This sugar free applesauce recipe uses only four ingredients, apples, cinnamon, lemon juice, and water.
In this “how to” guide you’ll learn what apples to use to make the best applesauce, three methods to make applesauce (stovetop, slow cooker, and instant pot), and the health benefits of apples.
When autumn hits apples are in abundance. Our family lives in the midwest. We are surrounded by gorgeous apple orchards and it is always one of my favorite annual traditions to take the kids apple picking.
We make a whole day of it making sure to stop for a hay ride, pick-up some apple cider and donuts, and enjoy a romp in the hay.
I recently took the boys to a small apple orchard near our home. I thought it was a u-pick apple orchard, but it turned out they sell their apples from a stand. The owner of the orchard could see the disappointment in my kids faces when they learned they couldn’t pick the apples from the tree. Without hesitation she told them she’d take them out to the orchard and show them around. With bags in hand we all set out to explore the orchard.
We had great fun learning more about how the orchard came to be, the different types of apples they grew, and how to tell if an apple is ready for picking. She even showed the boys the best way to pick the apple by cupping the apple from the bottom rolling it up towards the branch and giving it a twist.
With a whole bushel of apples both my boys were excited to create some delicious recipes.
Applesauce is one of my favorite recipes to make with our bounty of apples. It’s a healthy snack, a family favorite, great for baking, and a delicious condiment too.
Why you’ll love this simple Sugar Free Applesauce Recipe…
- 4 ingredients
- Naturally sweet
- A perfect snack
- Great for baking
- Kid friendly
- Easy to make
- Freeze, can, or store in the refrigerator for 7-10 days
- Three easy methods to choose from (stovetop, slow cooker, instant pot)
- Your house will be filled with the aroma of apples and cinnamon!
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Sugar Free Applesauce
All you need to make sugar free applesauce are four simple ingredients.
- Lemon Juice
Tools You’ll Need to Make Sugar Free Applesauce
- Stovetop Method: Large Dutch Oven or Stock Pot
- Slow Cooker Method: Crockpot or Slow Cooker
- Instant Pot Method: Instant Pot or Instant Pot/Slow Cooker
- Apple Peeler and Corer
- Immersion Blender (to turn chunky applesauce into smooth applesauce)
- Pairing Knife
I like using the apple peeler and corer. Once you figure out how to use it you’ll have all your apples peeled and cored in a matter of minutes. This tool comes in handy for baking apple pies, making apple crisps, apple breads, and so many more apple recipes.
How do you use homemade sugar free applesauce?
- A simple homemade snack
- Aside savory dishes like potato pancakes
- On top of coconut ice cream to make a sundae
- An ingredient for baking such as in my Vegan Pumpkin Muffins, Dairy Free Banana Bread, or Banana Carrot Muffins
- Along side your breakfast, mix into pancakes, or overnight oats
Chunky or Smooth Applesauce?
Homemade applesauce tastes great both ways. It’s all about preference. If you’d prefer your applesauce on the chunky side you won’t need to mash of blend it at the end of the cooking process.
If you prefer a smooth consistency use a potato masher, fork, whisky, or immersion blender.
How to Make Sugar Free Applesauce: Stovetop Method
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Step 1: Peel and core your apples. The apple peeler and corer will speed up the process, but you can also cut and core your apples using a pairing knife. Cut the apples into smaller chunks.
Step 2: Combine the apples with cinnamon in a stockpot or dutch oven. Add ½ cup water. The stovetop method requires one more ingredient, the water, this will help the apples steam.
Step 3: Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and cover. Cook for 25-30 minutes on low heat. Apples will be broken down but still a bit chunky.
Step 4: Remove from heat. For chunky applesauce mash with a potato masher or fork. For smooth applesauce use an immersion blender. Serve warm of cold.
How to Make Sugar Free Applesauce: Slow Cooker Method
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Step 1: Peel and core your apples. Use an apple peeler and corer to speed up the process or use a pairing knife. Chop into smaller chunks.
Step 2: Add apples to slow cooker. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add ½ cup of water.
Step 3: Set your slow cooker to high, and cook for 4 hours or until apples break down.
Step 4: If your applesauce is chunkier than you like mash it with a potato masher or use an immersion blender for a smoother texture. Serve warm or cold.
How to Make Sugar Free Applesauce: Instant Pot Method
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Step 1: Peel and core your apples. Use an apple peeler and corer to speed up the process or use a pairing knife.
Step 2: Add cinnamon, lemon, and water to the instant pot. Stir to combine. Add apples. Stir to combine.
Step 3: Secure lid on the instant pot. Cook on manual (high heat) for 8 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release.
