Did you overbuy (or overpick) the apples and need a delicious and healthy way to use them up? Crockpot Applesauce is here to be your fall apple darling. This recipe is easy, naturally sweetened with honey (no sugar!), and it cooks completely hands-free.

Easy No Peel Crockpot Applesauce in jars with cinnamon and honey

Every year, my girlfriends and I go apple picking, an excursion which necessitates the purchase of what seems like a reasonable amount of apples in the moment…but turns out to be enough apples to run a small fruit stand.

I’m never upset about my haul, and I love plotting what to do with the apples that I don’t devour immediately.

Two years ago, this Slow Cooker Apple Butter and homemade baked Apple Chips were favorites. I also never tire of my go-to Vegan Apple Crisp (the best healthy apple crisp ever, even if you aren’t vegan), which I also eat for breakfast if I want something instead of an Apple Smoothie, and there aren’t any Apple Carrot Muffins tucked away in the freezer.

What I am saying is: go ahead and overbuy the apples. I have lots of healthy apple recipes to help you use them up, including today’s crockpot applesauce!

This slow cooker applesauce recipe is ridiculously easy to make (you don’t even need to peel the apples!) By the time it’s done simmering for hours, your house will smell the epitome of warm and cozy. Don’t be surprised when your entire family starts flocking into the kitchen, wondering what on earth smells so good.

Homemade applesauce outshines anything you’ve ever eaten out of a store bought jar or cup. Whereas store bought applesauce is fairly thin and bland, this crockpot applesauce is pure apple intensity in the most scrumptious of ways. Honestly, I might not ever go back to the cup after seeing just how easy and rewarding crockpot applesauce is to make.

In addition to enjoying this crockpot applesauce as a healthy snack, you can use it in many baking recipes that call for applesauce. These Applesauce Muffins and Applesauce Cake are going to be the first things I make with it. Serve it as a side with chicken or pork, or mix it into yogurt with a sprinkle of granola for a healthy breakfast.

Healthy and naturally sweetened Crockpot Applesauce in a jar made in the slow cooker with peels

How to Make Homemade Crockpot Applesauce

The Ingredients

  • Apples. For homemade applesauce, I love using a mix of apples. Each apple adds its own unique flavor, giving your homemade applesauce a more complex final flavor. I also made the crockpot applesauce WITH the peels on, and loved how it turned out. More details on apple selection and peeling below.
  • Honey. Honey and apples go together like applesauce and my spoon (the two are very well acquainted at this point.) In addition to the beauty of the pairing, I wanted to make my crockpot applesauce with no sugar (the white, refined kind), so honey was a perfect option for this reason too. If you’re making crockpot applesauce for baby or prefer not to use any form of sugar for a different reason, you can always choose a sweet variety of apples and omit it entirely.
  • Cinnamon Stick. My other applesauce essential. I prefer to use a stick over ground here. The stick has a much richer flavor.
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice. I snagged this idea from a homemade crockpot applesauce recipe I saw on Allrecipes and thought it was a fabulous shortcut. Instead of measuring out the individual spices pumpkin pie spice includes, like nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, I used pumpkin pie spice. With all the fall baking I have ahead of me, it was a worthy pantry addition.
  • Lemon Peel (no lemon juice needed!). The stealth ingredient that brightens the applesauce. You won’t taste the lemon; rather the lemon helps to balance the honey and makes the apples taste their most marvelous. I added a lemon peel, but you should make the crockpot applesauce with no lemon juice. The peel was plenty to brighten up the flavor, so you can save the rest of the lemon for another use.

