My Homemade Applesauce Recipe is the easiest ever! It was passed down to me by my mom, and we made this easy crockpot applesauce recipe all the time. I have fond memories of helping my mom puree the cooked apples. If you want a fast homemade applesauce recipe, I also have instructions for how to make applesauce in a pot on the stovetop in less than 30 minutes!
When my sister was telling me about this adorable book she found called Applesauce Season, I wondered how many of my Supermom pals may not know how to make applesauce. Making homemade applesauce as a family is such a fun tradition, so I knew it was time for this post.
Trust me, I have made a lot of applesauce. I have also read quite a few homemade applesauce recipes — since your mom’s recipe isn’t always the best LOL! I am surprised at how fussy so many of the homemade applesauce recipes out there can be. Don’t get me wrong, I am a recovering perfectionist, so I totally get the desire for the whole Martha-Stewart-perfect way… sometimes. What I love about my mom’s crockpot applesauce recipe is that it is so easy and low-stress. She could practically make it without even thinking.
The Easiest homemade Applesauce Recipe
My mom did her homemade applesauce in a crockpot, and she would make it whenever the fruit bowl on the counter was looking a bit sad, as in the apples were turning soft or half eaten. (Do your kids do that too… just take a bite of an apple and then put it back?! Ugh!) Sometimes my mom would even throw in the occasional pear that was left. Her homemade applesauce was always a tasty concoction and never quite the same.
My Mom’s crockpot Applesauce Recipe
OK, I know what you’re thinking… let’s get to that recipe already, right?! So here is Mom’s Homemade Applesauce Recipe. If you want more than just the measurements, I’ve got a bunch of super-tips and info below to make you a homemade applesauce pro.
- 3-6 lbs apples (more apple varieties adds more flavor!)
- 1-2 C water
- 2-3 TBS of lemon juice, citric acid OR ascorbic acid (optional: stir into the water to prevent browning)
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon (more to taste)
- 1-2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt
- 1/4 cup or less of maple syrup or sugar (totally optional, and I try not to add it)
Yes, there is a lot of wiggle room in that homemade applesauce recipe, and I know for those of you who love to measure precisely, this kind of recipe drives you crazy LOL! Never fear… I listed ranges so you can easily adjust the recipe based on the size of your crockpot or pan. Don’t fret about it too much. My favorite part about homemade applesauce is that you don’t really need an exact recipe, it’s more about the process, which I’ll explain below. You don’t even have to measure — I make my homemade applesauce just like my mom did, so I usually don’t!
For those who are new to the process of how to make applesauce, below is everything you need to know. I’ll be covering these main applesauce making questions and more:
- What are the best apples for applesauce?
- How to keep applesauce from turning brown?
- What tools do you need to make applesauce?
- Can you freeze applesauce?
It really is so easy, and kids can help make the applesauce at almost every stage. We homeschool our kids, and I love finding activities that go along with books we have read. Let me tell you about a fun applesauce story book.
The “Applesauce Season” Book
My older sister, Heather, was the one who gave me the idea for a post about how to make applesauce, when she shared Applesauce Season with me. It’s a fun picture book all about making applesauce as a family. I figured this post would be a great addition to my #BooksAlive series. Below is a quick note from my sister. She really is a supermom, living with her four kids (plus one in heaven) out in Washington D.C. area with her husband/Super Dad. They are both phenomenal cooks, and they enjoy cooking together. (Isn’t that sweet?) Here’s Heather to tell us about this fun story book…
I love Fall! I remember my mom buying apples by the case and making homemade applesauce by the crockpot full. It was delicious! She really didn’t put much in it besides cinnamon, and that smell throughout the house was always enough to make me want some.
As I started my own family and saw apple prices drop seasonally, I couldn’t help remembering and yearning for some homemade applesauce. One year I was at the library with my daughter and saw the picture book Applesauce Season displayed on the shelf. I couldn’t help myself and brought it home.
