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Homemade Applesauce Recipe for Canning or Fresh Eating

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This homemade applesauce recipe starts with apples fresh from the backyard orchard or farmers market and results in a flavor-packed sauce. And it couldn’t be easier. The “recipe” is more like a technique and you can make a batch of homemade applesauce as big (or small) as you like. Use this applesauce recipe for canning or serve it as an easy summertime side dish.

Love apples? Give this vintage apple tansey recipe a try, too!

homemade applesauce recipe in a white bowl with handles

So many people look at me in surprise when they hear that I make applesauce instead of buying it at the store. It has simply never occurred to them to wonder how to make applesauce, they’re so used to buying it at the supermarket.

Let’s talk about that store-bought applesauce, though. If it’s all you’ve ever known, it probably tastes great to you. But to me? It has the texture of baby food, all finely ground and the same all the way through. And compared to homemade applesauce, the commercial version tastes watered down. What if I told you that this homemade applesauce recipe tastes like apple pie served in a bowl? All cinnamon goodness, with some chunks of apple. Serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, close your eyes, and it’s easy to imagine that you’re eating pie.

I’m here to tell you that this homemade applesauce recipe is easy to make and so worth it.

I grew up on an apple farm. When one grows up on an apple farm, one gets a bit picky about applesauce. It should be nice and chunky, with lots of cinnamon, and it must be made from Gravenstein apples. Of course, that last rule is entirely flexible depending upon your preferences, but I assure you that Gravenstein apples are the best apples for applesauce. You can use any apple for this recipe, and yes, even the Golden Delicious apples stocked at the supermarket. The flavor of the applesauce will change depending on the type of apple you use.

This is truly the easiest and best applesauce recipe! And doesn’t call for any added sweetener. Start with sweet, ripe apples and the recipe just doesn’t need it. If you have a sweet tooth, though, or you’re using less-than-sweet fresh apples, you can certainly add sugar or honey to get the flavor just right. Add your favorite sweetener a little bit at a time, sampling as you go.

No need for perfection with this applesauce

You’ll save a substantial amount of money if you track down a farmer who is willing to sell you her culls or seconds. These apples are bruised or blemished, but perfectly fine for turning into homemade applesauce. Just trim out the bad parts and use the rest. If you have a small orchard of your own, the apples that drop to the ground can be used in this homemade applesauce recipe. Simply cut out the blemishes and bruises, using the good portion of the apple that remains.

Related: Gluten Free Apple Crisp Recipe Fresh from the Farm

imperfect green apples with blemishes

Homemade applesauce recipe

This homemade applesauce recipe doesn’t require any measuring. How simple is that? 

There’s a recipe below, complete with measurements for those who are more comfortable with exactness. In reality, though? You don’t need to measure. You can easily make a batch of applesauce to suit your needs. I’ve made this in a huge stock pot. I’ve made a small batch of homemade applesauce in a saucepan.

Here’s how you do it:

 

1. Peel, core, and slice apples into roughly 1″ chunks. Use enough apples to fill your chosen pot. Use a saucepan for a small batch or a stock pot for a large batch.

2. Pour apple juice into your pot to a depth of about 1″ for a small batch, 2″ for a large batch.

Related: Make this Pecan Applesauce Cake

homemade applesauce recipe in a pot with a potato masher

3. Cover your pot and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally until apples become tender. Use a potato masher to break them up until your sauce reaches desired consistency. Alternatively, you can do this in your slow cooker. Same drill: Fill the slow cooker with apple chunks, put about an inch of apple juice in the bottom, and cook on low all day.

4. Stir in plenty of cinnamon. I don’t use sugar, but if you like your applesauce sweeter, by all means stir in some brown sugar or honey.

5. Serve this homemade applesauce recipe warm or chilled, or proceed with canning steps below. (For an extra treat, drizzle a bit of this lemon fermented honey over the top!)

Related: Small Batch Instant Pot Applesauce

homemade applesauce in a white bowl with handles

Related: Grandma’s Apple Pie Recipe From Scratch

Canning homemade applesauce

Canning applesauce is easy; in fact it’s one of the first things I learned to can at home. The applesauce recipe itself remains the same; canning applesauce is just the process of putting it in jars and processing it so that it’s shelf stable. No refrigeration required.

Canning Safety

Canning is an excellent way to preserve food for the pantry, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. 

  • Know the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning. Low acid items must be pressure canned for safety. 
  • Altering ingredients may change the recipe’s pH, posing a safety issue. 
  • Use the proper jars and lids. Never reuse lids, with the exception of the Tattler lids that are intended for such a purpose.
  • For more on canning equipment, please go here

Because applesauce is a high acid food, it can be preserved using the water bath method; there’s no need to pressure can it. (For those of you searching to find out if canning applesauce safely without a water bath is possible, the answer is no.) You need to process this homemade applesauce for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size jar you choose.

