Slow Cooker Applesauce

I know, I know, applesauce is applesauce. But actually, I’m here with breaking news that this (yes, this Slow Cooker Applesauce) is not just applesauce. It’s the best applesauce ever. There, I said it. Ever. <–Despite the over usage of this “best ever” descriptor, you have to believe me on this one.

Every year we pick loads of apples, lightly steam them, watch the magic of the food mill turn them into applesauce and then water bath process them so our food shelves look pretty with bottles of applesauce sitting next to the peaches. And it’s great applesauce. Really, it is. But there must be something magic in slow cooking the apples with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg to crazy tenderness and then blending until silky and smooth because this crockpot version is, dare I say, decadent. Can applesauce be decadent? I hereby declare it to be so, especially when eaten warm. So, so yum.

Slow Cooker Applesauce

I’ve made this several times since my friend, Heather, sent me the recipe, and I finally landed on the perfect mix-and-match of apples. It’s sweet (with no added sugar – hooray!) and still slightly tart while the cinnamon and nutmeg give that great nutty warmth that makes me want to wear a snuggie and sit in front of the fireplace while eating.

I’m sure this could be bottled/canned, but for us, we’ve just been making it to enjoy. It goes very, very quickly which is ok since it’s a total breeze to throw together (I mean, hello, slow cooker) and plus, the house smells all sorts of amazing while it cooks. Homemade applesauce should totally become your thing this fall. People are going to love you for it, mark my words.

Slow Cooker Applesauce

One Year Ago: Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter
Two Years Ago: Red Chicken Chili
Three Years Ago: Spooky Eats: Mummy-Dogs and Mummy Cookies

Slow Cooker Applesauce

Yield: Makes 6-8 cups

Slow Cooker Applesauce

You could obviously experiment with any type of apple here, but after making this several times, the apples noted below are my favorite blend.


  • 2 Honey Crisp apples
  • 5 Golden Delicious apples
  • 7 Gala apples
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  1. Cut the apples into quarters and slice out the pieces of core in each one. Leaving the peels on or off is your choice. If leaving them on, be sure to wash the apples very well (even if buying organic). I usually leave the peels on about half of the apples and blend it for a minute or two longer after cooking so it's ultra-smooth. If you want a chunkier applesauce, I'd suggest peeling all the apples so you can leave the sauce with texture and not get bits of peel all over.
  2. In a large, oval slow cooker (about 7- to 8-quarts), toss the apples with the lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
  3. Blend with a handheld immersion blender or by scooping the applesauce into a blender (may need to do this in batches - take care since hot foods expand in a blender so only fill it half full).
  4. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled. This will keep well-covered in the refrigerator for a week or two and can be frozen for a couple of months.

Recipe Source: adapted from my friend, Heather (who always sends me the best recipes like this cream cheese banana bread!)

69 Responses to Slow Cooker Applesauce {No Sugar Added}

  1. Oklahoma says:

    I made this applesauce last Thanksgiving (potluck style – lots of tots running around), but it was the adults that couldn’t stay out of it! The taste and texture far surpass anything purchased in the store. If you need a side dish that travels well, this is it. Delish.

  2. Jen says:

    I’ve made this once before and really loved it, however believe it or not even without any sugar it was just a tad too sweet. Is there anything I can change to make it less sweet, maybe the combo of apples should be a little different? Thanks Mel!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Jen – definitely seems like the lineup of apples might be too sweet. Throwing a granny smith apple in there (subbing for another) might do the trick!

  3. Sheena says:

    Mel, I love this recipe!! I make it at least twice a week at home. Right now however, I am out of town and don’t have my slow cooker. Could I make this on the stove top? If so, how long and what temp? low?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Sheena – sure, I think this would work on the stovetop. I’d probably throw everything into a pot, halfway cover with a lid, and cook on medium-low for an hour or so (stirring often). Good luck!

  4. Pam says:

    Made this today, taste was delicious but sauce was a bit runny. I did cook it little longer than the 4 hours. Could that be the reason? Is there anyway to thicken?

  5. Reenie says:

    Yum yum it tastes soooo good was the response from the little guys I made it for. It was lick the bowl good. I had never made applesauce without a touch of sugar but this was fantastic! Thanks Mel!

  6. Callie says:

    Can’t wait to make this! I have noticed you use applesauce in some of your other baking recipes (your cinnamon sugar dusted applesauce muffins are soon delicious!). Anyways, do use this recipe for your miscellaneous baking or do you do a batch plain with no cinnamon or is the cinnamon so faint a taste you wouldn’t notice?

