All you need is three ingredients – apples, cinnamon, and salt – to make this super easy, unsweetened, Instant Pot Applesauce recipe! Perfect for cozy snacking or to use in baked goods!
If you ask me, the Instant Pot is the most brilliant thing to ever happen to applesauce. The high heat intensifies the apple flavour so that it almost tastes caramelized. So delicious, and so simple to make, you will never go back to jarred sauce again. You basically just throw apple chunks with a cinnamon stick and a little water into the pot. Voila — less than half an hour later, perfectly cooked down, deeply flavoured, tender juicy apples emerge. Not a word of a lie, this is an applesauce that will make you swoon.
This recipe will yield an ample amount of applesauce, and that’s a good thing as it disappears quickly. You can use the applesauce in a multitude of ways. Stir it into oatmeal bowls or serve alongside yogurt. Dollop it atop roast pork or pork chops. Swirl it through ice cream. Or simply snack on it as is straight from the fridge (my favourite). This is a fabulous side dish that will take you all the way through the holiday season and through many family meals.
Best Apples To Make Applesauce
As with pies, the secret to a great applesauce is to use a variety of apples. Because there is no sugar added to this applesauce, I stick to sweet apple varieties such as Honey Crisp, Ambrosia, and Golden Delicious. It sounds hard to believe but depending on how fresh and sweet the apples are, if you use only a sweet variety of apples, the applesauce is plenty sweet. Yes, even without adding sugar. Adding one or two tart apples such as Granny Smith will add a little tone down the sweetness, in which case, you may want to add a pinch of sugar once cooked.
Most importantly, and particularly if apples are no longer in season, seek out the variety that seems freshest to you. A firm, unblemished apple will make a better applesauce. That said, do not hesitate to use apples that are looking sad on your counter — they too will make a fabulous applesauce.
How To Make Instant Pot Applesauce
Making applesauce in the Instant pot really is as easy as throwing everything in the pot, setting it, and walking away. You definitely don’t need to peel the apples, especially if you are going to use an immersion blender to make a smooth sauce. If you are leaving the applesauce chunkier, you might consider peeling so you don’t run into any hard to chew peel. I like to peel most of my apples but leave a few pieces with the peel on which adds a lovely rosy colour to the sauce. For reference, I use a 6-quart Instant Pot.
Here are the easy steps:
- Prepare the apples: You will need 3 to 4 pounds of apple to make the applesauce. Wash and dry the apples, peel (or don’t peel) and core the apples and cut into 2-inch pieces.
- Pressure cook the apples: Place 1/2 cup water, the apple pieces, 1 cinnamon stick, and a pinch of salt inside the Instant pot. Close the lid, set the Venting knob to Sealing position and pressure cook on high for 6 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 10 minutes.
- Blend the applesauce: I like to use an immersion blender to make my applesauce. But the apples will be soft enough that you can also just mash them with a fork or potato masher.
- Once blended, taste the applesauce. Because all apples vary in sweetness and tartness, it is best to taste the applesauce and adjust the seasoning at this point. Add a little sugar if you prefer them sweeter, a bit of ground cinnamon, or a pinch more salt.
- Add lemon juice to the apples. This is optional and is usually added to preserve the colour and vibrancy of the applesauce. I don’t notice much difference when I don’t add it, so I almost always leave it out.
- Release most of the pressure naturally. Cooked apples can become foamy and a quick release could cause the pressure valve to clog. Allow the pressure to naturally release for at least 10 – 15 minutes.
- Add sugar only once the apples have cooked. As previously mentioned, using sweet apples eliminates the need to sweeten the applesauce. If you prefer it a little sweeter, wait until the apples are cooked, and mashed, to add your sweetener of choice to taste.
- Don’t omit the salt! You only need a pinch but it really goes a long way in bringing out the nuanced flavour of the applesauce.
If you wish, you can further enhance the applesauce by adding a variety of other flavours. If serving with pork, you can add minced rosemary and a splash of lemon juice. Other spices that would be great to add are allspice, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and ginger. Add very little of any ingredient to start, you don’t want the spices to be overwhelming in the applesauce.
It is also fun to replace one or two apples with other fruit such as pear or rhubarb.
If you like a sweeter applesauce, use apple cider or apple juice instead of water to cook the apples. Or you can add maple syrup or honey to sweeten it once cooked. If you’re feeling indulgent, you could make it really creamy by adding a few tablespoons of butter à la Ina Garten. It is the holiday season, after all.
To Store Instant Pot Applesauce
Apple sauce keeps well for days in the refrigerator and also freezes beautifully. I like to make a few batches especially during the holiday season.
- To store in the refrigerator: Once cooled, transfer applesauce to a tight-lid container and store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- To Freeze Homemade Applesauce: Allow the applesauce to cool completely then place in freezer-safe bags or containers. You can do this in smaller batches and pull out as needed. The applesauce can be kept frozen for 3-4 months.
Other Apple Recipes You Might Enjoy:
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Instant Pot Applesauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 - 4 pounds mixed apples, cored, peeled or unpeeled, and cut it into 2-inch pieces I use Honeycrisp, Ambrosia, Golden Delcious
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Place 1/2 cup water, apple chunks, and cinnamon stick in the Instant Pot.
- Close the lid, then turn Venting Knob to Sealing Position. Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 5 minutes. Allow to Naturally Release for at least 10-15 minutes. Release any remaing pressure and open the lid carefully.
- Remove cinnamon stick and using an immersion blender, or potato masher, blend the applesauce to desired consistency. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Taste the applesauce and add a pinch of more salt, if necessary. My applesauce is always sweet enough but you can sweeten to taste with a little honey or maple syrup, if desired.
- Add lemon juice to the apples. This is optional and I rarely add the lemon juice. It will, however, help with the colour of the applesauce more vibrant.
- Release most of the pressure naturally. Cooked apples can become foamy and a quick release could cause the pressure valve to clog. Allow the pressure to naturally release for at least 10 - 15 minutes.
- Wait to sweeten your applesauce until it’s finished. This way, you can taste and adjust the sweetness based on the apples you brought home, and you won’t end up with a sickly sweet batch of sauce.
- Don't omit the salt! You only need a pinch but it really goes a long way in bringing out the nuanced flavour of the applesauce.