Best Apples for Apple Pie

Curious about the best apples for apple pie? What’s the easiest way to slice apples? You have questions, and I have answers. This post will show you my favorite how-to tips for preparing apples for an apple pie recipe, or any sliced apple dessert, for that matter.

A photo shows sliced apples with cinnamon on top in a bowl. The text above it reads: Guide to Slicing Apples for Apple Pie.

I love apple desserts. Like my delicious deep dish Vegan Apple Pie. I mean, that pie features layers and layers of delicious apple slices! There’s also my Vegan Apple Crisp and my Vegan Apple Cake. It’s just hard to go wrong with apple desserts.

If you love apple recipes, then it’s good to know a few things about apples, including what are the best apples for pie, and how to slice them properly…and quickly.

What Apples are Best for Pie?

It’s best to use a variety of apples for an apple pie, with the primary variety being Granny Smith apples. You’ll want a variety featuring both tart and firm (like the Granny Smith and Pink Pearl), and some more tender, sweeter varieties like Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, and Pink Lady.

What Apples are Best for Apple Crisp?

Similar to an apple pie, you’ll want to go with a variety of apples to make the best apple crisp. Use at least half Granny Smith apples (for their firm tartness), and the other half can be a mixture of Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, and Pink Lady apples.

Specific Apples for Apple Pie

Let’s talk specifically about the best pie apples and how you can use them to make a pie or sliced apple dessert. For the best apple pie, you want to choose apples that are firm, this prevents your pie filling from being mushy.

No one likes a mushy apple pie. well, except maybe babies, but they don’t really count.

For the rest of us, here are my favorite tips for choosing apples for an apple pie:

  1. Choose firm apples (see the list below)
  2. Use half-sweet and half-tart apples — these two varieties of apples result in a complexity of flavors for your pie
  3. Select from readily available apples — like your supermarket’s produce section. However, you can mix things up by going to a health food store or farmer’s market, where you can try even more varieties of apples.

In fact, there are so many varieties of apples I can’t mention them all! So, this list shows the varieties I’ve found to be the best apple pie apples that are also most readily available.

Several apples sit on a wooden table.
The apples you choose for a pie can have imperfections in the skin because they will be peeled.

Firm Tart Apples

  • Granny Smith. This is my favorite for apple slices because it’s a nice, firm apple with the perfect tart flavor. Personally, I love this apple and will add slices (with the peel) to my salads too. For a pie, I use half Granny Smith apples. You can find these year-round at most grocery stores.
  • Jonathan. The Jonathan apple is another one that’s available at many grocery stores. It has a slightly sweet, but noticeably tart flavor that makes it perfect for apple pies.
  • Braeburn: This slightly tart, slightly sweet apple is not as readily available throughout the year, but you can find it at farmer’s markets in the fall and the produce section in the fall and winter.

Firm Sweet Apples

  • Pink Lady. The pink lady apple is the perfect crossover between sweet and tart. It’s a great firm apple for your apple pie filling, and I’ve been able to find them at my local grocery store most of the time. It may be seasonable produce in some areas, though.
  • Yellow Delicious. This is a lovely, sweet apple, but not flavorful enough to use on its own. However, combined with other apples, it’s a great team player for your next apple pie.
  • Red Delicious. It may seem like an unusual choice for an apple pie, but I’ve used the red delicious in combination with Granny Smith, and it’s worked perfectly!
  • Honey Crisp. This is my favorite apple, and its sweet flavor and firmness make it an excellent choice for your next pie filling. However, they can be pricey, so I use them in combination with other apples.
Several drawings of apples are shown noting the types of apples they are, from red delicious to honey crisp. The text at the top indicates these are the best apples for apple pie.

Now that you know what apples to use, it’s time to talk about how to prepare them for your apple pie. These are my favorite tricks for cutting apples quickly and efficiently.

How to Prepare Apples for Apple Pie

Once you’ve selected your apples, give them a good wash and then pat them dry with a paper towel or dishcloth. Next, the apples will need to be peeled, cored, and sliced.

Tools: These are the tools you’ll need: a knife, a vegetable peeler, and a melon baller.