The Recipe Steps

  • Core and Dice Your Apples. Big chunks are fine! Just make sure they are all a fairly even size; about 1 1/2 inches was the sweet spot.
  • Place Your Apples in the Crockpot. I used this 6-quart programmable slow cooker.
Chunky apple pieces with honey and cinnamon in a slow cooker for making healthy and naturally sweetened Crockpot Applesauce
  • Add the remaining ingredients. Stick with the lowest amount of honey. You can always add more and adjust later.
  • Slow cook the applesauce on LOW for 6 hours or HIGH for 3 to 4 hours. Your house is going to smell like a fall fairytale.
  • Stir the applesauce a few times while it cooks. This will help you keep an eye on the texture. The apples (including their skin) will break down and turn into applesauce. It’s a little piece of fall magic.
Healthy no peel Crockpot Applesauce with honey in a slow cooker that can be made overnight
  • Blend. Or don’t! If you prefer your slow cooker applesauce chunky, you can leave mixture as is, or blend it just a little bit. We like ours nice and smooth, so I pureed it with an immersion blender directly in the slow cooker. You can also use a food mill, which will give you total texture control and remove the peels too. If you use a regular blender, be sure to puree in small batches, and be very careful. Hot liquids splatter when blended.
Healthy Crockpot Applesauce made in a slow cooker with peels and naturally sweetened with honey

The Best Apples for Homemade Applesauce

  • While you can technically turn any apple into applesauce, some varieties are better than others.
  • Look for apple varieties with a flavor that is both sweet and tart (this gives you a wonderful, complex flavor), and that have skin that breaks down fairly easily.
  • McIntosh is an excellent choice, if you are only using one kind of apple; Honeycrisp, Fuji, Pink Lady, Gala, Rome, Cortland, and Jonagold are all great choices too—though I tend to selfishly save most of my Honeycrisps for snacking or salads versus cooking them because they are SO GOOD.
  • The only apples I do NOT recommend for applesauce are Red Delicious or Golden Delicious. They don’t have as much flavor.
  • If you use a tarter apple like Granny Smith, mix it with a sweeter apple (like Gala) to help balance the flavor.
Healthy fresh apples with peels used for making naturally sweetened Crockpot Applesauce in a slow cooker

To Peel or Not to Peel the Apples?

Whether you make your crockpot applesauce with peels or without is honestly up to you!

  • If you make crockpot applesauce with peels, you’ll preserve the health benefits such as vitamins, fiber, and nutrients that the peels contain.
  • The peels completely cook down and disappear once the applesauce is pureed.
  • Peeling the apples does give you a lighter, more traditional color. If you make the applesauce with the peels, your applesauce will have a deeper, more golden hue. It’s pretty, just different than what you see at the store.
  • If you do not plan to peel the apples, be sure to choose apples with skins that break down easily (like any of the recommended apples above), or if you use a mix of apples, to peel the apples that have tougher skins (like Granny Smith).

Ultimately, I decided to make my applesauce WITH the peels on.

I’m all for the extra nutrients.

Also, I love not having to peel apples!

As you can see in the photos, my peels-on applesauce was still nice and smooth. No trace of a peel at all.

Naturally sweetened healthy Crockpot Applesauce in jars made with honey and cinnamon

4 Tips for Applesauce Success

  • Size Matters. Be sure to cut the apples into evenly sized pieces, so that the applesauce cooks evenly. I recommend cutting your apples in to 1 1/2 inch chunks for this recipe. Compare the size of your apple pieces as you cut, and trim down any pieces that are too big.
  • Don’t Overcook. Different slow cooker models and sizes can affect cooking time. When apples are overcooked, they will start to lose their flavor. In order to avoid overcooking your applesauce, I recommend checking it early and tasting it for doneness. You can test the apples by taking a bite of one or squeezing a couple between your fingers (careful, they will be hot!). If they feel squishy with no give, they’re done.
  • Wait to Sweeten. It’s hard to know exactly how sweet your applesauce is going to be until after it’s finished cooking. Your unique blend of apples (which is part of what makes applesauce SO GOOD) will impact the final sweetness too. I suggest starting with the minimum recipe amount, cooking the applesauce, then adding additional honey to taste.
  • Texture. Your texture will be more smooth and creamy if you choose to blend it longer. If you prefer a more chunky texture, I recommend blending for a shorter time period.

Recipe Variations

Try stirring any of these yummy additions into your applesauce at the end.

  • Old Fashioned Applesauce. Stir 2 tablespoons unsalted butter into finished sauce.
  • Cranberry Applesauce. Add 1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen) to the slow cooker with the apples. Puree with the apples at the end (note: this is referring to whole cranberries NOT dried cranberries, like craisins).
  • Extra Ginger Applesauce. Peel a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger and cut it into 3 pieces. Add to the slow cooker with apples. Remove prior to pureeing.

