There’s nothing like a perfectly-sweet fresh apple for a refreshing snack. But it turns out, there’s quite a lot of difference in sweetness between different types of apples!
The sweetest apples come from a select group of varieties, including Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp, and Golden Delicious apples. These apples are particularly high in natural sugars, and are best enjoyed in-season. An apple’s sweetness is also affected by an orchard’s climate, autumn weather, tree fruit set, ripeness when picked, and the overall terroir of the growing region.
There’s lots to learn about choosing the sweetest apples! Read on to learn all about how sweetness varies between different apples.
“Brix readings are a guide for target sugar levels in fruit. The higher, the better, but from year to year there is quite a lot of variation. Light crops will tend to have higher brix levels and heavy crops will be on the low end.”Checking Apple Maturity: What To Look For, by Phil Schwallier, Michigan State University Extension
1. Fuji Apples
Fuji apples are incredibly sweet, and are quite often the sweetest apple widely available in grocery stores. Fuji apples have an aromatic floral sweetness that almost tastes like honey. The fine-textured flesh is tender and juicy, but still with a lovely crispy crunch. The sweet flavour of Fuji apples makes them extremely popular. These apples were bred for sweetness!
The sweetness of Fuji apples increases as an apple ripens, when starch is converted to sugar and acidity decreases. This variety has naturally low levels of acidity, letting the natural sugars shine through as they develop. Fortunately for sweet apple lovers, Fuji apples available year-round due to the variety’s long shelf life and supply from warm apple-growing climates all over the world.
Read more about the Fuji apple variety
“Sweetness is one of the main drivers of consumer preference, and thus is given high priority in apple breeding programmes.”Sweet taste in apple: the role of sorbitol, individual sugars, organic acids and volatile compounds, by Eugenio Aprea
2. Kiku Apples
Kiku apples are exceptionally sweet and juicy, with firm and crunchy flesh. Kiku apples are a modern apple variety that resulted from a chance natural mutation of the super-sweet Fuji apple.
The Kiku “bud sport” of the Fuji has brighter red striped colouring than Fuji and is thought to be more attractive to the eye (although the flavour is similar). Kiku apples can be thought of as “Red Fuji” apples.
3. Ambrosia Apples
Ambrosia apples have a full-bodied, rich, sweet taste. This variety is known for its distinctive, honey-sweet juiciness and complex floral aromas. Low in acidity, the natural sugars are the star of the show in terms of Ambrosia apple flavour. The Ambrosia is one of the rare modern apple varieties that was discovered by chance rather than specifically bred for sweetness.
While not as widely available as Fuji variety apples, Ambrosia apples are appearing at more and more supermarkets as their popularity grows as one of the sweetest apples out there. Ambrosia fruits from the USA and Canada are generally sold in October-March, while apples imported from New Zealand or Chile are available in the spring and summer.
Read all about Ambrosia apples, including ideas for using them in recipes.
4. Gala Apples
Gala apples are sugary-sweet, but also have a hint of tartness in their flavour. These apples have a pear-like, honey flavour that makes them very popular all around the world. In addition to being super-sweet apples in their own right, they are also the parent apple to many other sweet apple varieties listed further on.
In addition to their natural sweetness, Gala apples are known for their beautiful red colouring with yellow stripes. And unlike some other of the sweetest apple varieties, the gala keeps its shape well when cooked, and can be used in all sorts of recipes that call for sweet apples.
Read more about the Gala apple variety
5. Honeycrisp Apples
Honeycrisp apples have high levels of both natural sugars and acidity, giving them a balanced, unique sweet taste. The complex, full-bodied flavour of the Honeycrisp has turned it into a fall must-have at farmers markets. There’s good reason that many apple lovers will drive all the way to an orchard to get freshly-picked honeycrisp apples!
Honeycrisp apples are one of the few varieties of apples that naturally have high levels of both sugars and acids. They’re also among the largest apples, making a whole apple quite impressive to the eye. Their flavour also seems to be enhanced by the effervescent, spicy, honey-like aroma and crispy-crunch texture.
Read all about Honeycrisp apples and why they’re so delicious!
“In fruits, soluble sugars are mainly composed of sucrose, fructose, and glucose, whilst malic, citric, and tartaric acids are the primary organic acids.”Selected Qualitative and Quantitative Parameters Comparison of Apples from Bio- and
Conventional Production, Acta Scientific Nutritional Health, by Jan Mezey Ján and Davide Serralegri, Department of Fruit Growing, Viticulture and Enology, Faculty of Horticulture and Landscape Engineering, Slovak Agriculture University.
