This easy Homemade Applesauce recipe can be made smooth or chunky (my favorite!). I also include instructions for both simple refrigerator storage and for canning with longterm pantry storage!
Mom & Dad’s Homemade Applesauce
Every fall, we look forward to jars of homemade applesauce from my parents’ kitchen. Our girls go crazy for it. As soon as a lid is popped off, the jar is emptied. It’s THE BEST applesauce!
This easy Homemade Applesauce recipe comes from my mom and dad. It’s delightfully cinnamon-y and fresh tasting, and really more of a method than a recipe. I adore it tart and chunky, with toothsome bites of apple. But if you like it sweeter and smooth, that’s simple too!
This fresh sauce is so incredibly easy to make, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been enjoying your own homemade applesauce all along!
The Story Behind this Applesauce
The story behind this recipe goes back many years. My parents were staying with us for a few days during October, and they had brought some apples along. They’ve always had apple trees, and they enjoy sharing their harvest each year.
So I asked them to teach us their method for making applesauce, because theirs has always been my favorite. I love it when they make batches of chunky sauce, although I’ll never turn down a jar of the smooth stuff either!
Mom and Dad don’t follow a recipe, so I wanted to make the applesauce right alongside them and take notes. I wanted to be able to make it myself in years to come, and to pass their recipe down to our girls.
Why I Love Chunky Applesauce
I think this is the perfect applesauce because it’s sweet and tart, and it’s easy to make it CHUNKY. This result comes from a few different factors, such as the variety of apples that are used, how big the apples are sliced, and how long the apples are cooked.
But if you prefer a smooth applesauce, don’t worry – this recipe includes instructions for both chunky AND smooth!
What You’ll Need
Such a simple recipe, this comes together with just a few ingredients!
- apples – Use a firm, tart apple that holds its shape well when cooked or baked. For more variety in flavor and texture, use two or three different apple varieties!
- lemon juice – This helps to preserve the natural coloring of the apples, plus lends another layer of fresh, bright tartness.
- sugar – I usually adjust the sweetness up or down, depending on the apples I’m using. If you like a tart applesauce (like me!), then use less sugar. My mom likes sweet applesauce and my dad likes it tart, and it’s easy to make either way!
- cinnamon – Applesauce welcomes a good amount of cinnamon!!
- water – To cook the apples in, so they soften properly and don’t stick to the pot. For even more apple flavor, substitute fresh pressed apple cider – it’s so good!
How to Make Applesauce
If you have never tasted the extreme goodness of homemade applesauce, you’ve truly been missing out. How to make homemade applesauce? It’s easy!
- Prepare the apples: First, peel the apples. I like to see if I can peel each apple in one continuous coil, without breaking the peel. It’s just one way I can still amaze my kids. Ha! Then core and slice the apples with a knife or this easy apple corer/slicer. If you want a sauce with larger chunks, then cut your slices larger (about 1/2″ thick).
- Combine all ingredients: Transfer the apple slices to a big pot, along with the water (or substitute fresh pressed apple cider for even more apple goodness!), a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice, sugar, and cinnamon.
- Cook: Stir the apple slices over medium heat for about 30 minutes. Actual time will vary, depending on how chunky you want the sauce. For firmer, chunkier applesauce, cook until apple slices are softened to your liking. Cook a bit longer for applesauce with apples broken down, but still with toothsome bites – a potato masher works great to help the texture along! And for a looser, smoother sauce, cook even longer, adding more liquid if needed, until apples are broken down. For a very smooth sauce, use an immersion blender right in the pot. Or transfer apples in smaller quantities to a food processor or blender – but be careful, the sauce is hot!
How to Store Homemade Applesauce
This recipe includes two sets of instructions. One is for applesauce that is simply stored in the refrigerator, to be consumed within a few weeks. Store the applesauce in a number of jars or altogether in one big bowl. You can also freeze the applesauce in freezer-safe containers for up to 6 months, which is a nice option if you have extra freezer space. This method is relatively quick to accomplish and very easy to do.
The other set of directions is for canning applesauce. If you’ve wondered how to can applesauce, it’s not difficult either. But it does take more time and involves some extra equipment. The bonus here is that the canning process gives you jars of applesauce that can be stored in the pantry and enjoyed for up to a year.
What are the Best Apples for Applesauce?