Healthy Crockpot Applesauce made in a slow cooker with peels and naturally sweetened with honey

Storage Tips

  • To Refrigerate: Once the applesauce has cooled, pour it into an airtight storage container and place in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
  • To Freeze: Let the applesauce cool completely in the refrigerator after cooking. Pour the applesauce into a freezer-safe container or bag, removing as much air as possible, and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Directions for Canning: First, fill sterilized pint or half-pint glass jars leaving 1/2 inch of space between the top of the applesauce and the rims of the jars. Use a small spoon to release any air bubbles that form. Then, wipe off the rims of the jars with a clean, damp towel. Secure the canning lids onto the jar. Place jars in boiling water for about 20 minutes to finish. Let the jars cool completely before storing. Canned applesauce can be stored at room temperature for up to 18 months.

Overnight Cooking

  • If you want to make your crockpot applesauce overnight, I recommend using a programmable slow cooker that will automatically switch to “keep warm” after the cooking time has ended. This will significantly decrease the chances of the applesauce overcooking.
  • Start your slow cooker right before you go to sleep, set it to LOW for 6 hours, and immediately go turn it off as soon as you wake up.
Healthy Crockpot Applesauce made with peels in a slow cooker that's naturally sweetened with honey

Recommended Tools to This Recipe

I hope you adore this crockpot applesauce! I’ve been eating it every single day since I made it and am eagerly awaiting this year’s apple picking date so I have an ironclad excuse to make it again.

If you try this recipe, please leave a comment. I adore hearing from you, and it keeps me excited and motivated too! Thank you ♥

Easy No Peel Crockpot Applesauce in jars

Crockpot Applesauce

4.91 from 11 votes
This Crockpot Applesauce could not be more easy or delicious! Made with the peels and naturally sweetened with honey (NO sugar!), it's extra nutritious.

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 6 hrs
Total: 6 hrs 15 mins

Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 3 pounds apples roughly 8 larger apples or 12 smaller apples, depending on size (I like sweet-crisp apples: McIntosh, Jonagold, Gala, and Pinklady are all delicious. See blog post above for more suggestions.)
  • ¼ cup honey plus additional to taste
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1 small lemon divided

Instructions
 

  • Core the apples and cut into 1 ½-inch chunks. Leave the peels on or peel the apples if you’d like a lighter-colored sauce or are using an apple with a firmer skin like Granny Smith (see blog post above for more details). Place the apples into a 6-quart or larger slow cooker.
  • Add the honey, cinnamon stick, and pumpkin pie spice. With a vegetable peeler, peel off a small strip of lemon peel (be careful not to get too much of the white pith, which is bitter). Add the peel to the slow cooker. Save the rest of the lemon for another use.
  • Cover the crock pot, and cook on LOW for 6 hours or on HIGH for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the apples completely break down. Stir the apples occasionally while the sauce cooks.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce until smooth (or run the sauce through a food mill, which will remove some of the skins, or purée the applesauce in a blender in batches, being careful as hot liquids will splatter). Taste, and add additional honey if you’d like a sweeter sauce. Let cool, and enjoy!

Notes

  • *No pumpkin pie spice? Swap it for ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and a pinch each of ground ginger and ground cloves. OR use 2 cinnamon sticks instead.
  • Don’t miss the blog post above for storage tips, more information about the best apples to use for applesauce (and why I cook this recipe with the peels on), as well as tasty flavor variations.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 163kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPotassium: 250mgFiber: 6gSugar: 35gVitamin A: 122IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 1mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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30 Comments

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    1. Hi Sarah! Yes, you can pour the applesauce into a freezer-safe container or bag, and freeze for up to 3 months. Please see the blog post above for more tips. I hope you love the recipe!

      1. This was my first time making applesauce and you did not disappoint! It is delicious and smooth! Thank you so much for sharing!5 stars

  1. This sounds like a great recipe. I’m going to tell my daughter about it. She likes to give her son home made as much as possible. Can she use sugar if he is to young for honey?
    Thanks Erin I enjoy your recipes so much. I haven”t tried one I didn’t like or enjoyed making or eating.
    Thanks again

    1. Hi Jan! Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I have not tried this recipe with sugar, but your daughter could experiment with brown sugar instead of honey. I hope she loves the recipe!

