It’s so easy to make a small batch of homemade applesauce. This recipe includes brown sugar and cinnamon but you can skip those if you’d like.
Today’s recipe isn’t so much a recipe as it is a method for making a small batch of applesauce. Often when we think about making applesauce, we think about making a lot. While that’s great, I rarely want a lot of applesauce. There’s no kids in our house; so applesauce isn’t something we eat on a regular basis. So when I do crave it, I want it to be good.
No, not good, amazing.
And you can make amazing applesauce with only a few apples.
How to Make Small Batch Applesauce
Start with four or five apples.
It might surprise you when I say that I don’t care what kind of apples you use. While some apples break down into sauce more easily than others, it doesn’t really matter as long as you own a fork or potato masher. Sweet apples, like Honeycrisp, give you a sweet sauce and tart apples, like granny smith, give you a tart sauce. It’s really that simple.
I usually use the apples that have been kicking around my fridge for too long or the bruised apples that sometimes come in the peck of apples I buy at the farmers’ market.
Peel, core, and cut.
Peel the apples, core, and cut into large pieces. There’s no need to be fussy about this. One inch cubes are a nice size.
Add water or juice.
Place the apples in a small saucepan. This is key. Since we’re working with such a small amount of apples, the pan needs to be small. If it’s too large, the apples can scorch as they cook.
Add about 1/2-inch of water to the bottom of the pan. It’s hard to say just how much water you’ll need because it depends on the size pan you use. I needed about one cup of water. Some recipes call for apple juice or apple cider when you’re making applesauce. I avoid this for two reasons. The first is simple: I rarely have apple juice or cider in the house. The second is because apple juice and cider, even no-sugar-added varieties, are rather sweet. The sugar cooks along with the apples and can give a caramelized flavor to the sauce. While this is nice, it’s not usually what I want.
Place the pan on the stove and heat, uncovered, over medium-low heat. When the water begins to boil, turn the heat to low. It’s a good idea to give the sauce a stir at this point.
Add sugar and spice
Sometimes I like my applesauce with a bit of sweetness. (Warm applesauce over vanilla ice cream makes for a lovely dessert.) Add up to one tablespoon of dark brown sugar. The brown sugar contains a bit of molasses that goes well with the flavor of cooked apples.
If you like spice in your applesauce, this is the time to add it. I like to add a little cinnamon. And the key here is a little. I don’t want the cinnamon to overwhelm the sauce. But I want a whisper. Somehow it makes the apples taste more, well, apple-y.
Stir and mash.
Cook until the apples are soft, stirring occasionally. If you notice that the pan looks dry, add a splash more water. Sometimes older apples are dry and can burn.
When the apples are nice and soft, it’s done. You can either mash the applesauce with a potato masher or leave it alone. (Or if you like smooth applesauce, like the kind you get at the grocery store, puree it with an immersion blender.)
Spoon into a jar.
This recipe, unlike my pickled jalapenos, isn’t suitable for canning. It makes about a 1/2 pint–but the yield varies depending on the size of your apples. Spoon the applesauce into a clean jar and store in the fridge. That’s it. You’ve made applesauce!
Small Batch Applesauce
It's so easy to make a small batch of homemade applesauce. This recipe includes brown sugar and cinnamon but you can skip those if you'd like.
- 4-5 large apples
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar see note
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon see note
- Prepare the Apples. Add 1-inch of water to a small saucepan. Peel, core, and cut apples in cubes, about 1-inch. Place apples into the pan.
- Cook. Heat over medium heat until the water begins to bubble. Stir. Add sugar and cinnamon, if using. Stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to low. Stir applesauce every five minutes or so. If the pan seems dry, add additional water.
- Mash. When apples are tender, mash with a potato masher. Spoon applesauce into a small jar. Enjoy warm or store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Add as much or as little brown sugar as you'd like to the applesauce. I never use more than a tablespoon but the amount used is totally up to you.