This Homemade Unsweetened Applesauce Recipe is made with just a few simple ingredients, without any extra sugar. Made with naturally sweet, in-season apples, this healthy snack is an autumn staple.
We're huge fans of no-peel, no added sugar recipes like this one. Leave the apple skins on, they add flavor and health benefits! Apples are deliciously sweet and full of natural sugars during the peak season.
If you've ever been intimidated to try making your own applesauce, we're here to say, don't be! It's an incredibly simple process, and will make your home smell amazing!
❤️Why we love this recipe
- A great way to use up apples - We love going apple picking during apple season! It's such a fun, wholesome activity, but often, you're left with more apples than you know what to do with. This recipe is an incredibly easy way to use up extras.
- Simple recipe made with only 5 simple ingredients - We're sure you have everything you need at home in your pantry, but anything you don't have can be found at nearly the grocery store.
- Bursting with delicious apple flavor and natural sweetness - Nothing smells better than a batch of homemade applesauce simmering away on the stovetop. It tastes just as comforting and delicious as it smells!
- A delicious snack and healthy side dish - Making your own applesauce is a healthy alternative to store bought versions that are full of sugar.
Here are the ingredients you will need for the applesauce. You can find full quantities and nutritional information in the recipe card.
This is a very base recipe that is quite versatile.
- Apples - Use your favorite apples. If you prefer sweet applesauce, go with something sweet like honey crisp, gala, or pink lady apples. If you like more of a tart applesauce, you can use granny smith apples. You can use any type of apple you prefer or even a variety of apples for one big batch. Softer apple varieties will cook down faster like Golden Delicious, McIntosh, or Braeburn.
- Fresh lemon juice - Optional. We use it to preserve freshness, as well as add a little brightness and cut the sweetness of the applesauce a bit.
- Kosher salt - Balances out the sweetness and rounds out the flavor. Salt really just enhances the flavor of everything around it, and we use a very small amount.
- Cinnamon - Optional. You can use ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick or two to infuse warm spiced flavor into the applesauce. If you plan to use applesauce for a specific purpose and you don't want spices in it, feel free to just leave it out.
- Wash and halve the lemon.
- Wash, and cut apples into large chunks. Discard cores.
Add apple pieces to the large pot or dutch oven with water.
Sprinkle in the salt and cinnamon, and stir.
Over medium heat, bring water to a rolling boil, then immediately reduce to low heat and cover. Leave the lid slightly ajar so some of the steam can escape.
Simmer for 30 minutes, until you have nice soft apples that can be mashed with a wooden spoon. Squeeze in the lemon juice.
Mash to your desired consistency. If you prefer chunkier applesauce, you can use a wooden spoon or potato masher.
If you like a smoother texture, use an immersion blender or high-speed blender until desired consistency is reached.
Now, simply serve and enjoy! You can serve hot, or cold. We like ours both ways, and to sprinkle it with a little bit more cinnamon when serving.
✨Tips & tricks
- Use different varieties of apples. The types of apples you use will impact the flavor a lot, and using a couple of different apples helps create more dimension in the applesauce.
- Add spices to taste. We love adding lots of warming cinnamon to this applesauce. You can add more spices like cloves, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cardamom if you enjoy a very nicely spiced flavor. If you're less enthusiastic about spices, you can skip it all together.
- Add lemon juice to preserve freshness longer. The lemon juice adds just a tiny bit of bright acidity that complements the sweet applesauce, but also helps the applesauce stay fresher longer in the fridge.
✏️Substitutions & variations
The ingredients are pretty straightforward, but here are a few simple swaps you can make.
- Spiced - Love heavily spiced applesauce? Add more cinnamon, and other warming spices like cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, and ginger if you like.
- Sweetened - Although this recipe comes out naturally sweet, you can always add your favorite sweetener like maple syrup, brown sugar, or our favorite, a brown sugar replacement like Swerve. (affiliate link)
- Add other fruits - If you're on the tail end of summer, add in your favorite berries like blueberries. Pears would also be a great addition for more warming autumn flavor.
- Chunky - If you prefer a chunkier applesauce, you don't have to mash the mixture very much, and rather leave more chunks in the sauce. We would recommend peeling the apples if you plan to enjoy the sauce very chunky, as peels can sometimes be a bit unpleasant if eating in large chunks.
- Peeled - You can certainly peel your apples if you prefer, or if going for a chunkier applesauce.
💭Frequently asked questions
Yes, definitely choose your favorite type of apple for this recipe. Because we don't add any sweetener to this applesauce, we chose our favorite sweeter varieties, using a mixture of honey crisp, gala, and Jonagold that we picked at a local apple orchard.
Slow cooking is an excellent hands-off method for making this recipe. If using a crock pot, simply follow all of the same directions. Set your slow cooker to high and cook for 3 - 4 hours or 6-8 hours on low.
🍎What to eat applesauce with
Applesauce can be a great addition to your favorite recipes, and be enjoyed warm or chilled. Here are a few suggestions.
- Enjoy it as a part of a yogurt and granola bowl.
- Top pancakes, french toast, or oatmeal with it.
- Serve with pork chops. (Try it with these keto fried pork chops!)
- Use it in baked goods. This spiced ghost cupcake recipe calls for unsweetened applesauce.
- Drizzle it over a scoop of vanilla ice cream and top with ground cinnamon. Yum!
Luckily, this recipe is pretty standard and you really don't need much to make it.
- Sharp knives. We love this self-sharpening knife set.
- You'll definitely need a large stock pot or dutch oven (we love this dutch oven!) for boiling the apple mixture.
- A citrus squeezer can be a very useful tool
- A potato masher works well to make this applesauce, but if you're wanting to go super quick and easy, we highly recommend using this cordless immersion blender. It's powerful and super convenient, we love it!
🛒Shop this recipe
Store in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy it within 10-12 days.
To freeze, allow applesauce to come to room temperature, then store it in a freezer-safe container. Thaw in the fridge and enjoy it within 6 months for best results.
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Sugar Free Applesauce
- 12 medium apples, cored and cut into chunks (choose your favorite, we used honeycrisp, gala and Jonagold)
- 12 ounces water
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon (optional and to taste, this amount creates a very lightly spiced applesauce)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon, and optional, to preserve freshness)
- Add apple pieces to a stock pot or dutch oven with water, salt, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer immediately, cover with a lid and leave slightly ajar for steam to escape. Simmer for 30 minutes or until apple pieces are soft enough to mash with a wooden spoon.
- Add fresh lemon juice, and mash apple pieces until the desired consistency is reached. You can use a potato masher, an immersion blender, or a regular blender to create your desired texture.
- Adjust seasonings to taste, and enjoy warm or chilled.
- Store in the fridge in an airtight container and enjoy within 10-12 days.
- Use your favorite variety of apples. We chose sweeter apples, like Honeycrisp, gala, and Jonagold. More tart varieties like granny smith may require a touch of sweetness, like maple syrup, brown sugar, or a sugar replacement to taste.
- No peeling is required for this recipe, but you can peel the apples if you like. Please note this will impact the micronutrient profile, as well as fiber content and flavor.
- If making this recipe for the first time, start with a lesser amount of cinnamon and add more to taste.
- Lemon juice is optional and can help preserve the freshness of this recipe.
- Please view the body of this post for more detailed instructions on substitutions and variations.