Applesauce is one of the most widely consumed purees in North America and it’s easy to see why.
It is very versatile as it can be served as a side dish, a snack, or used in recipes ranging from curries to cakes. It’s inexpensive to buy but also easy to make yourself at home!
But, if you want to make your own applesauce at home, it can be tricky knowing what are the best apples to use to make a sauce.
There are thousands of varieties of apples out there and around a hundred of them grow in every single state in the US. So, how can you know which apples you should use for applesauce and which ones to avoid?
The last thing you will want is to spend your time making an applesauce only for it to taste awful. because you used the wrong variety of apple!
Check out the guide below to discover the best apples for applesauce!
Best Apples For Making Sweet Applesauce
Most people prefer their applesauce to taste sweet. So, here are the best apples to use to make a sweet flavored applesauce!
1. Fuji Apples
The first apple on our list is the Fuji variety.
Fuji apples are one of the most well known varieties of apple in the world. It has a high sugar content which gives it a strong sweet profile, hence its popularity as a snack and in cooking desserts.
When it comes to applesauce, fuji apples are a great option if you want a very sweet and sugary applesauce.
They are very soft and easy to cook. They’re also pretty juicy apples and this can lead to a very juicy applesauce puree.
Most applesauce recipes that use fuji apples will recommend you barely add any additional sugar. These apples are sweet enough on their own!
- Sweet – the high sugar content makes it the sweetest apple to use for applesauce.
- Easy to cook – this makes them great for making smooth applesauce purees.
- Watery – because these apples break down so easily, it’s easy to get a watery consistency with your applesauce.
2. Gala Apples
Next up are gala apples.
These apples are known for their sweet flavor profile but they’re not as sweet as Fuji apples. This makes them a great alternative if you want a sweet applesauce – but nothing too sweet. Their flavor profile is a lot more balanced.
Gala apples also share the Fuji apple’s juicy and soft texture so they too can be used to make smooth, juicy purees.
This makes them excellent to use for cooking applesauce and side dish applesauce, so it’s a great all-rounder to meet your needs!
- Balanced flavor profile – these apples are sweet without being overpoweringly sweet.
- Soft texture – this makes them a great choice for making smooth purees for cooking.
- Cost – gala apples are pretty small so you may need to spend more to make a good sized batch of applesauce.
3. Honeycrisp Apples
Honeycrisp apples fall into the sweet flavor profile with gala and Fuji apples but they offer a very different texture.
Their fruit is much firmer, giving it a crunchy texture that can easily carry over into your applesauce.
So, if you want a sweet applesauce that is thicker and chunkier than the purees produced by gala and Fuji apples, the honeycrisp variety could be your answer.
It’s worth noting that honeycrisp apples can have a slight tart tang to them. Their flavor profile is mostly sweet but expect a subtle tartness to this applesauce.
- Balanced flavor profile – they offer a more subtle type of sweetness that is delicious without being sickly.
- Harder texture – this makes honeycrisp apples a great choice for making crunchier applesauces.
- Tart undertones – these contrast with its sweetness, creating a lesser sweet applesauce compared to the other apples above.
Bonus Variety: Golden Delicious Apples
Golden delicious apples are easily the most widely consumed variety of apple in the entire world.
They’re very tender and aromatic and are used to make a wide variety of apple dishes, desserts, and snacks – including applesauce.
They’re also one of the most balanced varieties of apple.It’s flavor is sweet yet tangy, a mixture of honeyed and fruity notes and nuances.
This is because golden delicious apples feature a perfectly balanced blend of sugar and acidity.
Because of this, golden delicious is the most commonly used apple for applesauce.
If you want an applesauce rich in natural, floral sweetness as opposed to sugary sweetness, then golden delicious apples are an excellent choice.
- Popularity – golden delicious are one of the most popular types of apple out there so they’re easy to find and use.
- Balanced flavor profile – they create sweet, floral applesauces that are not too sweet but not too acidic.
- Taste better uncooked – cooking golden delicious apples can reduce their strong flavor, which can be disappointing.
