Apple Picking, Autumn in Minnesota

Best Minnesota Apple Varieties and What to Use Them For 2024

So, you’re craving the crisp, juicy goodness of a Minnesota apple, huh? Well, you’re in luck! The University of Minnesota has a successful apple breeding program that has developed some of the best apple varieties.

Honeycrisp and SweeTango apples are both delicious choices to satisfy your taste buds.

Whether you’re baking a pie or just enjoying a fresh, crunchy bite, these Minnesota apples are the best choice.lthy choice too.

So, whether you’re baking a pie or just enjoying a fresh, crunchy bite, these Minnesota apples are the way to go. Let’s dive in and discover the best uses for each variety!

Apple Picking

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Minnesota Apples – Early Season

Hankering to get you there and start picking early season apple varieties in Minnesota? We have a few to choose from.

Beacon is a red apple with a crisp and slightly tart flavor, great for eating fresh or baking.

Then there’s Centennial Crabapple, a small but mighty fruit with a sweet and tangy taste, often used for making jelly and preserves.

And of course, we can’t forget about Rave® and First Kiss®, two exceptional apples that are juicy, sweet, and bursting with flavor.


When choosing an apple for fresh eating or baking, you should consider trying the Beacon variety. Known for its sweet and slightly tart flavor, the Beacon apple is a Minnesota apple variety that was developed by the University of Minnesota and released in 1936.

It has a beautiful red skin and a crisp texture that is perfect for biting into or using in recipes. The flavor of the Beacon apple is well-balanced, with a sweetness that is offset by a subtle tartness.

This makes it a versatile apple that can be enjoyed on its own or used in a variety of dishes, from apple pies to salads.

Centennial Crabapple

The Centennial Crabapple, developed by the University of Minnesota and released in 1957, is a small red apple with a tart and tangy flavor that makes it great for making cider.

This apple is known for its unique taste and crisp texture, which adds a delightful crunch to any cider blend.

Its tartness gives the cider a refreshing zing, while its tangy flavor adds a hint of excitement to every sip.

When you bite into a Centennial Crabapple, you’ll experience a burst of tartness followed by a satisfying crunch. This apple is perfect for those who appreciate a little zing in their beverages.

Rave® and First Kiss®

Rave® and First Kiss® are two apple varieties with unique flavors that are sure to satisfy any apple lover.

Rave® apples are known for their explosive crispness and a flavor that’s a perfect balance of sweet and tart. These apples are like a party in your mouth!

First Kiss® apples, on the other hand, have a lightly tart taste with a wonderful aromatic quality. They’re like a gentle peck on the lips, leaving you wanting more.

Both of these varieties are offspring of the beloved Honeycrisp apple, known for its juicy and sub-acid flavor.

State Fair

The State Fair is more than just a place to go at the end of the summer. It’s a red juicy apple too!

They are a great all-purpose apple. Their slight acidic properties make it great for pies, salads, ciders and apples juice. 

The State Fair apple grows from a semi dwarf tree only getting about 20ft height. 

Once picked the State Fair apple has two to four weeks to be consumed. The apples get picked in September to early October.


Indulge in the delectable taste of SweeTango® apples. They are known for their juicy and super sweet flavor with a hint of fall spices. Developed by the University of Minnesota, this juicy apple is a delightful treat for your taste buds.

The SweeTango® apple is a result of a cross between the Honeycrisp and Zestar! varieties. It combines the best qualities of both parents. Its crisp texture and explosive juiciness make every bite a refreshing experience.

The University of Minnesota’s apple breeding program has a long history of successful releases. SweeTango® is definitely one of their greatest achievements. So next time you’re craving a juicy apple with a touch of sweetness, reach for a SweeTango®.


Enjoy the juicy and sprightly sweet-tart flavor of Zestar!® apples, perfect for fresh eating or cooking.

Developed by the University of Minnesota’s apple breeding program at the Horticultural Research Center, Zestar!® apples are a delightful addition to any dish.

These apples are known for their large size, crunchy texture, and vibrant red color. When you take a bite, you’ll experience a burst of sweet and tangy flavors that will leave you craving more.

Whether you enjoy them on their own or use them in recipes, Zestar!® apples are sure to impress. So, next time you’re in the mood for a tasty and versatile apple, give Zestar!® a try and discover why it’s a favorite among apple enthusiasts.

Apple Picking in Minnesota

Minnesota Apples – Mid-Season

When it comes to mid-season apples, there are several noteworthy varieties to explore.

One such variety is the Chestnut Crabapple, known for its large size and rich, nutty flavor.

Another option is the Red Baron, a medium-sized apple with juicy flesh and a mild sweet flavor.

