If you’ve ever made a dessert with apples, you’ll know that not all varieties bake equally. Some hold up beautifully under heat, retaining their texture and taste. Others melt into applesauce, leaving behind a pile of watery mush in their wake.
To avoid soggy baked apples, it helps to pay attention to a couple of factors in the fruit you’re working with. Here’s what you want:
Tart & Acidic
Tart and acidic apples tend to hold up the best in cooking, retaining their shape and a firmness in their flesh. That acid helps draw out the natural pectin in the fruit, encouraging it to become thick, and gel-like, giving you that sort of wobbly but solid texture you’re going after.
Firm & Dense
In addition to acidity, you should check out the raw texture of the apple. Cottony, grainy, or soft apples like Red Delicious and McIntosh have a lot of air hidden within their structure; put them in the oven and they just kind of collapse into themselves. But a dense, firmer apple will keep its shape and texture and stay in recognizable slices or chunks.
The Best Types of Apples for Baking
So which apples score high on both acidity and firmness?
Granny Smith and Golden Delicious, the two most commonly recommended baking apples, naturally do. They will stay intact even through intensive baking and heat, although their tart flavor can feel a little one-note.
Cortland apples are a red variety that are less tart but hold up well in the oven.
Pink Lady and Honeycrisp apples also retain their shape nicely, with more sweet and fruit-forward flavors.
Mild Galas are another balanced option, equal parts tart and sweet, although they can turn out a bit on the mealy side.
Jonagold, Braeburn, McIntosh, and Winesap apples are some other ones to watch for.
You can also try mixing a blend of these apples for better flavor and texture.
Cuisipro Apple Corer, $6.99 from Williams Sonoma
This handy tools makes quick work of coring a bunch of apples.
Which Apples Are Worst for Baking?
Don’t pick Red Delicious for baking (or at all, really; it’s one of the least interesting apples around). Fuji apples will also turn mushy and lose flavor in the oven.
Related Reading: How Your Favorite Apples Got Their Names
Baked Apple Recipes
Regardless of which apple you go with, there’s no shortage of dessert recipes that will help you put them to use. Here are 10 baked apple dessert recipes to try out during the height of apple season, plus a savory option perfect for your holiday table.
Apple cakes don’t have to be complicated and fanciful. Here, chunks of apple and pecan are mixed into a basic batter that comes together easily. The whole thing is then baked in a tube pan and given a dripping brown sugar glaze. Get our Brown Sugar Glazed Apple Cake recipe.
Keep it free form: this loose, hand-shaped tart packs in a gloriously messy heap of apples spiked with apple brandy. Get our Spiked Apple Galette recipe. (Also try our Apple, Cranberry, and Cherry Galette recipe for even more fruity flavor.)
Apple pie should let the fruit take the starring role, calling for little more than a good, flaky crust and dash of cinnamon and nutmeg to make it complete. Get our Fresh Apple Pie recipe. (And try our Dutch Apple Pie recipe for a single-crust version with some uncommon additions like raisins and cider vinegar.)
Prefer to start your mornings with something sweet? This casserole has a breakfast-appropriate bread pudding that’s topped with gooey, sticky dulce de leche, but it’s also sweet enough to work as a rustic, casual dessert. Get our Caramel, Apple, and Cinnamon Breakfast Casserole recipe.
Pretty much anything wrapped in puff pastry is guaranteed to be amazing, but let’s just say that these apple-stuffed pockets do an especially good job of filling out the dough with something satisfyingly sticky and sweet. Serve with ice cream for dessert, or as-is for an acceptable breakfast option. Get our Apple Turnover recipe.
Crisp, puffy, and coated in a maple glaze, these fritters are way more rich and fruit-filled than just about any version you’d get at a doughnut shop. Get our Apple Fritter recipe.
Intimidated by the thought of trying to put together the perfect apple pie? An apple crisp is an easy, practically no-fail alternative that hits all the same brown sugar and cinnamon-spiced notes. Get our Easy Apple Crisp recipe—and for something a little crunchier, try this Spiced Apple Walnut Crisp recipe.
Moist on the bottom and crunchy on top: muffins like these are hard to resist during breakfast, dessert, and snack time (or pretty much any time, really). Get our Pecan Streusel Apple Muffin recipe.
Up the sticky and sweet factor with a generous smothering of caramel. These upside-down apple and honey caramel cakes are about as delectably gooey and sugary as can be. Get our Apple-Honey Upside-Down Cake recipe.
Baked apples aren’t only for dessert! For a little sweet meets savory action, this cornbread and apple stuffing is balanced out by the wholesomeness of carrots, celery, and herbs. Get our Cornbread and Apple Stuffing recipe. (Check out our Apple Cheddar Quick Bread recipe too.)
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