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Old-fashioned homemade applesauce is one of the easiest and most delicious ways to enjoy fresh fall produce. With just a few basic ingredients and about 30 minutes on the stovetop, we’ll show you how to make applesauce quickly and easily!

Side shot of homemade applesauce in a bowl on top of a blue and white cloth napkin
Table of Contents
  1. Homemade Applesauce
  2. The Best Apples for Applesauce
  3. Ingredients
  4. How to Make Applesauce
  5. Serving Suggestions
  6. More Uses for Applesauce
  7. Storage
  8. Recipe Variations
  9. Tips for the Best Applesauce Recipe
  10. How to Make Applesauce Recipe

If you find yourself picking apples at an orchard this season, or if you’ve just got a hankering for Grandma’s homemade applesauce recipe, then grab your Dutch oven and cook a batch of this sweet, warmly-spiced, and oh-so-delicious treat. It’s truly the best applesauce and a perfect fall side dish! The simple, flavorful fruit is perfect with oatmeal in the morning, or tasty alongside roast chicken or oven-fried pork chops for supper.

Close overhead shot of a bin of apples

Homemade Applesauce

Although applesauce is said to have originated in the mid-1700s, the practice of preparing sauces with apples dates back to medieval Europe. We’ve been preparing versions of this simple dish in Virginia since settlers arrived on the continent, and each year you’ll find the next generation simmering a pot as the local fruit ripens in the nearby orchards. Homemade applesauce is easy, kid-friendly, and a lovely companion for a variety of meals.

In this old-fashioned homemade applesauce recipe, you simply cook down apples with water, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt, and then puree the sauce until it reaches your desired consistency. While I love a slow-simmering crockpot applesauce for a hands-off option, you just can’t beat a classic homemade applesauce that comes together on the stovetop in less than one hour. It tastes just like Grandma used to make it!

Fresh apples peeled and chopped on a cutting board

The Best Apples for Applesauce

You can use any apples that you enjoy, and I often use a blend of whatever we pick from the orchard! That said, soft apples are great because they cook down quickly and don’t hold their shape in the way that Granny Smith, honeycrisp, gala, fuji, or other pie-friendly apples will. 

Good options include: Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Cortland, Jonathan, Rome and Jonagold apples. The type of apples that you choose will obviously impact the flavor of your applesauce, so my best recommendation is to use a variety that you think tastes delicious!

How many apples?

You’ll need 4 pounds of apples for this recipe. Depending on the size of your apples, the total number will vary. In general, four pounds is equal to about 8-12 apples. I used 11 relatively small Golden Delicious apples here.

Process shot showing how to make applesauce

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a batch of homemade applesauce. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Apples: I prefer a soft apple that breaks down easily when cooked. Good options include Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Cortland, Jonathan, Rome, and Jonagold apples. Remove the peels for a smooth sauce.
  • Water: add more at the end, if needed, to thin.
  • Brown sugar: see the note below to adjust the amount of sugar depending on the sweetness of your apples. You can omit the sugar for an unsweetened homemade applesauce.
  • Lemon juice: a common ingredient in apple pie filling and apple crisp recipes, the lemon juice provides a bright, acidic component that balances the sweetness of the fruit and enhances the apples’ natural flavors. It does not make the dish taste like lemon.
  • Cinnamon: we love cinnamon applesauce, so I use enough to actually give the dish warm fall flavor. If you prefer, you can omit this seasoning or decrease the amount for a more subtle taste. You might also like to add other warm spices, such as ginger, nutmeg, and clove.
  • Salt: again, just a touch! This doesn’t make your applesauce taste “salty,” but it nicely balances the sweetness and gives the sauce a more complex flavor.
Pureeing applesauce in a Dutch oven with a handheld immersion blender

How to Make Applesauce

This easy recipe comes together with just a handful of simple kitchen staples. Once you’ve peeled and chopped the apples, your hardest job is done!

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pan.
  2. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are nice and soft, about 30 minutes.
  3. Use a handheld immersion blender or a potato masher to puree the applesauce to your preferred consistency. You may need to add a little bit more water to thin the sauce, and (depending on the sweetness of your apples) you may need to add some more brown sugar. Just taste and decide!
Square side shot of a bowl of homemade applesauce on a dinner table

Chunky Applesauce Recipe

If you like a chunky applesauce, use a potato masher to coarsely mash the apples without pureeing them into a smooth texture.

