Make this fresh applesauce recipe without added sugar for a healthy snack or side dish. I’ll show you a special trick that seriously saves on time and the mess too!
At the time of this post, my man and I don’t yet grow our own apples. But apple trees are definitely on the list, especially early apple varieties that are good for baking, canning and making sauce.
We love this fruit so much, that we also plan to grow apples that ripen later in the year, so we can have a long, extended apple season and put some in the cold room for winter eating.
One day, we’ll have our own apple trees to harvest from. But until then, we get plenty of free fruit from folks in our little farming community. Apples grow everywhere here. As long as we’re willing to go and harvest ourselves, we’ve always had more than enough.
My favorite apple for making applesauce comes from an old abandoned acreage by the river that runs through our valley. The trees haven’t been pruned or cared for in years, but the fruit is still delicious!
These apples ripen in late summer and are crisp, sweet and thin skinned. They don’t last long in storage, but they’re excellent for making sauce and delicious apple pie!
I think they might be a Red Gravenstein, which is a traditional cooking (and juicing) apple.
Every year, I use them to make my favorite, homemade unsweetened applesauce recipe.
As you may have guessed, I never add white sugar, brown sugar or any other kind of sweetener when making my own applesauce. Because when you get the right kind of apples, extra sugar just isn’t necessary. The fruit itself will create a delicious flavor that stands alone.
Most recipes you’ll find online leave you with chunky applesauce, but this simple recipe creates a sauce with smoother texture than normal and it’s quicker to make too!
Which is why I wanted to share it. Applesauce is easy to make, but it does take lots of time. And this recipe will significantly speed things up during harvest season. It makes less mess too.
Best Type of Apple for Sauce
If you want to make naturally sweet and delicious applesauce, the variety of apple really does matter. Applesauce is nothing more than cooked down apples, so starting with a good fruit is the key to creating a delicious and flavorful sauce.
For this recipe, it’s also important to choose apple varieties that have thin skins.
Whether your grow apples yourself, buy them in-season from a local grower or pick them up at the grocery store, these apple varieties are guaranteed to make a delicious homemade apple sauce!
- Fuji Apple
- Gala Apple
- Gravenstein Apple
- Honeycrisp Apple
I recommend staying away from sour apples. For example? Granny Smith apples are delicious when eaten fresh, but they make a tart applesauce. If you want to be happy with the flavor without adding sugar, start with something sweet.
And if you’re like me and don’t actually know the apple variety you have access to, here are a few characteristics you should look for.
- Find apples that ripen early (they’re likely to be good saucing apples)
- Get sweet apples vs apples with tart flavor
- Choose thin skinned varieties
- Use fully ripe or even slightly overripe fruit to maximize sweetness
Tools You’ll Need
- Large pot with a thick bottom (I use this dual purpose stockpot)
- Wooden spoon
- Wood cutting board
- Paring knife
- High-speed blender base (get it here)
- Blender tool (here’s the one I use)
- Preserving tools (if you plan to freeze or can extras)
Whenever you make applesauce, it’s important to have a pot with a thick walled bottom. It’s very easy to burn both apples and the sauce! Having a good pot helps, especially if you’re working over a gas or propane stove.
You may also notice a food mill isn’t on my list.
That’s because you don’t need one for this recipe! As long as you use thin skinned apples, a kitchen blender should be able to puree them into oblivion. Which is why I call this my quick, healthy applesauce recipe.
List of Simple Ingredients
- 21 pounds (9.5 kg) of ripe apples
Like I mentioned before, applesauce is just pureed apples. So you can see why it’s so important to start with good tasting fruit.
Easy Homemade Applesauce Recipe
To make your own unsweetened applesauce, start by weighing out 21 pounds (9.5 kg) of fresh apples. Oh, and this makes 7 quart (liter) jars.
If they need to be rinsed, go ahead and give apples a quick splash of water at the kitchen sink.
Using a cutting board and knife, cut the apples in half. Remove the stem and blossom ends. Then remove the core from each half, being sure to remove all of it. I don’t mean just the seeds. If you leave any seed pockets behind in the fruit’s flesh, they’ll appear in your sauce as tough bits that stick to the roof of your mouth. Not very appealing!
Toss apples into a large stockpot, until it’s just over half full. Add water until there’s about 1/2-1 inch of water in the bottom of your large pot. Cover with a lid and set on stove under high heat until you hear the water in the bottom boiling.
Reduce to low heat and stir your apples every 7-10 minutes to bring the soft fruit to the top and prevent burning. As the apples soften, you’ll want to stir more often, about every 5 minutes or so. Cook the apples until they have disintegrated and are a pile of sauce-like mush.
Yes, you’re making stovetop applesauce!
Remove your pot from the heat and let your apples cool until there’s no danger of being burnt when you handle them.
Tip: If you plan to makes lots of sauce, you don’t need to do everything in one day. You can take the first day to cook all your apples. And make the sauce on the second day. You can preserve it on the third. Its as simple as that.
To turn your apples into sauce, there’s no need to use a food mill. The peels on thin-skinned apples will quickly disintegrate in a strong kitchen blender.
To puree your apples into sauce, fill a high-powered kitchen blender 1/2 to 2/3 full. Secure the lid and puree apples until you no longer see pieces of peels passing by. Empty all but 1 cup of sauce into a large bowl. Add more cooked apples to the blender and repeat, until all the apples have been pureed into a smooth applesauce.
If you want thicker sauce, you can cook the puree down for 30 minutes or so. But be sure to stir the entire time.