Step 4: Transfer to a mixing bowl to cool. Applesauce will be chunky. Mash with a potato masher, or use an immersion blender for a smoother texture. Serve warm or cold.
What are the best apples to use to make applesauce?
Depending on your taste preference different apples will bring about a different flavor to your applesauce. If you prefer a tart applesauce, Granny Smith apples are the way to go. If you prefer a sweeter taste a golden delicious or gala apple would be a good choice. Below I’ve listed the various types of apples and their taste so that you can choose one that best suits your preference. Since this applesauce recipe is sugar free you might want to opt for a naturally sweeter tasting apple.
I like using a half and half combination of Gala and Granny Smith apples.
- Jonagold-A sweet and slightly tart.
- Cameo-Juicy, crisp, sweet, slightly tart.
- Empire-Crisp and white center. Firm texture, good for baking.
- McIntosh-Soft, creamy, good for applesauce, but not good for baking.
- Golden Delicious-Soft texture, sweet flavor, bruises and shrivels, doesn’t store for long, so you need to eat and use quickly.
- Fuji-Large, crisp, and sweet.
- Cortland-Creamy white center, sweet tart flavor.
- Red Delicious-Creamy white center, juicy and sweet. Best to eat raw.
- Gala-Mildly sweet, crisp texture.
- Granny Smith-Firm consistency, crisp, very tart taste.
- Braeburn-Firm crisp bite, nicely balances sweet and tart flavor.
- Pink Lady-Crunchy texture, balance of tart and sweet.
How long does homemade applesauce last?
Homemade applesauce lasts for 7-10 days in the refrigerator.
Can you freeze homemade applesauce?
You can freeze homemade applesauce for up to 2 months. Store in an airtight container. Allow for a little room at the top of your container as the applesauce will expand when frozen.
Can you can sugar free applesauce?
Yes, you homemade applesauce can be canned. You will need to process it in a boiling water canner. When properly canned applesauce can last for up to one year.
Is homemade sugar free applesauce healthy?
Apples have numerous health benefits which means that sugar free applesauce is also a healthy snack. Most of an apples fiber is found in the peel. When you peel apples for applesauce you lose much of the natural fiber in apples, but that doesn’t mean that applesauce isn’t a healthy snack.
Here a few surprising health benefits of apples.
- Aids Digestion-Apples have a high concentration of pectin which helps remove waste from the body.
- Probiotics-Applesauce helps promote the growth of probiotics. Probiotics help to balance the gut flora, and with much of immune system taking place in our digestive tract it’s important to keep things balanced. Just one more reason why it’s a good idea to eat applesauce when you have tummy troubles.
- Low in Fat and Calories-Applesauce is a naturally low fat and low calorie food, yet it’s still a filling snack. Most calories in applesauce comes from the added sugar, so with this no sugar added applesauce you avoid the extra calories.
- Fiber-While a lot of the fiber in apples come from the peel, applesauce still contains fiber in the form of pectin. Fiber helps you feel fuller longer.
- Vitamin C-Applesauce contains up to 80% of your daily recommended vitamin C.
Sugar Free Applesauce
- 8 apples peeled and cored I like to use a combination of Granny Smith and Gala apples.
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- Peel and core your apples. The apple peeler and corer will speed up the process, but you can also cut and core your apples using a pairing knife. Cut the apples into smaller chunks.
- Combine the apples with cinnamon in a stockpot or dutch oven. Add ½ cup water.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and cover. Cook for 25-30 minutes on low heat. Apples will be broken down but still a bit chunky.
- Remove from heat. Add lemon juice. For chunky applesauce mash with a potato masher or fork. For smooth applesauce use an immersion blender. Serve warm or cold.
Slow Cooker Instructions
- Peel and core your apples. Use an apple peeler and corer to speed up the process or use a pairing knife. Chop into smaller chunks.
- Add apples to slow cooker. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add ½ cup of water.
- Set your slow cooker to high, and cook for 4 hours or until apples break down. Add lemon juice.
- If your applesauce is chunkier than you like mash it with a potato masher or use an immersion blender for a smoother texture. Serve warm or cold.
Instant Pot Instructions
- Peel and core your apples. Use an apple peeler and corer to speed up the process or use a pairing knife.
- Add cinnamon, lemon, and water to the instant pot. Stir to combine. Add apples. Stir to combine.
- Secure lid on the instant pot. Cook on manual (high heat) for 8 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release.
- Transfer to a mixing bowl to cool. Add lemon juice. Stir to combine. Applesauce will be chunky. Mash with a potato masher, or use an immersion blender for a smoother texture. Serve warm or cold.
- Makes about 6 cups of applesauce.
- Serving size is ½ cup of applesauce.
Check Out these Other Apple Recipes!
