Roasted Applesauce

This roasted applesauce, made with apples baked with honey, butter, and lemon juice, calls for the apples to finish in the oven to concentrate and caramelize the flavors. As chunky or smooth as you please. Say so long to store-bought applesauce.

A jar of roasted applesauce with a spoon resting inside on a saucer with a strip of apple peel.

This roasted applesauce recipe, explains its creator, Michael Chiarelli, is unlike most homemade applesauce recipes in that it’s not made on the stovetop. It’s made in the oven. And it’s the most brilliant thing to ever happen to applesauce if you ask us.  The intense heat intensifies the apple flavor almost so that it tastes caramelized. It’s so simple to make, it seems silly to even think of buying it, says Chiarelli. We couldn’t agree more. Originally published November 30, 2010.Renee Schettler Rossi

How To Fancy Up This Roasted Applesauce Recipe

There’s nothing wrong with spooning up this roasted applesauce as is, nothing wrong at all. (We’ve actually had quite a few batches disappear like that before the applesauce even made it to the fridge.) Although we’re also all about employing countless ways to fancy it up. So should you feel like playing loose and fancy-free with this recipe, here are some suggestions

• Swap an equal amount of agave nectar, maple syrup, or brown sugar for the honey
• Add a splash of apple cider before roasting the apples
• Stir in 1/4 teaspoon ground spice, whether cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, or a combination
• Toss in a handful of finely chopped crystallized ginger
• Strew some finely chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme, over the apples
• Go crazy and stir in some mashed banana or mashed berries, whether fresh or frozen

Roasted Applesauce

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 15 M
  • 45 M
  • Serves 8
5/5 - 3 reviews
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Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C).

Peel the apples and cut them into quarters. Remove the core and cut the apples into 1-inch chunks. As each apple is ready, place it in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice.

Melt the butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter begins to brown, add the apples and salt and sauté just until the edges begin to color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the honey, stir well, and transfer to the oven. Roast until the apples are soft and lightly caramelized, 20 to 30 minutes. (For a less robust, more traditional applesauce flavor, cover the skillet prior to roasting.)

For chunky applesauce, reach for a fork, potato masher, or pastry blender and mash to the desired consistency.

For smooth applesauce, transfer the apple mixture to a food processor and purée. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold. (The applesauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Print RecipeBuy the At Home With Michael Chiarello cookbook

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Recipe Testers Reviews

Caramelized apples as applesauce? Oh, my. I halved the recipe, as I wanted to ensure all the apples fit into my cast iron skillet, and it worked perfectly. You just throw the apples and other ingredients into the skillet, saute and toss (OK, carefully place) into the oven. Voila — half an hour later, perfectly caramelized, tender juicy apples emerge. Then all that remains is mashing them with a fork (or pureeing them, but I chose to leave mine chunky). The suggestions to further enhance the applesauce are exciting. I added minced rosemary and a splash of lemon juice, and I used fleur de sel to sprinkle on top. Excellent with pork. I really want to try this with other options such as lemon thyme, mint, apple cider vinegar and crystallized ginger (as mentioned above in the recipe). This recipe does need a touch of acidity in addition to the lemon juice initially squeezed on the apples, but that is easy to do and likely just a matter of taste.

I made this to go with the Kasha Varnishkes recipe on the site. Since the author described it as mid-winter comfort food, it seemed perfect for a snowy April day in Chicago. I also happened to have some apples that were a bit past their prime, so applesauce also seemed perfect. My apples were mostly Gala plus one Granny Smith. I didn't weigh them, but I trusted that a dozen apples would yield approximately the right quantity. I peeled the apples, per the directions, but I probably wouldn't peel them in the future as I like a chunky applesauce with lots of texture. I sautéed the apples for 2 or 3 extra minutes, then I roasted them the full 30 minutes and mashed them a bit, but not too much, with a potato masher. I can also see serving this applesauce as super chunky with even less mashing, or maybe none at all? And what’s this about covering and refrigerating? Not a chance! After my guests departed, I took a spoon to the leftovers and devoured what might otherwise have been covered and refrigerated!


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  1. I decided to save my honey and used maple syrup instead. Is that safer? I’ve used a little butter with my canned tomato sauces…would you consider maple syrup safer?

    1. Linda, that’s some interesting! But as to safety, please take Melissa’s advice and visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation. They’re the experts. We wouldn’t want to steer you wrong.

  2. I’m just starting to can fruits, vegetables, tomatoes, etc. How would I go about canning this applesauce? Bring to boil, sterilize jars and lids, add applesauce, add tablespoon of lemon juice and screw on lids? How long afterward would I boil the filled, lids screwed on jars?

    1. I would not recommend home canning this recipe, for a number of reasons. This recipe has not been tested and shown safe for canning. There are also some aspects about the recipe that raise red flags to me for its suitability for canning, and especially for water bath canning. One is the use of honey. Honey can contain botulism spores, which BWB canning will not destroy. The use of butter in the recipe is also problematic. The fat in butter will transfer heat differently, and may result in the canned product not have been heated evenly throughout. Fats can also encourage the growth of botulism. These things combined make me uncomfortable with recommending home canning for this recipe. There are applesauce recipes out there which can be canned at home and in a BWB. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great resource, as are other university sites.

