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Why Are Honeycrisp Apples So Good?

Updated on January 18, 2016

Honeycrisp Apples Are My Favorites

As the name implies, the honeycrisp apple is crisp and sweet. It's become my favorite apple, but I've only been able to buy it in mid-late fall.

The honeycrisp apple was developed at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of Minnesota.

The first time I tried a honeycrisp apple was in the mid-1990s when our family was visiting my mother in Minneapolis. She took us to The Apple House where we had the opportunity to taste a few different varieties of apples from the orchard and buy apples. Our favorites that day were the honey gold and the honeycrisp. We left with a bag of the sweet, crisp and juicy honeycrisp apples.

The honeycrisp apple was introduced to the public in 1991, but I don't remember it being sold where I live in Michigan until maybe five years ago (2005, give or take a couple years...). When it's available, it's the only apple I'll buy now!

All photos in this page from University of Minnesota Apples:Free Photos

Explosively crisp and juicy!

[Experience] their exceptionally crisp and juicy texture. Bite into the cream-colored flesh and the large cells explode with juice in your mouth, carrying a delightful, well-balanced, sub-acid and mildly aromatic flavor."

— University of Minnesota Apples

Have you tried honeycrisp apples?

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What Makes Honeycrisp Apples So Special?

Doesn't this sound like an apple you'd love to eat?

The two main benefits that set this apple apart from other varieties are:

  • Its taste and texture (as quoted above)
  • Its long storage life

Its flavor and texture can be maintained for months if it's kept under refrigerated conditions. Originally I was under the impression that honeycrisps didn't store well because I didn't see them for long in the markets and grocery stores. But that's because they sold out quickly after harvesting! More apple orchards are growing honeycrisps now, so I predict we'll soon be able to buy them well past their harvest.

Because these apples are so popular, they're more expensive than the usual supermarket apples you'd find. I used to buy them just as a treat, on an occasional basis, but now when they're available I won't buy any other variety. (Update: I have noticed that the cost per pound is less than it was last year, as they become more common in the stores.)

Eating honeycrisps
Eating honeycrisps

Culinary Uses of Honeycrisp Apples

I prefer honeycrisps sliced and eaten fresh, just by themselves. The honeycrisp apple has been called a "dessert" apple because of its exceptional flavor when eaten fresh. Honeycrisp apples are also good in salads and cooked in any apple recipe.

AllRecipes.com has some good recipes for honeycrisp apples:

Here's a great recipe for Chicken salad with honey crisp apples, toasted almonds and cheddar with an apple cider vinaigrette as the dressing. You could also make your regular chicken salad and add cut up honeycrisps.

The balance between sweet and tart utterly seduces your taste buds.

— from a reporter when describing Honey Crisp apples
Honeycrisp apple tree
Honeycrisp apple tree

Did you know...?

The Honeycrisp Apple is Minnesota's state fruit. It's given a great boost to apple growers in the state.

The Honeycrisp was also selected as one of the top 25 innovations in over a decade in the 2006 Better World Report.

Development of the Honeycrisp Apple

The honeycrisp apple was developed by the University of Minnesota's apple breeding program, and is now one of the program's best apples. The goal of this breeding program is to produce high quality apple cultivars that can withstand cold winters.

The honeycrisp apple was produced from a cross of two other apples in 1960 as part of the University of Minnesota's apple breeding program. The first seedlings were planted the following year, and the first apples harvested probably in the late '60s, and released to the public in 1991.

Why did it take so long to introduce this apple to the public? The new apple cultivars need to be studied for a number of years to determine their usual characteristics. Some varieties may produce well one year and not the next. Some may be damaged by excessively cold winters, and therefore not particularly useful to Minnesota apple growers! Sometimes the apples are smaller as the trees grow larger, or maybe they produce fruit only every other year or so. Some are more prone to pests and diseases. There are many conditions that the developers want to study before they determine that the apple is right for the market.

University of Minnesota Apple Breeding Program

The University of Minnesota apple breeding program is home of the favorite honeycrisp apple.

University of Minnesota apple breeder and researcher, David Bedford, tastes around 500 apples a day at the University of Minnesota apple orchards. The University of Minnesota Apple Breeding program has been going on for almost a century. During that time researchers have developed about 25 varieties that can stand up to Minnesota's climate (and similar climates in North America and Europe).

Apples developed at the U of M are good for Minnesota commercial apple growers. About three quarters of the apples grown in Minnesota were developed by the Apple Breeding program.

