This recipe is so delicious, it will knock your socks off. Plus its so sweet, you won't believe it was made without sugar.
Nothing says fall like homemade applesauce. This recipe was the result of when I bought a pretty big (I think it was around 30 pounds) box of freshly picked organic honeycrisp apples at my farmer's market.
I especially love this recipe because it's only made from a few wholesome ingredients and it's really easy to make. Plus, it's something I feel good about serving my family.
Best apples to use:
The key components to making this wonderful applesauce are:
Good quality apples. I only make my homemade applesauce with freshly picked organic honeycrisp apples. I'm super particular when it comes to my apples and proud of it! They are crisp, juicy, sweet and tart, which is why no sugar is required. Take my advice on this one.
I've never put sugar in my applesauce. I just make sure that I start with a delicious apple and not sugar is needed.
My two most favorite apples in the world are Pink Ladies and Honeycrisps.
Lucky for me, the honeycrisps are in their peak season late summer and the pink ladies are in the stores in the early spring, making for year round happiness for me.
In addition to the apples, you only need the following:
- Vanilla beans. Its one of my top ten most favorite things in the world and you'll never see my pantry without them. That's a promise. The price of vanilla beans has skyrocketed since I first made this homemade applesauce, but I still think they're worth it.
- Cinnamon sticks. I love the flavor of cinnamon but I don't always want the over powering flavor of powdered cinnamon. I think using a cinnamon stick in this recipe not only flavors your applesauce perfectly, but it doesn't change the beautiful light color of the apples.
- Lemon juice. It keeps your apples tart, adds a bit of acid in case you want to can for later, and keeps your apples from turning brown from oxidation.
How to make this recipe:
You can certainly make this applesauce on the stove top or in an Instant Pot with a few minor tweaks to the recipe.
I personally like to use the slow cooker to make my homemade applesauce because no water is necessary, thus making the flavor the best it can be. Plus, your entire kitchen will smell like heaven.
- First step is to peel, core, and cut your apples thin. I've made applesauce without peeling the apples before, and although the skin adds to the flavor, I don't like it in the applesauce.
- Combine the apples with the vanilla bean, lemon juice and cinnamon sticks in the Slow cooker. Give them a stir, cover, and cook on high for four hours.
- All you'll need to do is give it a stir when its done and you'll have perfect applesauce. BAM!
I filled up all different sizes of mason jars when I can using a water bath canning set simply because I like the way it looks.
If you plan on canning your homemade applesauce, just add the hot applesauce to sterile glass mason jars and leave just under an inch of head space at the top of the jar.
Attach a brand new lid and ring and place in a simmering water bath so that there is at least an inch of water covering the jars.
I let my jars of applesauce soak in the gentle simmer, covered, for about twenty minutes. Then, I carefully transfer them to the counter and you can hear the seals pop within a few minutes.
Once canned, your applesauce will last for several months, if not more, on the shelf.
Full Recipe Instructions
Vanilla Bean Honeycrisp Applesauce
- 5 large honeycrisp apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)
- 1 lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean
- Put apple slices in large slow cooker.
- Juice lemon, pour over apples, and toss to coat.
- Add cinnamon stick to slow cooker.
- Split vanilla bean and scrap seeds with knife. Add bean pod and scraped seeds to slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. There should be no need to add water. When done, stir with large spoon to achieve desired consistency. Discard vanilla bean pod.
This recipe was originally published in September 2014 and was most recently updated in September 2019.
Since I always make more than enough applesauce, I always enjoy incorporating it into other recipes. Here are some of the best recipes to make with applesauce:
- Applesauce Cake with Brown Butter Frosting is one of my favorites!
- I even made some maple bourbon apple cider from a batch of applesauce that I cooked too long!
- You can also substitute applesauce for oil in recipes like healthy zucchini bread.
David R Grindel
I'm trying to find the Applesauce cake with brown butter frosting but get the
recipe for applesauce ! I downloaded your applesauce recipe. Suspect I'll need it for the cake ! Quick .. I'm drooling on my keyboard!
Sorry for the late reply! If you type it into the search bar on my site, it should come up!
How can I adjust the recipe to cook in an Instant Pot?? Thanks for this amazing recipe!
