How to Make a Flavorful Homemade Applesauce

I did some experimenting and made a flavorful homemade applesauce.  It’s simple, delicious and much tastier than anything store bought.

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I love perfecting a recipe for my taste preferences.  Believe it or not, there are quite a few choices that you can make when it comes to a recipe as simple as applesauce.  A few years ago I made numerous batches of applesauce looking for the right combination of ingredients.  They were all good, and my family approved of each one, but one simple combination really stood out.  Let me walk you through my applesauce recipe testing.

Boiled Cider

I was prompted to begin my applesauce recipe experimentation because I had just learned of an apple-based ingredient that was new to me; boiled apple cider.  Ever heard of it?  It’s basically a reduction of apple cider that results in a concentrated apple syrup.  I thought that would be a great liquid to add to my applesauce as it cooked to give it great taste and flavor.

My verdict:

Just good, not great.  I found that it seemed to overpower the taste of my apples a bit and gave my applesauce an unpleasantly dark appearance.  I took it off my list of possible ingredients thinking that it was a bit excessive for such a basic food.

Bottom Line:

Boiled Cider is not a necessary ingredient in applesauce.


My next recipe challenge questioned which sugar was best to use in applesauce.  I tried maple syrup, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.

My verdict:

They were all quite good actually, however, I felt that the maple syrup and brown sugar made my applesauce taste more like an apple-based dessert and not the side dish I was looking for to accompany my fall meals.

Bottom Line:

Granulated sugar provided a nicely sweet applesauce without outshining the taste of the apples.

Apple Varieties:

Did you see my recipe for my Mom’s Best Apple Pie?  In that post, I explained that I love to include a variety of apples in my pie.  It provides a range of textures and layers of apple taste. I like to do the same with my applesauce when I can.  A one-apple applesauce is just fine but a variety makes applesauce extra yummy.  I choose soft, baking apples when making applesauce.  Harder varieties take longer to cook and are more difficult to strain than softer apples.  My favorite common apple varieties for applesauce are McIntosh, Gala, Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Cortland, and Braeburn.

My Verdict:

A variety of soft baking apples make for a complex, apply tasting applesauce, however, you can’t go wrong with just one variety either.

Bottom Line:

Choose a flavorful baking apple and you can’t go wrong.

Making Applesauce:

Applesauce is easy to make.  I use about a 1/2 peck bag of apples for my sauce which is about 5-6 pounds of apples.  To prepare my apples for cooking I wash them, quarter them and slice out the core of my quartered pieces.  I leave the skin on my apples, and my applesauce takes on a pleasant pink hue from the apple skins.  I strain my applesauce in a food mill such as this one after my apples have cooked.  This removes the skins and any stray seeds or stems.

In a large dutch oven place your cored apples. Add enough water to cover the bottom of your pot. The amount of water can vary depending on your desired finished results.  I like a thick applesauce so I don’t place in too much water, maybe about 1/3 of a cup.  Remember, your apples will give off their juices when they cook.  If you think your applesauce is too thick for your liking you can always add more water, and if you applesauce seems too thin, cook your sauce longer to evaporate off some of the extra liquid.

To the apples and water, I add 2 tablespoons of sugar and a tablespoon of cinnamon.  You can all more sugar if you like, or none at all.  2 tablespoons is usually just right for me.  I like my applesauce with a warm cinnamon flavor so I go heavy on the cinnamon.  You can use less if you like.

Place the lid on your pan and cook your apple mixture on medium heat until the apples are softly cooked and you can easily insert and remove a fork from an apple slice.  Stir occasionally while cooking.

Let the apples cool.  When the apples are still warm but not burning hot I place my food mill over a bowl and ladle my apple mixture into my food mill a few ladlefuls at a time.  Strain all of your cooked apples and you’re done!

Using and Storing Applesauce:

We use applesauce frequently with fall dinners.  It’s a lovely accompaniment to chicken, turkey or pork.  My kids also east applesauce as a snack.

Freshly made applesauce will stay good refrigerated for 1-2 weeks.

You can freeze applesauce for 2-3months.  I always make up large batches of applesauce in October and keep it in the fridge for our fall and winter meals, especially our holiday meals.

To thaw, I take my container of applesauce out of the freezer the day before I need it and place it in my refrigerator.  If it seems a bit icy the next day I place it in my serving bowl and leave it out at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  That usually does the trick.

Applesauce, simple and delicious.  Enjoy!




  1. Michelle

    Perfect timing! I’ll be having throat surgery in January and I think applesauce will be on my list of foods I’ll feel like having! Any chance you think I can pull this off with food processor if I can’t get a mill before then? I guess I would have to peel the apples beforehand. I’ve always wanted a mill though.

    1. Post
      Donna Fitzgerald

      You can definitely use a food processor or even a blender. However, you will need to peel your apples first. Best wishes for a speedy recovery from surgery!

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