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A Guide to Apple Baking, Saucing and Munching

Apples are the quintessential fall fruit. Perfectly perched on top of teachers’ desks and tucked into lunchboxes, apples are in their prime right now. Fall also brings with it a resurgent interest in baking. I’m finally feeling ready to return to the kitchen for a few cooking projects – whole baked apples, applesauce and even apple chips are on the list.

The toughest part of about encountering the glorious display of apples in our stores is deciding which apple is best for which project. All are great for munching out of hand, but texture, flavor and size all contribute to whether the chosen fruit is best for apple crisp or applesauce.

Apple-Cranberry Muesli Crisp Baked Apples Stuffed with Cranberries and Almonds


Whether stuffed and baked whole for a self-contained side or dessert or chopped up and hidden under a layer of dough or crumble topping, these apples hold their shape during cooking.

  • Rome apples are very large with green-speckled red skin. This variety makes an impressive dessert when baked whole.
  • Extra tart with thick, “apple green” skin, Granny Smiths are the perfect foil to a sweeter baking apple like Golden Delicious for balanced pies and crisps.
  • Braeburn apples are very crisp, sweet and tangy making them great for baking or eating raw.
  • Golden Delicious are excellent all-purpose apples that are particularly good in pies and crisps.
  • Jonagold apples have a honeyed sweetness and crisp yellow flesh. This variety holds its shape during baking or sautéing.

Spiced Apple-Pear Butter


These apples break down beautifully with heat, making them perfect for purées and sauces.

  • Cortland apples are sweet and juicy and their flesh breaks down easily with cooking making a luscious sauce. These crisp apples are also great raw as their flesh resists browning.
  • With shiny, deep red skin and bright white flesh, Empire apples are crisp and a little spicy. Cored and stewed, this variety cooks down into a beautiful rosy pink sauce.
  • Stout Macoun apples are tender, juicy and sweet making them perfect for sauce.
  • Tart-sweet McIntosh apples are juicy with a great fragrance, but they don’t stand up to long cooking times.

Warm Spinach Salad with Apple and Robusto Cheese Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad


If you’re simply in need of a good snack, apples fit the bill. These are some of our favorite varieties for eating out of hand or using raw in salads.

  • Honeycrisp apples are extra crisp and tangy. They are excellent eaten raw, but will also hold their shape when baked.
  • With red skin and light green patches, Fuji apples are juicy and fragrant.
  • Crisp and mildly sweet, Gala apples are a super satisfying snack.
  • Pink Lady apples are pinky red in color with crisp, juicy flesh and a complex flavor.

What are your go-to baking apples? Which is your favorite variety for munching? Share your snacking and baking suggestions and tips in the comments section below.


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M. says …

Will you be adding some gluten free recipes for fall?

Juan says …

My kid loves apples but I have found that eating apple slices are not his favorite way to consume them. Do you have any kid-friendly recipes?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@M - We have over 1300 gluten free recipes on our website. You can find them all at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/search/%20?f[0]=field_special_diet%3A139. If you want to search for specific ingredients, click on Advanced Search and you can check GF to make sure the entire recipe is GF.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JUAN - You bet! Here are some kid-friendly recipes with apples: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/dried-apple-slices, http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/open-face-apple-tahini-sandwich or http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/fancy-ants-log. My ultimate favorite for kiddos is http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/apple-sandwiches-granola-and-peanut-butter. Enjoy!

Sofia's Ideas says …

We are doing an apple tasting & comparing as part of our homeschool lessons tomorrow and Whole Foods Market Wellington, FL is the only place we'll go to get our best organic varieties!

rae.jones2 says …

How do you make, apple chips? Judy

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@RAE - Here is a great recipe for apple chips! http://wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/dried-apple-slices

Marie Burton says …

Why don't we get cooking apples like Brambley apples - in the US? This is what we always use in apple pies in Ireland and England. They are not eating apples - too strong a taste and too bitter and are big (sometimes almost the size of a grapefruit) lumpy looking apples, but they make the best apple pie and apple sauce and because they have such a strong apple taste when cooked, they don't need spices. I would love to be able to get some and have not been able to find anyone who even knows what I'm talking about. I live in Denver, Colorado but have also tried to find them while living in Austin, TX. Many thanks.

Elana6 says …

I love Whole Foods Market and I love apples, and I found it helpful to have signs telling about each variety and what each is best used for. I haven't seen those signs in a long time, so this article is a boon. Thank you.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MARIE - Our products will vary between store locations. I would suggest reaching out to the Produce department at your local store to see if they typically have the apples in this time of year.

Brad Beebe says …

Will you be carrying Sweet Tango apples this year? If so, when would they become available? thank you for your guidance.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BRAD - Our exact products will differ between stores. Check with the produce department at your local store to find out when/if they expect to have these in soon!

Marilyn says …

My go to baking apple is smokehouse. You can almost never find them but my grandmother always used these and they are awsome! If whole foods could sell these, I would buy them by the bushel, literally. They freeze well.

Andre says …

Do you carry UNpasteurized apple cider in/near Houston, TX?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ANDRE - We should have an unpasteurized option but our products can vary between locations and regions. My local store in Austin (same region as Houston) carried Martinelli's unpasteurized apple cider so they might have that in stock. Check with them directly to make sure!

Emma says …

I'm interested in vegan apple dishes for fall:)

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@EMMA - We have you covered! Check out this awesome vegan apple pie option that will definitely change things up! http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/fresh-take-apple-pie

Anne says …

What about Northern Spies? I find them, by far, the best cooking apple as they are flavourful, and hold their shape well. They hold up well in all sorts of dishes that I make, such as scalloped rutabaga and apple, and in stuffings, and with pork. Anne