From ambrosia to winesap, we’re covering the most popular types of apples from A to Z in this helpful guide to apples!
Did you know there are something like 2,500 varieties of apples in the United States, and perhaps as many as 30,000 worldwide? Some are just slight variations of others, but that is still a lot to choose from!
Let’s look at the 29 types of apples that are the most popular in the United States, some favorites in other nations, and those that have characteristics that just make them great.
The Apple industry in America employs almost 150,000 people, farms over 300,000 acres, and has annual sales over $22 billion while providing $8 billion in wages. We love our apples.
Types of Apples
- Belle de Boskoop
- Golden Delicious
- Granny Smith
- Newton Pippin
- Pacific Rose
- Pink Lady
- Pink Pearl
- Red Delicious
- Rose Apple
Ambrosia Apples are a top 20 seller in the United States and even more popular in Canada. Ambrosia Apples originated in British Columbia. The first tree was cultivated in the early 1990s by the Mennell family who held breeder’s rights on the trees until only a few years ago. They previously received a $2 (Canadian) royalty per tree planted in Canada and $1 in the US. Ambrosia apples are known for their sweet honey taste. This makes sense as ambrosia means “food of the gods” in ancient mythology.
Their sweet taste makes them ideally eaten raw or perhaps cut into fruit or veggie salads, but our favorite use for a honey sweet apple has to be this Autumn Apple Sangria recipe.
Belle de Boskoop
Belle de Boskoop Apples are not a big seller in the United States, but I lived in their native Netherlands for five years, so we need to give them some love. Boskoop apples are tart and citrusy, and used extensively in baked goods across Europe where their flavor really shines in strudels, pastries, and all manner of sweets.
Braeburn Apples are native to New Zealand. Their yellow-red stripped skin is quite aesthetic, and they are known to be a flavorful apple that does not dry out as easily as some other varieties do.
Cameo Apples are a hybrid apple, but we don’t know exactly of what. They weren’t cultivated, but instead were just discovered growing on the Caudle family orchard in Washington State in 1987. Experts actually think they are a cross between red delicious and golden delicious which despite their names are not related. Cameo are bright red with orange stripes. They are a crisp variety that makes the top 10 most grown apples in Washington State and top 20 nationally.
Cortland Apples are an apple cultivar developed in New York in 1898. They are named after Cortland County New York, and are one of the 15 most popular varieties in the United States. Now that may sound like a participation trophy (15th place, what color ribbon is that?), but that puts them as a top 1% variety here in the United States.
Crispin Apples, or Matsu Apples, originated in Japan, but are available much more broadly today. It has a particularly sweet taste with a bit of tartness to its juicy pulp that makes it ideal for eating raw.
Empire Apples are in the top 10 most sold apples in the United States. They were developed at Cornell University in the 1940s by crossing Red Delicious and McIntosh apples. The combination resulted in a sweet-tart apple great eaten raw or cooked.
Evercrisp Apples were developed by the Midwest Apple Improvement Association in Ohio and introduced to the public in 2017. They are a cross between Honeycrisp and Fuji apples. It would seem they couldn’t go wrong as a cross of those two top 10 selling apples. These trademarked (as EverCrisp) apples are said to be sweet and crisp.
Fuji Apples originated in Fujisaki Japan in the 1930s. They are Japan’s most popular apple variety today and rank #4 in sales in the United States. They are a larger sweet apple variety that are great for baking, but they also hold up well sautéed! Our favorite use for them is in a vegan Apple Crisp recipe!
Gala Apples are America’s most eaten apple. Gala Apples originated in New Zealand around 1930. They are known for their sweet flavor and crispness. In 2018 they bumped the Red Delicious for America’s favorite (most eaten) apple, a title the red delicious held since the 1940s. This is a great apple. Eat them fresh or use them in baking. Their versatility is part of the reason they are #1.
Golden Delicious Apples are in the Top 15 among America’s favorite apples. This is no participation trophy when you consider that there are around 2,500 apple varieties in the USA. Interestingly, they are not related to the Red Delicious. They are another hybrid apple, but one created by nature without human interference. They first appeared on a farm in Clay County West Virginia in the early 1900s, and Clay County has held a Golden Delicious Festival every year since 1972. In 1995 the golden delicious became West Virginia’s official state fruit.
Granny Smith Apples are also known as Green Apples or Sour Apples. They originated in Australia in 1868, and were named after Maria Smith whose nickname was, of course, Granny. She is credited as being the cultivator of this now famous apple. They are light-green, crisp, juicy, tart, and stay firm in cooking making them one of the most popular baking apples. As recently as 2019, Granny Smith apples were the 3rd most popular apple in the USA. They are great in this Savory Apple Tart!
