Sliced apple and cinnamon sticks next to a jar of preserved apples, with a bowl of whole apples in the background
(Image credit: 5second)

Apples are grown in all 50 states. Some are best eaten fresh while other apples are better for cooking or preserving. In the United States there are 2,500 apple varieties, and their uses run the gamut from juicing to drying to making applesauce to desserts. Read on to learn about the best apples for everything from pie to apple butter.

Apple Uses

With so many apple varieties there’s bound to be one for your use. For instance the best apples for cooking into pies and other baked goodies are Ambrosia, Braeburn, Cameo, Cortland, Empire, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Honeycrisp, Jazz, Jonagold, Jonathan, and Pink Lady.

Other apple varieties are more suited to drying or making into leather, juice or cider, applesauce or butter, or to can or freeze.

Good Apples for Applesauce

The best apples for applesauce will be those that are crisp yet sweet and juicy such as Ambrosia, Gala, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp and Pink Lady. If you like your applesauce on the tart side, include a pound or two (just under ½ kg to just under 1 kg) of tangier apples such as Granny Smith, Jonagold, McIntosh, or Winesap to every 3 pounds (1.3 kg) of sweeter apple.

If you want to make apple jelly, choose sweet varieties of apple such as Ambrosia, Fuji, or Gala. Apple jam should contain apples from both ends of the spectrum: some sweet and some tart such as Pink Lady combined with Granny Smith.

Best Apple for Apple Butter

Apple butter cooks low and slow so apple varieties should have soft flesh. Apple choices for apple butter include Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, and Red Delicious.

Other apples to try for both applesauce and butter may be Empire, Cameo, Gravenstein, Jazz, Jonagold, Rome Beauty, and Stayman.

Best Apples for Juicing

Juicy apples such as Ambrosia, Cameo, Gala, Golden Delicious, Gold Rush, Fuji, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Jazz, Jonagold and Pink Lady will do well for juicing or making into cider.

Freezing or Drying Apples

Any type of apple freezes well it just depends on how you want to freeze them. Apples can be frozen whole, peeled and sliced or made into apple pie filling prior to freezing.

All apples types can be dried. Your taste preference will dictate which type you would like dried. Sweet apples such as Gala or Fuji make great sweet dried apples or for those who like a bit of tartness, try drying Granny Smith.

All apples can be prepared in any of the ways above. Some are better in an instance than others but if you happen to have an entire tree of Gravenstein at your disposal, then try any or all of the above preservation methods.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.