      1. My son (who is now a teenager) absolutely loves it when I make crockpot applesauce. I told him I found a new recipe for it, and he said I should check it out but that I shouldn’t change mine too much. I don’t put any sugar in when I make my applesauce and my whole family gobbles it up every time. I use cinnamon in mine, so the recipe is very similar. I always have a mixture of apples, really just what is getting kind of old in the crisper. If I used only granny smith, I would probably have to add a bit of sugar to it. Just thought I’d mention our always tastes great without adding sugar, so maybe the person trying it above could leave out the honey.We’re going to try the cranberry applesauce variation. Thanks!

        1. Thank you for sharing this comment, Christine! You can certainly omit the honey altogether if you and your family prefer it that way. I hope you love the recipe!

  2. Just wondering about omitting the honey during the cooking process? If using a sweeter apple, for example, is it ok to add the honey after cooking (taste testing so to speak)? I made freezer jam with rhubarb in the spring – and stored in glass jars. Could I do the same with the applesauce, vs pressure canning?Thank you!

    1. Hi Jeannette! Yes, you can certainly leave the honey out entirely or add it at the end. You can freeze your applesauce after letting it cool completely in the refrigerator. Then, pour the applesauce into a freezer-safe container or bag, removing as much air as possible, and freeze for up to 3 months. I hope you love the recipe!

      1. Darn my luck – I forgot about the lemon peel. Do you suggest lemon juice (which I have bottled) or omit completely? I’m unable to drive (due to a recent surgery), but would like to try the recipe. Thank you.

        1. Hi Jeannette! You can certainly omit the lemon altogether. It will still be delicious! I hope you love the recipe!

          1. Thank you for sharing this recipe – and the added comments/suggestions! I made one batch yesterday (husband loved it) and I have another going today. Yumm!!5 stars

          2. YAY! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review, Jeannette! I’m so happy to hear that this recipe was a hit!

    1. I’m so happy to hear that this was a hit for your family, Cosette! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!

  3. Another hit! This was so easy to make. I cooked two batches as a meal prep snack. for the. week. for my husband. and I. 5 stars

    1. YAY! I’m so happy that you enjoyed this recipe, Kiki! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!

  4. Made this tonight, but didn’t use honey or the spice mix (didn’t have all the ingredients). It was UNBELIEVABLE! Thank you so much for the recipe. Easiest and best tasting applesauce I have ever had. Used hand picks Fuji apples from Watsonville, CA and two store bought Granny Smith. We picked 18 lbs of Fujis last weekend — yikes. Thank you!!!!! HIGHLY RECOMMEND! Making your apple bread next :)5 stars

  5. Delicious and tasty!
    Good all year round, and leaves the house smelling great a long time after its finished cooking!

    We use it for breakfast, on top of oatmeal porridge, and just regular oats or cereals.5 stars

  6. This was way easier than I thought. It is so delicious. I highly recommend it. I made it for the apple bread recipe you have, so we will see how the bread turns out.5 stars

    1. I’m so happy that it was a hit, Julie! Thank you for sharing this kind review, and I hope you love the bread too!

  7. This applesauce is so dang easy and so DELICIOUS! I bought a bag of apples a couple weeks ago from the Farmers Market. It was a hybrid apple the farmer offered – between a tart and sweet. They were not as crisp as I like but still good. I decided to turn them into this applesauce. No peeling, dropped them in the crockpot with the other ingredients (I used lemon peel from Penzy’s as I did not have fresh on hand and used two cinnamon sticks since I had no pumpkin pie spice). Quick immersion blender after cooking and YUM! Thanks again for another winning recipe Erin!5 stars

  8. This is AMAZING. Your recipes almost never let me down, Erin! Our grocery store had Buy One, Get One on bags of apples a couple weeks ago and as I was reorganizing my fridge I found myself with a whole bag of Granny Smiths (about 12 small ones!) with no way my husband and I could polish them off before they went bad. I went to your site and found this recipe, and boy am I glad! It was so easy, made the house smells amazing, and it such a comforting snack or dessert! I can’t wait until it fully cools, but it is already amazing warm.5 stars