The Best Apples for Apple Pies

Kitchen Knowledge Lifestyle | Published September 7, 2022 by Mimi Council

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Pie season is here people! And if you're anything like me, then you are excited as all hell to start rolling out some dough. And you are probably starting to see all the different varieties of apples showing up at the grocery store lately. So that may have you wondering, what are the best apples for apple pies?

There are so many varieties of apples! There is something like 7,500 varieties of apples in the world — and 2,500 of them are grown in the US! So depending on where you live, you may have varieties of apples that other people don't. And that's great, because that means you're eating locally grown apples!

brown sugar honey apple pie

What are the best apples for apple pies?

Apples all have the same texture and water content. So, you can use any kind of apples in apple pie. And, swapping out one kind of apple for another is not going to make or break your recipe. Don't stress if your recipe calls for Fuji and all you can muster up is Gala or Pink Lady. Don't not make the recipe because of this small detail!

I will always say that you need to like the ingredients that go into recipes. Because if you're not a fan of the ingredient, then chances are you'll feel lukewarm about the finished product.

So, if you don't like Granny Smith apples, then don't use them — use another kind. If you love Red Delicious, yet the recipe calls for Fuji (and you're not a big fan of Fuji), then go with Red Delicious! Apples can have so many different flavors to them, and those flavors can and do help mold the finished product. However, don't be afraid to switch it up if you want to!

So, the best apples for apple pies are apples that you like. While I make a lot of my apple pies with sweeter varieties such as Fuji, Gala, and Pink Lady, that's because those are some of my favorite apples.

So, here is a list of my favorite apple varieties for apple pies. This list may be biased, because, this is what I think are the best apples for apple pies. So, use this list to try different apples you maybe haven't tried before and branch out the next time you bake an apple pie. If you're looking for some apple pie inspiration, make sure to check my roundup of The Best Homemade Apple Pie Recipes.

bowl of apples

Fuji Apples

Fuji Apples are one of my all time favorite apples. They are sweet, slightly tart, and have a great crisp texture. I can pretty much get good Fuji Apples year round living up here in the mountains, so that is also a huge plus for me. And it's partially why I use them a lot!

The Fuji Apple originated in Japan, and it's actually a cross between two American Apples – Red Delicious and Virginia Ralls Janet (which I've never even heard of!). This apple flavor lends well to apple pies as these apples are crisp and have a pure apple flavor that lends well to spices and other fruits as well!

Gala Apples

Gala Apples originated in New Zealand and have a very similar flavor profile to Fuji. So if you can't find or the other you can swap them easily. Gala Apples are a little bit softer in texture than a Fuji Apple. But, if you are making apple pie, the apples get cooked and baked down, and they are soft anyways. So, that is one of the reasons why I think Gala Apples are a great option for apple pie.

Honeycrisp Apples

I love Honeycrisp Apples. They have a superior flavor to so many apples! It has more cells than most apples, therefore releasing more juice in the mouth – which may explain why you think these apples have a superior flavor, like me! And this is an apple variety that originated in the US, in Minnesota.

While these are amazing apples to eat, their flavor also lends well to apple pies. Even though they get cooked and baked down, their flavor shines through in apple pie. This type of apple lends well to a lower sugar content pie, because they are so sweet as they are!

Cripps Pink / Pink Lady Apples

So, Cripps Pink Apples are also known as Pink Lady Apples. This variety hails from Australia, and was created by a man with the last name Cripps. He crossed a Lady Williams (never heard of that one!) with a Golden Delicious.

This combination created one of the best apples on the planet (as far as I'm concerned!). Pink Lady Apples are crisp, sweet, and tart all at once. And this makes them an amazing apple to bake apple pies with!

brown sugar honey apple pie

Braeburn Apples

Braeburn Apples originated in New Zealand, but you can find them in the states now. These apples are similar looking to Fuji, with a similar color or reddish/orange with yellow or green undertones. So, they can easily be mistaken.

The Braeburn Apple flavor is sweet and tart. This is one of the characteristics that makes the best apples for apple pies, in my opinion. I love the sweet and tart combination for apple pie. A bonus of the Braeburn Apples is they actually release less juices when baked, so ideal if you do not want to cook your apple pie filling before baking!

Empire Apples

The Empire Apple was born at Cornell University in New York. So, these apples have a reputation on the east coast. The Empire Apple is a cross between the Red Delicious and McIntosh Red Apple. And, it has become one of the most fifteen most popular apples in the United States! This apple is juicy and sweet, making it a great apple to use in apple pies.

McIntosh Apples 

McIntosh Apples are the national apple of Canada, and that is where it originated. It has since become popular in the United States as well. This apple is usually a dark red color, but can have hints of green to it. This apple has a sweet flavor, and some may even say it has berry or wine undertones. This makes it delicious to use in apple pie as it may lend a slightly more bougji flavor profile!

bowl of apples

Golden Delicious Apples 

One of my favorite apples to eat is the Golden Delicious Apple. This yellow apple has a soft inside and a very sweet and light flavor. The Golden Delicious Apple originated in the US, in West Virginia. And it was made the national state fruit. Because you bake apple pie, and the apples are cooked and baked down, it doesn't matter if you use a softer apple versus a more crisp apple.

Granny Smith Apples

Granny Smith Apples are the quintessential apple of apple pie – or so I've always thought. Granny Smith Apples were born in Australia, but can now be found in almost every grocery store in the US. Even though, I have never really used them in many apple pies! This is because this is not my favorite apple. Granny Smith Apples are crisp and tart. Because of their tartness, they lend well to combining them with sugar! This is what makes them an amazing apple to use in apple pies.

Red Delicious Apples

Red Delicious Apples are one of the darkest varieties of apple out there. Their dark red skin houses a flesh that isn't as crispy as most apples, but isn't soft either. The Red Delicious Apple was born in Iowa, and has become a staple ever since it made its debut. The Red Delicious Apple flavor is very mild, one of the most mild apples out there! This can lend well to apple pie, as it can let spices and sweeteners shine.

All apple history and origins came from Wikipedia.

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One response to “The Best Apples for Apple Pies”

  1. William Shoemaker says:

    Many of the older varieties of apples were selected as a varieties for their baking qualities. One whose flavor is unmatched by modern varieties is Jonathon. No, it’s not Northern Spy. It tastes better than Northern Spy. It also has firm flesh that stays white through the baking process. Can’t be beat!

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