This simple unsweetened applesauce is a lovely condiment to a pork dish, a valuable ingredient in some baked treats, and perfect to enjoy just on its own! It is incredibly easy to make and is a great way to take advantage of a bounty of fall apples!
Apples are an incredibly versatile fruit to enjoy.
We love it in pies, crumbles, muffins.
And then, obviously, they are great to eat fresh.
But the idea of turning apples into applesauce often gets overlooked...
...and applesauce is not only delicious, it is a useful ingredient in a number of recipes!
What Ingredients Do You Need?
At a bare minimum, all you need to make applesauce are apples and some water...and one could argue whether water can be considered an "official" ingredient!
I also include the juice from one lemon in my recipe, but it is completely optional and whether you use it or not is personal preference. The lemon juice helps to maintain the color of the apples and prevents the sauce from turning brown. If you look at jars of store-bought applesauce, you will often see citric acid in the list of ingredients...which is what you get from lemon juice...and thus, the applesauce is a very nice apple-y color.
While I don't use it, if you like the taste of cinnamon with your applesauce, feel free to add a bit while the apples are cooking.
As the name of the recipe indicates, this is unsweetened applesauce, so there is no sugar added. Unsweetened applesauce is very versatile, and you can always add a sweetener or flavorings to it later, but you can't remove it if it's there from the beginning.
That being said, if you know you're going to want your applesauce sweetened, feel free to add some honey or maple syrup or sweetener to the apples, most preferably while they are cooking so the sugar dissolves. Be sure to taste the applesauce before adding any as it might be sweet enough depending on what variety of apples you use...which brings me to...
What Kind of Apples Should I Use?
I have made this applesauce with Granny Smith, which is a good all-around apple variety that is readily available all year long. However, Granny Smiths are a bit more on the tart end of the flavor scale.
If you want a sweeter applesauce without having to add sugar, try going for a sweeter variety, like Fuji or Gala. Red and Golden Delicious apples are also a nice option. I also like using Pink Lady apples, which have a nice balance of tart and sweet.
You can also use a combination of different varieties of apples, and that is one of the great things about making your own applesauce. You can use whatever apples you have on hand or whatever is in plenty at the market.
The basic idea is that any variety of apple will work...don't think too hard about it. Just see what's available at your local market or what might be on sale. Applesauce is also a great way to use apples that are "ugly" or have gotten a bit mealy.
Preparing and Cooking the Apples
Not only is the ingredient list easy, but so is the cooking! Peel, core, and cut the apples into small chunks. Combine them in a medium sized pot with water and lemon juice (if using) and then bring it to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, let the apples cook for approximately 10 minutes (timing can be slightly less or more, depending on how big the chunks were and how crisp the apples were). Once they're ready, then it's time to turn them into applesauce and this can be done as simply using a potato masher or pressing into the apples with the bottom of a spatula.
Mash the apples to whatever consistency you prefer. If you like it chunky, then you won't be mashing it much at all. If you like it smoother like us, mash it more. I have seen other recipes where you process the apples in a food processor, but why involve an appliance if you don't need to?
What Can I Use with the Applesauce?
Applesauce is commonly one of the first "solid" foods babies are introduced to. My boys loved it when they were little, and interestingly enough, they still like eating plain applesauce now...and they're taller than me! Really, though, eating applesauce by itself is delicious and refreshingly uncomplicated.
- It makes a lovely flavor companion to pork dishes like pork chops, a roasted pork loin, or even pulled pork. I'm not exactly sure why apple is more often associated with pork than other meats, but the flavors really do work!
- Brighten up your breakfast by stirring some into a bowl of oatmeal or some plain yogurt.
- It can also be used in baked goods, often used to substitute all or a portion of the oil or butter in a recipe. It lends moisture to treats like cakes, muffins, and quick breads while also offering some nutritional value. Check out my Flourless Chocolate Chip Brownies, Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins as a couple of examples!
- You can also use applesauce in savory recipes like my Korean Steak Lettuce Wraps, where the applesauce is part of the marinade!
How Do I Store It?
You can make a large batch of applesauce and can it using normal canning methods.
This recipe makes approximately 2 cups, or just enough to fit a pint-sized jar. I fill the jar and keep it in the fridge for approximate 1-2 weeks.
To make it last longer, you can also freeze the jar of applesauce, making sure to leave approximately a ½" space between the applesauce and the lid to allow for expansion. Defrost the applesauce in the fridge before using.
And that is it! This recipe was the very first recipe I posted to my blog and I'm happy to freshen it up and bring it back to the forefront! Applesauce may be really simple, but it definitely deserves some attention for everything it has to offer! Skip buying it in the store and try making it yourself!
Simple Unsweetened Applesauce
- 1 ½ pounds apples (see Recipe Notes below)
- ½ cup water
- Juice from one lemon
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Sweetener to taste
- Peel and core apples. Cut apples into small chunks.
- Add apple chunks to a medium sized pot or skillet with water and lemon juice.
- Bring apple mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pot or pan with a lid, leaving a slight gap and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
- Mash apples to desired consistency using a potato masher or the bottom of a spatula.
- Transfer apple sauce to a jar and let cool completely before covering with a lid.
- Store in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Any variety of apple will work for this recipe, including using a combination of different varieties.
- Lemon juice helps preserve the color of the apples and is completely optional.
- Add cinnamon or sweetener to the applesauce, if desired.
- Mash the apples to your desired consistency, whether chunky or smooth.
- Store applesauce in a sealed jar or container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
- Store applesauce in a sealed jar or container in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Fill an ice cube tray with applesauce and freeze, and store the applesauce cubes in a sealable freezer bag, pulling out only as much as you need.
- Calories are based on a ¼ cup serving.
**This recipe was November 1st, 2016 and republished on September 21, 2020 with recipe updates, and new photos and writing.