A green apple has the top cut off, and it's sitting next to a butcher's knife, a vegetable peeler, and a melon baller.

How to Peel Apples

My favorite way to peel apples involves a vegetable peeler. You can peel an apple with a paring knife, but it can take off too much of the apple flesh. And I find it hurts my hand after a while.

The beautiful thing about a vegetable peeler is that it takes off the thinnest level of the peel without digging into the apple flesh. It can be tough to get the vegetable peeler to dig into the smooth apple peel. However, I’ve got a solution!

A vegetable peeler sits next to an apple with the top chopped off. Several peels from the apple sit beside it.

If your vegetable peeler keeps “bouncing” off the smooth apple peel, the problem is you need a “starting point”. To create that starting point, simply chop off a thin layer at the top of the apple, by the stem. Then use your vegetable peeler, starting from the sliced top and move down. You’ll be able to shave off thin slices of the peel. It’s perfect!

Look, we’re not going for 100% shaved apples here. It’s OK if bits of the peel remains — it will remind people that this is a HOMEMADE apple pie!

A hand holds several green apple peels.

Note: Be sure to save those peels — there’s a lot of nutrients in fruit peels! I love adding them to my Green Smoothies.

How to Core Apples

Now that the apple has been peeled, it’s time to core the apple. I’ve always found this very difficult to do, and I’ve ended up taking out too much of the fruit flesh. Sounds like a reoccurring theme!

Then one day I learned this handy trick — use a melon baller!

But first, you must cut the apple in half. Starting from the stem side of the apple, cut down the middle.

An apple has just been cut in half. The knife sits between the two sides of the cut apple. It's a step for cutting apples for apple pie.

Then get a melon baller and cut a little circle out right where the core is. Voila! It’s as simple as that! I use the melon baller to remove the stem bits from the top and the bottom of the apple too.

A melon baller sits between to halves of an apple. One has a core and stem bits removed.

Now you’ve got peeled and cored apples. Great job!

How to Slice Apples for Apple Pie

At this point, it’s pretty easy to slice apples for your apple pie or apple crisp.

A hand holds a knife and is using it to slice apples into thin slices.

Place the apple cut side down on a cutting board. Use a knife to cut the apple into thin slices, about 1/4″ thick.

I like to transfer the cut apple slices into a large pyrex measuring cup so I can keep track of how many apple slices I’ve got. Be sure to immediately drizzle some lemon juice over the apples, to prevent them from browning.

Next, follow the instructions for your recipe to add a mixture of flour, brown sugar, and spices to the apple slices. Oftentimes, it’s a good idea to allow apples to sit after tossing them with this mixture before adding them to the crust.

Sliced apples covered in a cinnamon sauce are in a baking dish.

Favorite Apple Recipes

Now that you’ve got the proper apples and you know how to slice them, here are some delicious recipes to use them with.

Vegan Apple Pie

Deep dish vegan apple pie features layers of cinnamon-infused sweet apple slices and a buttery flaky vegan pie crust!
Vegan Apple Pie Recipe
A slice of vegan apple pie has a scoop of ice cream on top and the rest of the pie behind it.

Vegan Apple Crisp

This simple Vegan Apple Crisp recipe is easy to make and absolutely delicious, especially when served with a dollop or two of vegan ice cream!
Vegan Apple Crisp Recipe
A plate holds vegan apple crisp with ice cream on sauce. Caramel sauce is being poured over the top. A blue napkin and green apple is behind it.

Baked Apple Slices

This simple Baked Apple Slices recipe is easy to make. It's a healthy, easy, gluten-free dessert recipe. Serve it with a dollop of vegan ice cream or vegan whipped cream!
Baked Apple Slices Recipe
Caramel sauce is being drizzled over ice cream atop baked apple slices. There is an apple and a blue kitchen towel behind it.

One Response to Best Apples for Apple Pie

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMara Reply

    Never thought it really matters what apples you choose for apple pie. Now it makes sense. I’m also trying to switch to a healthier lifestyle and started to mine for healthy recipes like yours. Also, I’m training with SportMe home workout app, and I managed to get rid of some pounds. Your blog posts are super inspiring for me in this phase, thanks!

Rate / Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.