    • Mel says:

      We usually eat this up without me having time to use it in recipes! So I haven’t actually subbed this in for any of my baking recipes that call for applesauce but I probably would – even with the cinnamon. Most of the baked good recipes seem like they could adapt well to the flavor (you definitely could make a batch without the cinnamon, though).

  7. Christie N. says:


    I’m excited to try this recipe!! I want to can my applesauce will this recipe work? Should I add a little sugar for preservation?

    Thanks for all your yummy decedent recipes!


    • Mel says:

      Christie – it’d be best to consult a canning-approved applesauce recipe and make the necessary changes (probably adding more lemon juice). I know the Ball Canning book has information on that.

  8. Liz says:

    Can you put this in jars after it is cooked and seal it? Or is there something about it that wouldn’t keep in pint jars?

    • Mel says:

      Yes, it can probably be canned (I think my sister has done that) but you should consult a canning-approved recipe to see what changes should be made (adding more lemon juice, etc).

  9. Nanette says:

    I was hoping you had an applesauce recipe! You are my go-to source for good recipes. We’re headed to the orchard this afternoon and I’ll be making (and eating!) applesauce tonight.

    Also, I made the cream cheese banana bread earlier today. It’s our new favorite!

  10. Sarah says:

    This is great! I’ve made it several times now and use half Granny Smith and half Fuji.

  11. Priscilla says:

    Hi Mel, I want to make this with my students tomorrow (3-5 yr. olds) but would need enough apple sauce for about 25 students. Any tips on how to best go about this? I’d love to try out your recipe. Thanks! 🙂

  12. Sheila says:

    We loved this applesauce, Mel! I made a double batch. It did not need sugar (was delicious without) BUT I indulged my “sweet tooth” and added a fourth cup.

  13. Jessica says:

    I made this applesauce the day after you posted and took it to a brunch playdate. Both my daughter and her friend (both 2) thought this was the best dish. It was amazing. Love eating applesauce warm. I think I’m going to serve this at Thanksgiving as well. Thanks for all of the great recipes!

  14. Tanya says:

    I never attempted to make applesauce b/c the store bought unsweetened stuff is pretty affordable but when my sister in law bought me a box of gross mushy apples by mistake ( I told her to get the crisp tart ones) I needed to do something to get rid of these mushy apples. I hate mushy apples. We made this and its TO DIE FOR. Used the blender and the super baby food smooth consistency is amazing. YUM YUM YUM. I will be going back to orchard to get boxes of apple seconds so I can make more of this. Can I just say thanks to your website I no longer use cook books? We pretty much just use Mels. Your awesome!

  15. Traci says:

    Wiped the dust off the Good Cook Apple Machine for it’s maiden use. A fun mess was made discovering it’s better to peel with the machine and use the push utensil to core. We have slices, chunks and wedges in the crock pot working their way into apple sauce. This will be my 3rd recipe attempt from your blog and so far all compliments and no complaints. Kind regards…

  16. Alison says:

    Yummy and so simple! I cored the apples but kept the skins on and thought it turned out fine. I am wondering, though, what tool you use to peel the apples. My veggie peeler didn’t work that great for the task and my apple slicer slices the apples really thin as it cores and peels. Does it matter if the apples start out in thin slices? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      I think having the apples sliced too thin may make them cook too fast – since it’s all getting pureed, maybe that isn’t a problem but starting them out as large chunks is probably best. I just peel the apples the old school way with a paring knife.

    • Jennifer says:

      I uses one of those apple corer/peeler/slicer combos that slices them really thin and 4 hours on low was still spot on! Best applesauce I’ve ever had!

  17. Jennifer says:

    Made this today and you are right on so many fronts. 1 – made my house smell awesome. 2 – totally decadent (you know, in the “indulgent” sense of the word, not the original sin, moral decline sense.)

    After my first plain bowl, I had to try it with a swirl of heavy cream. So good! All the flavor of apple pie a la mode without all the work or the added sugar!

  18. Haley says:

    This applesauce was easy to prepare and delicious!! I love my mom’s canned applesauce but without her orchard and canning tools this is a perfect substitute! Thanks for sharing the great recipe!!

  19. Christine says:

    That comment by Betty was so funny! Lighten up people. Mel, I loved your recipe. I made it today. Couldn’t help myself, but I topped it with caramel sauce and whipped cream. SOOO good. Thanks!

  20. Rose says:

    You had me at decadent! Just made this today and it’s so good! Thanks for a great recipe and for taking all of the guesswork out of which apple combo to use. Keep up the good work.

  21. Kim in MD says:

    Homemade applesauce is the best. I love that you perfected the combination of apples so you don’t need to add sugar!

