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10 Best Apples for Apple Pie

Choosing the right apples for your baking needs can be a daunting task — there are over 7,500 varieties! And when it comes to apple pie, not all apples are equal. Thankfully, Amy TraversoYankee Magazine senior food editor and author of the award-winning The Apple Lover’s Cookbook is here to help. Here are her 10 expert picks for the best apples for apple pie.

Best Apple Orchards in New England

A collection of apple varieties from Rocky Brook Orchard in Middletown, Rhode Island, one of our picks for the Best Apple Orchards in New England!

Courtesy of Rocky Brook Orchard

What Are the Best Apples for Apple Pie?

To avoid a mushy apple pie, you’ll need a mix of what Amy calls firm-tart and firm-sweet apple varieties. All baking apples should be firm so the fruit will hold its shape throughout the cooking process, and a combination of tart and sweet varieties will give your apple pie the best flavor. Choose an equal amount from each of the following lists and you’ll be making the very best apple pie in no time. These ten firm apple varieties are our favorite apples for apple pie. Keep scrolling for a longer description of each variety.

  • Granny Smith

  • Esopus Spitzenburg

  • Northern Spy

  • Idared

  • Pink Pearl

  • Ginger Gold

  • Golden Delicious

  • Jazz

  • Jonagold

  • Pink Lady

Best Apples For Apple Pie | A Combination of Tart and Sweet Firm Apples

Best Tart Apples

Granny Smith: The classic “green apple” is firm, slightly sour, and definitely one of the best apples for apple pie. Since it’s a lunchbox staple, it’s available at supermarkets everywhere.

Esopus Spitzenburg: This heirloom variety has flavors bright enough to make for an excellent raw snack, or to be pressed into ciders. Pick it up at farmers’ markets in the fall season and use it to make the perfect pie filling.

Northern Spy: The Northern Spy is renowned as possibly the best apple variety for pie-making. Lucky for New Englanders, it grows best in cool climates, too. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find it at your local supermarket — many farmers’ markets are stocked full of them.

Idared: As the name suggests, this tart and spicy apple is bright red in color when fully ripe. It’s most popular at farmers’ markets and pick-your-own orchards, but not so much in supermarkets.

Pink Pearl: This variety’s signature pink flesh tastes “like lemon custard topped with raspberries,” according to Amy Traverso. It can be found at some orchards in the Massachusetts, New York, and Indiana areas, or ordered online at

Best Sweet Apples

Ginger Gold: This delicately sweet and crisp variety is not only one of the best apples for apple pie, it’s also great in muffins and cakes. You can find it in most supermarkets near the fall season.

Golden Delicious: This mild variety tastes best when paired with bolder flavors. It’s one of the most popular in the U.S. and can be found in just about any supermarket.

Jazz: The exceptional taste of the Jazz apple is not only great for pies, but makes for a delicious raw snack, too. Jazz apples come from New Zealand and can be found in supermarkets year-round.

Jonagold: As a cross between the Jonathan and Golden Delicious varieties, the Jonagold has enough sweet and tart flavor to fill a pie even on its own. It’s widely available at both farmers’ markets and supermarkets.

Pink Lady: With just the right combination of sweet and sour undertones, the Pink Lady is a great choice for both snacking and baking. It’s widely available in supermarkets any time of the year, making it an accessible favorite.

deep dish apple pie slice

Blue-Ribbon Deep-Dish Apple Pie made with the best apples for apple pie (get the recipe below).

Aimee Seavey

What, No Macs?!?!

McIntosh apples are a popular pick for many bakers, but our advice is to not use Macs in apple pie. Here’s Amy with the reason why, but also how to make McIntosh apples work if you’ve just gotta have ’em:

My grandmother made delicious pies with McIntosh apples, but they were essentially applesauce pies. Macs don’t hold up well to heat, cooking down to sauce long before the pastry is done cooking. If you love the flavor of Macs but still want some body to your filling, combine them with a firmer variety such as Northern Spy, Jonagold, Pink Lady, or Honeycrisp. You’ll get nice, tender apple slices suspended in a delicious sauce.

Which varieties do you think are the best apples for apple pie? Let us know!

This post was first published in 2016 and has been updated. 

Learn More:
Blue-Ribbon Deep-Dish Apple Pie Recipe
Old-Fashioned Apple Pandowdy Recipe
What Should I Do With All These Apples? | Ask the Expert
The Best Apple Orchards in New England

The post 10 Best Apples for Apple Pie appeared first on New England Today.

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