How to Make Applesauce Just Like Grandma’s

Our Test Kitchen pros show you how to make applesauce without fancy equipment or extra stir-ins. With only three ingredients, it's perfect just the way it is.

apples; applesaucePhoto: Taste of Home

When I was a very young, my stepbrothers and I would visit a small orchard across from our favorite swimming hole. I remember gathering up apples that were too big for me to hold with one hand. We’d load them into a wagon and tug the wagon home. A peeling contest would then take place, and whoever was the first to remove the peel in one long strip was declared the winner. The prize? First taste of the most delicious applesauce ever made. It’s a simple dish that reminds me of Grandma’s kitchen.

Follow along as our Test Kitchen shows you how to make applesauce. The process is super simple—there are only three steps! Doing this for the first time? If you’ve ever made mashed potatoes, you can make applesauce. Let’s go!

How to Make Applesauce

You’ll need:

  • 4 pounds tart apples (Grab a variety from the market—don’t limit yourself to just one. Not sure which apples are sweet or tart? This apple primer will set you straight.)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon extract (optional)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sugar (optional)

Tools:

  • 6-quart Dutch oven with a lid
  • Potato masher

Step 1: Prep the apples

Person peeling a green applePhoto: Taste of Home

Before getting started, give the apples a quick wash. Then, using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife, remove the peel in strips, leaving as much of the apple as possible. Want to try for one long strip? Start near the stem and work around the apple in a circle, turning the fruit in your hand until you reach the bottom. Give it a shot—it’s harder than you think.

Once the apples are peeled, use a paring knife to slice the fruit away from the core in big chunks.

Test Kitchen tip: Apple peelers and corers are great, but unless you require peeled, cored apples regularly, save the expense and space, and use a tool you already have.

Step 2: Get cookin’

Person pouring water over peeled apples in a dutch ovenPhoto: Taste of Home

Place the apple chunks in a Dutch oven, add the water and, if using, cinnamon and bring to a boil over medium heat. As soon as the water starts to boil, turn down the heat to keep things at a simmer. Place the lid on the pot.

Let the apples simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until they’re soft. (Test them with a fork.)

Test Kitchen tips: Slow-cook your applesauce instead! Add apples and water to a slow cooker, then cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, until apples are tender. Or, make applesauce in the oven. Place ingredients in a greased baking dish, cover and bake at 350º for 40-45 minutes.

Step 3: Mash ’em up

Person mashing cooked apples in a dutch ovenPhoto: Taste of Home

Now that the apples are soft, remove and discard the cinnamon stick and mash fruit with a potato masher. How much you mash them is totally up to you. Personally, I like chunky applesauce, but you might like yours smoother. Because apples vary in sweetness, I recommend tasting the sauce before adding any sugar. If using sugar, start with a small amount, adding to taste and stirring until dissolved.

Voila! You have applesauce.

apples; applesaucePhoto: Taste of Home

Make it your own

  • Give other sweeteners a try. Honey, agave nectar and real maple syrup make great flavor additions.
  • Add some nutmeg, cloves, cardamom or fresh gingerroot to spice things up.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup of Red Hots to add a pretty color and even more cinnamon flavor.

Now that you've mastered apple prep, try these desserts.
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Sue Stetzel
Sue has been part of the Taste of Home family for over 16 years. Her collection of magazines dates back to the premier issue in 1993. When she isn’t writing, she’s answering your burning cooking questions and working with our team of Volunteer Field Editors.