If pie personified a season, it would be fall. The sweet, crisp, and tart apples are like the changing color of the leaves. The aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg are like entering the warmth of your home after coming in from the brisk outdoor temps. It's nostalgic, comfortable, and familiar.
Now that I've written my poem, something that can make a slice of apple pie feel like a wet, cold, and rainy day is when you use the wrong type of apple. This baking woe can turn the texture from nicely al dente into a mushy mess. When a lackluster apple is used, the flavor left is bland and boring.
One of the first things to remember: the apples are being baked, so the variety you go with has to be sturdy enough to stand up to the oven. Using a mixture of tart and sweet apples is key to getting that complex apple pie flavor. If you're able to, try using local apples for the freshest pie. (Oh, and while you're there, go ahead and ask the orchard staff for their tips!)
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How many apples should I pick up if I'm making one pie?
Recipes differ, with some calling for a specific number of apples, and others using pounds and even cups. It also depends on the size of the pie you want to bake.
Here's a good rule we go by: If a recipe calls for 3 cups of apples, get 1 pound. That's about 4 small apples, 3 medium, or 2 large.
Here's a list of the best apples for baking apple pie. All of these picks are great for baking and won't turn to mush in the oven. Don't forget to mix and match the sweet and tart picks for the best flavor.
Tart apples to use in apple pie
Why we love a good ol' granny: It's easy to find year round, has a strong tart flavor, and when combined with any sweet apple, makes the perfect, iconic, windowsill-cooling apple pie.
If you want something less tart than the intense acidity a Granny Smith can bring, turn to these. It will still give you a little kick without being too overpowering.
While it's true the Braeburn apples come in a variety of sweet and tart, these tend to lean a little more tart. If you only want to pick up one apple that'll give you the best of both worlds, this is it.
The crisp white flesh of this variety makes it great for baking, and the mellow tartness is exactly what you need in a pie.
This apple definitely delivers the tartness, with the added bonus of staying pretty crunchy after baking, making it ideal for pie.
Sweet apples to use in apple pie
If there was a candy of the apple variety, this would be it. Fuji apples are so sweet, we recommend balancing them with the much-tarter Granny Smith.
Have you ever drizzled honey on an apple? Well, a Golden Delicious has that flavor already built in.
This beauty has hints of vanilla and a slightly floral aroma. Who doesn’t want that in pie?
Similar to the Golden Delicious, the Crispin or Mutsu apple, as it's also called, has a sweet-tart honey-ish flavor.