When finished, ladle sauce into jars and refrigerate for several weeks. Or, you can preserve some by either freezing or water bath canning it!
Watch the Applesauce Tutorial!
How to Freeze Applesauce
It isn’t hard to freeze applesauce. Just ladle it into an airtight container and pop it into the freezer. You can use freezer bags as well. Just be careful they don’t burst open before things freeze solid. Setting bags of sauce in an upright position on a baking tray is always a good idea.
You can also freeze applesauce in jars. It’s very easy.
Ladle sauce into jars. Fill until the sauce comes within 2-3 inches of the top of your jar. Lid and freeze.
You might be wondering why you can’t just fill your jar to the rim? Sauce will expand as it freezes. If you don’t leave some empty space in the jar, the expansion will crack the glass, ruin your jar and potentially release glass into your sauce.
Leave some open space in every jar.
And when you want to use some? Let the applesauce thaw in your kitchen sink the day before you need it.
Want to learn more about freezing the harvest in season? MY printable guide is exactly what you need! Check it out RIGHT HERE.
If you want creamy applesauce that’s ready to go with the pop of a lid, I recommend canning it instead.
How to Preserve Applesauce in the Water Bath Canner
While I do freeze applesauce in jars when I’m short on time, I prefer to can my sauce instead. Home canned applesauce is safe, shelf stable and ready to go at the pop of a lid. Here are step by step directions.
Note: if you want to learn more about canning fruit, pickled vegetables or tomato products, be sure to check out my Canning Course for Beginners.
- Add water to your canner and put it on to boil.
- At the kitchen sink, fill your jars with hot water to preheat them.
- Pour your applesauce into a large pot and heat to a bubbling boil. Yes, it needs to be hot when it goes into the jars! Stir 1x every minute to prevent burning.
- Dump hot water from the first jar and pop a funnel on top.
- Ladle hot applesauce into the jar, leaving 1 inch of open space at the top.
- Put a canning lid on the jar and tighten the canning band just past the resistance point.
- Place the filled jar in your water bath canner and continue filling and lidding jars.
- When all the applesauce has been used up, cover the canner with a lid and turn the heat up to high.
- Once the water starts boiling, set your timer and process according to altitude (you can get the chart HERE).
- When the timer has gone, remove jars from the hot water using a jar lifter.
- Set the jars on a cooling rack and leave undisturbed for 12 hours.
- Test lids for a seal, remove metal bands and store on a kitchen or pantry shelf.
- To use, pop off a lid and serve directly.
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Tips for Making Extra Delicious Applesauce
To recap, here are the things you need to think about when making unsweetened applesauce. Oh, and be sure to print off your free applesauce recipe below before you go!
- Use sweet apples with flavor you enjoy.
- Always use fully ripe apples for a naturally sweet flavor.
- Be sure to use thin skinned apples for this sauce recipe, so they properly disintegrate .
- Use a pot with a thick bottom to prevent burning.
- Sauce too runny? Flavor too weak? Go ahead and cook it down for 20-30 minutes. Just be sure to stir every 60 seconds or so!
- If you like additional flavor, you can always add a pinch of ground cinnamon to every 2 cups of sauce.
Healthy Homemade Applesauce Recipe
- 1 large pot with heavy bottom
- wood spoon
- cutting board
- paring knife
- kitchen blender (high powered)
- preserving equipment for freezing or canning
- 21 pounds (9.5 kg) cooking apples
- water for cooking apples
- Rinse 21 pounds of apples at the kitchen sink, if needed.
- Cut apples in half and remove blossom and stem ends, as well as the cores.
- Toss apple halves into a large stockpot, until it is filled 1/2-2/3 of the way.
- Add water until there's 1/2-1 inch in the bottom of your pot.
- Cover the pot with a lid and set to boil on the stove top.
- Once the water in the bottom has boiled, turn the heat to a low simmer.
- Stir every 7-10 minutes, pulling cooked apples off the bottom so they don't burn.
- As apples begin to soften, stir every 5 minutes to prevent burning (and remember to keep the heat low).
- Cook until the apples are a pile of mush.
- Cool until you're able to safely handle the fruit.
- Ladle cooked apples into a high powered kitchen blender, filling no more than 1/2 full.
- Puree until you no longer see apple peels whirling by.
- Dump all but 1 cup of sauce into a large bowl or container.
- Add more apples to the blender and puree.
- If you want thicker sauce, you can cook it down for another 30 minutes (stir every minute or two).
- Jar, lid and store in the fridge for 4-6 weeks.
How to Freeze Applesauce
- Ladle applesauce into jars.
- Leave 2-3 inches of open space at the top of each jar.
- Lid, label and freeze.
- Note: you can also use freezer containers or freezer bags for sauce.
How to Water Bath Can Applesauce
- Add water to your canner and set to boil.
- Pour sauce into a large stockpot and reheat to bubbling state, stirring every minute or two.
- Fill your canning jars with hot water to preheat.
- Grab a funnel and ladle, dump water out of a jar and fill with applesauce.
- Leave 1 inch of headspace (open space) at the top of your jar.
- Wipe the jar's rim, add a lid and tighten down a canning band.
- Set in the hot canner and continue filling jars.
- When all the jars have been filled, submerge in the water bath canner.
- Bring water to a rolling boil and process according to your altitude and jar size (see notes in blog post).
- Place canned jars of sauce on a cooling rack and let them sit undisturbed for 12 hours.
- Remove metal bands and test for a seal.
- Store on a kitchen shelf, pantry or cold room.