While this homemade applesauce recipe is cooking, fill a water bath canner and put it on to heat. Once the applesauce is completely cooked, ladle hot applesauce into canning jars. Top the filled jars with a lid and screw on the band. Submerge these hot, filled jars in the water bath canner for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of the jar). Once processed, let them cool and then store them in your pantry.

Can you freeze applesauce?

Yes! If you’re not ready for canning applesauce, freezing it is an easy way to preserve some for later. To do so, allow the applesauce to cool completely, then ladle into freezer safe containers. Be sure to allow 1-to-2-inches of head space, as the applesauce will expand some when it’s frozen. [More on that here.]

To thaw, set the applesauce out on a towel at room temperature. Stir before serving.

We eat this homemade applesauce by the bowlful, but if you’re looking for more ways to use canned applesauce, check out these sweet and savory ideas!

Related: Skillet Apple Pie: How to Make Apple Pie in Cast Iron

 applesauce in mason jars

 ★ Did you make this homemade applesauce recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

Homemade Applesauce Recipe

Homemade Applesauce Recipe

Yield: 24 1/4 cup servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This homemade applesauce recipe doesn't require any measuring at all. Eat it fresh or try canning applesauce to stock your pantry. It's like pie in a jar!

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Peel, core, and cut apples into roughly 1" chunks. 
  2. Combine apples and apple juice (or water) in a large stock pot. 
  3. SHORTCUT: You can skip measuring the ingredients entirely and simply fill a pot with apple chunks. Add juice or water to a depth of about 2" and cook as directed. 
  4. Cover the pot and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally until apples become tender. Use a potato masher to break them up until your sauce reaches desired consistency. 
  5. Stir in cinnamon.
  6. Serve warm or chilled, or proceed with canning steps below. 
  7. If you've got more than you can use but don't want to go through the canning process, you can freeze it, too.

Home canning your applesauce

  1. Ladle hot applesauce into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. 
  2. Wipe rims with a damp cloth (to assure a good seal), screw lids on, and process in a boiling water bath. Process pints for 15 minutes, quarts for 20 minutes. (Click through for a complete tutorial on water bath canning if you’ve never done it before.)

Notes

Alternatively, you can do this in your slow cooker. Same drill: Fill the slow cooker with apple chunks, put about an inch of apple juice in the bottom, and cook on low all day.

_____________________________________

This applesauce recipe can be made with varying amounts of apples. See text above for more.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 0.25 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 36Unsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 7g

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Looking for more ways to use your abundant apple crop? I’ve gathered some of the best apple recipes from my collection for you right here!

This post was originally published in August, 2013. It has been updated.

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

11 comments… add one
  • Jessica at Wondering What We Did Today Sep 16, 2014, 1:22 am

    Hi! I see you say to add apple juice. Right now I only have apple cider from our local farm. Is that ok to use? Thanks!

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 16, 2014, 6:54 am

      But then weʻd have to get into a whole conversation about the difference between juice and cider! (Cider is generally the term for fermented apple juice, but a lot of people use the term interchangeably, calling fresh squeezed apple juice “cider.” I sounds more old fashioned, doesnʻt it?) Short answer, yes. 😉

      • Kim Aug 2, 2016, 5:23 am

        Juice vs cider is actually the extraction process. Cider is cold press, juice is heat processed.

  • Stephanie White Sep 25, 2014, 8:03 am

    So how many pounds do you do on average? Any any apple juice?

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 28, 2014, 5:53 pm

      In past years – living in apple country – I’d do about 120-150 pounds each year. My dad has a cider press, so we let him do the making of apple juice. 😉

  • Kathy Aug 16, 2015, 6:28 pm

    We have had such a bumper apple crop the past few years at our place, we have had to get a bit creative with how we preserve our apples. We have tried sauce, cider, juice, but the most effective for our family was making a bunch of stewed apple slices, like we did here: https://bit.ly/1Cc276Y. Great share 🙂

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018, 9:50 pm

    Delicious!

  • Cynthia Sep 14, 2018, 9:01 am

    How long is this good in the refrigerator for? Do i need to add anything for preserving?

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 16, 2018, 9:41 am

      It should last – as is – in the fridge for 10 days or so. If you need to preserve it longer, either can it or freeze it.

  • Laurie Jul 1, 2020, 5:03 pm

    I have not been on your site before but you got me at gravensteins are the apple for sauce…and pie in my opinion. Don’t get me started on the transparency of transparents! My mil and i disagree on that one.
    Dried apples are also good although time consuming. My kids are taking them back packing this weekend.
    Here’s to a good crop of gravensteins this year…and prune plums.

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 4, 2020, 10:29 am

      Yep, best for pie, too!

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