  22. Annalisa says:

    This applesauce is delicious! We had just gone apple picking, so I used what I had (Candy Crisp, Golden Delicious, & Fuji) instead of the apples suggested, but it turned out amazing & my kids loved it! Second batch is in the crock pot now… the first was gone way too fast. Thanks for another great recipe!

  23. Tanni says:

    Could I use the juice of an orange instead of the lemon or is the lemon a must?

    • Mel says:

      I think the acidity in the lemon is what you’re after in this recipe and I’m not sure the orange will have the same kick, but it sounds yummy and worth a try – just keep in mind the flavor will be different in the applesauce.

  24. Sheila says:

    Mel, I love the helpfulness you place within your recipes. When I was newly married, I had no idea how to cook. Generic recipes were so frustrating to me because they never stated specific instructions. My apple pies were terrible because a recipe would call for 6 cups of apples and hey, red delicious was what I always snacked on. It took me a couple years to learn about apples and figure out a good combination (didn’t make apple pies that much at all!). Although I have made crock pot applesauce for some years now, I have never figured out a good combination of apple so would hit and miss on deliciousness and never wrote down the “deliciousness” combination.

    Thanks bunches for using your wisdom and skill in the kitchen to deliver a specific foolproof recipe! You are the very best!! I am so excited to try this recipe.

  25. So we went apple picking today and I’m scouting for recipes. This is definitely going on the list. You make it sound REALLY good. 🙂

  26. Karen E says:

    I’ve canned applesauce for years. I haven’t worked on my apple choices too much. Our favorite tends to be Johnnygold. I do love the slow cooker method. It turns out more brown but that has never bothered us. Living on this farm now we have 16 apple trees. Today we rented a cider press and ended up with seven gallons of cider. It was just the best way to deal with all those apples (most were not very pretty) and get it done.

  27. This is exactly how I make mine. When it cools, I freeze it in ziploc bags. I would prefer to can it, but this is so much quicker & easier!

  28. Michelle says:

    For those interested in processing the cores, apple seeds naturally contain cyanide. The good news, eating a seed or three won’t kill you. About the only way you can actually run into a problem with the toxicity of apple seeds is if you save the seeds from about a bushel of apples and eat them all at once. Grinding apples and pressing them for cider doesn’t release enough cyanide to be a problem; neither does cooking apples and straining them to make a sauce. Just food for thought.

  29. This looks great – I love that there’s no sugar added! Lovely!

  30. Niki Baker says:

    I too am wondering about leaving the cores and peels and using the food mill. Hopefully someone will report back if they try it. I just ordered my food mill today and can’t wait to use it!!!

  31. Michelle says:

    Could I cook this in a crock pot with the peels and cores and then run it through the food strainer? It sounds so good and I was going to the orchard tomorrow. Thanks!

  32. Dianne says:

    I’ve followed this blog for a long time now where/ when was it that people get so offended by how she talks about food. If you don’t like it don’t comment keep it to your self or don’t follow. It’s getting old hearing rudeness, instead of how people like the recipies or what they’ve added to adjust for their families. When shes a full time mom and doing this blog full time I’m sure the last thing YOU should be doing is complaining when she’s here helping everyone plan a good family meal.

  33. Betty Wordsmith says:

    I’ve noticed that you occasionally use the word “decadent” to describe food. I simply cannot make a recipe that has a word with such a vulgar connotation anywhere in the description. It offends my sensibilities that anyone would so haphazardly denigrate an otherwise good recipe with a word laced with vile and licentious imagery. Perhaps you purposefully chose to relate the word “decadent” to apples because of the Original Sin? If that’s the case, I’m astonished you would make light of such a thing.

    Perhaps I sound like a prude curmudgeon, but I make no apologies for my insistence that we use a modicum of respect when talking about our food. The younger generation certainly over-partakes of all things “decadent,” but I, for one, am sick of the twerking, Lady Gaga obsessed generation of decadence seekers and I want nothing to do with it. Especially when it comes to my applesauce. If we can infuse decadence into descriptions of once-innocent foods, what is next? Sexy chocolate pie? Vulgar chicken casserole? Immoral beef stew? Depraved lemon bars? Hedonistic artisan bread? The possibilities are at once revolting and disturbing and I cannot sit idly by while it happens. I, for one, shan’t put anything decadent into my mouth – applesauce or otherwise – and neither should any other self-respecting doer of good.

    Otherwise, the recipe looks absolutely fantastic and I will make it at once but without referring to any “decadent” properties it possesses. I will, of course, soak my apples in vodka for 24 hours before making the applesauce. I find it helps me and my grandchildren sleep better at naptime when there is some 80 proof love mixed in to our afternoon snack.