6. SweeTango Apples (Minneiska Variety)
SweeTango apples have a complex sweet and juicy taste that’s well-balanced with a tart “tang”. This Honeycrisp offspring has a hint of spice in the flavour profile, making it perfect to enjoy during autumn harvest season. Even its name is a combination of sweetness and tangy tartness!
Some apple-lovers consider SweeTango apples to be slightly sweeter than their popular parent Honeycrisp. While the SweeTango apple is terrifically sweet (as the name implies), it is also high in acidity, which brings depth and complexity to its flavour. It’s also known for its crisp texture and juicy fresh-eating experience.
7. Envy Apples
Envy apples are a modern apple variety bred for the perfect balance of sweet flavour and refreshing tartness. Envy apples were bred by crossing the very-sweet Royal Gala apple with the spicy and refreshing Braeburn apple. The result is indeed refreshingly sweet!
Read all about Envy apples and their history
8. Sweetie Apples
Sweetie apples are another modern variety that’s a cross between Royal Gala and Braeburn parent apples. This particular apple was chosen for production due to its super-sweet flavour. Sweetie apples are subtly sweet and lovely to look at. They’re certainly an improved Gala variety worth trying in-season.
9. Jazz Apples
Jazz apples are perhaps the most famous Royal Gala and Braeburn cross apple variety. These are dynamic apples with a sweet, fruity flavour that can be reminiscent of pear or of honey. Similar to their sibling Envy apples, Jazz apples are excellent all-round apples and are just as good in cooked recipes as they are for fresh eating.
10. Kanzi Apples
Kanzi apples are a sweet, European-bred apple bred from Gala and Braeburn. Similar to its sibling Jazz, the Kanzi apple is an attractive apple with a well-balanced sweet-tart taste.
11. Dazzle Apples
Dazzle Apples are large, shiny-red, very sweet and fruity fresh apples. A relatively new variety, Dazzle apples are the result of a specialty breeding program in New Zealand. A cross between Sweetie and Pacific Queen, they are descended from local NZ favourites Royal Gala, Braeburn, and Splendour apples. These apples have great genes and are worth seeking out!
12. Golden Delicious Apples
Golden Delicious apples are exceptionally sweet and sugary when allowed to ripen on the tree. These are among the sweetest yellow-green apples, as many other apples with green peels can be quite tart. This chance seedling apple is an all-American classic that’s now beloved the world over. Like Gala, the Golden Delicious is often used as a parent variety in modern apple breeding.
This is an apple to buy in-season, preferably from a local grower who has picked it at the peak of maturity. While the under-ripe green apples can be quite tart, a perfectly tree-ripened Golden Delicious is wonnderfully sugary-sweet. Skip the shelf-ripened stored supermarket apples and take the time to find a true Golden Delicious. The difference in taste is worth it!
Read all about Golden Delicious apples
13. Jonagold Apples
Jonagold apples were bred as a cross between the super-sweet Golden Delicious apple and the complex-tasting Jonathan heirloom apple. Jonagold apples are very sweet, but have that perfect balancing tartness of a great fresh apple.
The Jonagold is thought to be a parent of the sugary-sweet Ambrosia apple, and remains one of America’s greatest-tasting apple varieties. Sweetness increases with ripeness. Choose apples picked when ripe rather than those harvested underripe for transport and storage.
14. Piñata Apples
Piñata apples are a vibrant, sharp-sweet, almost tropical-tasting apple variety. Bred in Europe, this descendent of the Golden Delicious is an apple-lovers treat.
Piñata has a snappy texture that can be hard to find among the sweetest apple varieties. It’s unique taste and natural non-browning qualities make it an apple worth searching for. Piñata is sold exclusively by Stemilt in the US, but can be found elsewhere under its European names “Pinova” or “Sonata” (see how the fun brand-name was chosen!).
“Piñata® apples may be tropical-esque, but its roots are European. In the 1970s, researchers in Germany used traditional cross-pollination breeding methods to join three apples – Golden Delicious, Cox’s Orange Pippin, and Duchess of Oldenburg. The latter two are incredible heirloom varieties from Europe.”Piñata® Apples: The apple with heirloom roots and a tropical twist, Stemilt World Famous Fruit
15. Pink Lady Apples
Pink Lady apples are a premium club apple variety with an attractive red-pink peel and well balanced sweet-tart taste. Pink Lady apples are the “pick of the crop” of the Cripps Pink variety, which was bred in Australia as a cross between Golden Delicious and the Lady Williams apple. This is an apple that’s as sweet to look at as it is to eat!
