too.
But which apples are best for baking and making all of the other delicious treats that come with autumn?
Best Apples for Baking
Well, here is a list of the best apples to use for all of your fall treats:
A Jonathan apple is a familiar red apple. It is a medium sized apple so not to be confused with the Red Delicious apple that is usually much larger.
But it does have a familiar sweet taste to it. Jonathan apples have a little tougher skin than other red apples as well.
Though, the sweet flavor makes it a great treat to be eaten as is. Yet, the tougher skin makes it a great apple for cooking.
So the next time you are craving some cooked apples, reach for a Jonathan and see if you like it best for your cooked apple recipe. They also make great applesauce as well.
Honeycrisp apples are one I often see in the grocery store. They are smaller and round in shape. They have a beautiful reddish, pink coloring to them as well.
However, their name kind of gives their flavor profile away. They are very crisp apples and also on the sweeter side as well.
Naturally, these would make a great apple to enjoy raw and as is, but I also like them for cooking as well. Because of their naturally sweet flavor, I think they make a great applesauce. You don’t have to add as much sugar to the mixture because they have natural sugars in them.
3. Granny Smith
Granny Smith apples are probably one of my favorite apples. They stand out because they are a bright green color.
But they are also very tart. I love sour things so this is a great flavor profile in my opinion. If you love tart or sour foods, then you’d probably enjoy a Granny Smith apple as well.
However, because of their tart flavor and more sturdy build, they are actually a great choice for baking. If you love apple pies, then you’ll probably fall in love with Granny Smith apples.
This apple is the official state apple of Ohio because that is where this variety was actually developed. It is a little less round than some apple types.
But it is distinguishable because of its variety of colors. It is a light greenish yellow color but also has streaks of reddish pink that run through it too.
However, this apple is a great one to use for baking or cooking down. Therefore, you could make some amazing pies, applesauce, or southern cooked apples with them.
Winesap is a very versatile apple. It has a sweet but slightly tart flavor profile so it is good for so many things.
But you’ll recognize this apple as what you view a ‘traditional’ apple to look like. It is a very old variety so it is where many of us get our mental pictures of apples from.
However, because of its great flavoring, it is great for baking, making juice, making homemade apple cider, and also for making applesauce as well.
6. Rome Beauty
This is another apple that was developed years ago in Ohio. This type of apple is a smaller red apple as well.
But it is also a very versatile apple as well. It is great for use with baking and making homemade apple cider too.
So if you love these items, it could become a fall favorite around your home.
Braeburn apples are pinkish apples that grow to be large in comparison to other apples. They are thought to be a cross between a Granny Smith apple and a Lady Hamilton apple.
Therefore, it produces a flavor profile that is both tart and sweet. Obviously, the tart from the Granny Smith and the sweet from the Lady Hamilton.
But with this flavor profile, it makes these apples great for making applesauce. It has enough natural sweetness to it that you wouldn’t have to add a lot of added sugar to the recipe.
8. Golden Delicious
Golden Delicious apples always make me smile because I think of my mom. Growing up those were always her favorite, and I have many memories of her sitting on our couch, eating them with salt.
So if you didn’t already know, Golden Delicious are medium sized round apples that are yellow colored. They are also pretty sweet.
Because of this natural sweetness, they make wonderful applesauce as well.
This apple looks a lot like a McIntosh in my opinion, which is understandable since it originated from that variety of apple.
They are also great to eat raw, to make juice, or to cook down and turn into a delicious breakfast dish or side dish for meals later in the day.
10. Northern Spy
This is a larger variety of an apple. It stands out because of its red and green coloring as well as its larger size.
However, don’t let the green color fool you when it comes to this apple. It is known for its sweet flavoring.
Therefore, this makes this apple variety one that is great for many different uses. It is good for drying, juicing, and cooking.
But this is also a great apple for storing for longer times because it is a late bloomer.
I will always remember Gala apples fondly. In kindergarten, I had probably one of the greatest teachers on the planet. I still remember her fondly to this day.
But I remember when we did a whole unit study on apples. We went to an apple farm, and her favorite apple was a Gala apple. Funny how you can remember some things about special people that impact our lives.
So when I see these apples in the store I usually smile because I still remember that field trip and my really nice teacher.
Anyway, these apples are great for making homemade cider. They are also a great choice for dehydration as well.
I love Fuji apples. They are another variety that brings a smile to my face simply because I like to say their name. I know, I’m a unique one.
Anyway, Fuji apples are a cross breed between Red Delicious and Ralls Janet. This has created a very crisp and sweet fruit.
But this fruit is also good for many things. They are great for longer storage times, for eating them raw as a snack, or for baking.
A McIntosh apple has a reddish colored flesh to it and a sweet flavor to it. It is one that you probably wouldn’t have too hard of a time getting a picky eater to indulge in because of the sweetness of it.
But this variety is also great for many different uses. It makes delicious applesauce as it is naturally sweet and also cooks down to a nice puree.
However, this variety also dries well too. It makes a great snack when eaten raw as well.
14. Newtown Pippin
This apple is unique in appearance. It has a greenish color, but it also has some brown coloring that runs through it as well.
Though this fruit is green, it does definitely have a tartness to it, but it also has some sweetness to it as well.
This is a great variety for cooking, baking, making applesauce out of, dehydrating, and also turning into cider too.
15. Rhode Island Greening
This is another green apple. It has a more tart flavor with it, which you probably guessed because of its green coloring.
However, it is a very versatile fruit. It is great for drying, baking, cooking, and turning into cider. Some say it makes some really delicious pies. You’ll have to try it to see if it is your new favorite apple variety for pies.
What Are You Looking for in Baking Apples?
All of the apples listed above can be used for multiple different dishes that are usually created in the fall when a lot of apples are ready for picking.
But what about baking apples? What are you looking for and how do you utilize them to make amazing pies?
Well, here are a few tips:
The first quality a baking apple need is firmness. Apples are baked in the oven at higher temperatures because the crust must be baked completely.
Also, the apples have to be tossed around in a little cinnamon and apple pie spice so they get the right flavor for the pie.
But if you aren’t working with a firmer apple, it will simply crumble under the pressure and heat. Then you’ll have mush.
So you need to work with an apple that is more firm.
2. Flavor Mixture
Next, you don’t want apples that are strictly tart or you will have to use a ton of sugar to tone the flavors down, or you’ll end up with a sour pie.
So you want to use either one apple type that is both sweet and tart, or you’ll have to find two different varieties of apples that can bring sweetness or tartness to the table.
However, keep in mind that they both need to be a firm variety.
Finally, you need variety in your pies. I know some people bake pies only using Granny Smith.
But your pies turn out so much more flavorful (in my opinion) when you mix a bunch of different varieties together.
So pick out 2 or 3 sweet apple varieties. Then pick out the same amount of tart varieties. Keep in mind they all need to be firm. That way, your pies will have a different flavor with each bite. I think it makes great tasting and flavorful pies.
Well, you now know what you should look for in a baking apple, and you have 15 different varieties of apples that are great for baking and creating other fall favorite dishes.
But I’d like to hear from you. What type of apple is your favorite to use when baking? What are some of your favorite fall treats?
We love hearing from you so please leave us your comments in the space provided below.