Try the Sweet Sixteen variety. These apples have a crisp and juicy texture with a very sweet, unusual sugar cane or spicy cherry candy flavor.

They ripen in mid- to late September, making them a perfect choice for those who want to extend their apple season.

Lastly, keep an eye out for the upcoming release of Triumph®, a medium-sized red apple with a pleasantly tart flavor, expected in 2025.

Chestnut Crabapple

The Chestnut Crabapple is a large, russeted crabapple with a rich, nutty flavor that is best for fresh eating or sauce. This unique apple variety, native to Minnesota, is perfect for those who want something unexpected.

With its distinctive flavor, the Chestnut Crabapple is sure to delight. The apple makes a great snack or use it to create a delicious sauce, this apple variety is a versatile addition to any kitchen.


Crunchy, juicy and sweet, the Honeycrisp apple lives up to its name. It’s also the state fruit of Minnesota!

This large apple has a bright red and pale yellow skin that packs a sweet punch with every bite. Honeycrisps have a mildly tart yet well-balanced flavor profile, with hints of brown sugar and honey. The flesh is exceptionally crisp and juicy.

While delicious for fresh eating, Honeycrisps also hold their shape well when cooked, making them excellent for pies, tarts, baking, and sauces. Their sweet-tart taste and firm texture even stands up to heat, so they’re a great choice for applesauce.

Overall, the versatile Honeycrisp is a go-to apple perfect for snacking, lunches, baking, and more.

Red Baron

If you’re looking for a medium-size apple with juicy flesh and a mild sweet flavor, you should try the Red Baron. Developed by the University of Minnesota apple breeding program, the Red Baron is an apple that combines sweet and tart at the same time.

With its red and yellow skin, this apple is not only visually appealing but also packed with flavor. The Red Baron is perfect for fresh eating, and it has a storage life of 4 to 5 weeks. The tree itself is hardy and resistant to fire blight, making it a reliable choice for home orchards.

Sweet Sixteen

Now that we’ve explored the deliciously juicy Red Baron, it’s time to turn our attention to another fantastic apple variety: the Sweet Sixteen.

This apple is not just your average fruit; it’s a flavor explosion. With its crisp and juicy texture, a Sweet Sixteen is a family favorite. Imagine the taste of sugar cane mixed with a hint of spicy cherry candy. It’s like a party for your taste buds!

The Sweet Sixteen’s unique flavor makes it perfect for fresh eating, but don’t be afraid to get creative. This apple can also be used in a variety of recipes, from pies to sauces.


Triumph® is a medium-sized red apple with a pleasantly tart flavor that will soon be available for apple enthusiasts to enjoy. This new addition to the Minnesota apple varieties is expected to be released in 2025.

The Triumph® apple is known for its well-balanced taste, combining the perfect amount of tartness with a hint of sweetness. Its vibrant red color and crisp texture make it a visually appealing choice.

If you’re lucky, you might be able to get a sample of this at the Apple House in Chaska!

Keep an eye out for this upcoming variety and get ready to experience the triumph of flavor in every bite.

Minnesota Appels

Minnesota Apples – Late Season

For late season apples, there are plenty of varieties of apples to choose from. 

When it comes time to harvest, look for apples that are firm and crisp. Don’t be fooled by the color, as it doesn’t determine ripeness. To pick apples, simply give them a gentle twist and they should come off the tree easily.

After picking, it’s important to store them properly to maintain their freshness. Keep them in a cool, dark place or in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. 


Honeygold apples are perfect for fresh eating or baking in Minnesota. They have a sweet, crisp, and juicy flavor that is sure to satisfy your taste buds.

These apples have a beautiful yellow background, adding a pop of color to any dish. With their crisp and juicy texture, Honeygold apples provide a delightful crunch with every bite.

Whether you’re enjoying them straight from the refrigerator or incorporating them into your favorite apple pie recipe.

Not only do they taste great, but they also have health benefits. Honeygold apples are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. 

Go ahead, grab a Honeygold apple and savor the sweetness.


Haralson apples, known for their tart and juicy flavor, are a popular choice in Minnesota for both fresh eating and baking. This apple variety was developed by the University of Minnesota in 1922 and named after Charles Haralson, who was an influential fruit grower in the state.

The Haralson apple has a crisp texture and a tangy taste that adds a delightful zing to any dish. Whether you’re biting into a fresh Haralson apple or using it in a pie or crisp, you can expect a burst of flavor that will make your taste buds dance.


Now that you’ve learned about the delicious Haralson apple, let’s move on to another unique variety from the Minnesota Apple Breeding Program – Frostbite™.

This apple is not your ordinary fruit; it’s a true marvel of hardiness and flavor. Developed to withstand the harsh Minnesota winters, Frostbite™ can brave the coldest temperatures without suffering from frostbite itself.

