Applesauce

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This homemade applesauce is rich, tart and sweet—almost like apple pie filling—and a world apart from store-bought.

bowl of homemade applesauce

My grandmother Elleen, in all her quirky charm, had a special fondness for applesauce. Regardless of what was on her plate, she would always enjoy it with a side of applesauce, even daring to request it in fancy restaurants, which never failed to raise eyebrows among the waitstaff. I know she would have absolutely loved this homemade applesauce. It’s richly flavored, striking the perfect balance between tartness and sweetness—and it blows the store-bought stuff out of the water.

Making homemade applesauce is a breeze; the most laborious step is peeling the apples. While it’s traditionally prepared on the stovetop, I prefer the baking method. With the stovetop approach, you need to incorporate water or juice to prevent sticking, but with the baking method, no additional liquid is required, resulting in a more concentrated apple flavor. While I might not crave it with every meal like my grandmother (though it’s perfect with pork tenderloin, roast chicken, or latkes!), it’s delicious for breakfast, a snack, or dessert.

“I had a bunch of apples slightly past their prime and this was a great way to use them. I added a cinnamon sticks and it made the house smell lovely. Will definitely make again!”

Erika

What you’ll need to make homemade applesauce

Various colored apples on a marbled countertop with butter and seasonings.

For the apples, I like to use McIntosh with a few Golden Delicious mixed in for a more nuanced flavor. Feel free to use other varieties, such as Jonathan, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Braeburn, Stayman Winesap, Granny Smith, etc.—just keep in mind that super-tart apples will yield a tangy applesauce, and may require more sugar to balance the flavors.

Step-by-Step Instructions

To begin, peel, core and chop the apples into 1-inch chunks.

Peeled and chopped apples on a wooden cutting board.

Place them in a 9×13-inch baking dish and top with brown sugar and pads of butter.

Apple chunks in a baking dish with brown sugar and butter.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 t0 50 minutes, until the apples are tender.

Cooked, seasoned apples in a yellow baking dish.

Using a potato masher or fork, mash the apples to a chunky consistency.

Smashed apples in a yellow baking dish.

Taste and add more brown sugar if necessary. Note that no two batches will taste the same — it all depends on the apples you use. Transfer to a serving dish and add a dash of cinnamon, if desired.

bowl of applesauce

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Applesauce

This homemade applesauce is rich, tart and sweet—almost like apple pie filling—and a world apart from store-bought.

Servings: About 4 cups
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds apples (about 10), peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks (I like a combination of McIntosh and Golden Delicious)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch chunks
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • Ground cinnamon, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Place the apples in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Scatter the brown sugar and chunks of butter evenly over top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until the apples are very tender.
  3. Mash the apples with a potato masher or fork. Taste; if the applesauce is too tart, add more brown sugar little by little until the flavors are balanced. (Note that no two batches will ever be the same; the flavor will depend on the tartness of the apples you use.)
  4. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The applesauce can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Serving size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 196
  • Fat: 5g
  • Saturated fat: 3g
  • Carbohydrates: 42g
  • Sugar: 34g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Sodium: 6mg
  • Cholesterol: 11mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Comments

  • This was so darn good! New favorite dish, especially good served warm. I devoured a serving of it when I took it out of the oven and sort of contimplated not serving it at my brunch the next morning so that I could eat it all right then and there instead. This dish will find its way onto my table many more times, it was very easy to make and I loved it!

  • I’m wondering if anyone has used a brown sugar substitute?

    • Personally, Renee, I haven’t, but I will let other readers weigh in if they have.

  • Made this a day before I wanted to use it to go along with once upon a chef’s latkes recipe. The most time consuming part was the peeling of the apples. Overall this recipe is easy and came out so great, especially served with the latkes!!!!

  • I loved this applesauce. It came out so much more flavorful than stovetop versions that I have tried. My family loved it so much that I tried experimenting with the recipe to see what other fruits would work. I ended up substituting pear for the apples and white granulated sugar for the brown and it came out fantastic. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  • I made this for Thanksgiving with my 10 year old boys. It was simple enough for them to make with just a little supervision and straight out of the oven it tastes amazing. The warm, sweetened apples could be a dessert. I used the apple combination you recommended and it was perfect. We had to run back to the store for more apples because they ate so much of it before Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t change a thing.

