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Which Apples Work Best for Pies, Snacks, and Savory Dishes?

An assortment of apples in bins

The humble apple never shines as brightly as it does in the fall. With plenty of tasty recipes that feature this fruit, from apple pie to caramel apples, this is the perfect time of year to stock up.

But not every type of apple is best for every preparation method. The flavor, texture, and sweetness all affect the final outcome of any recipe. Here are the best apples to buy if you’re planning on baking, snacking, or whipping up savory dishes.

Table of Contents

Best Apples for Baking: Granny Smith, Braeburn, Honeycrisp
Best Apples for Snacking: Honeycrisp, SweeTango, Golden Delicious
Best Apples for Savory Dishes: Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady

Best Apples for Baking: Granny Smith, Braeburn, Honeycrisp

A mother bakes with her child

When it comes to baking pies, you want to use an apple that is firm and will hold up to the cooking process without losing its flavor. Granny Smith apples are firm and a little tart, meaning they won’t make an overly sweet final product. These qualities make them the number one pick when it comes to making a classic apple pie.

However, they also work for other baked apple dishes, including apple crisps and cobblers.

Another great option for baking with apples is the Braeburn. This apple is a descendant of Granny Smiths, but slightly sweeter. It also holds a pronounced apple flavor after being cooked. It’s perfect for baked dishes that don’t have a lot of added sugar, like simple baked apples and cinnamon.

If you scoff at the phrase “overly sweet,” Honeycrisp apples are for you. These apples are among the sweetest available, making them a good choice if you’re someone who doesn’t think dessert can be too sweet. They have a wonderfully crisp texture as well, and while they can break down after cooking for a long time, they won’t get too mushy and offer a super sweet flavor after baking.

Best Apples for Snacking: Honeycrisp, SweeTango, Golden Delicious

A girl snacks on an apple

For snacking, you want an apple that is sweet, juicy, and, most importantly, crisp. Because of that criteria, the noble Honeycrisp gets two spots on this list.

Large, sweet, and delightfully crunchy, it’s hard to be a Honeycrisp when you want to snack on an apple. Pair these apple slices with something not as sweet, like peanut butter or yogurt, for the best balance of flavors.

Another great snacking apple is a SweeTango. This apple was bred by the University of Minnesota as a cross between a Honeycrisp and a Zestar, creating a honey-sweet fruit with a tangy burst of flavor.

It’s great for people who want something a little less sweet than a Honeycrisp apple or want a little more depth of flavor. SweeTango apples are great for caramel apples, or they can be paired with everything from cheese to almonds for a satisfying snack.

Finally, we have the Golden Delicious. These apples are firm and crisp, with a subtle honey flavor in each bite. They’re a little softer than Honeycrisp and SweeTango apples, so you’ll probably have the best experience if you eat this apple sliced or cubed. This makes it a great addition to charcuterie boards or as part of a bagged lunch.

Best Apples for Savory Dishes: Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady

Someone cuts an apple

When making savory dishes, you’ll want an apple that isn’t too sweet but still has plenty of that classic sweet apple flavor. That’s where the Gala comes in.

This apple has a mild flavor, making it a versatile ingredient for both sweet and savory dishes. Although it may get soft when being cooked for too long, it can be enjoyed cooked or raw in savory dishes. Gala apples work particularly well when making applesauce to pair with a pork dish.

For an apple that is even less sweet (but still tasty), try a Fuji. These apples have a crisp texture and a subtle sweetness that won’t overwhelm savory flavors. They’re excellent for roasting or grilling meats, and their sweetness also makes them a good choice for chutneys and sauces. Fuji apples also work well when sliced thin and added to salads.

Finally, we have the Pink Lady. As its name suggests, this apple has a beautiful pink hue when it’s ripe. It’s a little acidic and tangy, making it a good contrast for rich flavors. It’s also firm, so it can withstand cooking without turning to mush. This apple is perfect for dishes where you want a hint of sweetness, like roasted root vegetables or savory pork tenderloin. It also pairs very well with many types of cheeses.

No matter what you’re looking for in an apple, there’s sure to be a variety that will suit your needs. Whether you’re baking an incredible pie, tossing together a salad, or prepping slices for your kids, here are the apples that work best for various preparation methods.

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