One of the secrets to a chunky applesauce is to use firm apples that hold their shape when cooked or baked.
My all-time favorite apple is the Haralson (in the photo above), a product of the University of Minnesota. It is more tart than most, plus crisp and juicy, the perfect apple for baking and making applesauce. We had Haralson trees on the farm when I was growing up, so they hold a dear spot in my heart. They are a late season apple – it’s hard for me to wait until they’re available at our local Minnesota orchards and grocery stores!
Beyond Haralsons, I like to use Honeycrisp (another apple bred at the University of Minnesota) and Granny Smith. The apples in the photo above are Honeycrisp, picked from the tree in my parents’ backyard.
How to Use Applesauce
- Top grilled pork chops. It’s the most wonderful thing!
- Make French toast or buttermilk pancakes and top them with a big spoon of applesauce.
- Spoon warm applesauce over ice cream. Y.U.M.!
- Serve chilled applesauce as a side dish at lunch or dinner.
- Serve warm applesauce over oatmeal for breakfast.
- Stir into plain or vanilla yogurt.
- Try it with ricotta or cottage cheese!
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- 6 pounds firm, tart apples – use 2 to 3 varieties for added flavor and texture, if desired. Just make sure that at least half of the apples are a variety that is very firm and hold their shape well when cooked. This will allow for the chunks in the sauce. My favorite applesauce apples are Haralson, Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith.
- 2 cups water or fresh-pressed apple cider (I really like the cider!)
- juice of half a lemon
- 3/4 cup sugar - use more or less depending on your desired sweetness
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon - use more or less, to taste
*Please note: My first set of instructions is for a simple applesauce that is stored in the refrigerator, for consumption within three weeks. Or it can be frozen in freezer-safe containers for up to 6 months. The second set of instructions includes canning directions with a stovetop hot water bath. The canning method will take more time to accomplish, but will give you jars of applesauce that can be stored in the pantry and enjoyed for up to a year.
*Also note: This recipe will give you about 10 cups of applesauce. It's easy to halve the recipe for a smaller batch - or to double, triple, or quadruple it. Just be sure to use a pot that's large enough, to handle the multiplication factor. More apples will also take more time to cook.
- Peel and core apples, and then cut each apple into 8 slices - we use this apple corer/slicer to save time. Then cut each slice into pieces that are 1/4" to 1/2" thick, depending on how chunky you want your finished sauce to be.
- Add apple slices and all other ingredients to a large pot over medium-high heat, adjusting sugar and cinnamon quantities to your liking.
- Turn heat down to medium and stir the apples occasionally. Turn heat down a bit more if the apples are scorching on the bottom of the pot. If the mixture is lacking moisture, but the apples aren't soft and broken down to your liking yet, add a bit more water and continue cooking. When the sauce is getting close to your desired consistency, which will take 30 minutes or more, take a sampling out and let it cool a bit. Taste it for sweetness and add more sugar and cinnamon if desired. When the applesauce is to your liking in both texture and flavor, remove the pot from the heat.
- Let applesauce cool and then store in a large covered bowl or in jars, and refrigerate. It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks. You can also freeze it in freezer-safe containers for up to 6 months.
To can the applesauce for longterm pantry storage:
Start by sterilizing the jars and lids. Turn canning jars upside down in a wide pan with 1” of water in it and bring to a medium boil. Let the jars get hot and steamy for 10 minutes in the boiling water. In a small pan over medium-high heat, add 1/2'' of water and the jar lids. Bring to a medium boil and sanitize for 10 minutes.
Working with 1 jar at a time, fill with finished applesauce, leaving 1” head space. Wipe off rims of jars with a clean dry towel, top with a hot lid, and screw on a ring, just finger-tight. Process in a boiling water bath, with water covering jars by 1'', for 20 minutes. Carefully remove jars from boiling water and let them cool on a towel on the counter overnight, undisturbed. After they have been sitting for awhile, you will start hearing the jars "pop", such a fun sound! The following day, check that the jars have sealed by pressing down in the center of the lids. If the lid pops up and down, the jar hasn’t sealed and should be placed in the refrigerator to eat within a few weeks. If the lid is sucked down and does not move, it has sealed, and can be stored in the pantry for up to a year.
recipe handed down from my mom and dad
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 240Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 66mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 8gSugar: 45gProtein: 1g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
This post was originally published in 2012 and updated in 2021.