Perfect Homemade Applesauce
Homemade applesauce is simple to make, makes the kitchen smell incredible, and tastes much better than anything you can buy at the store. Jump to the Homemade Applesauce Recipe
What Kinds of Apples Make the Best Applesauce?
Applesauce is simple to make at home, and you can use just about any apple to make it. So if you were reading this and worried that you don’t have suitable apples for applesauce, stop. With our simple recipe, you can use any apple.
When it comes to making applesauce in our kitchen, we choose apples that we love to eat. For us, that means sweet, crisp apples like Honeycrisp, Fuji, Cox, Gala, and Pink Lady. They taste great after cooking, and when using sweeter apples like these, we don’t even need to add a sweetener like sugar.
More tart apples like Granny Smith work, as well. However, depending on how puckering you like your applesauce, you might find that applesauce made with only Granny Smith apples needs a touch of sweetener.
That’s okay, though, because, in our recipe below, we recommend making the applesauce without any sugar, and then just before blending, suggest tasting it to see if it needs some sweetener. With this method, you can’t go wrong, and you are guaranteed applesauce that you love!
Why Do You Add Lemon Juice or Vinegar to Applesauce?
Our applesauce recipe has four main ingredients: apples, a cinnamon stick, lemon juice (or vinegar), and vanilla extract. Lemon juice might seem like an odd ingredient, but we highly recommend adding it.
We love the combination of lemon and apples and use it in other apple recipes. Lemon juice preserves the color of the apples and balances their sweetness. The best spoonful of applesauce tastes sweet and tart at the same time. It’s that balance of sweet and tart that makes applesauce extremely difficult to refuse.
As apples cook down, they lose some of their natural acidity, so the lemon helps with that and makes applesauce taste better.
If you do not love lemon, try orange juice instead. We use orange juice instead of lemon juice when making our easy apple crisp. If you do not have fresh lemon or orange juice, try apple cider vinegar.
How Do You Make Cinnamon Applesauce?
Apples and cinnamon are made for each other. We love the combination as much as anyone; see our baked cinnamon apples or this homemade apple pie as an example. We do add one cinnamon stick to the pot when making applesauce.
I’ve found one cinnamon stick does the trick, but you can always add more for a more pronounced cinnamon flavor. Stirring in some ground cinnamon at the end of cooking is also an option. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and go from there.
You can add more spices to this recipe, too. I love throwing in one or two whole star anise, which adds a gentle licorice flavor. It’s completely optional. We also recommend taking a look at our apple pie recipe and use it as a guide. In that recipe, we combine cinnamon with ginger, cardamom, allspice, and nutmeg. You can add spices to taste.
How Long Does Homemade Applesauce Last?
Applesauce lasts, stored in an airtight container, for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. You can also freeze applesauce for up to 6 months (possibly longer).
We recommend using a different resource for instructions on canning applesauce. We do not have a lot of experience with canning and preserving foods.
More Apple Recipes
We love apples! Here are some of our top apple recipes:
- Cinnamon Spiced Apple Bread
- Our Favorite Apple Pie
- Spiced Apple Dutch Baby Pancakes
- Easy Apple Crisp with Oats
- Creamy Apple Salad
- Instant Pot Applesauce
Perfect Homemade Applesauce
Homemade applesauce is simple to make, makes the kitchen smell incredible, and tastes much better than anything you can buy at the store. Use apples that you enjoy eating. We particularly love using crisp, sweet apples when making applesauce and generally do not add any sweetener. If you feel the applesauce needs some extra sweetness, add a sweetener to taste at the end of cooking. We recommend brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey.
Skin-on or peeled apples? Applesauce made with the peel left on has more color and a bit more flavor. I use a food mill fitted with a medium disk to blend the sauce and remove most of the cooked skins for the best texture. If you do not have a food mill, you can puree the skins into the sauce. Or pass the sauce through a mesh strainer to remove the skins. If you don’t want to go through any of these extra steps, use peeled apples.
Watch Us Make the Recipe
You Will Need
4 pounds crisp, sweet apples (8 large), rinsed, see tips
One 3-inch cinnamon stick or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, fresh orange juice, or apple cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 to 2 whole star anise, optional
Brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or other sweetener to taste, optional
- Make Applesauce
- Storing Applesauce
Peel apples (optional, see headnote above). Remove the apple cores and cut apples into large chunks or wedges.
Place the apples, cinnamon stick, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and star anise into the bottom of a large, heavy pot. Add 1/4 cup of water, and then stir the apples around the pot a few times.
Cover the pot with its lid, and then cook over medium-low heat, stirring every once in a while until they are very soft, 25 to 35 minutes. As the apples cook, check on them to make sure the pot is not dry. If it is, add a little more water and reduce the heat slightly.
Take the pot off the heat, remove the lid, and then leave the apples to cool for a few minutes.
Taste the applesauce. If you would like to add a sweetener, add it to taste. Start with a teaspoon, and then add from there.
Mash or blend the apples into your desired consistency. If you left the apple skins on, a food mill fitted with the medium disk makes quick work of separating the applesauce from the skins. You can also pass the sauce through a mesh strainer to separate the skins from the sauce.
The applesauce will thicken a little as it cools, but if it seems too watery, place the applesauce back into a pot and simmer until reduced a little.
Store applesauce in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Freeze applesauce for up to 6 months, possibly longer.
We do not have instructions for canning applesauce and recommend that you consult other canning resources for tips.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Best apples to use: Most varieties of apple work in this recipe. Depending on how sweet or tart they are, you might find that you need to adjust with a little sweetener like maple syrup or brown sugar. We use apples we enjoy eating, which means that we usually make applesauce with sweet, tart apples like Honeycrisp, Gala or Fuji.
- For the most apple flavor, combine two or three varieties of apples.
- Add more cinnamon: One cinnamon stick adds a little warmth to the applesauce, but it is not overpowering. If you love a lot of cinnamon in your applesauce, add an extra 1/2 teaspoon to the pot.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values. We did not include sugar in the calculations.