Have you ever used mexican vannila extract in place of the bean?
I always have plenty of vanilla beans in my pantry, so I haven't with this recipe, however a good vanilla extract will work perfectly fine in place of the bean!
The nutrition facts Say. 24grams of sugar ..is that just from the apples My husband a diabetic so I guess I won’t be able to make it.
Hi Ginny, All of my nutritional info is an approximation based on the ingredients. Since there is no added sugar, I put the serving size proportional to each person eating 1 1/4 cooked down apples. I'm guessing there is a lot of natural sugar, though. Hope that helps!
I made the recipe, and cooked 4 batches at a time in my slow cooker. Unfortunately, my applesauce turned out VERY lemony, as in that was the most prominent taste. I did use my citrus press to juice my lemons though, and they were a little on the large side. I’m just disappointed that it failed, since I spent $15 on vanilla beans, and a good $20 on apples. It’s a rather expensive fail, and not sure if it can be fixed. 🙁
Hi Samantha! I'm so sorry to hear that! I know my recipe doesn't use sugar, but you could add some to counteract the tartness of the lemon. You could also cook down some more apples and add them to the mix to help balance it out. I hope it works! Whenever I make something like this and it doesn't turn out as expected, I usually turn it into a pancake topper.
can't wait to try this recipe! &i am definitely NOT a food snob-i think all fresh apples deserve a chance to be loved! taste-test by making 1/4 batches stovetop-ready in minutes (also commented above;). that said, when i read the comments, i was struck by the rudeness of 1 angry person (in a sea of delighted ones!) who was 'disappointed.' after reading cheryl's post about the inaccuracy of the quantity of apples, the idea occured that this was most likely the cause of her burnt 'sauce (&also above-ANYTHING left unattended 4hrs will burn on high heat).i bet if you made that recipe with 5 SMALL apples&did not stir....well...[&seems like '5 large' is rather a vague amount to say it was 'followed exactly']. to me tho, recipes are a guideline-follow it once to try, then adjust to your own liking-using common sense&imagination! all good things start somewhere&your recipe inspires!! thanks for the great idea-i will enjoy making it my own 🙂 🙂
I feel like this is a stupid question but.... The recipe calls for just 5 large apples and a large crock pot? I tried it this past weekend and I lost count of how many apples I put in a six quart crock and it was barely half full. I would consider the apples I used to be on a medium or small scale but I thought I compensated by using more... The apple sauce was good but I thought it was a bit tart and a little heavy with cinnamon so I wondered if I perhaps didn't use enough apples? The ratio is really one lemon to 5 (large) apples?
Hi Cheryl, This was one of my first recipes and it probably needs some revisiting (meaning I should have weighed my apples first). I remember when I made this that they were VERY large apples. They were also freshly picked honeycrisps and were extremely sweet. I should have measured out the lemon juice as well to help my readers. Based on how yours turned out, I'm guessing you probably needed more apples or they weren't super sweet to begin with? Sorry the recipe wasn't well written. I'll make it again this fall when they're in season and will re-write. Thanks! Krissy
I tried this for the first time today and it was fantastic! Like mind blowingly fantastic! I like applesauce, but this made me LOVE IT! I can see this being a topping on ice cream or on oatmeal in addition to just eating it right out off the jar! So good thanks for the recipe!
Just wanted to let you know I have made this recipe a gazillion times. Its an absolute fave and a Thanksgiving must. Found it again today to send link to family out west that couldn't make it home this year (i do it by sight now but wanted something a little more exact to share). Thanks!
Thanks for the great comment, Jax! Happy Thanksgiving! Krissy
This was not a favorite recipe for applesauce in our home. We love honeycrisp apples. However, we felt there was too much lemon juice and made it too tart. Also, the cinnamon stick did not infuse enough to have a distinct flavor. We did however, like the idea of vanilla bean. This is not a bad recipe, just not to our liking. In addition, I can't put my head around waiting 4 hours for applesauce when on the stove top it's done in 20-30 on low heat. Giving it 5 stars because you live it!
Well thank you for the nice rating! My apples were so sweet, I couldn't even taste the lemon! -Krissy