The Honeycrisp is America’s #5 selling apple. These large green to yellow apples are known for their pleasant sweet-tart flavor and juicy texture. The honeycrisp was developed in 1960 by the University of Minnesota, but the apples were not released for commercial sale until 1991. The honeycrisp was genetically engineered with cells twice the size of other apples. This is what gives them their signature crunch.
Jazz Apples are a top 20 seller in the United States though they originated in New Zealand around 1985. The Jazz apple is a cross between Royal Gala and Braeburn apples giving them, in our opinion, a pretty good pedigree. Like most popular apples they are good both fresh and cooked with a decidedly crisp texture.
Jonagold Apples are currently the #7 selling apple in America. They were developed in 1953 at the NY State Agricultural Experiment Station at Cornell University. Jonagold is a cross between the golden delicious and blush-crimson. The Jonagold is a large sweet fruit that has become popular in commercial orchards outside of America and is the #1 grown apple in Belgium.
Jonathan Apples are another top 20 seller in the United States. These medium size apples are red with a hint of yellow and are fairly tart. They are equally eaten raw and used in baking. There is some controversy over the creation of the Jonathan apple, but credit is generally given to Mr. Philip Rick who is believed to have developed them in 1826 on his far in Ulster County NY.
McIntosh Apples are a great baking apple, but also great for cider and eating out-of-hand because they are so juicy. They do bruise easily and some growers recommend storing them in your refrigerator. While they originated from Canada, they are today the #6 selling apple in the United States.
Macoun Apples are a cross between McIntosh and Jersey Black apples. They are named after the W.T Macoun the horticulturalist who developed them around 1920. These apples stay firm in baking making them great in a variety of baked goods. They are currently the #8 selling apple variety in the United States.
Melrose Apples are a cross between Jonathan and Red Delicious apples, and were developed at the Ohio Agricultural Experimentation Center. They are now the official apple of the state of Ohio. They are a sweet-tart variety used mostly in baking.
The Newton Pippin Apple is one of the oldest American varieties. It appears to have come from England in the 18th Century, and was grown on the estates of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Cultivation of these apples has fallen off dramatically since our colonial days. While the Newton Pippin was originally grown as a dessert apple, it is now used commercially mostly for cider.
The Pacific Rose Apple was developed in New Zealand in 1990, and brought to America shortly after. They are grown today mostly in Washington State. They are a cross of Gala and Splendour apples, and often used as a dessert apple.
Pink Lady Apples were developed in Australia in 1973, but are grown around the world today. In the United States Washington State is the largest producer. They are a cultivar of the golden delicious which is probably what gives them their gold streaks blended with their pinkish skin. They are popular eaten fresh or in baking.
Pink Pearl Apples appear to be the apple that nature turned inside out due to their reddish pulp. Actually, nature didn’t make them this way, but Mr. Albert Etter of California did in 1944. They are known for being crisp and juicy with a tart to sweet taste. What do you do with a uniquely colored apple with such a flavor profile? Our vote is Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples recipe would be a good recipe to showcase the unusual red interior.
Queen Apples are native to New Zealand. These dark-red apples are said to be crisp and juicy as are, honestly, most apple varieties.
Rajka Apples are a fairly recently developed variety from the Czech Republic. Like many recently developed varieties, it was grown to have an aesthetic appearance with a nice red color and crisp flesh.
The Red Delicious Apples were America’s favorite apple for decades. It was developed in Iowa in 1872, and is well known for its bright red color and sweet taste. In 2018 the Gala apple seized the crown of America’s most eaten apple. Some apple experts say that the red delicious’ success led to its fall from the #1 spot. Growers increasingly bred the red delicious to be brighter red and to store longer in an effort to increase sales, and may have sacrificed somewhat on the flavor. We don’t know if this is true, but they still live up to their name – delicious.
The Rome Apple was developed, supposedly quite by chance, in Rome Ohio sometime around 1817. Rome apples are an all-red glossy apple with firm pulp. They are used mostly as a baking apple. While they are not a top 20 seller in the United States, you can often find them at your local grocery.
The Rose Apple is also known as the Java Apple and is native to Southeast Asia. They are a staple in Vietnam where, like most apples, they are often eaten out of hand. The Java apple has a distinctive bell shape with colors ranging from pink to bright red.
Winesap Apples came out of Moorestown New Jersey sometime in the 18th Century. They are known as a firm and sweet-tart red apple mostly used in cooking. They are generally considered one of the top 10 cooking apples in the United States.