Why bother making homemade applesauce? Because it tastes so much better than the store-bought jarred stuff! This easy Crockpot Applesauce is reminiscent of apple pie filling, but with no added sugars. It’s incredibly easy to make in the slow cooker.
My son eats a little bit of applesauce every night for dessert, so over the past couple of years, our family has become a bunch of applesauce connoisseurs.
We have purchased and tried a ridiculous number of brands and types of applesauce. Even having tried artisanal $7 jars of applesauce imported from the Brittany region of France, none of it compares to your own applesauce, made fresh.
All things equal, I would always rather buy something at the store for the sake of convenience, but sometimes the freshness factor is so huge that I just can’t.
What’s Great About This Recipe
Unbelievable flavor and freshness– The difference in flavor between homemade and store-bought is astonishing. It’s hard to even call them by the same name. The best way I can describe homemade crockpot applesauce is it’s like a scratch-made apple pie filling, but without the added sugar.
2 Pure Ingredients: Apples + Cinnamon – Apples have a lot of natural sweetness to them, and it’s really unnecessary to add additional sugar. Unsweetened applesauce is still plenty sweet.
Easy and convenient – While I’ve made applesauce in the past simply in a saucepan on the stove (see: Pink Lady Apple Sauce with Cardamom and Cinnamon), I’ve come to prefer the crockpot, because there’s no babysitting. Just put the ingredients in and turn it on.
The Best Type of Apples to Use
Equal parts Fuji apples with Pink Lady apples is my personal favorite combination. Fuji apples are very sweet, with a crisp bite, while the Pink lady apples are a bit more tart. With these two varieties, you’ll get an applesauce with a complex flavor.
Below you can see Fuji on the left, and Pink Lady on the right:
These apples have become pretty widely available any time of year, and you should be able to buy them at any grocery store.
Can You Use Other Types of Apples?
Yes, please go ahead and use whatever kind of apples you enjoy. It’s always fun to make this after apple picking, when you can get really fresh and crisp apples.
However, for best results, I recommend combining a sweeter apple with a more tart apple, to give a more interesting flavor. Sometimes applesauce recipes call for adding lemon juice, but I think it’s better to mix in a tart apple.
Good sweet apples: Fuji, Honeycrisp apples, and Golden Delicious are great choices. Fuji and Golden Delicious also tend to be soft apples, which is ideal for consistency.
Good tart apples: Pink lady, granny smith apples, Braeburn apples, and Cortland apples are great choices.
The only variety of apples I don’t recommend is Red Delicious, which generally isn’t recommended for use with baking or cooking.
Step by Step Overview:
Peel, core, and chop the fresh apples into big pieces. The peeler I use in the photo above is the best peeler I’ve owned, it’s this Rosle peeler on Amazon (affiliate).
Then I use a chef’s knife to cut straight down the core, and use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds in the middle, and the stem at the top. Then just chop it up.
I like to sprinkle ground cinnamon on top too, though this is optional. You may also add a couple cinnamon sticks, or swap in some apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice instead. While the apples have plenty of flavor on their own, I’m a sucker for cinnamon with apple.
Should You Add Water or Not?
I don’t add water to my applesauce because I enjoy a thicker texture, and it’s not necessary for the slow cooker.
If you’re cooking applesauce on the stovetop, you absolutely need water. But here, so long as you stir the apples partway through cooking as instructed below, you shouldn’t have trouble with burning.
If you like a looser, more watery applesauce like the kind they sell at the store, go ahead and add water. Amounts are in the recipe card below, but 1/2 cup is a good place to start. You can always thin it more at the end after pureeing.
Why don’t you add sugar?
There’s a substantial amount of sugar in the apples already (natural sugars), so I personally don’t find it necessary to add any extra.
If you’d like to add some, you can add any type you like: granulated sugar or brown sugar, or even more natural options like maple syrup or honey.
Put the slow cooker lid on and cook the apples for 2 hours, until the apples soften slightly:
This is when I stir and mash the apples lightly with a fork. They won’t be completely soft, and you can still see some chunks:
Put the lid back on and keep cooking for another hour, which should soften the apples even further:
Give it another stir and mash, and cook for 1 more hour, until completely soft.
Decide on texture: Do you want an ultra smooth or chunky consistency?
Once the apples are completely done cooking, you can decide if you want to puree the applesauce or if you prefer a chunkier texture. There is no “best applesauce” in this regard, just your personal preference.
For an ultra smooth applesauce, puree directly in the slow cooker using an immersion blender, or in a food processor or blender.
I like slightly chunky applesauce, so I simply mash it to my liking with a fork or potato masher.
Chill your delicious homemade applesauce in the fridge, which should take about 4 hours. Then it’s ready to enjoy.
We love to keep this on hand for afternoon snacks, though it’s also a wonderful pairing with homemade pork chops (try with Sweet Tea Brined Pork Chops). Enjoy!
FAQs and Expert Tips:
Keep the applesauce in the fridge for up to 5 days, in an airtight container or mason jar. After that the flavor really goes downhill.
Yes, it freezes beautifully! Store in a freezer-safe container for up to two months. When ready to enjoy, thaw in the fridge the night before you want it again.
You do not need a fancy crockpot to make this. The one I use was purchased for $17 about 10 years ago (it’s now out of stock, but was made by Proctor Silex).
You can make this on the stove instead. See this recipe here.
If you have a food mill, the best part is you can skip the peeling, and simply chop the apples into big chunks and place in the slow cooker. After cooking, run the apples through the food mill to remove the peels and seeds. While a food mill makes this an extra easy recipe with less prep, just know that this will give you a smoother consistency.
More Apple Recipes:
- 3 lbs apples (I had 4 Fuji apples and 4 Pink Lady apples)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup water (optional, see notes)
- Peel the apples, then slice in half through the core. Use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds and stems, and discard them.
- Chop the apples into small chunks about 1" big. It doesn't matter too much if the pieces are bigger or smaller, so don't stress about making them completely uniform.
- Combine the apple chunks and cinnamon in the crockpot, and the water, if using. Cook on high for 2 hours, then give the apples a stir and a rough mash with a fork.
- Cook for another hour, then stir and roughly mash the apples again. The apples may not be fully soft yet, and that's okay.
- Cook for one more hour, until the apples are completely tender. Mash the apples well with a fork or potato masher, or run the applesauce through a food processor or blender to make it completely smooth.
- Chill the applesauce for at least 4 hours before serving, to ensure it's completely cold. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.