Read more about Pink Lady/Cripps Pink apples
16. Crispin/Mutsu Apples
Crispin apples, also called Mutsu apples, were bred in Japan as a cross between the sweet Golden Delicious apple and the also-sweet (but relatively unknown) Indo apple variety. Crispin apples have a delicate, honey-like sweet flavour that’s well-balanced with a bit of tang and crispness. Sun-ripened Mutsu apples tend to be the sweetest fruits within the variety.
17. Opal Apples
Opal apples sweet yellow apples with a bit of a crispy crunch. They are very sugary and have the added benefit of being slow to brown. The Opal is a descendent of Golden Delicious, and retains the best of its sweet flavour.
18. SugarBee Apples
SugarBee is a new apple variety with Honeycrisp parentage that has a delicate sweet flavour. The original tree was planted as a seed by a grower in Minnesota. The result is truly delicious! SugarBee apples are quite new to the marketplace and are worth searching out if they’re available in your area.
“Through the encouragement of the organization, Nystrom followed advice to plant many seeds and see what grew. Since the beginning he has used the open pollination method, which he’s had good luck with, as evidenced by the growing popularity and buzz around his SugarBee apple, which came from an open-pollinated Honeycrisp tree.”SugarBee causes a buzz: The variety was developed in Minnesota from open-pollinated Honeycrisp, Good Fruit Grower.
19. Winter Banana Apples
Winter Banana is a unique specialty apple with a mild, sweet, almost banana-like flavour. It has a lovely perfumed scent, which can be similar to bananas when the apples are perfectly tree-ripened during a good growing year. Discovered by chance rather than bred for taste, this is an heirloom apple to enjoy straight from the orchard if you can find it!
20. Cox’s Orange Pippin Apples
Cox’s Orange Pippin is a British heirloom apple variety with a complex fruity sweet flavour. This apple is delicious in its own right, but is also known as a parent apple to many popular modern varieties. While it used to be difficult to find in North America, Cox’s apple is becoming more and more common, especially along the East Coast.
21. Fameuse Apples (Snow Apple)
Fameuse apples, also known as snow apples, are an heirloom specialty apple known for their incredible sweetness. These apples grow on trees that are very cold-hardy, and it is thought that the cold conditions help to create some of that legendary sweetness. The Fameuse/Snow apple is from the french-speaking Quebec region of Canada.
22. Red Delicious Apples
Red Delicious is the quintessential sweet, red, American apple. It has a very sweet, albeit mild, flavour. While the shelf-stored Red Delicious apples from the supermarket can be somewhat disappointing in terms of flavour, a fresh tree-ripened Red Delicious straight from the orchard reminds us why it is so popular!
The Red Delicious should also be recognized as being one of the parent apples to the Fuji, perhaps the world’s sweetest apple in commercial production. Red Delicious apples are not closely related to Golden Delicious (they are related by corporate marketing, not by genetics).
23. Cameo Apples
Cameo apples are a new, sweet variety of apple discovered in Washington. While the parentage is unknown, Cameo apples are thought to be descended from Red Delicious and Golden Delicious – two of the sweetest American apples there are! Cameo is a naturally-created, all-American modern classic sweet apple variety.
24. Ginger Gold Apple
The Ginger Gold apple is a sweet little green apple that’s among the sweetest of the early-ripening apple varieties. While not the sweetest apple overall, its one of the sweetest you’ll find available fresh at the end of August. The Ginger Gold apple was discovered in Virginia, and is probably a descendant of the ever-popular Golden Delicious.
25. Spencer Apples
Spencer apples are one of the sweetest apple offspring of the classic Canadian McIntosh apple. A cross with the Golden Delicious, Spencer apples have the Mac’s beautiful red blush and the Golden’s honey-sweet taste. While these apples can be quite tart when under-ripe, a properly tree-ripened fruit is the perfect sweet-tart balanced fresh apple.
26. SnowSweet Apple
SnowSweet is a new sweet apple introduction from the University of Minnesota. This variety can be grown in cold climates, which contributes to the sweet flavour of the fruits. It’s rich velvety taste is a result of the large, sweet Fireside/Connell Red and the tender-textured Sharon (McIntosh descendent). This is a beautiful, sweet apple with delayed browning after slicing.
