25 best apples for applesauce

The best apples for applesauce are freshly picked juicy varieties with smooth, fine flesh that cooks quickly. Popular varieties like Golden Delicious, Fuji, Honeycrisp, McIntosh, and Gala are known for making excellent applesauce. Gourmet applesauce recipes may call for specialty cultivars like Gravenstein, Yellow Transparent, Silken, and Grimes Golden.

Recipes often mix different varieties of apples to create a custom sweet-tart blend. The best applesauces are generally made from freshly picked apples rather than from fruit that has been sitting in storage for months.

1. Golden Delicious

Applesauce made with Golden Delicious apples is perfectly sweet. These tender apples are among the most popular in the world due to their all-around appeal. They can be used on their own to make subtly sweet applesauce, or they can be blended with a more aromatic variety for increased complexity of flavor. This apple sauce also works great over vanilla ice cream as a drizzle.

While you can make applesauce with peeled apples, it’s now more common to include the peel with thin-skinned varieties like Golden Delicious. Boil cubed apples (with the peels on) in just enough water to float them, then blend the mixture in a high-powered immersion blender. The pale-colored peel disappears into the creamy applesauce, adding more apple flavor and nutrition to the already excellent snack.

2. Fuji

Fuji apples make incredibly sweet, fine-textured applesauce. Perfect for those who love juicy, sugary applesauce, these apples rarely need added sugar. Fuji applesauce is a favorite of those who like the sweet apple types, as this apple has a very high sugar content.

The fine flesh and pretty red peel blend in perfectly in a high-powered blender to make a rosy pink, sweet, applesauce that’s perfect for dessert. The peel can be removed before cooking if the cooked sauce will not be blended. Try adding a bit of lemon juice if you find the sauce overly sweet.

3. Honeycrisp

Honeycrisp apples have firm, sweet flesh that’s perfect for chunky, rustic applesauce. These apples are known for their complex and balanced sweet-tart flavor. Honeycrisp apples are naturally quite juicy and tend to keep their shape well when cooked. While this top-tasting apple variety is generally saved for fresh eating due to its crunchy texture and high price, this variety does make quite a delicious sauce!

For a rustic Honeycrisp applesauce that retains some slightly crunchy chunks, skip the blender and just lightly mash the cooked apples with a fork (or even a potato masher). Use peeled apples or strain the peels out after cooking. Peels can be added to smoothies or blended up into mixed sauce or salad dressing.

4. McIntosh

The McIntosh apple is a classic apple variety for use in an applesauce recipe. It has fine, tender flesh that cooks down quickly into smooth applesauce. These tart apples have a zippy, balanced flavor perfect for those who don’t like their applesauce too sweet.

These apples have a thick peel that is generally removed before cooking the apples. That said, the peel can be incorporated if using a high-powered blender or food processor to mix the sauce after cooking. Remember to keep your apple sauce in an airtight container so it will last longer!

5. Pink Lady (Cripps’ Pink)

The Pink Lady/Cripps Pink apple will make a zippy sweet-tart apple sauce with a pretty pink hue (when the skins are left on). These apples are excellent for eating fresh, but can also be used for delicious, beautiful applesauce. Like other crisp varieties, try not to overcook Pink Lady apples whenever cooking them.

Royal gala apples at the grocery store in bulk bags

6. Gala

Gala apples are an excellent all-around apple that makes appealing, balanced, sweet applesauce. Galas are juicy and have fine, tender flesh that keeps its shape well when cooked (if desired).

Peeled apples can be blended into a creamy-white smooth and sweet Gala applesauce recipe. They can also be mashed by hand into a chunkier, rustic texture.

To include the lovely red color of the peel, cook the apple chunks with the peel on. The peel can be strained or simply blended right into the applesauce for deliciously wholesome applesauce.

7. Gravenstein

Gravenstein apples make flavourful, nicely balanced classic applesauce. These apples are a favorite at fall fairs and farmers’ markets, and can often be bought in bulk for sauce-making.

Both the peel color and the sweetness of this heritage variety can vary quite a bit from year to year and from growing climate to growing climate. Gravenstein applesauce is always a bit different from batch to batch!

8. Yellow Transparent

Yellow Transparent apples are another excellent choice for using in an applesauce recipe. This variety is rarely available in supermarkets as they are best for eating fresh. Applesauce made from Yellow Transparent applesauce is incredibly smooth and almost candy-sweet.

Yellow Transparent is among the earliest apples to ripen at specialty orchards, with harvest season often occurring in late June or July. Snap them up quickly and blend them into a perfect late-summer sauce.

Silken apple trees

9. Silken

Silken apples are a newer specialty apple cultivar that’s particularly well-suited to applesauce. These apples are near-white with very thin light-yellow skin. Silken is another variety that is best eaten fresh in the orchard, as it bruises easily. But since this variety is more common now in U-pick orchards, it’s usually easy to get a giant bag of apples for a very good price.

The thin skin of Silken makes this variety perfect for blended skin-on applesauce. The tender flesh blends easily for sweet applesauce that needs no extra sugar.

10. Grimes Golden

Grimes Golden is the perfect apple variety for American heirloom applesauce. This heritage apple from Brooks County, West Virginia is known as an excellent cider and sauce variety. Grimes Golden is a parent apple of the famous Golden Delicious.

