The Great Apple Taste Test

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great apple taste testFall is around the corner.  Some people think fall is exclusively for pumpkin spice.  I like a little pumpkin spice (mostly in pumpkin pie,) but for me, fall is for apples.

I absolutely love apples. LOVE THEM!

A long time ago, I posted about the best apples for apple pie. I promised that I would write a guide about which apples were best to eat out of hand. And then I forgot. And I was a big liar, but I’m making amends now.


Apples are nature’s candy. I find it amazing that there are so many varieties and that they can be so different  in their similarities. There is a whole slew of new “designer apples” being produced right now. They are really fun (and really expensive.) If you are in need of a snack, try an apple with a little goat cheese spread on it. Yum!

I realize that different people have different preferences. (That’s what makes us different, I suppose.) For me, the most important aspect is texture. I can’t stand a mushy apple. If it’s firm and with a nice crunch, I will like it.  For some it is more about the flavor tart vs. sweet or nuance vs. one tone.

I conducted a blind taste test with 18 apple varieties. Yes 18 varieties. Can you believe I could find that many? And that is just a drop in the bucket of available varieties. I had never tried some of these type before. And I found that I really enjoyed some of them. The taste test subjects were some of my neighbors (obviously cultivated and professional palates, but at least you’re getting a relatable review.) We judged the apples based on their texture and flavor.

**Update** Since I wrote this, I have been finding and buying new apple varieties when I see them. So now there are more apples, making the total 30.

Before we start, can I just say that I love the apple photos? They are all so GORGEOUS.


Here were the contestants:

Gala Apple

Gala: A classic. One of my favorites pre-taste test. Pretty easy to find in my area.

“Sweet clean taste, medium crispness”

“Sweet, not too tangy, fairly crisp”

Verdict: Thumbs up


Granny Smith

Granny Smith: A standby. One of my favorites for caramel apples.

“Tart, but pleasant. Firm, not crisp”

“Crunchy, not crispy”

“A bit dense, instead of crisp”

Verdict:  Neutral, some liked it, some didn’t



Jonagold: One I’ve seen before, but didn’t give it much attention.

“Sweet and mellow, light- airy crisp”

“Yum! Cinnamony”

Verdict: Thumbs way up


Rome Apple

Rome: This looks like the apple that belongs in Snow White


“Thick skinned and very white flesh”

“Squishy, falls apart”

Verdict: Pretty to look at, but pretty gross to eat


Red Delicious Apple

Red Delicious: The apple of all apples. It’s the only one I knew existed for about half of my life.

“Thick skinned with classic apple taste. Firm texture.”

“‘Watery taste.”

Verdict: There are much better options these days


Ambrosia Apple

Ambrosia: A new type for me. Sounds like it should be good! I haven’t seen them in regular grocery stores around my area.

“Mellow flavor”

“Nice crispy crunch”

Verdict: Thumbs up



Jazz: Another new fangled variety. I’ve seen it at the local grocery store a few times.

“Sweet with a little tang”

“Tastes a little like a pear, very sweet”

“Good crisp”

Verdict: Thumbs up


Empire Apple

Empire: Hadn’t ever heard of this variety, but I’m glad I found it!

“Tart and a little thick skinned”

“Sweet and zesty”

“like a mild granny smith”

Verdict: Thumbs up



Mcintosh: “Code word, the Mcintosh apple is ripe”

“Tart and tangy”

“A bit mushy, not mealy”

“Sweet and very soft”

Verdict: Not so great for eating


Golden Delicious Apple

Golden Delicious: Another variety from my youth, I used to hate them. Apples weren’t supposed to be yellow!

“Sweet but a little bland”


Verdict: Not so great


Cameo Apple

Cameo: I’d heard of it, but didn’t know what to make of it.

“Sugary Sweet”

“Clean and sweet with a firm crunch”

Verdict: Thumbs up


Jonathan Apple

Jonathan: Seems to be one that is around quite often, I had no opinion of it.