27. Autumn Glory Apples
Autumn Glory is a large, sweet new variety of apple from Washington State. A cross between two very sweet apples, the Fuji and the Golden Delicious, the Autumn Glory apple is certainly an up-and-coming fall favourite. It has some similarities to the popular Honeycrisp, including the red and yellow peel, large-sized fruits, and cinnamon-spice tasting notes.
28. Scarlet Crush Apples
Scarlet Crush is a new apple variety from Stark Brothers with a sweet, citrusy taste and pretty red-pink peel. This Honeycrisp offspring variety is a cross with Pink Lady/Cripps Pink, and is said to be easier to grow than its parent varieties. And fortunately for backyard orchardists, this is a new variety you can grow for yourself:
Stark® Scarlet Crush™ Apple Tree (Stark Bro’s)
29. Sweet Cheeks Apple
Sweet Cheeks is a new apple variety with a well-balanced sweet and juicy flavour. Like Scarlet Crush, it was bred as a cross between Honeycrisp and Pink Lady/Cripps Pink, and retains both the honey-sweet taste and crisp texture of its parents. While not widely available in grocery stores, this new variety certainly has potential with such beloved parents!
30. Ruby Darling Apples
Ruby Darling is a new apple variety from Stark Brothers. A cross of Honeycrisp and Gala, these big shiny-red apples are like extra-sweet Honeycrisp apples. While these apples have yet to make their way to most local grocers, backyard growers can purchase their own trees directly from Stark:
Stark® Ruby Darling™ Apple Tree, Stark Bro’s
31. Cosmic Crisp Apples
Cosmic Crisp apples are well-balanced sweet-tart fruits with a lovely dark red peel. These apples combine the outstanding flavour of their namesake parent Honeycrisp with the natural disease-resistance and other easy-growing traits of the Enterprise Apple. Bred by Washington State University, these apples are just coming to market and are certainly worth the wait!
32. Evercrisp Apples
Evercrisp apples are a new, deliciously-sweet specialty apple bred from Honeycrisp and Fuji parent varieties. With such sweet parents, its no doubt that Evercrisp is one of the sweetest new apples out there! It has that nice crunch of Honeycrisp with the unbeatable sweetness of Fuji. This is a new variety worth looking for!
33. Rosalee Apples
Rosalee is another new Honeycrisp x Fuji cross apple variety, but with a more gentle sweet flavour. These apples are large, but don’t take an overly long time to start maturing on the tree and can be harvested for several weeks. Rosalee apples are expected to become commercially available in the USA in 2021-2023 (October harvest).
34. Pacific Rose Apples
Pacific Rose is a beautiful rose-pink apple with a delicate sweet flavour, bred in New Zealand. A Gala/Splendour cross, the Pacific Rose is rising in popularity in both New Zealand and North America.
35. Hudson’s Golden Gem Apples
Hudson’s Golden Gem is a sweet and juicy russet-style heritage apple. Discovered in Oregon, this chance seedling apple has a pear-like taste with a hint of nutty aroma. While it’s not the overall sweetest apple on this list, it’s certainly among the most interesting. Look for them on specialty market shelves from October-December.
36. Pomme Gris Apple
Pomme Gris is a heritage apple from the French-speaking Quebec area of Canada. These apples are similar in taste and appearance to Hudson’s Golden Gem, and have the same nutty sweetness and balancing pear-like fruity tartness. Pomme Gris apples have limited availability and are generally available only during Autumn, and only in the eastern areas North America.
37. Choupette/Dalinette Apple
The new Dalinette apple, marketed as Choupette, is a new sweet-tart apple developed in France. This variety was not only bred for excellent flavour, but also for disease resistance, making it an optimal choice for new organic orchards. This new, well-balanced apple is likely to increase in popularity beyond Europe, especially as chemical-free fruits become more widely grown.
38. Story/InoRed Apples
Story InoRed apples are a new, sweet, red apple bred in France. Story apples are very sweet, attractive, and resistant to diseases. Perfect for warmer growing climates, this new European variety has been bred to encourage chemical-free fruit production.
39. Modi Apples
Another European introduction, Modi apples are sweet and naturally resistant to disease. Developed in Italy, Modi is an excellent all-purpose apple that can reasonably be grown commercially in an organic orchard. As with Choupette, the Modi apple is expected to grow in popularity beyond Europe, especially for those looking for organically-grown produce.
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