This apple is known for its exceptional cold tolerance, making it a favorite among growers in northern regions.

Its crisp texture and sweet-tart flavor make it a delightful snack or a perfect addition to pies and desserts. Plus, its beautiful red and yellow skin adds a pop of color to any dish.


Regent is a lesser-known gem among Minnesota apple varieties, ranking at 6.8 for its taste, texture, sweetness, tartness, and juiciness. This apple is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered in your local orchard.

The Regent apple tree is known for its vigorous growth and hardiness, making it a reliable choice for backyard orchards. When you visit an apple orchard, don’t forget to keep an eye out for the Regent apples.

With its perfect balance of sweetness and tartness, this apple is a delightful addition to any fruit basket. So, next time you’re on an apple-picking adventure, make sure to ask for Regent apples and taste the magic of this underrated variety.


SnowSweet® is a unique apple variety that offers a perfect balance of sweetness and tartness, making it a delightful choice for fresh eating or baking. This apple is known for its juiciness and crisp texture, which adds a satisfying crunch to every bite.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy a refreshing snack or create a delicious apple pie, SnowSweet® is sure to satisfy. Its a perfect blend of sweet and tangy, making it a versatile option for various culinary creations.

Fireside/Connell Red

Fireside/Connell Red is a lesser-known gem among apple varieties. It offers a unique flavor profile that combines sweetness and tartness. This late-season apple is perfect for those craving a taste sensation.

With its vibrant red color and crisp texture, Fireside/Connell Red is not only a visual stunning but also a great treat. This apple variety is a hidden treasure, often overlooked in favor of more popular choices. 

Its robust flavor makes it an excellent choice for making cider.


Keepsake is a lesser-known gem among Minnesota apple varieties. It is known for its crisp texture and sweet-tart flavor. This apple ripens in late September, making it a perfect choice for fall baking or snacking.

With its firm flesh, the Keepsake apple holds up well in pies and tarts. It maintains its shape and adds a burst of flavor. Its sweet-tart taste is a delightful balance, satisfying both your sweet tooth and your craving for something tangy.

The Keepsake apple is a true keepsake indeed. It offers a unique taste experience that is sure to delight your taste buds. So, next time you’re looking for a delicious apple variety to enjoy, give the Keepsake a try and let its flavor be the apple of your eye.

 Prairie Spy

Prairie Spy is a late-season apple variety known for its firm texture and rich, tangy flavor. This Minnesota apple variety is like a secret agent, hiding in the prairies of the state, waiting to be discovered.

With its vibrant red color and crisp bite, it adds excitement to any apple dish. The Prairie Spy apple is perfect for baking, as its firmness holds up well in pies and tarts. Its tangy flavor adds a zing to applesauce and cider, making it a versatile choice for all your apple needs.


Looking to pick your own apples this year? Check out these great places around the state. 17 Best Apple Orchards in Minnesota 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Any New Apple Varieties Being Developed by the University of Minnesota Apple Breeding Program?

Yes, the University of Minnesota apple breeding program continues to develop new apple varieties. One of their upcoming releases is Triumph®, a medium-sized red fruit with a pleasantly tart flavor, expected in 2025.

How Can I Contact Minnesota Fruit Research for Information on Tree Availability and Fruit?

To contact Minnesota Fruit Research for information on tree availability and fruit, simply reach out to them through their designated channels. They can provide valuable insights and assistance in regards to your inquiries.

What Is the Best Time of Year to Visit the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Farm at the Arb to See the Apple Varieties?

Late summer through fall is the best time to visit the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Farm at the Arb to see the apple varieties. You’ll be able to witness the vibrant apples on the trees during that time.

Where Can I Find a List of Minnesota Apple Orchards to Visit for Apple Picking?

You can find a list of Minnesota apple orchards to visit for apple picking on the Minnesota Grown Orchards website. It’s a perfect way to support local farmers, enjoy family outings, and indulge in the deliciousness of freshly picked apples.

Apple Orchard

What is your favorite Minnesota Cold Hearty Apple?

So next time you are at the store, skip the red delicious and go with a Minnesota hardy apple. When early September hits, start looking for local apples to hit the shelfs. Or one better, go out to pick apples in the Twin Cities. 

From the sweet and crispy Honeycrisp to the tangy and flavorful SweeTango, these apples are a true delight for your taste buds.

By supporting local farmers and visiting apple orchards, Minnesotans not only get to enjoy the freshest apples but also create lasting memories with your loved ones.

So go ahead, pick some apples, and let the delicious possibilities unfold – from fresh eating to baking, cider making, and beyond!

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