Applesauce – Once Upon a Chef

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This homemade applesauce is rich, tart and sweet—almost like apple pie filling—and a world apart from store-bought.

bowl of homemade applesauce

My grandmother Elleen, in all her quirky charm, had a special fondness for applesauce. Regardless of what was on her plate, she would always enjoy it with a side of applesauce, even daring to request it in fancy restaurants, which never failed to raise eyebrows among the waitstaff. I know she would have absolutely loved this homemade applesauce. It’s chunky and rich, with a flavor that strikes a perfect balance between tart and sweet—and it blows the store-bought stuff out of the water.

“I had a bunch of apples slightly past their prime and this was a great way to use them. I added a cinnamon sticks and it made the house smell lovely. Will definitely make again!”


Making homemade applesauce is a breeze; the most laborious step is peeling the apples. While it’s traditionally prepared on the stovetop, I prefer the baking method. With the stovetop approach, you need to incorporate water or juice to prevent sticking, but with the baking method, no additional liquid is required, resulting in a more concentrated apple flavor. While I might not crave it with every meal like my grandmother (though it’s perfect with pork tenderloin, roast chicken, or latkes!), it’s delicious for breakfast, a snack, or dessert.

What you’ll need to make homemade applesauce

how to make homemade applesauce

For the apples, I like to use McIntosh with a few Golden Delicious mixed in for a more nuanced flavor. Feel free to use other varieties, such as Jonathan, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Braeburn, Stayman Winesap, Granny Smith, etc.—just keep in mind that super-tart apples will yield a tangy applesauce, and may require more sugar to balance the flavors.

Step-by-Step Instructions

To begin, peel, core and chop the apples into 1-inch chunks.

how to make homemade applesauce

Place them in a 9×13-inch baking dish and top with brown sugar and pads of butter.

how to make homemade applesauce

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 t0 50 minutes, until the apples are tender.

how to make homemade applesauce

Using a potato masher or fork, mash the apples to a chunky consistency.

how to make homemade applesauce

Taste and add more brown sugar if necessary. Note that no two batches will taste the same — it all depends on the apples you use. Transfer to a serving dish and add a dash of cinnamon, if desired.

bowl of applesauce

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This homemade applesauce is rich, tart and sweet—almost like apple pie filling—and a world apart from store-bought.


  • 4 pounds apples (about 10), peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks (I like a combination of McIntosh and Golden Delicious)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch chunks
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • Ground cinnamon, for serving (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Place the apples in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Scatter the brown sugar and chunks of butter evenly over top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until the apples are very tender.
  3. Mash the apples with a potato masher or fork. Taste; if the applesauce is too tart, add more brown sugar little by little until the flavors are balanced. (Note that no two batches will ever be the same; the flavor will depend on the tartness of the apples you use.)
  4. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The applesauce can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Serving size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 196
  • Fat: 5g
  • Saturated fat: 3g
  • Carbohydrates: 42g
  • Sugar: 34g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Sodium: 6mg
  • Cholesterol: 11mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you’re following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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