Best Apples For Making Tangy Applesauce
Tangy applesauces toe the line between sweet and sour. They aren’t too sharp or lip-puckering, but instead offer a subtle sweetness to help balance the flavor profile.
To get this tangy flavor in your homemade applesauce, try using the apples listed below.
1. McIntosh Apples
Along with golden delicious apples, McIntosh apples are a classic variety of apples used to make applesauce.
This is because McIntosh apples are so soft and tender that they quickly cook down to a thin, smooth applesauce.
As a result, they’re a great type of apple to use when making your first ever batch of applesauce.
They do come with a pretty thick peel that can be tricky to remove but many people prefer the tart but sweet, balanced tangy taste of this applesauce.
- Easy to cook – McIntosh apples are so tender, they cook within minutes.
- Balanced flavor – they offer a perfectly balanced flavor profile between tart and sweet.
- Thick skin – this may take some effort to remove.
2. Braeburn Apples
Braeburn apples are known for their unique flavor. Unlike other apples, they have a distinctive spiciness to them which can give your applesauce a totally different kind of tang.
This combined with a subtle sweetness means that your applesauce has a ‘pudding-like’ flavor that makes it perfect for serving with desserts.
However, Braeburn apples are one of the hardest varieties of apples to cook. You need to choose the ripest Braeburn apples possible and avoid overcooking, which can be difficult because these apples are so firm in texture.
- Unique flavor – Braeburn apples offer a delicious spicy-sweet tangy flavor that is very distinctive.
- Perfect for desserts – Their unique ‘pudding-like’ flavor makes them a great option to make apple sauces for desserts.
- Firm texture – this makes Braeburn apples difficult to cook correctly for applesauce.
3. Cripps Pink/Pink Lady Apples
Finally, we have cripps’ pink apples (also known as pink ladies).
These apples are renowned for their unique appearance thanks to their bright pink apple skin.
It’s a great idea to leave the skin on and make an applesauce that is pale pink in color for fun. Plus, these apples offer a bright, delicious tangy flavor that can be easily noticed whether eaten fresh or cooked.
However, it’s pretty easy to overcook these apples as they can be difficult to break down – and this can ruin their flavor!
- Colorful appearance – they’re called pink ladies for a reason and leaving the skins on these apples can give your applesauce a unique appearance.
- Bright flavor profile – they offer a unique tangy flavor that matches how they taste when eaten fresh.
- Difficult to cook – this makes it more likely to overcook and ruin your applesauce.
Best Apples For Making Tart Applesauce
Finally, some people prefer their applesauce to taste tart.
Most people associate apples with a tart flavor and so, tart applesauces are a great option for those who love a strong, traditional taste of apple. Here are some great tart apples to use to make a tart applesauce.
1. Macoun Apples
These apples are known for creating a rich, smooth applesauce that rivals the McIntosh variety.
Macoun apples are actually an offspring of the McIntosh variety which is why they share many similarities.
However, Macoun apples offer a stronger tart flavor when used in applesauce, with a subtle sweetness that lurks underneath.
However, they are difficult to source. This means that they won’t always be available to you all year round.
- Easy to cook – Like McIntosh apples, Macoun apples are easy to cook into a smooth puree.
- Delicious flavor – the subtle sweetness to this tart apple makes it a great option for those who like tart flavors but nothing too strong.
- Difficult to find – they’re basically impossible to buy outside of certain states and when out of season.
2. Liberty Apples
Like how Macoun apples are offspring of the McIntosh variety, liberty apples are the offspring of Macoun apples. They share the juicy flesh that is easy to cook and red skin.
However, liberty apples offer a much sharper tartness when it comes to flavor. Their sourness is much stronger and eye-watering, making them a great option for those who want a sharp, sour, and tart applesauce.
However, like Macoun apples, they are hard to get your hands on.
- Easy to cook – like Macoun and McIntosh apples, they’re super easy to make into a puree.
- Strong flavor – they offer a unique tart flavor that is sharper and more sour than others.
- Hard to source – they are notoriously difficult to find for cooking.
3. Granny Smith Apples
Finally, we have one of the most well-known apple varieties in the world – Granny Smith!