How to Make Smooth Applesauce

For a silky smooth texture, puree your applesauce with a handheld immersion blender (stick blender), regular blender, food mill, or food processor. You may need to add a little bit more water, depending on how “juicy” your apples were. If serving the applesauce to a baby or toddler, you may need to thin the puree with even more water so that it’s easy to swallow.

Overhead shot of homemade applesauce on a table surrounded by fresh fruit
Side shot of a bowl of applesauce with spoon in it

More Uses for Applesauce

You can also use your homemade applesauce as an ingredient in recipes such as:

You can also use applesauce as a replacement for some of the oil or butter in baking recipes if you’re looking to retain moisture but lower the overall fat content of the dish. Just be wary of using applesauce as a substitute for all of the fat called for in a recipe, since that tends to yield gummy baked goods with an odd texture.

Storage

Homemade applesauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 7-10 days. If serving the applesauce to a baby or toddler, try storing it in these reusable squeezable pouches (they’re dishwasher and freezer-safe, too).

Do not leave homemade applesauce out at room temperature for more than 1-2 hours. It needs to be refrigerated in order to stay fresh. You can tell if applesauce is bad when it has an “off” odor, flavor or appearance, or if mold appears.

How to Freeze

Transfer the cooled applesauce to freezer-safe jars with tight-fitting lids, Ziploc freezer bags, or other airtight containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

Recipe Variations

  • No Sugar: This recipe will work without any added sugar or other sweetener, so feel free to omit that ingredient for an unsweetened applesauce. If you’re not including sugar, I recommend choosing a naturally sweet apple variety (rather than a tart apple like Granny Smith).
  • For a smaller batch of applesauce, cut all of the ingredients in half. Similarly, you can prepare a larger batch of the applesauce by doubling or tripling all of the ingredients.
  • Spice it up! If you enjoy warm autumn spices, add some other seasoning to the sauce. In addition to the cinnamon, good options include nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice. You can also use an apple pie spice blend.
  • Omit the ground cinnamon or decrease the amount called for if you don’t care for this ingredient.
Side shot of a white bowl full of the best homemade applesauce recipe

Tips for the Best Applesauce Recipe

  • Use a variety of apples (or a combination of different varieties) that have a soft texture. These apples break down easily during the cooking process. Good options include Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Rome, Jonagold, Cortland and Jonathan. Most importantly, pick apples with great flavor!
  • For a chunky applesauce, mash the cooked apples with a potato masher. If you like a smooth texture, use a handheld immersion blender or a regular blender. Thin the sauce with extra water, as necessary, so that it’s easy to puree. The amount of water needed will depend on how “juicy” your apples are.
  • Adjust the seasoning and sweetness to suit your personal preference. Omit the cinnamon altogether, or add extra spices. Similarly, you can play with the amount of sugar that you use, depending on the sweetness of your apples.
Spoon in a white bowl full of cinnamon applesauce
Square side shot of a bowl of homemade applesauce

How to Make Applesauce

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings 4 cups total (approximately)
Calories 145 kcal
Old-fashioned homemade applesauce is one of the easiest and most delicious ways to enjoy fresh fall produce!

Ingredients
  

  • 4 lbs. apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup water, plus extra as needed
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a large Dutch oven.
  • Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples become tender and break down, about 30 minutes.
  • Use a handheld immersion blender or a regular blender (for a smooth consistency) or a potato masher (for a chunky consistency) to puree the apples. Taste and season with extra sugar, if necessary. Add water to thin, if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

  • Use a variety of apples (or a combination of different varieties) that have a soft texture. These apples break down easily during the cooking process. Good options include Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Rome, Jonagold, Cortland and Jonathan. Most importantly, pick apples with great flavor!
  • For a chunky applesauce, mash the cooked apples with a potato masher. If you like a smooth texture, use a handheld immersion blender or a regular blender. Thin the sauce with extra water, as necessary, so that it’s easy to puree. The amount of water needed will depend on how “juicy” your apples are.
  • Adjust the seasoning and sweetness to suit your personal preference. Omit the cinnamon altogether, or add extra spices. Similarly, you can play with the amount of sugar that you use, depending on the sweetness of your apples.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 145kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 4mgPotassium: 255mgFiber: 6gSugar: 30gVitamin A: 123IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 21mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: applesauce, homemade applesauce, how to make applesauce
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in August, 2020. It was updated in October, 2021.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Love your applesauce but we like the beautiful color and taste from cooking with the skins on. That means the folly food mill. Do you know any other short cuts.thank you