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5 Types of Apples That Are Best for Baking Pies

Updated September 19, 2023
Baking a delicious apple pie begins with choosing from a variety of apples. Our top five picks have what it takes for the perfect bake!

The first step in baking a delicious apple pie is choosing the right type of apple — and trust us, not all apples are created equal! But with thousands of varieties out there, it can be hard to find just the right one. That’s where we come in! 

You want to look for apple varieties that offer the right balance of sweet and tart flavors and a solid texture that will hold up under the heat of the oven. To get you started, we’ve pulled together a list of five different types of apples we think are best suited for successful pie-making, plus a quick downloadable guide you can use when picking from the orchard, farmer’s market or grocery aisle, so you can bake to your heart’s content.


5 Best Apples for Pie Baking

1. Granny Smith

You know Granny Smith by their trademark bright, green skin, which often has a slight blush and a glossy finish. With a refreshing and puckering bite, Granny Smiths are known for their tartness and sharp, citrusy flavor that nicely contrasts the sweetness of pie filling. Their solid and crisp yet juicy texture holds up when cooked, making them maybe the most popular choice for pies, but they also work well in apple crisp and other baked goods.

2. Braeburn

Braeburns are bright red to orange-red with green or yellow streaks and may have a slightly rough or matte finish. They’re known for a balanced, slightly complex flavor profile — sweet and slightly tart balanced by a subtle spiciness, which adds depth to both sweet and savory dishes. Firm and crisp in texture, Braeburns are pie-perfect because they can soften in the oven yet maintain their structure.

3. Honeycrisp

Honeycrisps are easily recognizable by their bright red to pinkish-orange skin, often with a glossy finish. Well-loved for their sweet, honeyed flavor, they have a well-balanced, clean and fresh taste, making them an excellent choice for a flavorful pie. Their soft crunch definitely holds up to pie baking but they’re also great for apple crisp, tarts and many other dishes.

4. Jonagold

With a trademark combo of red blush and a yellow or greenish-yellow background, Jonagolds have a vibrant appearance. Pleasantly sweet and slightly tart with tangy undertones, they offer a well-balanced flavor profile, which is great for baking. Crispy yet juicy, fine-textured and refreshing, Jonagolds won’t turn to mush in the oven, and their slightly tangy undertones can add depth to your pies. 

5. Haralson

Medium-sized with a classic apple shape, Haralsons are typically bright red or  golden, red-orange in color with greenish-yellow highlights. The defining flavor of Haralson apples is tart and tangy, balanced out by a slight hint of sweetness. Prized for a firm and crunchy texture, Haralsons hold up well under bake times and are an excellent choice for pies, apple crisps and more.

Let’s Get Baking! 

Now that you know your apples, it’s time for pie-making! While these five apples are better suited for baking, keep in mind that other varieties can be wonderful in other recipes, like applesauce or apple butter. And don’t shy away from experimenting, mixing and matching different types or trying apples that are popular in your region. Get started with some of our favorite apple dessert recipes below.