  • I love the baking method, instead of the stovetop, allows for multi tasking. Chunky is always my preferred method. The cinnamon is an extra health benefit. Love, love. I am with your grandmother, “every meal”! Just enough sweetness to feel like your meal is complete with a dessert. “An apple a day….”. Thanks.

  • Absolutely love this recipe! So easy to bake the apples.

  • Hi,
    There is a lot of juice at the bottom of my pan. Should I drain it or mash it up with all the juices?

    • Hi Marci, Definitely mash it up. 🙂

  • This applesauce is delicious and very
    versatile. We used it with plain yoghurt,
    pancakes, pork tenderloin, chicken cutlets…
    Thanks for this great idea to use up every
    apple in the fridge (plus a couple of pears).

  • Can you store this in mason jars and put it in the fridge? If so, how long do you think it will keep?

    • Hi Alecia, sure you could store this in mason jars and it will keep nicely for about a week in the fridge. It also freezes well. Enjoy!

  • I made this apple sauce the other day, It was fabulous! So easy! Why didn’t I ever think to put them in the oven? You are a Genius! I love all your recipes. Im making the stew this weekend for my dinner guests, Never tried it but it sounds so delish!

    • — Tami McClimans
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious and fresh tasting….simplicity at its best! Thank you!

  • Hi Jenn, can your Chunky Homemade Applesauce be frozen? Can’t wait to try it. Gail

    • Yes, Gail, it should freeze nicely. Hope you enjoy!

  • This apple sauce is outstanding! Perfect texture, perfect flavour and super easy to make. I did add a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg for a bit of spice. My boys both had it for breakfast this morning with granola and yogurt. YUM!

  • This is amazing! I made it last week for the first time and I can barely wait to make it again. A must try recipe.

  • This is the best applesauce I’ve ever tasted. My kids can’t get enough, especially warm with vanilla ice cream.

  • I make applesauce all of the time, and never ever have I baked the apples in the oven. This is brilliant. I make a cardamom version.

  • In reviewing the ingredients and cooking instructions, I noticed that brown sugar is used. When I make homemade applesauce, I use have white and half brown sugar. The white sugar seems to cut down on some of the acidity of the acid. I can see where the brown sugar can give a sweater taste.

  • WOW – Y – U – M – M – Y
    I smear it on bread and butter for a treat!

    Do you think I could add red hot candy to make that tasty blast from the past?

    • Sure, Kay – why not?!

  • Made this applesauce, it was wonderful, thanks for the recipe Jenn.

  • Applesauce freezes beautifully – I freeze it in small jars. Love your website!!

  • Made this today. Excellent! The hardest thing to do was peel the apples. Try it, you will like it. I will make it again. I gave my sister’s email address to you for her to get your weekly emails. She will enjoy them also.

  • We all love applesauce in my family. However, my youngest likes his apples sauce chunky whereas my oldest likes his more soup-like. Whenever I make apple sauce I would have to make two batches. One using your recipe and for the soupier applesauce I would just cook it high in a crockpot for 3 hours. Thanks for this recipe! My son loves it!

  • This is awesome. Best apple sauce available. Thank you sooo much for the tip about adding sugar for tarter apples, really helps thank you.

  • My mom makes the best applesauce in the world….and now I like this better! Perfect as is, family loved. Brilliant! Thank you!

  • Love this applesauce! I like that it’s not overly sweet- just the pure taste of the apples! Makes the kitchen smell amazing!

  • This was amazing! GREAT with the pork loin also! I put some jars in the fridge and look forward to having more in the future.

    • — Tammy Woodfield
    • Reply
  • Thank You! Love your website. Every recipe is always a hit.
    Do you think it would work if I put it in jars and preserve for the winter months?

    • Hi Katherine, I don’t know very much about canning and this recipe wasn’t designed with canning in mind, so I wouldn’t recommend it– sorry! (And glad you like the site 🙂

  • I like crunchy apples, so when they get a little soft for my preference I’ve used this recipe, although without the butter. Warm out of the oven or microwaved warm it tastes great on pancakes instead of maple syrup. Add a couple strips of bacon and breakfast is ready. There’s just something so good about pork and applesauce.