- Air Fryer Apple Chips and Coconut Cranberry Nachos
- Refined Sugar Free Apple Crisp
- Apple Arugula Vegan Flatbread Pizza
- Spinach Apple Smoothie
If you’ve tried making this sugar free applesauce, please rate the recipe and let me know how they turned out. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for more plant-based family recipes your whole family will enjoy!
As with anything homemade, this was incredible and I won’t be able to go back to store bought. The texture alone makes it worth it. Thanks 🙂
Thank you! So glad you enjoyed this recipe!
This looks like such an amazing recipe and I cannot wait to try it out. My issue is my family went apple picking and we have a good deal of apples and no two are the same size. Is there a good rule of thumb for a weight of apples to use for this recipe? I intend on making a huge batch and canning/freezing the extra. Thank you!
8 medium apples weigh about 3 pounds. If you’re making a large batch I would follow the ingredients per 3 pounds of apples, so increase the amount of water, cinnamon, and lemon juice depending on how many pounds of apples you prepare. Hope that helps!
Mary A. Root
This recipe is perfect! Instead of water, I added some local apple cider, but that’s all. Such a great snack and dessert!! Thank you 😊
I had a ton of red delicious apples and it’s only me. I only removed the stem and blooms from the bottom and threw them in my instapot until it was full. Sprinkled cinnamon. Put small amount of coconut water in bottom. Cooked on high 5 minutes. Put in food processor along with frozen blueberries. I’d never used food processor before and over processed but it is still a great snack for a diabetic! Froze 1/2 cup servings in snack size ziplocks then put them in a big freezer ziplock. 18 bags!
If I want it sweeter, I use monk fruit with erythritol. Tastes just like sugar.
Can the fiber content be increased by leaving the skin on the apples? Especially if the sauce will be blended at the end to remove any lumps? Or does it change the whole texture of the sauce?
Yes, the fiber content would increase by keeping the peel on the apples. I have not tried doing this myself, so I’m not sure how it would change the texture. If you’d like to add more fiber to your applesauce, I suggest sprinkling your serving with chia seeds or flax seeds.
we make applesauce several times a year ……we have lots of kids in our world……we have done taste tests against store bought and sugar added homemade…………..this recipe always WINS….
only things we have changed is we use cinnamon sticks and lemon zests (1/2 a lemon at the beginning) . Even without the changes this is THE BEST APPLESAUCE EVER…..
Thank you for the glowing review! We love this applesauce too! So simple, yet so delicious!
Such a simple recipe but absolutely delicious. This batch is going into my sugar free/oil free banana cake.
What’s the serving size? I’m making this for 2 people so I’m not really sure if I should cut the recipe in half.
The serving size is 6. This will last for a few days in the fridge, so you can always make more and have some leftovers!
In your Instantpot directions, you have add the lemon juice twice. Is this a typo?
Instant Pot Instructions
Peel and core your apples. Use an apple peeler and corer to speed up the process or use a pairing knife.
Add cinnamon, lemon, and water to the instant pot. Stir to combine. Add apples. Stir to combine.
Secure lid on the instant pot. Cook on manual (high heat) for 8 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release.
Transfer to a mixing bowl to cool. Add lemon juice. Stir to combine. Applesauce will be chunky. Mash with a potato masher, or use an immersion blender for a smoother texture. Serve warm or cold.
Unfortunately, I didn’t look at the other methods and added it before cooking.
Hello! You are correct. That is a typo. I apologize for the mistake. I’ve gone ahead and fixed it so this doesn’t happen to another reader. It shouldn’t make a big difference if you add the lemon juice before or after the cooking process, so I hope it still turned out delicious!
For the stovetop method, do you use an additional 1/2 cup water – I’m a bit confused as the directions say the stovetop method requires an additional ingredient.
Hi Cyndi! Sorry for the confusion! There is no extra water needed for the stovetop method to make applesauce.
I must have missed when to add the lemon juice… Can’t seem to find instructions on that.
Add the lemon juice as the last step after you mash the apples.
I’ve never had applesauce like this before but it sounds amazing. I’m definitely going to make this.
I grew up with apple trees in our back yard. Every fall my mom would make huge batches of applesauce. She always put tons of sugar in hers though. I love that your version is sugar free.
Heidy L. McCallum
This was a wonderful recipe and turned out perfect. I could not be happier with the results and taste.
I love these! All these methods are so easy to make!
I love apple sauce!! Right out of the pot! 😉
There’s so much great information here! I’d love to try this with Fuji apples.
Homemade applesauce is the best! I love it that this is sugar free, but still tastes really good. Definitely much better and healthier than store-bought.
Can’t wait to make some apple sauce in my Instant Pot this weekend!