How to Make Applesauce

Making applesauce at home is easier than you think: and it skips the extra sugars of the store bought kind! Here’s how to make applesauce.

How to make applesauce

Apple picking is almost synonymous with fall in Midwestern America. What’s October without a good trip to the orchard? Alex was lucky enough to bring in a haul of apples from a nearby orchard (or, mom’s neighbor’s apple tree) a few weeks ago. We’ve started making an applesauce recipe that’s so, so good and uses only natural sugars. And we knew we needed to share it with you! Here’s how to make applesauce.

How to make applesauce

What to do with pounds of apples? Make applesauce, of course!  I grew up making applesauce from the tree in our backyard – we always set aside a day or more to cook down mountains of apples and freeze the sauce for the winter. Maybe because it was such an involved affair, I never though applesauce could be simple. Trying it on our own made me think again – not only was it easy, if you have the right apples, you need no extra ingredients! (Well, water and salt – but do those count?)

Here’s how to make applesauce:

  1. Core and chop 4 pounds of cooking apples. We recommend sweet tart varieties like Macintosh or Jonathon. Leave the skin on for a rosy applesauce, if desired.
  2. Add to a pot with water and cook. Bring to a boil, then cook the apples for about 30 to 35 minutes until they cook down, stirring and them down throughout the cook time.
  3. Pass the apples through a food mill. Doing this step makes for a nice, smooth applesauce. For a chunky texture, you also can use a potato masher and then remove the skins.
  4. Taste and add maple syrup, as desired. Depending on the sweetness of your apples, the applesauce might be sweet enough with no added sugar. If you’d like it a little sweeter, add a bit of maple syrup to taste.

We were surprised to find that the apples we used were so sweet that the sauce was perfect without any added sweetener!  It all depends on the type of apple you use, so you can add a bit of maple syrup at the end to your liking. However, “au natural” was perfect for us (and it tasted nothing like the “natural” brands in the stores)!

Looking for more apple recipes?

This applesauce recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.


How to Make Applesauce

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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


Making applesauce at home is easier than you think: and it skips the extra sugars of the store bought kind! Here’s how to make applesauce.



  • 4 pounds sweet cooking apples (for example, Macintosh)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Maple syrup and cinnamon, if desired


  1. Core the apples and cut them into quarters or smaller pieces (an apple corer works well). For applesauce that is not rosy in color, peel the apples (it’s also easier to make chunky apple sauce this way; see Step 3). Otherwise, leave on the skin, which adds a rosy color.
  2. Place the apple pieces in a large pan with 3/4 cup water. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and cook until the apples are soften, about 30 to 35 minutes. Check the pot several times, stirring and mashing down the apples. When the apples are cooked down, turn off the heat.
  3. For chunky applesauce, mash down the apples with a potato masher. Remove the apple skins with a fork.
  4. For smoother applesauce and to easily remove the skins, pass the applesauce through a food mill or force it through the holes in a colander. (The food mill is the easiest method, but a sieve or colander works just as well, though it is more time consuming.)
  5. Taste; depending on the type of apples, the apple sauce may be sweet enough as is. If not, add maple syrup and/or cinnamon to taste.

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: How to make applesauce, Homemade applesauce recipe,

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    Ken G.
    October 12, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    We found that if you put the sliced apples, honey and cinnamon in the microwave, yes I know it’s a dirty word, but you can omit the water and the flavor is not diluted. Makes terrific apple sauce.

    • Reply
      October 13, 2011 at 9:47 am

      Wow, I didn’t know about this trick! (I agree microwave can be a dirty word, but sometimes it’s necessary :) ) How long do you microwave for?

      • Reply
        Ken G.
        October 13, 2011 at 6:30 pm

        We microwave about 10 cups of peeled and sliced apples for 5-7 minutes (covered of course), stir then back in for another 5-7. The time varies with microwaves as you well know, but it is very easy to get the texture one prefers by monitoring. We only add two cinnamon sticks before cooking, then add the honey and/or sugar and ground cinnamon after to taste. This is a tried and true recipe thanks to the annual bounty from the family gravenstein tree. We have three freezers (mine, sister’s, mom’s) full of the stuff!

        • Reply
          October 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm

          How interesting! I think I may have to try this with our leftover apples – thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Lauren @ Healthy Food For Living
    October 13, 2011 at 6:56 am

    I love that you didn’t add any sugar to the sauce! Apples are perfectly sweet on their own, and this recipe sounds fantastic =).