      1. Wow….thank-you for all these red flags. I had no idea of these complexities. Thank-you for the heads up and the National Center for Home food Preservation resource. I will do homework!

  3. Yes please!!!!

    I’ve been doing roasted applesauce for years now and would *never* consider buying apple sauce again. The commercial stuff is like baby food when we like it chunky and there’s doesn’t taste remotely like apple pie filling like mine. I have it on hand all the time and we use it on waffles, steel-cut oatmeal, out of the jar for snacking and between folds of pie pastry or puff pastry for hand pies. I also use it instead of bananas for muffins or a tea bread.

    I don’t think we get the same varieties of apples in different parts of the country. Here on the West Coast I find Fujis up to the task for almost anything but I also like to mix up varieties because some will up the flavor quotient while other keep their shape and improve the texture.

    I do a large batch and keep it in small jars in the freezer so we’ve always got some.

    1. Amen to chunky applesauce, Rainey. And I love the almost caramelized taste that roasting the apples imparts. I haven’t ever had this turn out in a way I disliked, no matter what varieties of apple I used. As you say, they vary sorta drastically. Love that you always have the real deal on hand.

  4. I made this during the Fall when the apples were plentiful at the farmers market, and then froze it to eat in December with potato latkes. It froze really well, and compared with a couple of other toppings, this sauce won our little group’s popular vote. Because this recipe doesn’t add much liquid at all, the result is thick enough to sit beautifully on top of the latkes, and flavorful enough to make them just a little “extra.” Note: I added a handful of rosemary to the roasting pan and that seemed to go over really well.

    1. Love everything about this, Janet, especially the toss of rosemary. An inspired touch with the potatoes and the apples. I, too, prefer the rather chunky, sturdy texture of a roasted applesauce. Greatly appreciate you taking the time to let us know this worked as magnificently for you as it did for us. Wishing you and yours all the magic of the season…

  5. The PERFECT applesauce to make in November after a friend gives you a bag of apples they can’t bear to waste from an overproducing tree. Thanks for a cozy, delicious recipe.

  6. I ran across Judy Rodger’s method first but I have to say learning to roast and caramelize the apples has been a revelation! The flavor is even *better* than the simplicity of throwing them in the oven and then taking them out, stirring them up and putting them in a jar.

    I use quartered Fujis and wait for the sign of distinct caramelization on the fruit. Then I add a pat of butter and a slosh of Katz’ artisinal Sauvignon Blanc vinegar if you’re familiar with it (great stuff too!) and I don’t even need added sweetener.

    I do it every week now and we *always* have some in the fridge for oatmeal, for waffles, as a side with roasted pork and just healthy and delicious snacking or dessert.

    1. Sounds truly lovely, Rainey. My life took a profound turn for the better after acquiring Judy Rodgers’ The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, seems it will get even lovelier with your reminder about the apples. Many thanks. And do try this take on applesauce at some point, perhaps with the pears and some ginger…

  7. Loved, loved the simplicity of this recipe, the scent throughout the house, and the actual final product, the applesauce. For those who left comments worrying about the sweetness or tartness of the final result, I’m actually glad I added all of the honey. I used a Cox style of apple that had a bit of tartness but was sweet, too. Perhaps due to having the lemon juice squeezed over the apples prior to adding them to the pan, the final result still has a tart taste along with the caramelized flavor. I used a cast-iron skillet and I believe it was the perfect tool for cooking them in.

  8. Sounds great especially with the minced candied ginger. Any hint on how to mince candied ginger? I tried it a few times in October for apple crisp and it always came out a mess!

    1. Sure do, Patty. I swipe the knife with a paper towel doused with a little olive oil. This effectively slicks the blade and ensures that the sticky candied ginger doesn’t stick to it. You’ll need to repeat swiping it after chopping a few pieces. The same trick also makes chopping candied citrus zest a cinch.

    2. THANK YOU!! I figured someone would have figured a trick out to solve the problem! Good thinking!

  9. Roasting is just perfect for flavor but also for a busy day at home. Depending on the batch of apples tartness I may sweeten them with some palm sugar. I adore that stuff!

  10. While I love the concept of the roasted applesauce I prefer making chunky strawberry or cranberry applesauce to go with my latkes on Chanukah. The sweeter fruiter combination is a great compliment to the crispy crunchy and piping hot potato pancake.

    1. Sounds lovely, Eileen. Although you could actually tweak this recipe to accommodate your preference, stirring in thawed frozen strawberries after you take the applesauce from the oven or stirring in fresh cranberries before placing the applesauce in the oven. You’d end up with a rather robust, slightly more complex flavor, if that’s what you’re seeking. Lovely holiday to you.

  11. I like the idea of roasting to concentrate flavor and slightly caramelize the apples! Thanks for the tip. However, I wouldn’t hesitate to drop the honey. Apples are usually sweet enough as it is, and letting through what natural tartness they have by adding no additional sweetener is one of the best variations on the applesauce theme.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Tom. I’m a huge fan of anything “caramel” (actual caramel, or caramelization as a process). I also love particularly tart apples, so I’d happily join your call to arms for less sweetness. I hope you try the recipe, and if you do–let us know how it turns out.

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