Ultimate Apple Recipes: Perfect for Pie and Crisp!

When it comes to baking with apples, there are a few varieties that work well for most applications. However, some types are definitely better for apple pie recipes, while others are most ideal for an apple crisp. Here’s what you should consider when selecting apples for either dessert.

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What to Consider When Selecting Apples for Pie

In an apple pie, you want the apples to retain some of their shape and texture in order to achieve a distinct bite and give structure to each slice. And perhaps even more importantly, no one likes a soggy-bottom pie crust, which means a drier apple type that doesn’t release as much juice when it’s cooked is what you need for apple pie.

Many would argue that the best apple pie is one with layers of dynamic flavors and textures. A handy trick to creating such a superb pie is to use more than one type of apple, with each variety offering a different taste/texture when baked. Additionally, it’s a good idea to cut apple slices with varied thicknesses. (That’s right, uniformity isn’t everything when it comes to apple pie!) This will create a pleasant textural contrast as the differently sized slices will cook at slightly different rates, and the different types of apples will react differently in the cooking process as well.

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What to Consider When Selecting Apples for Crisp

In contrast to apple pie, the cornerstone of a great apple crisp is a gooey, jammy filling featuring well broken down apples. After all, apple crisp doesn’t typically feature a bottom crust, and it’s scooped into bowls rather than sliced. Wetter, juicier apples that break down easily when cooked are much better for crisp, where you generally expect a more homogeneous texture of stewed apples. Of course, as with apple pie, it’s never a bad thing to have at least a bit of flavor and textural diversity going on.

Apples for Both Pie and Crisp

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Braeburn Apples

Braeburns are a perplexing apple. When sliced, they don’t release a notable amount of juice; this personality trait continues even as Braeburns are cooked. They retain their shape and don’t excrete a lot of juice — but then you bite into a cooked slice, and wow, such a sweet, juicy apple! Somehow, Braeburns manage to keep their shape and retain their juices through the baking process, yielding a significant flavor payoff when you bite into them. Because of this, they’re a great apple to include for either pie or crisp.

Cortland Apples

This apple variety is known for its crisp flesh and seemingly supernatural ability to stave off browning once cut. This is ideal for baking since that pesky browning is a product of oxidation, which brings out less-than-ideal flavors in apples, especially when cooked. They’re super juicy, but their flavor diminishes the longer they’re stored, so use them quickly!

Honeycrisp Apples

Honeycrisp apples are known for their intense sweetness and crisp snap. They’re a delicious apple to incorporate into either pie or crisp filling because they pack a bold punch in the flavor department and are neither too wet nor too firm when cooked. However, Honeycrisps can be more difficult to find given that their growing season is much shorter than other varieties. This also makes them more expensive. If you happen to have a surplus of Honeycrisp apples on hand, go ahead and toss them into your apple desserts, you won’t be sorry.

Jonagold Apples

If you can get your hands on a few Jonagold apples, do take advantage. They’re perfect for both pie and crisp due to their deep, apple-forward flavor and mellow tartness. They release some juice but retain their shape relatively well without getting mushy. Jonagolds’ growing season is short, and they have an exceptionally high sugar content with less acid than most apples, which means they’re not as apt for long-term storage as other varieties.

Pink Lady Apples

This variety of apple is known for a juicy-tart bite with a thin skin and satisfying crisp texture. Pink Ladies are great for both pie and crisp because they have a super flavorful juice that concentrates beautifully during the cooking process.

Apples That Are Especially Great for Apple Pie


Granny Smith Apples

Granny Smith apples are considered by many to be the “pie apples.” They are known for their snappy tartness and ability to maintain their shape and texture when cooked. These are, no doubt, a terrific choice for apple pie — especially when combined with a sweeter, softer apple like Braeberns or Crispins.

Crispin Apples

These firm-fleshed apples, also known as Mutsu apples, have a pleasant tartness that’s ideal for balancing out the added sugar in sweet baking recipes. They’re best for pie, as they retain their shape quite well in the oven. You’ll find them listed under either name, though they deliver the same tart crunch no matter what you call them.

Apples That Are Especially Great for Apple Crisp

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Fuji Apples

Fujis are one of the most widely known and enjoyed varieties for eating out of hand. They’re the Goldilocks of the apple world: sweet but not cloying, tart but not too sour, soft but not mealy, crisp but not toothsome. All in all, they’re the best “happy medium” apple available in most supermarkets. They’re known for being extraordinarily juicy and they break down wonderfully when cooked. They’re best for apple crisp because as they bake, their flavor concentrates and their sweet juice is released generously.

Golden Delicious Apples

Golden Delicious apples get a bad wrap, and that’s only because they’re not the best for eating out of hand. However, their signature soft, mealy texture makes them the absolute perfect apple for crisps. When cooked, they practically melt down into jammy deliciousness with an intense sweetness and a concentrated apple flavor. Many people dislike the thick skin of Golden Delicious apples, so make sure you always peel them before using them for baking. The tough peels won’t break down when cooked.

McIntosh Apples

McIntosh apples aren’t known for being the crispest; therefore, many people tend to be disappointed by their tender flesh when eating them out of hand. But when it comes to making apple crisp, this is exactly what you’re looking for. Intense sweetness with soft flesh that easily releases its juice – yes, McIntosh is the ideal apple to include in your next apple crisp.