How to Choose the Right Apple for Your Recipe

How to Choose the Right Apple for Your Recipe
by Caroline Fey, chef, culinary consultant, and cooking school instructor. Learn more at and @carolinefey.
With so many apple varieties on the market, choosing the right apple can feel overwhelming. There are several ways to determine which apples are best for everything from snacking and salads, to baking, saucing, and juicing, and we’re here to help. This article will guide you through our apple varieties so that you can easily choose the right apple every time you shop.


1. The Basics

What to Look for in a Good Apple: Look for an apple that is firm to the touch, with smooth skin that isn’t wrinkled. Make sure that the apple doesn’t have any blemishes or bruised spots – natural bumps are okay.

How to Store Your Apples: Apple varieties that are harvested earlier in the season like to be refrigerated and often have a slightly shorter shelf life. Apples that are harvest later in the season are a little bit heartier, and are able to sit on the counter for a few days. When properly stored, apples can last 6-8 weeks.

Here are our top tips for the freshest apples:

    • Wash and fully dry your apples.
    • Refrigerate in the crisper drawer. 
    • Store apples separately from other produce.


2. Best Uses for Different Varieties

Baking Apples: The best apples for baking have a well-balanced, sweet-tart flavor, and we’ve found that firmer apples with higher crunch levels tend to keep their shape when baked. For maximum flavor in your baked dish, we recommend using more than one variety. Using a combination of a sweeter, more floral apple, paired with a more tart, tangy apple will give you the most well-rounded apple flavor.

Try These Varieties: Ambrosia, EverCrisp®, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and SweeTango®

Sweet Combinations: Golden Delicious + Pink Lady; Fuji + Honeycrisp

Saucing Apples:
The best apples for saucing have a good balance of sweet and tart notes, and it’s fine if they’re not very crisp. The softer the apple flesh, the easier it will break down to become applesauce. You can always add a little bit of lemon juice and honey or maple syrup to your applesauce, but an applesauce made with great apples doesn’t really need either. If you want to make a pink-hued applesauce, use red skinned apples and don’t peel the skin. Combine different varieties for the most flavorful sauce!

Try These Varieties: Cortland, EverCrisp®, Fuji, Gala, Ginger Gold, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Macoun, McIntosh, and Rave®

Sweet Combinations: Gala + McIntosh + Honeycrisp

Juicing Apples: 
Apples that are best for juicing are usually the sweetest and most flavorful, with hints of lemon or lime. Most often, when you buy fresh apple cider in the market, it is a blend of multiple apple varieties. If you're juicing at home, using a blend of different apples is great; however, some varieties are so good that they can stand alone and make a really well-balanced, fantastic juice (looking at you, Ambrosia, Fuji, Gala, and Honeycrisp!).

Try These Varieties: Ambrosia, Cortland, EverCrisp®, Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp, Macoun, McIntosh, Pink Lady, and SweeTango®

Salad, Sandwich, & Snacking Apples: 
All of our apples are great for salads, sandwiches, and snacking, but a few stand out as exemplary, based on flavor and texture. When adding an apple to a salad or sandwich, you want a nice crunch and a bright, sweet, floral profile that will add another level of complexity to the food that you’re making. When snacking, you just want a delicious apple with a good bite.

Try These Varieties: Ambrosia, Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, SnapDragon®, and SweeTango®

Charcuterie & Cheese Board Apples: Let’s face it, when making a charcuterie or cheese board, you want to choose the prettiest apple with the best flavor. And while we believe all apples are pretty, a few really stand out, like Macoun with bright white flesh and deep red skin, or Golden Delicious and Ginger Gold, which turn brown more slowly, and have beautiful, pale greenish-yellow skin. Considering the fact that the apples will probably be on the board for a little while, apples that oxidize more slowly are best because they’ll look nicer for a longer period of time.

Slow-to-Brown Varieties: Empire, EverCrisp®, Ginger Gold, Golden Delicious, and Pink Lady

Try These Pairings:

Golden Delicious + Cured Meat: Golden Delicious, with its pale-yellow skin, is the tartest apple listed here. Try this variety with rich foods like prosciutto and salami, or add a drizzle of honey.

Macoun + Soft Cheese: Macoun has an old-world, rich apple flavor that will pair well with soft cheeses, like brie, camembert, and chèvre.

Pink Lady + Hard & Salty: Pink Lady is always a crowd pleaser, with its fantastic crunch and bright flavor. Pair this with salty cured meats, hard cheeses, and dried fruit.