Applesauce made with Grimes Golden apples is deliciously sweet, but also nicely tart and somewhat spicy. Look for this variety in September in southern regions and in October in colder growing areas.

11. Cortland

Cortland apples have fine-textured pulp that’s perfect for smooth, sour applesauce. The taste of applesauce made with these apples is quite tart, making it a favorite of sour apple lovers.

A Cortland apple has a pale acidic flesh that resists browning, creating creamy-white applesauce when the apples are peeled before cooking. Applesauce that includes the peels will have a tad more color. For the smoothest, creamiest, Cortland applesauce, use a high-powered blender after cooking the apples.

Ambrosias at grocer

12. Ambrosia

Ambrosia apples make terrifically sweet and smooth applesauce. These tender, honey-like apples truly are divine when gently cooked into sauce. They can be blended into a creamy sauce or mashed into rustic stewed apples.

Look for apples that are neither under-ripe nor over-ripe, as both the flavor and texture of the applesauce can be negatively affected.

13. Braeburn

Braeburn apples make a unique, spicy-sweet pudding-like applesauce. Their firm texture makes for thick applesauce that is incredibly flavourful. Look for perfectly ripe Braeburns and try not to overcook them, as the flesh is naturally quite firm.

14. Granny Smith

Granny Smith apples make a thick and tart sour applesauce. When the peel is included, Granny Smith Applesauce has a lovely green color to it. Use these tart apples on their own for crisp and sour applesauce, or blend them with a sweeter variety, some brown sugar, and lemon juice for a more balanced flavor.

15. Envy

Envy apples make a flavourful, well-balanced, sweet-tart applesauce. This name-brand apple was bred as a cross between Gala and Braeburn and retains the excellent qualities of both parents for making applesauce. Envy apples can be used to make a chunky country-style sauce or blended into creamy smooth applesauce.

Empire apples on the tree

16. Empire

Empire apples tend to create high-quality, smooth applesauce with a well-balanced and rich sweet-tart flavor. Empire apples are descended from the classic McIntosh applesauce apple, but are less tart and have a sweeter flavor. The bright red peel of these apples can contribute a pretty pink hue to blended applesauce when the apple skins are included.

17. Idared

Idared apples make mild-tasting, balanced applesauce. These apples are known more for their long storage shelf life than for their strong flavor, making them perfect for out-of-season applesauce.

Idared apples can be used on their own to make subtly flavored sauce or blended with different varieties listed here to make a custom applesauce blend! They’re also perfect for naturally pink-hued sauce.

18. Piñata

Piñata apples are perfect for sweet and fruity applesauce with an almost-tropical taste. The pale flesh and red-yellow peel create orange-colored applesauce that has a full-bodied flavor. Piñata apples are excellent for apple-only applesauce (with no added sugar) as their flavor is strong and unique enough to stand on its own!

19. Crispin (Mutsu)

Crispin/Mutsu apples make wonderful sweet and juicy applesauce with a mild spice flavor. These apples are an excellent choice for a rich, chunky sauce as they maintain their quality when cooked. The peel color of this variety can vary quite a bit. Applesauce made with peels generally has a light tan natural hue.

20. Jonathan

Jonathan apples are wonderful for a classic, tart, autumnal applesauce. Available only around harvest time, these heirlooms from New York are quite tart, with just enough sugar to keep the sauce from being sour.

Jonathan apples are sweeter in some years than in others, but they’re always unique and delicious. Use on their own for a heritage varietal applesauce recipe, or blend with sweeter varieties for a balanced flavor.

Jazz apples in blue jazz apple crates

21. Jazz

Applesauce made with Jazz apples is juicy and richly flavored, with a nice balance of sweet-tart flavors. Like Envy apples, Jazz apples are a cross between Gala and Braeburn and combine many of the best applesauce traits of both types. The flavor is sweet yet spicy and can be blended into a wonderfully smooth and satisfying fruity applesauce.

22. Macoun

Macoun apples make high-quality, rich applesauce with a tart flavor and a hint of fruity sweetness. This heritage variety is an offspring of the McIntosh and makes similar smooth applesauce that’s slightly sweeter and maybe even juicier. Macoun apples can be hard to find outside the Northeastern states (and out of season), so snap them up in the fall if you see them!

23. Cox’s Orange Pippin

Cox’s Orange Pippin apples create smooth and sweet applesauce with a subtle fruity, citrusy tang. This British favorite can be a bit hard to find in North America, but it’s another variety that’s worth seeking out if you can find it. As a popular heirloom variety, Cox’s Orange Pippin was used in breeding for several modern varieties, including Piñata apples.

24. Jonagold

Jonagold apples make honey-sweet applesauce with a warm orange hue. An all-American cross between the Jonathan and the Golden Delicious, these apples are wonderful for sweet, country-style applesauce. The skin can be a bit tough and is generally strained out or blended into the sauce with a high-powered blender.

25. Rome

Rome apples create a thick, tart applesauce with a stronger color than most other varieties. While not as juicy as some other varieties, the flavor becomes more complex as the apples are stewed in a bit of water. Use Rome apples on their own or blend them with a sweeter, juicier type for a more balanced sauce.

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *