The Type Of Apple Behind Cracker Barrel's Fan-Favorite Fried Apples

To the most casual of observers, there are just a handful of different kinds of apples — red, green, yellow, white, and striped — in the world, based on the various colorations adorning the skins of the sometimes sweet, sometimes tart, always crunchy fruit. The reality, of course, is that there is a sweeping variety of apples, with 7,500 varieties grown across the globe, including 2,500 different apples grown in the United States, according to the Washington Apple Commission. A major reason that there are so many different types of apples in the United States and around the world is that there are many different tastes, and many different cooking needs, that apples can be specifically developed to meet in order to satisfy consumers.

"Sweet or tart? Juicy or crisp? Slices that will hold their shape in a pie, or mush down well for applesauce?" Allrecipes asks in an exploration of how new apple varieties are developed. Briefly, the process involves the cross-pollination of two varieties, chosen for specific traits, with the hope that the new apples and seeds will promulgate positive blended characteristics. 

Sometimes, though, this occurs randomly in nature, as with the popular Golden Delicious apple, discovered as an isolated seedling on a West Virginia farm in the early 1900s. Believed to come from a Grimes Golden apple, the sweet, spicy Golden Delicious has more than 57,000 different genes. An all-purpose apple, the Golden Delicious shows up frequently, including in Cracker Barrel's popular fried apples, according to Southern Living.

Can you make your own Cracker Barrel fried apples?

While Cracker Barrel's exact recipe for fried apples is secret, one thing the chain admits on its menu is that the dish isn't solely a fried concoction, but is comprised of "sliced fried apples seasoned with cinnamon and baked in the oven." However Cracker Barrel creates its popular fried apples, there is no shortage of copycat recipes online striving to capture the taste of the dish with Golden Delicious apples, including one from Susan Olayinka at The Flexible Fridge shared recently with Mashed. The Flexible Fridge recommends Golden Delicious or Royal Gala, noting that both have a desirable texture and sweetness.

At Bon Appétit, Golden Delicious is listed among the seven best apples for pie because "its subtleness intensifies into a sweet, tart, and honeyed profile when baked." Gala apples, including the Royal Gala, are recommended by Eat With Us as good for sauces, but the website adds that they can be enjoyed in baked form — which, of course, would make them a candidate for any copycat Cracker Barrel fried apple recipe. Beyond the Golden Delicious and Royal Gala, a couple of alternatives include the Honeycrisp, described at PureWow as a "killer" ingredient for baked goods or applesauce. There are also Granny Smith apples, which Kitchen Cuddle notes hold up under the heat of an oven, and thus are well-suited for such dishes as pies and tarts.