Then I read it. Oh, my! It perfectly describes what I want in my home. Now, I don’t buy apples by the big box like my mom did, and my applesauce may only be in a large pot on the stove not a crockpot, but we start our own Applesauce Season sometime in September as the apple prices fall and Autumn’s coolness is setting in. I love going to the store and buying various types of apples and taking them home to turn into yummy, bubbly applesauce.
I have a reminder setup in my calendar for the first week in September, to check out the book, and we read it again and again. It’s our tradition.
I am not the only one who looks forward to this time of the year. I mentioned something about Applesauce Season the other day, as I looked at the grocery ads and my five-year-old daughter looked up and said, “Are you going to get the book Mom?” Yes! It is important to her too.
You know, this year I think I am just going to buy the book!
Homemade Applesauce Recipe Ingredients
There are really only 2 essential ingredients that go into a homemade applesauce recipe, and a few that are optional:
- Ground Cinnamon (optional, but a must at our house!)
- Vanilla (rounds out the flavor so you can skip sweetener)
- Sweetener like Maple Syrup or Sugar (I try to leave it out if I can)
- Salt (just a pinch)
- Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid -or- Lemon juice (to prevent browning)
What are the best apples for applesauce?
Did you know there are over 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the United States and 7,500 grown throughout the world. What is available in the U.S. commercially through grocery stores is still a whopping 100 varieties. So it’s no wonder you”d be unsure what are the best apples for applesauce!
It is helpful to know that generally the apples you traditionally use for baking are NOT preferred for homemade applesauce, but again we’re not fussy here. In fact, the more varieties of apples in your sauce, the more flavorful since each type of apple varies in texture and taste, plus some even cook up differently.
Here’s a quick run down of the 10 common apple varieties you are most likely to come across at the grocery store and their texture/taste characteristics, from the Washington Apple Commission:
- Red Delicious. Crunchy and mildly sweet. They say it’s the world’s favorite snacking apple, but it’s not mine! That would be…
- Gala. Crisp and very sweet.
- Fuji. Crunchy and super sweet.
- Granny Smith. Crunchy and tart.
- Honeycrisp. Super crisp and distinctly sweet. My favorite but pricey, but I always get when there’s a good sale!
- Pink Lady. Crunchy and sweet-tart. (AKA Cripps Pink)
- Golden Delicious. Crisp and sweet.
- Jonagold. Crunchy and sweet-tart.
- Braeburn. Crisp and tangy.
- Rome. Soft and mildly tart.
In the Applesauce Season story book, the family visits a local market and buys a few of each of the available apples because part of the fun is that the taste of their homemade applesauce would change as the season wore on and different apple varieties became available.
It’s so satisfying to experiment and try new combinations. If you want to keep track, then you will certainly arrive at your family’s own favorite homemade applesauce recipe!
How to Keep Homemade Applesauce from Turning Brown
We lived in Phoenix so in the hotter months, my mom would put the crockpot applesauce out on our back porch with the apples stewing inside. Her homemade applesauce was always dark brown, and I thought that was the hallmark of a homemade applesauce recipe. It was not until I had homemade applesauce at one of my husband’s aunts house — it was miraculously the lighter color — that I realized you could make homemade applesauce in lighter shades.
My moms crockpot applesauce recipe always came out dark because she let it cook for so long and never added anything to it besides cinnamon. Truly she was not at all particular when she made her homemade applesauce — remember she was basically just cleaning out the fruit bowl into her crockpot LOL!
You can actually speed things up if you want by cooking apples on the stove, and if a lighter-colored applesauce is your preference, here are a few more tips to keep homemade applesauce from turning brown.
Enzymes called polyphenol oxidase, in an apple’s flesh, are responsible for the browning that occurs when an apple is exposed to air. Acidity interferes with this browning reaction, so you can dissolve a teaspoon or so of citric acid, lemon juice, ascorbic acid or lemon juice into the water when you cook your apples.
Tools needed to make Applesauce
Most people wondering how to make applesauce are particularly curious if there are any special tools required for homemade applesauce. (I actually have a running joke with my husband about things that require “big machines” to make.) You’ll be glad to know that truly no “big machines” are required but here is a list of the essential tools — most of these are standard kitchen tools you probably already have.
