Types of Apples to Know for Your Fall Cooking and Baking Adventures

Find out the difference between apple types. We'll also give our Test Kitchen tips for the best cooking apple varieties and best apples for baking.

With more than 100 apple varieties grown commercially in the United States, navigating the different kinds can be a little mind-boggling. But we're here to help. Read on to learn our Test Kitchen's favorite types of apples for baking and cooking (snacking, too!) so your recipes always turn great. You'll also find a list of different types of apples that include a few common varieties but also the newest names on the market. Once you reach the end of our apple types guide, you'll be able to put your knowledge to the test in a new apple pie recipe, apple dessert, or even savory skillet meal.

apples
Blaine Moats

Best Apples for Baking and Cooking

Depending on your taste (whether you like crisp or tender, sweet or tart) almost all apples are good to eat fresh. Certain types are better than others for baking and cooking, however. For the best texture and flavor, our Test Kitchen recommends seeking out these apple varieties for use in recipes:

  • Braeburn
  • Cameo
  • Cortland
  • Crispin
  • Empire
  • Fuji
  • Golden Delicious
  • Granny Smith
  • Idared
  • Jazz
  • Jonagold
  • Jonathan
  • Lucy
  • Pink Lady
  • Sunrise Magic

Types of Apples

With so many different types of apples out there it's hard to keep track of them all. Here's a list of some common and not-so-common apple varieties to use as a guide when on your next grocery run, orchard visit, or farmers market trip.

01 of 17

Cortland

three jars of Apple Pie Filling with a red apple on top of each jar
Jason Donnelly

The slightly sweet, slightly tart all-purpose Cortland apple variety is ideal for baking whole because it maintains its portly shape. Chopped or sliced, this apple is fine to fill a pie or strudel as well as stirred into pancakes or muffins.

02 of 17

Cordera

Cordera apples
Cordera apples. Jason Koski

This ruby-color apple was developed at Cornell University—home of the oldest apple breeding program in the United States—and debuted in fall 2020. Named after the late Robert Lamb, an apple breeder at Cornell for over 40 years (cordera means "lamb" in Spanish). Great for eating fresh, these apples are crisp and mild in flavor and resistant to apple scab, a common disease for apples grown in this New York region.

03 of 17

Cosmic Crisp

Cosmic Crisp Apple
Carson Downing

With a balance of sweet and tart flavors and an unbelievably juicy bite, this firm apple is the offspring of Honeycrisp and Enterprise varieties. Once cut, Cosmic Crisp apples are slow to oxidize, making the variety a great choice for salads and cheese boards. And it's a good pick for baking.

04 of 17

Envy

Envy Apple
Jacob Fox

Originally imported from New Zealand, the Envy apple type is cross between Braeburn and Royal Gala apples. It's now grown on the west coast in Washington. You can use them in cooking or baking (we'd happily try them in this apple poke cake), but their crisp texture and sweetness are best appreciated raw for snacking.

05 of 17

Firecracker

Firecracker apples
Firecracker apples. Jason Koski

These red-blushed apples have a rustic, partially russeted, reddish-brown appearance, with a full aroma and a sweet-tart flavor. A Firecracker's skin contains more flavor than others,
while the russets—tiny cork cells on the skin—give it a slightly nutty flavor. The Firecracker is dubbed a "triple threat" as it's one of the few varieties great for eating, baking, and cider production.

06 of 17

Golden Delicious

Rosemary Apple Pie
Andy Lyons

This huge, sweet golden apple is delicious raw and great when cooked or baked. The fruit's rich flavor and tender flesh is amazing in stir-fries, casseroles, cobblers, soups, stews, and sauces. The way this blond keeps its shape during baking makes it a natural for pies.

07 of 17

Granny Smith

Granny Smith Cobbler with White Cheddar Biscuits
Blaine Moats

This bright green fruit is on the tart, tangy end of the barometer. The Granny is firm when bitten into but won't hold up to prolonged heat—yet its high acid content makes it the apple of many a pie-baker's eye. Also try Granny Smith sautéed with pork.

08 of 17

Jazz

Jazz Apple
Jacob Fox

Jazz apples are extra juicy with a sweet-tart flavor reminiscent of pears. They do well in pies and other baked recipes.