    • Reply
      October 13, 2011 at 9:48 am

      Thanks! We actually heard about not needing to add sugar from Alex’s mom and sisters — and I was amazed too! It depends on the apple, but we loved it just as it was :)

  • Reply
    October 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I can easily eat an entire jar of Motts Applesauce. Definitely want to try this.

  • Reply
    October 13, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I make mine in the slow cooker with no water — my Mom used to can hers (instead of the freezer), and she would add some of those “red hots” (small cinnamon candies) to about 1/3 of the jars . . .

  • Reply
    October 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    I LOVE the pink color. Beautiful. My mom makes the best applesauce. It’s a dark, muddy color from all the spices she adds. She uses very little sugar, if any, so the tartness packs a lovely punch.

    • Reply
      October 14, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      Thank you — we weren’t sure how much leaving the skins on would affect the color, but it did make for a nice pink! Spices sound delicious – we’ll have to try adding some next time!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2011 at 12:22 am

    I love making homemade applesauce…but have yet to do so this fall. This has sparked some inspiration!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Hi! I am fortunate to read your blog just in time after receiving a box of red apples (a gift from a friend, who I happened to help by recommending a good speech therapy school for her little boy…)
    My mom says the variety is Worcester or Pearmein. She added they are good variety but don’t keep well. Do you think these apples will be the good kind for your recipe?

    • Reply
      October 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      Oh, perfect! I did some research and found that Worcester Pearmain is an early-season English apple with a sweet and sometimes strawberry flavor. That said, I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be a good kind to use for the recipe! And there’s only one way to find out… let us know if you give it a try!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Well, having gotten the recipe from my aunt….who always made freezer applesauce…we use the old-fashioned, but very efficient combo apple corer-peeler for prep…then slowly cook the apples…no need to slice…we like lumpy, and use the potato hand masher to finish them when they soften…leaves a wonderful texture…and yes, we threw in some red hots…which provided a tiny bit of sugar in their own right, a wonderful pink color overall, and the bite of hot cinnamon. Yum!

  • Reply
    November 3, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    When I saw this post, I was flooded with fond memories of my mom making applesauce every fall using the apples from a tree in our yard. I considered giving it a go, but decided I’d pass. About two days later, I printed the recipe. I have made five batches since then. Everyone from babies to my boyfriend to my coworkers have eaten it and loved it. The little containers bring a smile to their faces. Thanks for posting it. I plan to make a batch tonight, with hopes of finally putting a few containers in the freezer for myself. :)

    • Reply
      November 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      What a wonderful story – thank you for sharing! I’m so glad you decided to make it, and that it could be a fun reminder of childhood for you too! :) Good luck and I hope you get to enjoy some too!

  • Reply
    December 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Yum! I started experimenting with homemade applesauce. Last couple times I went to Costco and bought a large bag of red delicious apples.

    I use a crock pot and essentially peel and cut up the apples, drop them in, add a bit of vanilla and water, then let them cook all day. :) The entire apartment smells delicious all day!

    I also make a dessert applesauce, where I add in white and brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon (along with some water). It tastes like apple pie filling, and is great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream ;)

  • Reply
    September 4, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I am a young mom and find my family caught up in a busy life. I wanted to start creating special memory’s and moments for our kids. We started visiting our local orchard and was surprised at how we all enjoyed the day. We now look forward to the start of Sept. and lucky for us we are close enough to make several trips a season. I am not really that great in kitchen but love experimenting with the kids. Came across your recipe and am so excited to give it a try. Sometimes the thought of homemade can be so intimidating, thank you so much for posting an easy recipe. Loved reading all the great posts with good tips, add ins, and great memory’s.

  • Reply
    Lesley Tate
    February 22, 2014 at 5:28 am

    I live in Ireland and really the only apples cheap enough to use are cooking apples, alsi known as crab apples here. They are so bitter I would have to sweeten and I only use honey. Is the apple sauce ok to freeze with the honey added or should I make the sauce without the honey and add it later to a thawed serving ?

    • Reply
      February 22, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      Hi Lesley! Great question. I would think you could go ahead and freeze with the honey. We’ve never tried it, but I would’t think it would hurt. Give it a try and let us know how it turned out!

    • Reply
      November 13, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Freezing the apples sauce with honey added would have no effect on the honey. Frozen honey when thawed is still honey and its qualities are not at all diminished. I raise honey bees and my honey is stored in the freezer if I’m not able to extract it immediately and then thawed for extraction. If you think about honey in a bee hive over the winter, in northern climates, it freezes but is still used by the bees and they are able to survive winter.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Instead of water in the above recipe you can substitute APPLE CIDER. This helps cook the apples without watering down the flavor. You can leave the cores and stems in the apples if you run them through a Victorio Strainer.

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