Which Apples to Use to Make Any Kind of Apple Pie

Apple Pie

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Apple pie is an all-American favorite and should be in every cook's repertoire, but if you've never made an apple pie before or were not totally satisfied with your results, perhaps you need to brush up on the best apples to use for pie and which kind of pie--tart, sweet, or sweet and tart--needs which kind of apple. Firm, dry apples usually work best in a pie because they soften up but don't turn mushy when baked. For the best flavor, opt for a mix of tart and sweet apples. A 50-50 split pleases most palates.

The following apples are widely regarded as being some of the very best to use in apple pies. Just pick some apples from the tart list and some from the sweet list (or cheat and pick some off of the sweet/tart list), and you're sure to get great results. It's pretty hard to go wrong with a homemade apple pie, so if you have a big pile of apples sitting in your kitchen, and they aren't on this list, don't let that stop you from making a pie. The difference is nothing a scoop of vanilla ice cream can't cure.

Tart Pie Apples

  • Cortland
  • Empire
  • Goldrush
  • Granny Smith
  • Gravenstein
  • Jonathan
  • Northern Spy
  • Stayman-Winesap
  • Suncrisp

Sweet Pie Apples

  • Crispin (Mutsu)
  • Fuji
  • Golden Delicious
  • Red Rome
  • Jonagold

Sweet/Tart Pie Apples

  • Braeburn
  • Cameo
  • Cox’s Orange Pippin
  • Honey Crisp
  • Pink Lady
  • Spigold
  • Yellow Transparent
Best apples for apple pie
The Spruce Eats / Bailey Mariner 

How Many Apples for a Pie

Figure that you will need 2 1/2-to-2 3/4 pounds of apples per pie. A lot of recipes call for a specific number of cups of peeled, cored, and chopped apples, and that can make it tricky to know how many pounds of whole apples you need to buy to arrive at the prescribed number of cups. A good rule of thumb is to buy a pound of apples for every three cups of apples called for in the recipe.

If you are picking your own apples or buying them somewhere where you can't weigh them, Kercher's Orchard says a pound of apples is roughly the equivalent of four small apples, three medium apples, or two large apples. By that math, it would take around about five or six large apples, eight medium apples, or 10 or 11 small apples to make a 9- or 10-inch pie. Of course, it doesn't hurt to buy a couple extra, just in case.

While these apple varieties and ratios make a delicious pie, they might not be as well-suited to other apple-based recipes, such as apple butter or applesauce.

More Things to Make While Apples Are in Season

Apples aren't just for pie. You can also make apple crisp, apple fritters, apple loaf, baked apples, applesauce, and crockpot apple butter, among many other choices. Don't forget you can always just eat an apple fresh off the tree!