Homemade applesauce is one of the undersung delights of the table.

Our mom made the best we’ve ever had, cooking McIntosh apples skin-on and puréeing them into velvet with a food mill (the recipe).

These days, many of us are looking for simpler solutions. The hack is chunky applesauce: no food mill or elbow grease required.

This recipe, with chai spices, was created by Alex Caspero, MA, RD, CLT, for Fruits & Veggies: More Matters.

The recipe is lower in sugar than store-bought versions, and is ready in just 15 minutes with an Instant Pot or pressure cooker. It can also be made in a slow cooker, and of course, in a regular pot on the stove top.

Many applesauce recipes are simply seasoned with cinnamon. This recipe adds dimensions of flavor, with chai spices.

Use tart red apples like Gravenstein Jonamac and McIntosh, and cook them with the skins on. The skins provide the pink color in photo #1.

Granny Smith, a favorite tart apple with green skin, will produce a conventional applesauce color.

Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 8 apples, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup water

    1. PLACE all ingredients in the base of the Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Cook over high pressure for 8 minutes. Quick-release or slow-release when finished.

    2. MASH the apples to the desired consistency using a potato masher or wooden spoon. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely. If you prefer a smooth applesauce, transfer to a food processor and pulse to the desired consistency.

    3. SERVE at room temperature, chilled, or slightly warmed.


    Homemade Chunky Applesauce
    [1] Chunky homemade applesauce. You can make it smooth in a food processor (all photos courtesy Fruits & Veggies: More Matters).

    Making Applesauce
    [2] Everything goes into an Instant Pot, pressure cooker or slow cooker.

    Making Applesauce
    [3] The finished product, ready to purée in a food processor or enjoy as is.

    Slow Cooker Preparation: Place all ingredients in the base of a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours. Mash if desired, cool and serve.

    Stove Top Preparation: Place the apples and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Use just enough water to keep the apples from burning. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very soft and falling apart, about 30 minutes. Mash with a fork, process through a food mill or use a food processor. Add a dash of salt; then sweeten to taste.

    While apples have been added to dishes since ancient times, medieval European cooks are believed to be the first to make apple sauces and related recipes, such as stewed apples and apple pudding.

    Depending upon the food they accompanied, apple sauce could be tart or sweet.

    According to The Oxford English Dictionary, the first extant print citation of the word “applesause” is in Eliza Smith’s Compleat Housewife, 9th edition, [London:1739].

    The recipe is often found in 18th century British and American cookbooks, confirming the popularity of the dish.

    While it began life as a side dish and a pudding, applesauce has found its way into baking (cakes, cookies, muffins) and as a solo dessert.

    We grew up eating applesauce with grilled meats and potato pancakes (latkes), and as a sweet snack.

    Try homemade applesauce topped with a bit of cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon. It’s divine, warm or chilled.

    And try it for breakfast with yogurt or cottage cheese: a sweet way to start the day.


    THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food

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