What’s the Difference Between Cooking Apples and Eating Apples?

Have you ever been plagued by this question while standing in the produce isle, staring at a farmers’ market stand, or walking through an apple orchard?


“I’d love to try something with apples this Fall – but I always forget what kind I’m supposed to pick for cooking versus eating.”


Tell me it’s not just me.


I know I can’t be the only one that gets confused by apples and what kinds are good for pies, what other varieties are best for salads. The last thing you want is an apple the breaks down to mush when you’re baking a pie. But what about applesauce? A mushier apple might make good sense. And how about blending the two – some baked apple goods taste better when you mix the taste of a sweet apple with a tart apple!


This post answers the common question, “What’s the difference between cooking apples and eating apples?”


eating apples, cooking apples, how to pick apples



Juicy, tangy tart McIntosh has a tender, white flesh. It’s best used for snacking and applesauce, but some people enjoy its tart flavor in pies as well.



This crispy, juicy, very sweet apple is ideal for snacking. Galas can vary in color, from cream to red- and yellow-striped.



Goldens have a pale yellow skin, sometimes with a red blush. Mellow and sweet, all-purpose Goldens are great for eating, baking and salads. Their crisp, pale yellow flesh resists browning, making them a good choice for salads and other dishes.



This sweet, crispy, juicy apple varies in color from striped red to solid midnight red. This apple is best eaten fresh or in salads.



Grannys are known for their distinctive green flesh, which sometimes bears a red blush, and their very tart flavor. An all-purpose apple, Grannys work equally well as a snack or in pies and sauce.



This variety’s popularity is skyrocketing, thanks to its sweet flavor and firmness. Fuji apples are bi-colored, typically striped with yellow and red.


And, you know what would be nice? A big chart with all the apples, when to use them, and how they taste. Well…


apple varieties, apple chart

A big thank you to the US Apple Association for helping to clear up any apple confusion!


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  1. says

    This is awesome! I grew up thinking there were only 2 kinds of apple (red and yellow, lol), but now that I have a farmer’s market – and they offer taste testing – I’m in love with apples again. Chart is a keeper, thank you!

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