The Definitive Guide to Apples and their Uses

While there are literally thousands of apple varieties grown throughout the world, your average grocer will normally have only a handful of varieties on hand at any one time. And even during Fall the local orchards will average around a dozen varieties suited to the local climate. So while it would be impractical and incredibly unreasonable to list all the varieties and their uses, I thought I would try to highlight the varieties most common to the United States and their uses. Here is The Definitive Guide to Apples and their Uses

Twenty common apple varieties and the best ways to use them in baking, sauces, salads and pies. We have even done the research to find the best ones for eating.


Eighty percent of the world’s population enjoys a delicious tart and crisp apple making it the most popular fruit in the world. And while the apple comes as close as possible to the perfect fruit, easy to grow, simple to harvest and store, making it readily available during every season. The question remains… what variety of apple is the best suited for what I need.

Each apple variety is uniquely suited to specific uses because of its’ flavor profile and characteristics of the apple its’ self, firmness of flesh and how the sugars in the fruit convert when it is used in cooking. We also need to keep in mind that like all produce the apple’s shelf life can impact the quality greatly.

We’ve listed below a guide to some of the most common varieties of apples you can find at your local markets…

Characteristics and Uses

Red Delicious

Sweet, well known apple. Best for fresh eating. Uses, fresh-eating, salad.

Home Storage, 3-4 months.

Golden Delicious

Crisp, sweet, great for everything apple! My Favorite. Uses, fresh-eating, dessert, processing (sauce, pies, baking), freezing.

Home Storage, 3-4 months.


Sweet and crisp apple best used for fresh eating. Great for kids lunches. Uses, fresh-eating.

Home Storage, 1-3 months.

Rome Beauty

Good keeper, fair for fresh-eating and great for baking whole. Uses, fresh-eating, sauce, pies, baking.

Home Storage, 4-5 months.


A cross between Gala and Braeburn apples, crunchy and full of sweet juice. Uses: excellent for fresh-eating and it’s dense, flesh makes it a very good choice for pies and baking.

Home Storage, 3-4 months.

Granny Smith

Tart and firm apple. An old time, baking favorite. Uses, baking, sauce, juice.

Home Storage, 4-5 months.


Sweet with hint of tartness. Great for fresh eating or baking. Wonderful pie apple. Uses, fresh-eating, pies.

Home Storage, 2-3 months.


Crispy, juicy and tangy, firm, are all descriptions of this popular variety. McIntosh is a good all-around apple, although it doesn’t hold shape when cooked. Uses, fresh-eating, salads, sauce, pies, baking.

Home Storage, 2-3 months.


Crisp, juicy and sweet. Great for fresh-eating. Uses, salad and fresh-eating apple.

Home Storage, 4-5 months.


Very hard, tart apple. Great for baking as it stays firm. Uses, processing for sauce, pies and baking.

Home Storage, 3-4 months.


Strong sweet and sour contrast, wine-like flavor and aroma. Uses, fresh-eating, culinary use, cider.

Home Storage, 4-5 months.


Crisp, sweet with a bit of tartness. Amazing Apple! Great fresh or for baking. Uses, fresh-eating, salad, cooking.

Home Storage, 3-4 months.


Sweet and Crisp! Great for eating or baking! Uses, fresh-eating is best but is good for cooking if used shortly after picking.

Home Storage, 1-2 months.


Slightly tart. Great all purpose apple, favorite for apple slices. Uses, fresh-eating, cider, sauce.

Home Storage, 2-3 months.


Tart & Juicy. Great Pie Apple. Uses, fresh-eating, salads, pies.

Home Storage, 3-4 months.


SweeTango is a cross between the Honeycrisp and Zestar! varieties. Uses, fresh-eating, salad, cooking.

Home Storage, 3-4 months.

Pink Lady 

Tart apple also known as Cripps Pink. Uses, fresh-eating and baking.

Home Storage, 3-4 months.


A versatile apple that owes many of its’ characteristics to Golden Delicious parentage, with a little sharper flavor. Uses,  fresh-eating, dessert, processing (sauce, pies, baking), freezing.

Home Storage, 4-5 months.


A good-quality apple will be firm with smooth, clean skin and have good color for the variety. Test the firmness of the apple by holding it in the palm of your hand. It should feel solid and heavy, not soft and light.


Store apples in your refrigerator when possible, this will ensure they maintain their flavor and texture as long as possible. If you don’t have room then find the coolest area in your house to store them. Avoid storing apples with dark spots or soft areas,   use these as soon as possible to prevent waste. And remember, one bad apple will ruin the entire bunch so when in doubt remove any that you suspect may be bad.

If you desire more recipes to use these apples with, try out some of our favorites.

Fried Apples :: Cracker Barrel Copycat Recipe from

Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Apples :: Recipe on

Apple Sauce Recipe

Taffy Apple Salad :: Recipe from



  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this fantastic apple guide! I'm pinning this so I don't lose it. Great work y'all!
  2. Linda Young says:
    I was just looking at your page on apples. You have given lots of good information. I am from the south and we fry apples as well as baking. We use Jonathan and Winesap. We also make fried apple pies which are great for snacks. I fine that people from the north don't know about this way of using apples. Thank you, Linda Young
  3. What would recommend is best use for Pink Ladies?
    • Hi Robyn, looks like Pink Ladies are good for pretty much everything - eating, baking, etc. I found this - Hope that helps! ~Liz
  4. What is the best apple for making applesauce?
    • Hi Dawn, we like a tart apple because of the spices and sugar that are added to applesauce. But it's totally up to your taste.
  5. This seems like a good start! but there are hundreds of apple varieties (thousands actually, but good luck finding them). Tastes differ, too--I would not say that Braeburn was tart, and certainly not sugary Honeycrisp. Still if you are just beginning to explore this amazing fruit for yourself, this is a good first step.
  6. What a wonderful guide! Thank you!
    • Yes, crab apples can be picked and stored just like other apple varieties. I would try to pick them as early as you can to give them plenty of time to dry before you use them to decorate ar use as a garland.
  8. Do you know what Apple/Apples are best suited for diabetics?


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