    • Nancy says:

      you are offended at the word ‘decadent’, but will feed your grandchildren vodka!!!!!!!!???????? Lady, you’re nuts!

    • Jared says:


      I’ve come across several of these comment “gems” since reading your blog. This one pretty much takes the cake. I think you could have a best seller if you complied the best…erm, worst of them into a book.

      p.s. don’t even get me started on the vodka comment. wow!

      • Mel says:

        Jared – you have no idea! You might be on to something with the book…if nothing else, hopefully it would give people a lot of laughs (even though the strange comments like this one often give me heartburn!).

    • Maureen says:

      This person truly cannot even be serious — probably thinks they’re funny — just ignore.

    • Hannah says:

      Betty is this for real? I love Mel’s descriptions, she is using a rich language of descriptive terms to explain her food.
      If she was saying this is f….ing marvellous or this is better than sex, i can see this might cause offence in some circles.
      But come on, shes doing it for a hobby, and for free.

    • Dear Betty,

      I’m trying really hard to decider your comment. If it was supposed to be sarcastic, then so be it, but please remember that sarcasm is easily misconstrued when it’s in written form, as opposed to be said to someone’s face. Also, I hope you realize that words have different meaning in different contexts, in fact the meaning of words can easily morph over time. ‘Bad’ now means ‘Good’, ‘Guys’ now includes both genders & so on. A common use of decadence, when used as an adjective, often means ‘characterized by or appealing to self-indulgence’. Need I say more? If this still doesn’t make sence to you then please let me know & I’ll dig out my finger puppets to give an explanation that even you can understand. Okay?

    • Jennifer says:

      Come on guys, this is clearly a joke. My jaw was on the floor until I got to the part about vodka and realized this commenter was doing this to be funny and get a rise out of people. In hindsight I think it’s hilarious – definitely had me going!

  34. Heather bell says:

    So glad you’re loving it:) and it makes the house smell awesome too!

  35. Carolyn says:

    So funny you posted this today! It was exactly what I was looking for and I didn’t even have to use the search engine! YUM

  36. Tanya M. says:

    Looks delish! We’re heading to Grandmas tomorrow to pick apples so this is very timely! 🙂 We also bottle quarts and quarts of applesauce, but this looks like a nice change for eating right away.

  37. Stacey says:

    Slow cooker applesauce is so easy and so good! Love that you came up with a blend of apples for maximal yum!

  38. Emily says:

    Excellent! I’m going to the apple orchard tomorrow–can’t wait to make some of this upon my return home!!

  39. Ana says:

    I may give it a try. We only eat homemade apple sauce at home (I despise the jarred kind although my kids sadly are happy with any kind but love homemade). I have never added nutmeg so that would be interesting to try. I hope it really is decadent because it usually only takes me about 30 minutes on the stove (I don’t blend it, I use a potato masher) and it is done, so now we will have to wait 4 hours!!! However, I do peel the apples which is a pain and slice with the slicer. Maybe I will start leaving the peel on and blend it. Thanks for the idea!

  40. Brandon Stevens says:

    Yum, slow cooker apple sauce is one of my favorites. Very versatile, I highly recomended trying this!

  41. Cammee says:

    Farmers Market here I come! Apples for sauce and pears for crisp. Have I mentioned I love fall?

  42. Jenny Z says:

    Thanks, Mel! I can’t wait to try this! I usually make applesauce on the stove and process with the food mill. I love using my food mill, because I don’t have to peel or core the apples. Do you think I could scoop the slow-cooker cooked apples into my food mill, instead of into my blender? (Then I could more easily skip the peeling step. =) )

    • Mel says:

      Hi Jenny – the apples are really soft at the end of the cooking time but I think if you let them cool slightly they’d be fine to carefully scoop into the food mill; you are right, you could totally skip the peeling step (but I don’t know if you are like me, but I HATE cleaning my food mill, I need to get over that stumbling block).

      • Jenny Z says:

        Thanks, Mel!
        (I hate cleaning my food mill too – but I also hate peeling apples…) Thanks for the tips! – and all of the great recipes, etc. – Love your blog!!

  43. JB says:

    I have been making a crock-pot of applesauce a day for the last 10 days….and freezing it. I just use whatever apples I pick off my trees [and since they are my trees they are organic]. I add about 1/2 cup cider to the pot when getting started. Easiest thing I’ve ever done. Yummy!

  44. Jamie says:

    Hi Mel! My kids will be so excited. They made applesauce at school and have wanted to make it at home with me ever since! This sounds like a delicious recipe for us to try together. Thank you!

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