Our family has been making this easy homemade applesauce recipe for two generations. It's delicately flavored and deeply colored, and it's just so much better than applesauce from a jar. It's a great addition to the holiday table and also freezes beautifully to serve anytime.
Why we love this recipe
This very recipe was among my first solid foods and among the first foods I fed my own children. If that's not a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is.
These days, there's often a batch in the freezer, and we reach for it frequently: For holidays, when we're not feeling well, when braces get tightened, and a few times a year just because someone can't live without it. We still call it Grandma's applesauce.
Our homemade applesauce:
- Couldn't be easier to make.
- Is super-versatile. It makes a great breakfast // snack // holiday or everyday side dish // or dessert.
- Comes together with just four inexpensive, readily available ingredients.
- Makes a big batch that freezes like a charm.
- Can easily be adjusted to suit your tastes and nutritional preferences (though we think it's perfect just the way it is).
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make applesauce.
- McIntosh apples are widely available, usually inexpensive, and well-behaved. Their flesh easily cooks down for sauce, and the skins, when strained out, leave behind a gorgeous ruby color.
- I like to include the sugar and cinnamon as written, but if you like, you can: Reduce the amount of sugar, use another sweetener of choice, or leave it out entirely. When making baby food, we don't include these ingredients.
How to make applesauce from scratch
Here's what you'll do make this easy applesauce recipe. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get the details in the recipe card below.
- Wash the apples well. Quarter them and slice out the cores. (I was slightly preoccupied when making the video and forgot to core the apples. Things turned out fine that way too, but I do prefer to core them.)
- Place quartered apples in a large pot — you'll need one that can hold at least eight quarts — and add the water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer. Stir every once in a while, and keep cooking until the apples yield their shapes easily when stirred. This usually takes about 20 minutes.
- Set a food mill over a very large bowl. If your mill has multiple discs, the middle one (with small but not absurdly tiny holes) is a good choice. Ladle the apples into the top of the mill a little at a time and churn until all the puree is in the bowl and only the skins remain in the mill.
- While the applesauce is still warm, stir in the sugar and cinnamon and mix very well. That's it!
Expert tips and FAQs
You'll want to use a variety that cooks down easily. We've always used McIntosh, which work beautifully, are inexpensive and easily available, and have skins that lend a gorgeous color to the sauce.
McIntosh have many cousins, including fameuse, cortland, liberty, lobo, spartan, and sunrise.
This recipe will keep for a week or more when tightly sealed in a cold fridge. But the real genius lies freezing it. We ladle it into lidded pint containers (usually the ones leftover from takeout) and keep it frozen for up to a year. Defrost in the fridge or on the counter.
Well, here's something fun that I came across in doing a little bit of research for this post. In the 1920s, "applesauce" or "apple sauce" meant nonsense, balderdash, bunk, or piffle.
The more you know.
How to serve it
Applesauce is absurdly versatile, so really the sky's the limit. It's baby food. It's a snack. It's a side dish. It's dessert. Here are a few of our favorite ways to serve it:
- As part of Thanksgiving
- With pork chops
- With latkes
- As the secret ingredient in BBQ pulled chicken (shhh)
- With yogurt and muesli for breakfast
- If you're feeling next-level, try my friend Aimee's dessert suggestion and serve it warm with meringue on top.
The original text of this post
Homemade applesauce for a happy, mildly chaotic home
This applesauce has a lot to do with why I’m here. I mean that literally. And I mean it on as many levels as a person could possibly articulate while greedily spooning bite after bite of applesauce into her mouth, all the while fending off cries for More Applesauce from two small children. It’s a good thing this isn’t a video, I’ll tell you that much.
Although come to think of it, a live feed of my usually happy, always mildly chaotic home would be a fitting testament to this food. It’s the stuff that homes are built on. I mean that literally, too.
"You can taste the love in it"
As a kid I never gave much thought to what makes a happy home—I just knew I had one and threw all my energies toward taking it for granted. That’s the business of the luckiest kids, isn’t it? But even I couldn’t have missed the central role of earnest, thoughtfully prepared food in our grand scheme. We’re real “you can taste the love in it” people. (Also people of normal weight, I might add.)
Mom’s applesauce was our introduction to a life of being fed—and now feeding ourselves and our children—to nourish. To turn little hands into big, giving hands, and little minds into big, generous minds. It isn’t that those little hands never stole a piece of gum from a perfectly innocent store (though you didn’t hear it from me), or that those minds never butt against each other with a certain ferocity. They do. It’s the understanding that a good home—a good family—simmers slowly, tastes often, and corrects the seasoning when necessary.
Grandma's homemade applesauce for 40 years
Today we are celebrating my parents’ fortieth wedding anniversary. Forty years! That’s a whole lot of simmering.
Every day I learn a little more about how much work goes into that kind of an undertaking, and more importantly, just what kind of work it takes. The work—and the joy—is in the tiniest gestures. Letting the engineer load the dishwasher and the unsung hero have the final word on Christmas tree decoration, even if your 60-year-old paper chain consistently ends up in the back. Building an appreciation for vegetables floret by lovingly sautéed floret, and computer literacy photo by meticulously scanned photo. Occasionally counting to three before you speak.
And when, once in a while, all hell inevitably breaks loose, changing these most-ingrained patterns with unwavering grace and strength. Knowing that in a good home, like a good house, patterns are just the decoration. If you have to tear them out, the foundation will still be there.
Gifts best paid forward
Dad, I’ve learned an awful lot from the way you load the dishwasher. We all have. I’m still working on it, and sometimes I still rely on you to do it for me. Mom, that’s one heck of a good applesauce. It’s Grandma’s Applesauce when I make it, too—and no one would stand for it any other way. Those aren’t the kinds of gifts a person could hope to pay back, especially when that person is a bit over-endowed in the forward momentum department. They’re gifts that are best paid forward—in time spent, attention given, and mouths fed with pints of frozen applesauce.
Thanks, Mom and Dad. Happy anniversary. To you two, and to all of us.
- 6 pounds (2722 grams) McIntosh apples
- ¾ cup (175 ml) water
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Quarter the apples and slice out the cores. Leave the skins on.
- Add apples to a large pot (8 quart minimum).
- Add water and salt and bring to a boil.
- Cover and reduce the heat, adjusting to maintain a simmer. Cook until apples have softened completely and yield their shape easily when stirred.
- Set a food mill over a very large bowl and begin by pouring some of the apple mixture into the top of the mill. Turn the handle of the food mill clockwise to force the pulp through the holes. Reverse the direction of the blade occasionally to clear the mill.
- Continue adding apples and rotating the blade until all the apples have gone through and only the peel remains in the top portion of the mill.
- Add the sugar and cinnamon and stir thoroughly. When cool, divide into storage containers and refrigerate or freeze as desired.
- McIntosh apples yield their shape easily when cooked. That's one of the reasons they're the perfect choice for applesauce. You can find them in most supermarkets year-round.
- Leaving the skins on the apples while they cook produces a sauce with a gorgeous ruby color and maximum nutritional value. The food mill removes them afterward.
- If your food mill has multiple discs, the middle one (with small but not microscopic holes) should work well.
- This is a large recipe — it makes about 12 cups of sauce. It keeps extremely well in the freezer for up to a year.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 131Total Fat: 0.3gCarbohydrates: 34.8gFiber: 4gProtein: 0,5g