  • This is the Best best best recipe for applesauce.
    Apologies to my mother in law and stovetop applesauce family tradition ?

  • Best applesauce I have ever eaten!

  • Can this be done without the butter?

    • It can, but I’m afraid it won’t be nearly as good. Maybe just reduce it?

  • I made this recently when some of our kids and grandchildren were visiting. Oh my, this is a delicious applesauce recipe. I will make this again and again. I think it will be great served with a holiday dinner. I love your website and often try your recipes. Haven’t found one yet that I dislike.

  • It was delicious.

    • Found my new favorite Apple at the store- Kiku. Very sweet and made some great Apple empanadas with them. Will try your applesauce recipe.

  • Very good idea to bake the applesauce. I can’t wait to try your recipe! Thank You!

  • I love homemade applesauce. I make it on the stove top! But, thanks to your recipe, will make it in the oven. Great recipe!

  • Brilliant! Bake and mash…. tasted like apple pie filling.

  • Thank you! Simply good. I love knowing what’s in my food. So easy and tastes better than bought at the grocery store. My friend uses the same recipe but done in the crock pot which makes the house smell nice.

  • I’ve made this recipe twice already — with Macintosh and Empire apples. I also left out the sugar, and it was still amazing.

    • — Cynthia Liverpool
    • Reply
    • We made this with the butter but it was congealed on the top when we took it out of the fridge. Is it supposed to be eaten warm?

      • Hi Betsey, Strange — I haven’t heard of anyone experiencing that problem. Did you make any changes to the recipe? It doesn’t need to be served warm, but to get rid of the hardened butter, I’d microwave it briefly and then stir well.

  • Wow! You never cease to amaze me with your inspiring recipes, Jennifer. I would never have thought to bake the apples for applesauce, but it makes perfect sense. I can’t wait to try your method.

  • My grandma Hilda taught us to only use golden delicious apples,no sugar and cinnamon. We cut our apples in different sizes so it will be chunky every time. I can 50 jars of applesauyce every fall and that is the only applesauce we eat.

  • It is wonderful! I just left off the butter because I am doing a meat meal!

  • I prefer unsweetened applesauce and also have a diabetic family member. Can the brown sugar be eliminated?

    • It can be eliminated, but make sure you use very sweet apples. If not the applesauce will be too tart.

  • This recipe is delicious! I have always made applesauce on the stove..this was so much better! Thanks!

  • Did this recipe with “Cortland and Paulared” apples mix…..just wonderfu…mmmmmm….even if we’re surrounded with orchard in Quebec I had never heard or tried to “bake ” the apple sauce….from now on I will stick with that recipe…

  • There is another way…cook the apples seeded and cored, but not pared, and then put them through a coarse food mill. The peels add color and great flavor, though the texture will not be so chunky.

  • How long will this keep in the refrigerator?

    • Maggie, this should keep nicely for about a week. Thanks!

  • Applesauce can be excellent without any additional ingredients, just apples. I make on the stovetop, sloooowly, and usually do not have to add water. I am intrigued by the oven method, and will certainly try that.

    • That’s the way I make mine. Macintosh apples, no sugar and a small splash water to start the simmer. Then cover and simmer low and slow until apples are thoroughly cooked and softened. Either mash, or stir with fork to break apples to desired consistency.

      • — Sharon columpsi
      • Reply
  • I love making apple sauce! I usually blend it but I think I am going to try your way this time. On a side note, the double bladed potato masher is a big let down for mashing anything…

  • Dear Jenn,

    I am thrilled to see this recipe. When I lived in northwest Montana I used to make homemade apple sauce and apple butter. My kids LOVED it. Now they are grown…and still speak of it. This will be a lovely addition to their Christmas presents! This looks much easier and less time consuming! Can’t wait to start on this! I guess this needs to be consumed when fresh? Do you think it would freeze well? Thank you! Thoroughly enjoying your recipes.
    Doreen

    • — Doreen M Sanders
    • Reply
    • Hi Doreen, the applesauce should freeze nicely (and I’m sure your kids will enjoy their nostalgic Christmas present)!

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