University of Minnesota Apple breeding program
University of Minnesota Apple breeding program

The University of Minnesota has one of the three largest apple breeding programs in the United States, and its orchards are the birthplace of some of the most unique and best tasting apples on the market, including the Honeycrisp and Haralson apples, and the up-and-coming SweeTango apple.

The University of Minnesota's breeding orchards grow about 18,000 apple trees with many different varieties that are being tested and tasted to see what can be successfully developed for commercial production in Minnesota.

David Bedford (mentioned above, and in the video) says that for about every 10,000 trees, they'll get maybe one that will produce apples good enough to release.

The different apple varieties have different flavors. Bedford says, ""We have flavors like Sweet 16 that taste like a cherry life-saver or we have Keepsake that tastes like a tropical sugar cane." There are apples that have a buttery taste, or a chocolate or anise flavoring, or citrusy-tasting. Most of these won't make it to mass production because their other characteristics wouldn't make them suitable for growing in large orchards.

Source

Buying Honey Crisps Online

If you can't find honey crisp apples in your local grocery store, you can order them online when they're in season.

Don't these look good?

Honey Crisp Apples on Amazon

What's your favorite kind of apple?

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    • KarenHC profile image
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      Karen 3 years ago from U.S.

      @Charito1962: I love caramel apples too!

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I don't eat apples that often. But when they're caramelized, they're a real treat for me!

    • JeffGilbert profile image

      JeffGilbert 4 years ago

      Yes, these are definitely one of the better apples out there. Great lens!!

    • uneasywriter lm profile image

      uneasywriter lm 4 years ago

      I have a Honeycrisp tree in my backyard. Most of them we load up and take to my mother's she cans, makes pies, apple crisp, sauce all kinds of good things with them! Good lens!

    • profile image

      BeyondRoses 4 years ago

      I don't think I've ever eaten honeycrisp apples, maybe we don't have them in our area. They sound real tasty! We get Red Delicious in the stores here. My husband eats lots of raw apples.

    • healthyandtasty profile image

      healthyandtasty 4 years ago

      I'e never eaten honey crisps, but I will definitely try them

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 5 years ago

      We tried honeycrisps for the first time two years ago. Now we can't wait until they're available every year!

    • earlymorningglow profile image

      earlymorningglow 5 years ago

      Honey Crisp apples are actually my favourite kind!

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 5 years ago from U.S.

      @JackieBlock: Macs are good too, but honeycrisps are my favorite :-)

    • JackieBlock profile image

      Jackie Block 5 years ago from SE Michigan

      I enjoy honey crisp apples, but macs are still my favorites. I love all the apples I can get in the fall.

    • wondertoti profile image

      wondertoti 5 years ago

      I love Honey Crisp apples and I love them so much. I have only eaten them raw but after visiting your lens I will definitely try them in a recipe.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I LOVE these apples. Now if only U of M could invent an apple slicer/corer that fits around these enormous apples. I can't find one anywhere!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      Your photos do look delicious! I've always wanted an apple tree. Honeycrisp apples are on my shopping list now.

    • TaraWojt profile image

      Tara Wojtaszek 5 years ago

      I usually pick whichever red&yellow apple feels the crispest (I can't stomach apples unless they are crisp). Honeycrisp apples are lovely when crisp and fresh. Great presentation!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      I've never eaten them, but you make it sound tastey.

    • profile image

      TwilightMania 5 years ago

      Crisp and Sweet Honeycrisp Apples sounds really good.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 5 years ago from Somewhere in England

      I don't know this variety. I don't know if we have it in the UK. I like Granny Smiths - green and sharp.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      I just bought a couple of these apples yesterday. I'm looking forward to trying them.

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 5 years ago from U.S.

      @lbuben: Possibly similar to galas and fujis, but I think the honeycrisp texture is a bit more delicate.

    • lbuben profile image

      lbuben 5 years ago

      What other apple are they similar to on the East Coast?

    • profile image

      MintySea 5 years ago

      Yum

    • justmelucy profile image

      justmelucy 5 years ago

      Yummy Lens. I love Apple Crisp dessert and will be looking for these apples.

    • SilmarwenLinwelin profile image

      SilmarwenLinwelin 5 years ago

      I'm not sure we have those here where I live, they do look delicious though!

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      I always eat the apples raw... I don't see them frequently in this area.

