Savor Fall Flavors With This Simple Applesauce Recipe

Homemade applesauce has always been a favorite snack of mine. I grew up with fond memories of two very distinctive sauces and it’s hard to say whose applesauce I liked the best. Grandma’s was light in color, matching the interior of the apple itself. Her applesauce tasted tart, crisp and fresh. Hers I always think of as refreshing, but that may be in part due to the fact that so often I’d find little bits of ice on my spoon as it hadn’t quite finished defrosted before she served it.

My mom’s applesauce on the other hand was warm, comforting, almost the color of caramel and was fragrant with spice. We ate it so quickly, directly from the pot, that it never had a chance to cool down.

warm, spiced and chunky

About this applesauce recipe

The simple applesauce recipe I’ve created walks a path that teeters in between those two. I like my sauce lightly spiced but enough that it deepens in color. I go to great lengths to get my hands on a box of Gravenstein apples when they first come into season, as I find they make the best sauce — tart and full of flavor that tastes most like the sauce my grandma made.

From there I add a bit of apple cider to the bottom of the pan to get the juices flowing and to add another layer of flavor and I also throw in a bit of nutmeg and a vanilla bean pod. Now it’s not necessary to go to great lengths to get a vanilla bean, but I often have them laying around after I have used the seeds inside. There is still a great deal of flavor in the pod itself so I simmer the apples with a pod or two and end up with a lightly vanilla scented sauce.

I also tend to like to keep my sauce a bit on the chunky side. That preference comes from my mom’s sauce. If you like yours perfectly smooth, as grandma does, I suggest using a food mill or food processor.

tart, crisp and fresh apples

Simple applesauce recipe


  • 6 pounds Gravenstein apples (or other tart variety) (about 8-12 large) peeled, cored and quartered
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch salt
  • Vanilla bean (optional)

Step 1:

Add the apples to a large pot. To that add the apple cider, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla bean.

Step 2:

Cover the pot and let simmer until the apples are tender. Give them a quick stir every now and again.

Step 3:

For a chunky sauce simply give the apples a quick mash with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. For a smooth sauce use a food mill, immersion blender, or food processor and blend until completely smooth.

Applesauce will keep, if well covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Bowl of Applesauce

Most of the sauce we make ends up in lunch boxes for snack or served warm after school to comfort after a long day, but there is so much more than can be done with it.

Here are a few creative ways to use your homemade applesauce:

  • Applesauce is a great fat replacer in baking sweet treats like carrot cake waffles.
  • It can also be used to replace eggs in baked goods for those who are vegan or have an egg allergy.
  • Applesauce is also a great substitution for gluten-free baking.
  • Add it to your morning oatmeal with a nice drizzle of maple syrup.
  • Mix it into the blender along with your favorite smoothie ingredients.
  • Make fruit leather! On a sheet tray lined with a silicone baking mat or microwave-safe plastic wrap, spread the applesauce in a very thin layer. Set your oven to the lowest setting it can go and dry the applesauce until it is no longer sticky. Leaving the tray in overnight is best.
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