10 Best Apples for Apple Pie

By Bethany Bourgault

Apr 24 2017


How to pick the best apples for apple pie.

Photo Credit : Kevin Armstrong
Choosing the right apples for your baking needs can be a daunting task — after all, there are over 7,500 varieties! And when it comes to apple pie, not all apples are equal. Thankfully, Amy TraversoYankeeMagazine senior food editor and author of the award-winning The Apple Lover’s Cookbook is here to help. Here are her top ten picks for the best apples to use in apple pies.
10 Best Apples for Apple Pie
10 Best Apples for Apple Pie
Photo Credit : Kevin Armstrong
Note: Be sure to use a mix of what Amy calls firm-tart and firm-sweet varieties. The diversity adds a depth of flavor, while the firmness of each type helps the apples hold their shape through the cooking process. You wouldn’t want your pie to be too mushy! Choose one from each of the following lists and you’ll be an expert pie-maker in no time.


Firm-Tart Varieties

Granny Smith

The classic “green apple” is firm, slightly sour, and perfect for pie-making. 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.


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 mthoodfruit.com.
Best Apples for Apple Pie
What are the best apples for apple pie? A mix of firm-tart and firm-sweet varieties!
Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker

Firm-Sweet Varieties

Ginger Gold

This delicately sweet and crisp variety works great not only in pies, but in muffins and cakes, too. You can find it in most supermarkets during fall.

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.


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.


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 ever-accessible favorite.

What, No Macs?

McIntosh apples are a popular pick for many bakers, but we don’t recommend them on their own in a pie. Here’s Amy with the reason why — and with 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; they cook 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 apples do you like in your apple pie?

LEARN MORE ABOUT APPLES: Blue-Ribbon Deep-Dish Apple Pie Recipe Old-Fashioned Apple Pandowdy RecipeWhat Should I Do With All These Apples? | Ask the ExpertThe Best Apple Orchards in New England