09 of 17

Lucy Varieties

Marbled Caramel Apples
Blaine Moats

Developed by growers in central Washington, Lucy apples are a striking new family of red-flesh apples that blend several popular varieties (of course, Honeycrisp is one!). Lucy Glo has soft, yellow skin with vibrant magenta flesh, while Lucy Rose has speckled red skin with red flesh. Look for them in stores from October to February. Lucy apples are great for eating out of hand and also for baking—they retain their striking red color
even when cooked.

10 of 17

Newton Pippin

Slow-Cooked Five-Spice Apples with Honey
Blaine Moats

Another all-purpose fruit, the green-gold Newton Pippin is a good keeping apple. Its highly perfumed flesh is crisp and juicy and holds up well in the frying pan or oven. This apple's sweet-tart flavor makes it a favorite for baked apple desserts.

11 of 17

Pink Luster

Pink Luster apples
Pink Luster apples. Jason Koski

After 23 years in the making
at Cornell University, the early
maturing Pink Luster variety—which
borrowed the best of Honeycrisp
and Gala—finally made its market
debut. Medium to large in size,
these shiny yellow and pink blush
apples are fun to pluck right
from sun-warmed trees in mid-
September, making them ideal for
pick-your-own orchards. With crisp,
juicy flesh, a pleasantly tart flavor,
and smooth, even skin, they're
ideal when eaten out of hand.

12 of 17

Rave

Rave Apple
Jacob Fox

You'll "rave" about this new apple variety thanks to its juiciness, crisp texture, and sweeter-than-most flavor. Like many other new varieties we're seeing, Rave apples are a cross with Honeycrisp and MonArk apple types. Stick to snacking or caramel apples for this apple—it doesn't hold up well at high heat, so baking may turn it to mush.

13 of 17

Rome Beauty

Overhead view of apple fritter bread loaf on white marble background
Carson Downing

Cooking and baking accentuate the rich but mellow flavor of this medium-tart, deep-red apple. It's known as Queen of the Bakers, and it holds up well when cooked whole. Enjoy Beauty in bread puddings, pies, quick breads, and sauces, too.

14 of 17

SugarBee

SugarBee Apple
Jacob Fox

Creamy-white flesh and yellow-flecked red skin give the SugarBee its sweet flavor and crunch. Great for eating fresh and baking, this apple type came to exist thanks to a humble Minnesota honeybee's path during natural cross-pollination. Because of that honeybee and the apple's sugar-sweet flavor, the name SugarBee was a natural fit.

15 of 17

Sunrise Magic

Apple-Pecan Pork Chops
Jacob Fox

Created at Washington State
University, Sunrise Magic apple
trees are nestled in the nurturing
rain shadow of the North
Cascade Mountains. The apple's
coloring—orange-red blush
tinged with yellow—inspired its
poetic name. This variety is sweet,
crisp, and naturally juicy, keeping
its firm texture even after months
of storage. Put it to use in baking
and cooking projects or snack
on it fresh.

16 of 17

WildTwist

Cherry apple slaw with green brussels sprouts
Blaine Moats

This unique apple variety is a "twist" on two legendary varieties. It has the sweet-tart flavor of Cripps Pink with extra juiciness and crunch from Honeycrisp. The WildTwist is great for snacking and adding fresh to salads.

17 of 17

Opal

Opal Apple
Jason Donnelly

The Opal apple type gets its coloring from parents Golden Delicious and Topaz. It's slow to brown so is one of the top picks for precut apple snacks.

How to Pick Apples

Look for fruit that has firm, unwrinkled skin with no soft spots or nicks. The fruit should have a fresh apple fragrance.

How to Store Apples

Apples are best stored in a cool, dark location. Storage time varies by variety. For small amounts, refrigerate in plastic bags for up to 2 weeks. Store apples between 32ºF and 40ºF (in your fridge or an unfinished basement) 1 to 2 months. Wrap apples loosely in paper or plastic (not resealable bags) for air circulation.

Now that you know all about the different cooking apple varieties, give a new sweet or savory apple recipe a try. Start with a classic such as apple pie and work your way to stuffing apples into pork chops or kneading them into a pull-apart yeast bread.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles