Applesauce is great, but it can be a pain to make at home, right? Well, with Instant Pot applesauce it doesn’t have to be. Today we’ll show you just how easy it is to make Instant Pot applesauce at home. You’ll love it and you’ll love taking control of what your family is eating.
We are big fans of applesauce and even have our own yearly apple picking and applesauce making tradition. Every fall we make a trip to the apple orchard, spend the morning picking apples, and then spend the afternoon making LOTS of applesauce. It’s great fun and results in many batches of applesauce which can be both enjoyed immediately and stockpiled in our freezer for later consumption. It’s a fun tradition. And there’s nothing like homemade applesauce made with fresh fall apples. But…
…It can be a lot of work! And sometimes we just want applesauce in a hurry. That’s where Instant Pot applesauce comes in.
Thanks to the pressure cooker feature, applesauce in the Instant Pot is done in a fraction of the time compared to doing it on the stove or in a slow cooker. We let the applesauce cook for about 5 minutes on high pressure, then let the pressure naturally release. And, bye bye stirring and milling! It really is easy. Throw in the apples, water, and any other ingredients you want and let the Instant Pot do the work.
But, to address some common questions…
Should you peel your apples ahead of time?
We do for our Instant Pot version, but it’s a matter of taste. We tend to core, peel, and slice my apples ahead of time for the Instant Pot applesauce, but if you don’t mind the peels you can skip that part. When baking and peeling a bunch of apples we’ll also sometimes use one of these apple corer/peelers. It’s a pretty cool tool and one your kids will probably enjoy using. And you’ll enjoy the amount of time it can save. I tend to use it for applesauce and when I’m baking other things with apples that I need to layer like homemade apple crisp.
How do you mash the apples?
As mentioned above when making stovetop applesauce we put our apples through a food mill, but the whole point of Instant Pot applesauce is to make your life easier so I wouldn’t go that route when making applesauce in the Instant Pot. The same goes for using a traditional blender. It will do an amazing job but defeats the point of making applesauce in the Instant Pot — making your life easier. With that in mind, we tend to use a hand/immersion blender or a potato masher, but you could even just use a sturdy fork or whatever would work well for mashing. We love the hand blender because we like our applesauce smooth and it does all the work, but it really comes down to how smooth you want your applesauce and how much work you want to put into your blending.
For the Instant Pot recipe below, we used our hand crank apple peeler/corer to make it that much easier. It only takes a couple minutes to spin all the apples through it and after cooking all you need to do is mash the chunks with a potato masher or blend with a hand blender to your desired consistency.
What should you add to your applesauce?
Ah, there’s the million dollar question. Well, not actually a million dollar question, but the most important question. After all the whole point of homemade applesauce is taking control of the ingredients and making something you love.
And if what to put in your applesauce is the top question, then first thing to address has to be…
1. What kind of apples are best for applesauce?
There is no one best answer to this question, of course. There are many apples that will work well for applesauce making. And the best answer is whatever apples you enjoy the most! But this, of course, may require some testing and also may depend on local availability and seasonality. To give you a good starting point…
These varieties of apples tend to be highly recommended for applesauce: Cameo, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Idared, Jonagold, McIntosh, Pink Lady, Rome Beauty, and Stayman. But…
This is just a starting point for those looking for some guidance. It’s by no means an exhaustive list and the best way to figure out your apple of choice is simply by experimenting and trying different varieties. For our quick batches in the offseason, I tend to just grab whatever 5lb bag of apples looks good at the store. Or mix and match the leftovers of multiple bags of apples (my kids all like different types).
2. Sweetened or Unsweetened?
Again, this is personal preference. There are obvious health reasons for not going crazy with the sugar, but you also are trying to make something everyone will enjoy. We make both sweetened and unsweetened applesauce. The sweetened applesauce tends to be preferred, but we try to at least limit to a small amount of sugar.
It will likely come to no surprise to you that sugar makes things taste good–especially to kids! But health wise it’s not the best to add sugar to everything, so that leaves us with the common question: how much sugar should we add to our applesauce? The answer is, it depends.
To some degree, it depends on how sweet the apple is. Apples contain sugar (around 11-18% of an apple is sugar according to this article – http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/How-Much-Sugar-Is-in-an-Apple.html), but the actually amount depends on the size and variety of the apple. So if you try your applesauce and it’s great then you’re good to go. If it seems a little bland then you might add a little additional sugar. We have also found that sometimes adding cinnamon and nutmeg helps provide the extra flavor we are looking for without having to add sugar. But, once again, it’s a personal preference.
When we are making lots of applesauce (multiple batches) we almost always make both sweetened and unsweetened applesauce. We do prefer the sweetened applesauce (as do our kids), but you don’t have to go overboard with the additional sugar. A little goes a long way. When experimenting with recipe creation we’ll often make successive batches of something, gradually lowering the sugar amount until we start to miss it (or, more likely to happen first, our kids start to grumble).
Unsweetened applesauce is still good, just not always as good (this is always a matter of opinion, of course). We do keep some unsweetened applesauce on hand for baking purposes. And when our kids were babies and we were trying different baby foods, we made our applesauce with a little cinnamon and no sugar.
Applesauce can also be used in baking to replace liquid fats – oil, melted butter, etc. When baking with applesauce the recipe in question probably dictates whether you want to use sweetened or unsweetened applesauce; Does the recipe contain additional sugar or other sweeteners? Is it even something you want to turn out sweet?
We also tend to add cinnamon and nutmeg to our applesauce. This helps with the flavor and limiting sugar.
Why Make Applesauce in the first place?
It’s so easy to just buy a jar at the store, what’s all this fuss about making your own applesauce anyway? Well…
As with many things, if you want it done right then you might have to do it yourself. Store bought applesauce can be great, but it can also contain excess sugar and things you don’t really want like high fructose corn syrup. Plus, can store bought applesauce really compare with Grandma’s homemade applesauce? I don’t think so!
Besides this, there are a number of additional…
Benefits of making Instant Pot applesauce
-It’s a fun kitchen project to do with your kids
-It gives you something to do with your extra apples (And did you know you could freeze apples until you’re ready to use them?)
-You can keep out unwanted unhealthy ingredients that are often found in store-bought applesauce
-You can get creative and add in flavors you like (cinnamon, chai, nutmeg, brown butter, maple syrup)
-It is a great side and fruit serving for your kids. Especially when you control the amount of sugar and the ingredients that they are going to consume.
-It is easy to freeze for later.-It makes your house smell delicious–this works better with stovetop applesauce, but even in the Instant Pot, once you open the lid and let it cool it works.
And if you’re a fan of how easy things are with the Instant Pot then you might want to check out some of our other favorite Instant Pot recipes:
Instant Pot Applesauce
- 16-18 medium apples (We used a mix of Fuji & Gala)
- 1 c . water
- 1-2 tsp . cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp . nutmeg
- 1/4 c . sugar (optional)
Peel, core, and slice apples into similar sized pieces and place in Instant Pot.
Add water and all other ingredients.
Close lid and turn vent to seal.
Press the manual button and toggle to 5 minutes.
Let the cycle run and when over, press the cancel button.
Let the Instant Pot naturally release pressure--approximately 15 minutes.
Open lid, stir and mash applesauce to desired consistency.