” Thick skinned and litle tart”

“Juicy and sweet, but a little soft”

“Ok taste”

Verdict: Not so much


Pink Lady Apple

Pink Lady: A newer variety I had heard of, but hadn’t tried. I’ve seen it grow in availability.

“Citrusy sweet”


“Great Crisp”

Verdict: Two thumbs up


Braeburn Apple

Braeburn: Another one that existed in the back of my head.

“Tart, tastes dry, but I like it”

“A little tart, crunchy”

Verdict: Thumbs up


Fuji Apple

Fuji: Classically, one of my favorite apples

“Bland and crispish”



Verdict: Surprisingly not good. We may have just gotten a bad apple since this one has traditionally been very good


Pinata Apple

Pinata: Sounds festive enough. I was a little sad it wasn’t filled with candy. I haven’t seen this one as a regular at the grocery store.

“Some spice to it, like clove. Sweet and mellow crisp”

“Tastes like something other than an apple.”

Verdict: Unusual, but thumbs up



Honeycrisp: It’s been around for a little while. Usually double the cost of the other apples, but for a reason.

“Nice balance of sweet and tart”

“Crispy light crunch”

Verdict: Two thumbs up


Sweetango Apple

Sweet Tango: Seriously, who names these?

“Kinda like perfume”

“Medium crisp”

Verdict: So-so



Cortland: A pretty apple. I’d never heard of it.

“Bright white inside”


“Ok flavor”

Results: Nah


snapdragon apple

Snapdragon: A recent discovery, love the name!

“Mellow sweetness with bright tang.”

“Densely crisp.”

Verdict: Yum!


opal apple

Opal: This one looked like it should be gross. Kinda reminded me of a really old yellow delicious.

“Citrusy and perfumy”

“Loose crisp.”

Verdict: Looks deceived. It was tasty!


Envy Apple

Envy: It’s a pretty apple. The envy of all the other apples.

“Subtle apple flavor”

“Aromatic and sweet”

“Nice crisp texture.”

Results: Deserving of the name.


sonya apple

Sonya: An unusually shaped apple. Very tall and narrow toward the bottom

“Wonderfully sweet”

“Nice texture, crispy”

Verdict: Pretty good!


pacific rose

Pacific Rose: Sounds lovely. The produce lady said this is her favorite apple.

“Sweet and mellow”

“A hint of floral”


Verdict: Very good, but maybe not the very favorite.


Kanzi Apple

Kanzi: An apple that ninjas eat


“Pleasantly Tart”

“Interesting compared to all the super sweet apples”

Verdict: Well liked, probably because it was different than many others.


sweetie 2

Sweetie: Who wouldn’t like this apple?

“Very mild flavor”

“So-So texture”

Verdict: The Flavor was nice, but the texture wasn’t spot on.


Lady Alice

Lady Alice: Sounds pretty fancy. She’s a lady after all

“Holy cow this is yummy!”

“Awesome texture, crisp and so sweet”

“Citrusy and maybe a little bit of pear taste.”

Verdict: YES! There are a few apples that I refuse to share with others. This bag of apples was one of those. 


Kiku Apple

Kiku: Hmm, sounds pretty exciting.  This was on expensive apple. But I’m in love with the stripey appearance!

“A little disappointing.”

“Sweet, no tangy, or flavor variation.”

“Skin was a little tougher than I like.”

Verdict: I was pretty excited about this apple. If it is $2.99/lb, it should be worth it. Sadly, I don’t think it merited that cost. It was good, but not great.


 Juici Apple

Juici: This sounds like it should be good. And I like the speckles

“Sweet and wait for it, juicy.”


“Crisp and pleasant”

Verdict: Yep! It lived up to its name. It was Juicy and delicious.


Koru Apple

Koru: Apparently it comes from New Zealand

“Sweet, but nothing amazing.”

“Not quite crispy enough.”

