Their crisp bite and juicy sweetness make apples a natural choice to bite into for a healthy and fiber-filled snack, but one of the questions we get often about apples is…how do I cook with apples? And of course, immediately after that is a question asking which apple varieties are the best for cooking. When it comes to cooking with apples, there are certain varieties and cooking methods that perform better than others. You can always learn through your own trial and error, but as the apple experts, we’ve gone ahead and provided you with tips and tricks to follow the next time you’re going to cook with apples.
How to Cook With Apples
The best tip for cooking with apples is to make sure how you slice the apple matches your cooking method. The smaller you slice or dice it, the faster the apple will cook.
To get started cooking with apples, you’ll want to remove the sticker on the fruit if it has one, wash it under cold water, remove the stem, and peel and core the apple. If you are making a recipe that includes the peels, that’s great…just follow cutting instructions and cooking times closely. Next, you’ll slice the apples. There are hundreds of ways to slice apples, but cutting them into cubes is common for cooking, while slices are often preferred for baked dishes like apple pie. Grated apples are ideal if you are sneaking them into bread or baked good.
If your apples are going to be showcased on top of the dish, you might want to toss them in lemon juice to help prevent excess brown color. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom are all great spices to help bring out the complex flavors that apples offer. You can also go the savory route by pairing apples with spices like sage and rosemary.
The Best Cooking Methods for Apples
It would be impossible to list all of the ways you could go about cooking with apples, but there are certain methods that we prefer over others (and mostly because they aren’t too complex). Here are the best cooking methods for apples:
Baking: This is the go-to cooking method for apples, and that’s because the end result is usually a sweet treat like apple pie or apple crisp. The dry heat used in baking keeps moisture locked in which is ideal when it comes to maintain the apple’s juiciness.
Roasting: Turn the oven up on high (400 degrees F and up) and you’ll be roasting apples in no time. This cooking method helps food cook and brown on the outside while keeping the moisture in the food. This sheet pan meal is a great way to practice roasting apples.
Grilling: We don’t often think about the grill when we think of cooking apples, but I’m here to tell you that it’s worth it. Grilling cooks apples fast and offers that BBQ taste that balances out a sweet dish. Here’s a recipe for grilled apples.
Sauteing: Grab your favorite frying pan and start sauteing apples. This is my favorite method for two dishes we make frequently: pancakes topped with cinnamon-spiced apples and pork tenderloin with apples. It cooks apples quickly and you’ll want to keep it moving to avoid overcooking.
The Best Apples for Cooking
It can be hard to pick out the best cooking apple from the crowd of apples available at grocery stores, but we’re here to help. Apples that will be used for cooking should have a skin and flesh that breaks down, or softens, quickly. The skin isn’t as important if you plan to peel the apple prior to cooking, which many recipes call for. It’s important to remember that the smaller you cut the apple, the faster it will cook. I suppose you could say the same thing for any food that is moving from raw to cooked form!
Our favorite apple varieties to choose for cooking are also readily available at supermarkets throughout the year. Let’s talk about each one!
Fuji: You probably already know that Fuji is the sweetest apple out there, but it’s also full of juice that makes it great for slow roasting in the oven (perhaps to toss on pork or tofu). It’s also a great choice for making slow cooker applesauce, a favorite anytime of the year.
Granny Smith: This is the long-time favorite for a variety of cooking methods, and for good reason. It’s firm but breaks down nicely when cooked. It also is more tart than sweet, allowing for a subtle sweetness that is especially great for savory dishes. Our best advice for cooking with the green apple is to peel it before placing it in the oven.
Golden Delicious: This classic yellow apple has a mellow sweetness and perfect texture for cooking temperatures.
Piñata®: This tropical apple has Golden Delicious parentage, but also two heirloom apples (Cox’s Orange Pippin and Duchess of Oldenburg) that can also withstand the heat. The flesh of Piñata® breaks down when cooked, but not too much to leave mushiness or add excess juice to your dish.
Pink Lady®: If you love Granny Smith apples, but want a bit more sweetness, Pink Lady® is the apple for you. It’s sweet, tart and has a firm flesh. One of the best ways to cook with this apple is a baked apple dish!
Cosmic Crisp®: The apple of big dreams has the perfect texture and flavor balance, and is a star in the kitchen. Turn here for recipe ideas to get cooking with Cosmic Crisp® apples.