Apples are the quintessential fruit of American culture. People flock to orchards in the autumn to go apple-picking, doctors tell us to eat them every day, and every great holiday feast features a cinnamon-spiced apple pie front and center.
Although apples are strongly associated with America, they didn’t actually originate here. America’s most consumed fruit was brought to America from Central Asia. Fortunately, our shorter growing season, cold winters, moderate summers, and medium-to-high humidity levels are the perfect climate to grow a deliciously sweet apple.
Over 7,500 varieties of apples are grown globally, 2,500 of which are produced right here in America.
How Did We Get So Many Different Apple Varieties?
In the 1980s, apple breeding gained momentum in Washington state, resulting in an explosion of new apple varieties. Cross-pollination and other breeding techniques have allowed food scientists to create new types of apples with some control over sweetness, crunchiness, length of the growing season, and disease resistance.
Since then, America has seen a virtually endless stream of new apple choices become available. In this guide, we’ve put together a list of the top five sweetest apples for eating to help you narrow down your favorite types of apples!
Health Benefits of Apples
There is some truth to the adage that eating an apple every day will keep the doctor away – they’re stuffed full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are all incredibly healthy for your body.
Apples are high in fiber, which aids digestion, and vitamin C, a known immune-booster. They’re also high in polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant.
Feel free to eat these delicious nutrient-bombs as often as you like!
What Does an Apple Taste Like?
An apple’s flavor is better experienced than described. Their texture, which affects the overall taste, ranges from super crunchy to a soft, gentle crispness, and in bad cases, a crumbly, mealy quality.
The sweetness levels vary greatly from variety to variety: from sour, nearly inedible crabapples to sweetly tart Granny Smiths to sugary sweet Fuji apples.
What Makes an Apple Sweet?
The sweetness of an apple comes from the amount of fruit sugar it contains. Apple sweetness can be measured by Brix levels, which represent the amount of sugar dissolved in a liquid.
Sweet apples have high Brix levels, while tart apples are relatively lower in their Brix levels.
Sweetest Apples List: Ranking Apples by Sweetness
Sweet Apple #5: Honeycrisp
The Honeycrisp is an aptly named apple: it’s both honey-sweet with crispness you can sink your teeth into with glee. These sweet apples get their crisp juiciness from larger individual cells within the fruit, and it boasts a light berry flavor.
The Honeycrisp breed was developed out of the University of Minnesota in 1991, crossed between the Honeygold and Macoun apple varieties.
Uses for Honeycrisp
Use other apples for baking, as the texture of a Honeycrisp apple makes it a delicious snack best enjoyed raw.
Here are a few other perfect uses for a Honeycrisp:
- Fresh on a turkey and bacon sandwich
- Cinnamon apple smoothies
- Grilled with cinnamon and star anise
- Honeycrisp Waldorf salad
Sweet Apple #4: Ambrosia
Fittingly named after the fruit of the ancient Greek gods, these apples are fit for royalty. The Ambrosia is low in acidity, so each bite gives you a subtle honey flavor with tender sweetness. This sweetness is well-paired with savory dishes, as a fun contrast in flavors.
In 1987, this apple was found growing naturally in an apple orchard located in British Columbia, Canada. Its parentage is unknown, as humans didn’t cross-breed it.
Uses for Ambrosia
This sweet apple is excellent raw or baked in sweet or savory dishes.
Here are a few of the endless ways you can use Ambrosia apples:
- Apple cakes, donuts, or muffins
- Apple pie and crumbles
- Couscous, rice, or polenta dishes
- Sliced raw on sandwiches, burgers, or cheese plates
Sweet Apple #3: Red Delicious
The red delicious is a heart-shaped, ruby-red fruit with a mild flavor compared to other varieties and a load of sweetness. These apples store very well when left unpeeled.
Red Delicious origin
These apples were bred by nature and discovered by chance as a seedling on an apple farm in Iowa in 1874. The Red Delicious apple’s parentage is unknown.
Uses for Red Delicious
Red Delicious apples are best enjoyed fresh, like in fruit salads. Don’t use these apples for baking, as they cannot withstand high temperatures and completely break down.
Here are our favorite uses for Red Delicious apples:
- Sweet fruit salad
- Topping mixed green salads
- Sliced and enjoyed raw
Sweet Apple #2: Gala
These sweet apples are beautiful to behold: bright pink and orange stripes on a warm yellow canvas. Galas contain crisp, juicy flesh that releases a sweet, floral aroma. These crispy, sweet apples are more versatile than some of the others and growing in popularity worldwide.
The Gala apple was created in New Zealand in 1965 as a cross-breed between the Golden Delicious and Kidd’s Orange varieties.
Uses for Gala
These apples shine when eaten fresh. But they also hold up well when baked!
Try using a Gala apple for:
- Baked apples with oatmeal
- Apple chips
- Unsweetened apple sauce (Use an apple peeler to remove the skins and simmer with water, a dash of lemon juice, and cinnamon. No need to add any extra sugar!)
- Fresh-pressed apple cider
Sweet Apple #1: Fuji
These yellow apples with pink-red stripes are Japanese apples that originate from the town of Fujisaki. Fuji apples have a sharp, sweet bite; low-acidity; and thick, waxy skin. This apple has a flavor complicated enough that it’s a real pleasure to eat raw, with notes of fragrant citrus and rich honey.
Fuji apples were bred in Fujisaki, Japan in 1962. The Fuji is a cross between the Ralls Janet and Red Delicious apple varieties.
Uses for Fuji
The fine grain texture of this apple means it is delicious raw or cooked.
The best ways to enjoy Fuji apples are:
- Fresh coleslaw
- Bircher muesli
- Grated in apple pancakes
- Candy or caramel-dipped apples
- Apple pie and crumble
- Freshly sliced on a green salad
What is the sweetest apple?
The Fuji variety produces some of the sweetest apples to eat.
Since there is so much more to enjoying an apple than just the pure sweetness level, we suggest building a taste-test experiment of your own at home.
Head to your local grocery store and go to the apple section. Avoid the bagged apples, and pick up a few of the individual varieties they have available.
Once you’re home, slice up the apples and try a side-by-side comparison, noting all of the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between varieties. Don’t forget a palate cleanser between bites!
Final Word: Choosing from Our Sweetest Apples Chart
Well, that was our guide to the sweetest apples. We hope you learned a lot from our countdown!
To review, remember the following when choosing an apple:
- All five of these apple breeds taste INCREDIBLE when eaten raw;
- If you want a sweet apple for baking, stick to Fuji, Gala, or Ambrosia varieties;
- For savory dishes, consider trying the Ambrosia apple, whose low-acid sweetness pairs perfectly with salty foods;
- And try a taste-test to figure out which one you like the best!
If you love a sweet-tasting apple, try these five varieties out and see which one is your favourite! Enjoy!