Beginners Guide to the Best Apples for Apple Picking

Apple picking is one of my favorite fall festivities that I’ve been doing since I was little. I loved running through the apple patch in my combat boots going on hay rides, listening to live music, eating apple sugared donuts, cartwheeling through the pumpkin patch, and playing with the farm animals. It’s also the only only trip, apart from Disney World, where my family doesn’t argue. In honor of Apple Fest and because I’m 2,000 miles away from the greatest season ever, fall, here’s a list of the BEST apples to pick in the fall. Feel free to print out this list and take it with you on your next apple picking adventure.

Apples Best for Baking/Cooking


McIntosh apples are by the best apples for snacking. They're sweet and crisp with a nice tart aftertaste perfect for when you're craving sweets. And because their consistency bakes down so easily, they're a perfect for a nice apple crisp.


People Magazine claims these little guys are a perfect balance of sweet and tart perfect for baking Salted Caramel Pies. Chef Alex Guarnaschelli also suggests baking them whole, which gives them an almost fluffy texture.


According to All the Recipes Cortland's are slightly tart, with bright red skin and snowy white flesh. They are a best used in pies, cobblers; and crisps and they don't brown and discolor quickly.

Ida Red


Gala apples are delicious raw and taste great with a side of peanut butter and celery sticks. Not to mention they taste incredible in a warm homemade apple sauce or hot cider.


These are very tart so I don’t recommend eating them raw but they’re great for applesauce and baking. Jonagolds, cross between a Johnathan and a Golden Delicious, are better for eating fresh.


These are perfect for apple sauce and apple cider but make sure to get them soon because they have a very short season.

Northern Spy

These are perfect for any last minute apple pickers since they're late season growers. They're perfect for storage, baking, and juicing.

Apples Best Raw


Empires are an all purpose apple. They're perfect for salads, pies, or just to eat plain raw.


Ginger Gold


Granny Smith

Granny Smiths are more tart than sweet and I recommend using these for green soured candy apples. They are perfect for the Halloween season coming up.


Quick Apple Harvesting Tip:

If you store apples in the fridge, keep them away from lettuce and other delicate produce, as the ethylene gas naturally produced by apples causes fruits and vegetables to ripen and/or spoil faster.