- Cooking Pot. I like to use my crockpot, but stove top you can use a big stock pot or saucepan.
- Knife. A smallish paring knife for chunking up the apples.
- Peeler. Optional depending on the type of smasher you’re using…
- Something to Smash the Apples. This could be your blender, food processor, ricer or even a potato masher. My favorite time-saving tools are either an immersion blender (so I don’t have to transfer the cooked apples out of the pot), or a food mill (my go-to because I don’t have to peel or de-seed the apples! More on that in second.)
How to Prep Apples for Homemade Applesauce
Wash your apples. Honestly there are times when I’m pretty sure my mom didn’t wash the apples. She generally washed her produce when she brought it home from the store, but based on my somewhat unreliable kid memory, when she cleaned out that fruit bowl into her crockpot, there wasn’t much washing going on LOL! I’m not advocating that you not wash your apples, I’m just trying to illustrate that making homemade applesauce does not need to be stressful at all!
Peel and remove the apple core. If you will be using a blender, food processor or masher to puree your apples, then you will definitely want to peel the apples and remove the seeds before cooking. If you have a ricer you can leave the peels and seeds in, you’ll just have to clean them out of the ricer, which can sometimes be a pain so it’s up to you.
Get a food mill and never have to peel your apples for applesauce again!
The beauty of a food mill is you don’t need to peel the apples or remove the seeds at all. It is super easy to clean them out as they collect on the screen, and they don’t interfere much as you’re milling. The food mill is what my mom always used for homemade applesauce, and my favorite part was turning the hand crank on the mill. Turns out that is EVERY kids favorite part!
The time savings is all the reason I needed to get one of these gadgets, but my kids would not want to make applesauce any other way! A food mill also comes in handy for making baby food too.
Cut up the apples. This is another somewhat optional step if you are using a food mill. If my mom was really in a hurry she would just cook the apples up whole, but generally she cut them just in half. I usually cut my apples into rough quarters. If you’re peeling and coring, you’ll end up naturally cutting your apples into smaller pieces, which I think works better for homemade applesauce cooked on the stovetop and if you don’t have a food mill.
How to Make Applesauce in a crockpot
- Now it’s time to cook up those apples! Fill your crockpot or another saucepan with about an inch worth of water and stir in the lemon juice/citric acid, if using. Add your apples. Cook on the crockpot’s low setting for about 6 hours. My mom let her crockpot cook alllll day. I am sure by now, though, you’re not surprised that she didn’t time it. Not kidding… this is really the easiest homemade applesauce recipe on the planet!
- Faster stovetop cooking instructions. You can cook your apples on medium heat until they are completely soft, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat, take lid off and let cool.
- Next, mash up your cooked apples. Let the apples cool a bit before mashing. The method of mashing will also determine the texture of your sauce. Use a potato masher if you like chunky applesauce. A blender, ricer or food mill will create a smoother sauce. You can also do most of the apples with the mill/blender and a few with the potato masher then mix together to get chunky homemade applesauce but still save time!
- Spice to your liking. Sprinkle in the cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and sweetener if using. Sometimes the vanilla is enough to round out the flavor and no extra sweetener is needed. If the apples are too tart, I prefer to sweeten with pure maple syrup but sugar works too.
The homemade applesauce will thicken as it cools. Enjoy warm or cold. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for about a week or freeze some for later.
Can You Freeze Applesauce?
Towards the end of your Applesauce Season, you might begin wondering can you freeze applesauce? Yes! In fact homemade applesauce freezes well. Here’s how to freeze your homemade applesauce:
- Pour your homemade applesauce into sterilized, air-tight containers.
- Be sure to leave about an inch of head space in the jar since the homemade applesauce will expand when frozen.
- Don’t forget to label it!
- Let thaw in the refrigerator.
- Try eating it before it’s completely thawed for an apple-flavored slushy!