Granny smith apples are used to make very thick and very tart applesauces. If you leave the skins on, you can also make an applesauce in a very eye-catching shade of green.
If you love sour flavors, then Granny Smith apples are a great option for you. They create a lip-puckering sourness that works well in an applesauce (especially when added with lemon juice).
This extreme flavor may not be to everyone’s tastes but adding some brown sugar can help balance this tartness out.
- Eye-catching color – serving a bright green applesauce can make your dishes look amazing.
- Works well with other ingredients – you can up the sourness with lemon or tone it down with sugar, or sweeter variants of apple.
- Extremely sour – Even a plain Granny Smith applesauce can be extremely sour and not to everyones’ tastes.
What Makes An Apple Good For Applesauce?
When choosing what variety of apples to use to make your applesauce, there are lots of factors you need to consider and weigh up.
Various features of a single apple can influence your applesauce in lots of different ways – taste, texture, cooking time, etc.
So, here are some of the key factors to consider when choosing what variety of apple you want to use to make your sauce.
Different apples will break down and cook differently in the pot. Apples that are much tougher will take longer to break down into a puree while softer apples will take next to no time at all.
This can have an effect on your applesauce’s texture. Harder apples will result in a thicker, crunchier applesauce with thicker apple chunks, while softer apples will be smoother and sometimes more watery.
Think about the texture you want your applesauce to have and this will help you find the right variety of apple with the right tenderness for you.
Also, consider how long it takes to cook the apples. Making applesauce is a pretty quick process but some varieties only take 10 minutes to cook and break down, while others can take double that length of time.
If it’s an easy and fast cooking experience you want, opt for a softer type of apple.
The acidity of the apples you use has a surprising effect on your applesauce.
Apples are not really known for their acidity. They are easily outshone by citrus fruits (lemons, limes, etc) but on the pH scale, apples sit at the moderately acidic level of 3.5.
So, apples are a lot more acidic than you may realize – but how does that affect your applesauce?
The rule of thumb is the more acidic your apples, the finer your applesauce puree will be.
If you want a particularly chunky applesauce, you will want to opt for a less acidic apple variety.
If you want a finer, smoother applesauce puree (usually for cooking and baking) then you will want to use a more acidic variety of apple.
Finally, we have flavor.
With so many different varieties of apple, each one is going to have its own personal flavor. This means that there are also thousands of different potential applesauce flavors for you to choose from.
Most applesauces can be divided into three flavors: sweet, tangy, and tart.
What apples you choose to use in your applesauce will dictate which flavor profile it will fall into.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that adding additional ingredients to your applesauce (like lemon, cinnamon, or just sugar) will also influence the flavor of your applesauce.
However, it’s a good idea to choose an apple that matches the flavor profile you desire for your applesauce.
We have divided the apple options above into flavor profiles to help make choosing the right apples for your applesauce much easier.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most recipes for applesauce will instruct you to peel the apples first. This is why most versions of applesauce are a soft, yellow color as they remove the skin and just use the fruit underneath. However, some applesauce recipes instruct you to leave the skin on.
If you leave the skin on your apples and then use them in your applesauce recipe, you can expect a few differences to the final sauce:
Color – Applesauce made with apple skins tend to match the apples in color. For example, if you use apples with red skin for your applesauce, the sauce will be pale-red in color.
Texture – Skins are usually left on in chunky applesauce recipes. This makes the apple chunks a little tougher in texture.
Flavor – Applesauces that use skin-on apples tend to have a stronger apple flavor.
Nutrients – Apple skins are packed with important nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. So, using skin-on apples for your applesauce can make it healthier.
Applesauce is used in a lot of different ways in cooking. Not only can it be served as a side dish or topping, poured over roasted vegetables or mixed into oatmeal, but it can be used in various recipes.
Some recipes use applesauce as an alternative for oil or butter in recipes, particularly in vegan recipes.
This means that applesauce can be used to make baked goods like cakes or breads. You can even use applesauce in drinks recipes like for smoothies, cocktails, and more.
So, applesauce is very versatile. It can be spread in sandwiches, used as a dip for meats like pork, or mixed into curry dishes or a classic mac and cheese. No wonder it’s so popular with Americans!