    • casquid profile image

      casquid 5 years ago

      This was a mouth-watering lens. The news, for me is that someone has taken the time to research and bring to market the perfect apple. Can't wait to shop again. I'm looking for the honeycrisp at any price.

    • nhotdeals profile image

      nhotdeals 5 years ago

      Target has the best prices for them

    • djh4yla profile image

      djh4yla 5 years ago

      I had never found an apple that looks like that, :(

    • radhanathswamifan profile image

      radhanathswamifan 5 years ago

      Looks YUM!

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      YUMMYYY!!!!! I have never eaten one of these, but since I'm in Kuwait, I'll be on the lookout at the grocery store if they bring them! Blessed!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I have eaten them several times, but I have yet to get a crisp one. I thought perhaps it was a misnomer, but perhaps it is the soil in which they are grown here in the west. My favorite locally-available apple is the Fuji, and it does have all the properties described for the Honeycrisp.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Honeycrisp Apples are absolutely the best apple to eat. Who needs dessert when you can eat a Honeycrisp Apple? They are amazing!!!!!

    • Rosaquid profile image

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      Apples are amazing creatures. I love Honeycrisp! I wish I could taste the other, less available varieties that you mention. They sound so delicious!

    • sunshinetricia profile image

      Tricia Meyer 5 years ago from Indianapolis

      I am so glad that it is honeycrisp season! They are my absolute favorite just for snacking on. We got our first bag of the year this week.

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 5 years ago from U.S.

      @anonymous: I haven't tried them with a bit of salt, but I will tomorrow. It sounds good!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Honeycrisp are the best raw with a sprinkle of salt on each slice. Yummy!! I stock up on these and eat three or four a day. I am so sad when their season is over! I cannot get enough of them!

    • profile image

      cassieann 5 years ago

      Honeycrisps are my favorite apple. I became aware of them when my son went to the University of Minnesota. They never disappoint me!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      These apples are second only to Empires in my book - great lens! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • RedShoesGirl profile image

      RedShoesGirl 5 years ago

      I already feel their taste after reading this :)

    • thememorybooksh1 profile image

      thememorybooksh1 5 years ago

      I love apple and don't need to know the verity :)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love them raw and they taste really good. My other favourite would be a Fuji from Japan.

    • profile image

      Echo Phoenix 5 years ago

      I love the Honeycrisps:)

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 5 years ago from U.S.

      @BarbaraCasey: I'm waiting for them to start to appear in our grocery stores soon! I love Honey Crisp apples. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 5 years ago

      Learned something new about apples today! I don't recall seeing Honeycrisps in the stores until just a few years ago. And they sure aren't there long, as you mentioned. Gotta grab 'em fast!

    • profile image

      Geeve 5 years ago

      Flew by on the Squid Angels' Bus and alighted briefly to leave some Angel Dust. Blessed. :)

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 5 years ago from U.S.

      @ThePerfectPresent: I had my first Sweetango too, and it's an amazing apple! Thanks for your comment.

    • ThePerfectPresent profile image

      ThePerfectPresent 5 years ago

      I LOVE honeycrisp apples, but I had my first Sweetango last fall and I was enthralled!

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

      Love Honeycrisp Apples. Nothing compares.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Love Honeycrisp apples. Can't get enough when they are in season. Wish I could find something similar when they are not, but usually, I am disappointed. I'll just have to eat so many while they are available that I don't crave them when they are not.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 6 years ago from Virginia

      Looks like theres a new apple in town. Can't wait to try one here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Great lens.

    • smithlights profile image

      smithlights 6 years ago

      I work in the fruit industry in Washington State, and honeycrisps have developed quite a reputation for themselves over the last few years. We're having to take out some of our older varieties of trees to plant more honeycrips because that's what people want! Though, I will say, they are not my favorite. But they are up there!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

      We don't have the honeycrisp apple variety where I live. I wish we did! I'd be happy to try it just as it is or in a dessert, I wouldn't mind at all. :)

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 6 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      I keep seeing them in the grocery store, but they always cost more per pound, so I haven't yet tried them. You've convinced me that I need to taste them! I do love apples :) Another excellent lens and a very happy Angel blessing!

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 6 years ago from Quezon City

      I want to sink my teeth into one of those honeycrisp apples right this moment! Delicious and gorgeous lens ~Blessed~

    • funcook profile image

      funcook 6 years ago

      Love, love, love Honeycrisps. They're my favorite eating apple, and I eat one every day during the season. I don't cook with them, though. They're too sweet and juicy. I find Granny Smiths and Jonagolds better for baking.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      I can almost taste them they look so good. Fantastic display on this article.

