A Guide To 10 Common Apple Varieties, With Recipes

There are more than 7,500 varieties of apples grown around the world. Here’s how to best use some of the most popular kinds.

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a grouping of various types of apples on a pink background

Photo, Erik Putz.

Apple season (and apple-picking) is well under way, but what apples are the best? The wide array of colours, flavours and textures are great for eating, cooking and baking—but with thousands of varieties available, it’s hard to know which apple is best for each preparation. Here’s a guide to 10 common varieties.

Gala

a gala apple on a pick backdrop
Photo, Erik Putz.

Sweet, fragrant and crisp, the Gala is the favourite apple of the Chatelaine Kitchen because of its versatility. They’re equally delicious baked, pressed into cider, and with sweet flavour, crisp bite and thin skin they’re also a great grab-n-go snack.

Try it:
Kale salad with apple and creamy cashew dressing
Apple muffins

Granny Smith

a green granny smith apple on a pink backdrop
Photo, Erik Putz.

Known for their bright green skin, Granny Smiths are crisp, firm and quite sour. They’re good all-around cooking apples, with a firm texture that holds up well when baked. Granny Smiths are the ultimate apple for apple pie as the tart flavour is well-balanced against the sweetness of the filling. They take longer to soften, so pair them with sweeter apples in pies and crisps.

Try it:
Classic apple pie
Classic apple crisp

Fuji

a Fuji apple on a pink background
Photo, Erik Putz.


This late-ripening variety stores well and is great for eating raw. Fuji has become one of the most popular varieties on the market. Named for Mt. Fuji in Japan, these crisp and sweet apples are perfect for adding to salads, sandwiches and slaws. They also break down very well, so they make an ideal candidate for applesauce.

Try it:
Rosemary-ricotta-pesto croissant with apple
Apple, camembert and arugula sandwich

Golden Delicious

a yellow golden delicious apple on a pink background
Photo, Erik Putz.

Mellow and sweet, these are great for applesauce. If you’re baking a pie, pair them with a firmer apple. Bright yellow with a soft texture, Golden Delicious apples are ideal for salads because they don’t brown as quickly as other varieties. Keep in mind that they tend to bruise easily, so it is recommended to use them right away.

Try it:
Apple-celery-root slaw
Baked goat cheese and apple salad

McIntosh

a red MacIntosh apple on a pink background
Photo, Erik Putz.

Known for their white, juicy flesh, McIntosh apples are best eaten raw or used in applesauce or apple butter. The soft flesh breaks down in baked goods so avoid using McIntosh in pies or crumbles. Refreshingly tart, they get sweeter as they ripen. Great for making apple sauce or eating fresh.

Try it:
Easy apple tart with aged cheddar crust
Autumn maple applesauce

Spartan

a round red spartan apple on a pink background
Photo, Erik Putz.

This is a small, sweet apple, good for baked desserts or eating fresh.

Empire

a red empire apple on a pink background
Photo, Erik Putz.

The Empire is a cross between the Red Delicious and McIntosh. This sweet and juicy round apple has a bright red skin with hints of green. Crisp and firm, this apple holds up well and are great for making into applesauce. (They can get mushy when baked.)

Try it:
Wheat berry and tabbouleh salad with apples and feta

Honeycrisp

a red and yellow honeycrisp apple on a pink background
Photo, Erik Putz.

Ridiculously juicy, crunchy and sweet, these are great snacking apples.

Try it:
Apple, camembert and arugula sandwich
Roasted pumpkin with gnudi and apples

Ambrosia

a yellow with hints of red apple on a pink background
Photo, Erik Putz.

Crisp, sweet and juicy, these are great grab-and-go snack apples.

Try it:
Oatmeal stuffed apples

Cortland

a round red and green cortland apple on a pink background
Photo, Erik Putz.

Mildly sweet and juicy with a good crunch, these are ideal in salads (they’re slow to brown) or baked desserts.

Try it:
Baked ginger apples

Shopping Tip

When shopping for apples, choose fruits that are firm and have a smooth skin without any wrinkles or bruises. Store them in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to a month.

Apple Facts

• Apples give off ethylene gas, which can help ripen other fruit. Place unripe avocados or tomatoes in a bag with an apple to get them ready to eat faster.

• Whatever the variety, any mealy or overly soft apples are prime candidates for making applesauce.

• Apples are part of the rose family.

• The crabapple is North America’s only native apple.