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15 Types Of Apples And How To Cook With Them

Whether you're baking or snacking, we got you.

types of apples

"For just $45, you can bring home $10 worth of apples," Kate McKinnon said in a Saturday Night Live sketch poking fun at apple picking.

"Select from our varieties like huge soft," Aidy Bryant continued.

"Tiny hard," McKinnon said.



"And apple," they both said together.

That's a pretty accurate representation of what apple picking can feel like. You come home with many different types of apples and have no idea what to do with them. Should you make apple pie? Apple sauce? Apple cider? Apple crisp? And what types of apples work best for each recipe?

Worry no more. With the help of two apple experts, we put together this guide to all the common apple varieties. We got in touch with Arnold Wilkerson, who founded the Little Pie Company back in 1985. The New York City bakery is known for their Sour Cream Apple Walnut Pie, which is served all year long. "We had to source apples that would be available in New York year-round," Wilkerson said. "We were also looking for a nice firm texture and consistency with just the right amount of ripe apple flavor and bright acidity." They landed on Golden Delicious, a sweeter variety, and Granny Smith, a more tart variety. Mixing tart and sweet apples is good practice when baking because it gives your pie a more complex flavor. Those two types also have a firm texture that won't turn to mush in the oven.

We also reached out to James Rich, author of the cookbook Apple: Recipes from the Orchard. He is a big proponent of mixing apples when cooking. "The trick is to get the right mixture of varieties that will reduce to a sauce-like consistency and those that will keep their shape and texture for that all-important bite," he said. "For baking, you want something that will keep its shape. [For applesauce], the best varieties are those that break down and form a creamy, sweet sauce. My personal favorites for snacking on are varieties that are super crisp and tart."

Down below, you'll learn about 15 common types of apples and which applications they work best for—baking, snacking, sauce, cider, and more.

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In terms of sweet versus tart, the Braeburn falls right in the middle. It has lots of good flavor that can make a rich cider, a good snacking apple, or a wonderful pie.

Use for baking, cider, and snacking.

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The Cortland apple is a cross between a McIntosh and a Ben Davis apple, with the look of an extra-large McIntosh. The flesh is crisp and the flavor is tart and mellow. Rich uses Cortland and Granny Smith for spiced apple cake.

Use for baking, sauces, and snacking.

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This yellow-green apple is also called a Mutsu. It has hints of honey and falls in the middle on the sweet-tart axis. That means it's great to use on its own when making an apple pie or streusel.

Use for baking, sauces, and snacking.

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If texture is your concern when baking apples, definitely include Empire in the mix. It can withstand high oven temperatures without getting mushy and adds a nice tart bite.

Use for baking, sauces, cider, and snacking.

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Envy apples are for people with a sweet tooth. Its candy-like flavor plays well with cheese or in salads. Envies have the added bonus of oxidizing slower than most apples, so the flesh won't turn brown as fast.

Use for baking, sauces, and snacking.

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This is another candy-like apple variety. It's great for baking, but balance it out with a tart apple like a Granny Smith. If you're into a sugary apple, it also tastes great as a snack. "It's my favorite eating apple," Wilkerson said.

Use for baking, sauces, cider, and snacking.

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You can call Gala the fanciest apples of them all. Why? Its floral hints of vanilla give it a complex flavor. It's also the most-grown apple in the U.S., so you'll have no trouble finding it at the grocery store.

Use for baking, sauces, and snacking.

Golden Delicious
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A Golden Delicious (which is the best name for an apple) is a sweet apple with honey flavor. The semi-firm texture lets its store well and makes it a versatile option for many uses.

Use for baking, sauces, cider, and snacking.

Granny Smith
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Like Wilkerson mentioned, Granny Smith is often used in pies for its sour, almost acidic taste. It also has a firm texture that can stand up to high oven temperatures, making them perfect for any baking needs. And if you like the extra tartness, this is a great apple to eat as a snack (pair it with a caramel sauce for the best sour-sweet combo).

Use for baking, sauces, cider, and snacking.

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This red- and green-speckled apple is super sweet, juicy, and large—great for snacking or slicing.

Use for baking, sauces, cider, and snacking.

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The Jazz apple hails from New Zealand and has a tangy yet sweet flavor. Similar to an Envy apple, they can really jazz up a salad and last for a long time on the counter.

Use for baking and snacking.

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Jonathan apples offer a more subtle tartness—not as much as a Granny Smith, but still intense enough to work well with a sweeter variety for a pie, cider, or any baking need.

Use for baking, sauces, cider, and snacking.

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The McIntosh apple is tart and versatile. Use it in just about any apple application, from salads to sauces to pies. Just don't store them for too long, as they will start to get mushy.

Use for baking, sauces, and snacking.

Pink Lady
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A Pink Lady apple has a gorgeous pink and yellow hue that may tempt you to use them for decor. They are slow to brown, so they make for great slices and can hold their texture when baked.

Use for baking and snacking.

Red Delicious
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This is a dark ruby-colored apple with white flecks. It's slightly sweeter than it is tart, without much complex flavor. They're best when eaten right off the tree (they can be a little dry at the grocery store).

Use for snacking.

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