    • profile image

      SnoopyGirl1 6 years ago

      I absolutely love Honeycrisps and can only ask, "Is there any other kind of apple?" I wish they were available all year! I am actually eating one as I read this. LOL! Great lens!

    • profile image

      jgelien 7 years ago

      I found discovered these delicious apples last year and they are now my favorite. In fact, I just bought some Honeycrisp apple juice last night. Yum!!

    • squid-janices7 profile image

      squid-janices7 7 years ago

      Since they were developed at the U of MN, we eat lots of honeycrisps here in our household. Add some caramel and walnuts and I have one of my favorite afternoon snacks!

      P.S. Thanks for swinging by and taking the Squidoo earnings and lensmaster survey!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I love to experience picking my own apple.

    • CofCJenny LM profile image

      CofCJenny LM 7 years ago

      mm now I feel like going upstairs to get myself an apples. Awesome lens :-)

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 7 years ago from Iowa

      I adore honeycrisps. I just bought some a couple of days ago the first of the season for our area. Yummy. :) I'm a bit of a fruit snob and these are the only kind I buy.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 7 years ago

      Congratulations for your purple star for Crisp and Sweet Honeycrisp Apples! Have not tried them. I usually go for red delicious.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I noticed Honeycrisp apples a couple of years ago and they were (and still are) very expensive. But I always like to try new apples, so I bought one. This has got to be the best apple I ever tasted, and regardless of the cost, when they are available here I always buy a couple for a treat. - Kathy

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • drifter0658 lm profile image

      drifter0658 lm 7 years ago

      I have never tried a Honeycrisp, but you have convinced me to! I like Granny Smiths....beautiful lens, and a well deserved Purple Star.

    • LotusMalas profile image

      LotusMalas 7 years ago

      The Autumn has inspired me to bake and I've been kidnapped by my kitchen :-D This lens just makes me want to bake a yummy, Honey Crisp Apple pie!

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 7 years ago from U.S.

      @FlynntheCat1: Some orchards grow the organic honeycrisps, but I think most aren't right now. I'm hoping that changes soon. The honeycrisps in our supermarket aren't organic, but I'm still buying them.

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image

      FlynntheCat1 7 years ago

      Fascinating - are they organic? (Couldn't find anything on the lens either way - not that I'll ever see them over here!)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I love apples, but haven't tried this brand yet. Someday I will, you make them sound just wonderful. - Hope you have a nice fall, glad its not so hot out now.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 7 years ago from Vermont

      I first tried honeycrisp apples at Champlain Orchard in Shoreham, Vermont last fall. I am a big fan of MacIntosh and Cortland, but honeycrisp has found a place in my foodie favorites.

    • beckyf profile image

      beckyf 7 years ago

      Very nice lens--I LOVE honeycrisps!

      It was very interesting reading about all of the new flavors they're working on.

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 7 years ago from Western Mass

      all time favorite apple!!

    • missbat profile image

      missbat 7 years ago

      Honeycrisps are so delicious. A great lens!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 7 years ago from USA

      They are new to me but they sound delicious.

    • enigma0430 lm profile image

      enigma0430 lm 7 years ago

      I just was introduced to honeycrisps recently, and they have become my favorite. I love trying new varieties and use them in apple tarts as well as raw.

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 7 years ago from U.S.

      @Utsahan: I'm hoping that the honeycrisps are in the stores too :-) Thanks for your comment.

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 7 years ago from U.S.

      @ohcaroline: Maybe the apples are still slowly making their way south -- I bet within a year or two (if not this year) you'll be seeing them in Florida too!

    • Utsahan profile image

      Utsahan 7 years ago

      I wish I had a Honeycrisp now. Nice lense, mouthwatering!

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 7 years ago

      I'm afraid I've never heard of them. I don't believe I've ever seen them in our stores in Florida. I'll certainly look for them this fall. Thanks for the heads up.

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 7 years ago from U.S.

      @PNWtravels: Thank you Vicki! -- That was a quick response -- I just published it a few minutes ago :-)

      I hope your honeycrisp tree yields you plenty of fruit too -- it's by far my favorite apple variety.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 7 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I am addicted to honeycrisp apples since I discovered them for the first time about 3 years ago. I've now planted a honeycrisp apple tree that I hope will yield me some of my favorite apples in my own yard some day. Very nicely done lens!