Because life’s too short to settle for red delicious.

By Betty Gold
August 26, 2019

Fun fact: there are over 750 varieties of apples in the world, and more than 100 types of apples that exist in the United States alone. And come fall (let’s be honest, August), we’re here for every single one of them.

Why? Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as the first bite into a sweet, juicy, freshly picked apple. But here’s the thing: not all of the different types of apples available to us are meant to be eaten out-of-hand. Some are best for baking into pies and tarts; others pair perfectly with savory dishes like pork chops or sausage.

Here, we have a guide to the most popular types of apples in America—plus how they taste, look, and where you’ll find them. Happy crunching!

Fuji

Aptly named after Mount Fuji, this perfect-for-snacking variety was originally developed in the 1930s in Japan and didn’t make its way to the United States until the 1980s. Fujis are distinguished by their crisp texture, sweet flavor, and striped red-and-yellow skin. They’re made by crossing Red Delicious with Ralls Janet apples. 

Red Delicious

Red Delicious apples originated in Iowa in the 1870s. If you look up “apple” in the dictionary, you’ll likely (quite literally) find a picture of a Red Delicious, as they’re the most popular variety in the U.S. today. Their iconic red skin, wide top, and footed bottoms are best for chopping up and mixing into dishes raw, like salad. 

Honeycrisp

If apples were in high school, Honeycrisps would be on the varsity football team or win prom queen (or both). This super popular variety is prized for its extra sweet-and-juicy flavor, explosive crispness, and reddish-yellow color. Honeycrisps are perfect for eating as is, tossing into salads, or making into sauces.

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Granny Smith

Almost as popular as Red Delicious, this is the go-to bright green apple of the bunch. Granny Smiths originated in Australia and have a super tart taste and crisp, firm texture. Some relish the sour taste, others might prefer to bake it into a sweet(er) dessert or cook them down into a savory dish, like this arroz con pollo.

Golden Delicious

This type gets its name from its bright, yellow-green skin and mild, buttery flavor. Golden Delicious apples are softer on the inside and thin-skinned, so they’re prone to getting bruised or shriveled in storage. Eat them quickly instead—they’re best for baking into pies, making sauces, and work fairly well for freezing.

McIntosh

Even softer than Golden Delicious, McIntosh apples are creamy (and a bit mealy) on the inside, which makes them a great option for being cooked down into applesauce or soup. They have a juicy, tart-and-tangy flavor, deep red skin, and bright white interior. Because McIntosh apples lack firmness, you’ll need additional thickener if you choose to bake with them.

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Cortland

Cortland apples are similar to McIntosh in shape (round, squat) and taste (creamy, tart). But because they’re not quite as soft as McIntoshes, you can bake or cook with them or eat them raw. Cortlands are known for browning a bit slower than other types, though, so they’re a smart option if you’ll be slicing and serving them as a snack or in a salad.

Empire

These popped up in the “Empire State” of New York in 1966 after the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station crossed a Red Delicious apple with a McIntosh. They’re juicy, firm, and delicious sweet—eat Empires as a snack or for cooking or baking.

Gala

Galas have a unique tall-but-small shape. They’re also lighter in color than most—the red on the outside gets shown up by the bright yellow-orange undertones. Their mild, sweet, crisp flavor makes them ideal for snacking (especially for kids) or cooking.

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