Verdict: So-So


Smitten Apple-001

Smitten: Come on. It better be good if I’m going to be smitten

“Pleasant combo of sweet and tart”

“Perfect crisp”

Verdict: It delivered! I was smitten



Golden Dragon Apple

Golden Dragon: I was SO excited to find this apple. It was snuggled in with the pears. It has such a weird color. It’s yellow, but trying to be red. This apple gave me one of the best culinary surprises of all time! I cut it open and found this…

golden dragon inside

Its flesh is pink inside. This is why the apple was yellow trying to be red.

“Mealy, unfortunate.”

“Sweet, but can’t get over the texture.”

Verdict: The surprise inside apple was worth it just for the wow factor. But the taste was pretty terrible. Maybe just got a bad batch. A novelty apple.


Here’s a couple caveats. I fully realize that having one taste test isn’t all that scientific. Lots of factors go into how good an apple is. How old it is, how far it traveled, how it was grown. I’ve had really great red delicious apples and really terrible ones. Just like the Fuji apple. Usually I love a fuji, but this batch was gross. Hopefully this will give you a little idea of what is worth trying and which ones you can leave for baking or just leave at the store altogether.



The winners of this round up? The Jonagold,  Lady Alice, Pink Lady, Honey Crisp, Empire. Cameo, SnapDragon, Kanzi, Sonya and Braeburn

The runner’s up: Ambrosia, Jazz, Sweet Tango, Pinata, Gala, Granny Smith, Envy, Opal and Pacific Rose

The losers: The Rome, Mcintosh, Golden Delicious, Golden Dragon, Jonathan,  Red Delicious, Cortland and Fuji

I’m salivating for apples now. Thanks a lot!





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  1. Debbie Calvert says

    Great post. When I started reading I was wondering what your take on the Red Delicious & Golden Delicious would be. For many years I have considered them to be the two most worthless apples ever, with Red Delicious at the bottom. It’s thick-skinned and almost always mealy.
    Pink Lady has been my favorite for years, but I often buy Gala when the Pink Lady is 2 or 3 times the price.
    Some of these I haven’t tried yet, but have wondered how they were.

      • says

        Great to know I’m not alone. I always hated the texture and the bitter taste as a child, and always preferred the Fuji apples that family would buy over the Red “delicious” any day.

        I’ve recently been wanting to try more apple varieties since I’ve only eaten Fuji and Red Delicious and Granny Smith before today. I just finished eating the Ambrosia apple and the Honeycrisp and both are good. I definitely preferred the Ambrosia over the Honeycrisp though, as it had more flavor similar to a good Fuji apple but maybe with slightly nicer tasting skin? The Honeycrisp had a bit more bitter-tasting skin and inside texture felt like a pear kind of.

        By the way, have you ever heard of “Grapple”? I saw it once in a grocery store several years ago, and it was advertised as an apple that tastes like grape. If I can remember right, it didn’t really taste that much like a grape, though.

  2. Jenny says

    I conducted a similar taste test with my cub scouts a couple of years ago. The variety was by no means as extensive as this list, but the honeycrisp and pink lady apples came out on top!

  3. Linda Jean says

    Never understood the devotion to Granny Smith for baking. Once I realized I could use any apple in a recipe, not just the one called for, I ditched the Granny Smith for good. Pink Lady has long been one of my favorites, but it’s only available early in the season – slice thin and put on a turkey and gouda sandwich! I agree with the Delicious verdict. I have an apple almost every work day around 3:30-4:00 – staves off the hungries when I get home to make dinner.

    I went looking for your blog today because I hadn’t received an email in so long. My first thought was, is everyone alright???? And, I hope you are. I miss your posts. My second thought was, what did I mess upon on my computer??? But, it seems as though you haven’t posted in awhile. Please come back!

  4. miriam says

    The McIntosh is my favorite eating apple. Occasionally I find a batch that’s mealy or jarringly sour, but most of the time it lives up to the name “nature’s candy.”

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