Making your own delicious homemade applesauce is so easy! With just a few ingredients, this recipe is kid-friendly and packed with added veggies. Easy, wholesome and so much better tasting than store-bought brands!
As you might know, I am a Maine girl by birth. I grew up swinging from the trees in the woods that surrounded my childhood home, skipping on rock walls and picking buckets and buckets full of apples in the fall. And while I have since relocated my roots to the the sandy beaches of San Diego, my love of Maine and all things fall stay very near and dear to my heart.
Another thing I remember from childhoods in New England was homemade applesauce. If you have never had the pleasure of visiting an apple orchard in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont or any of the other New England states in fall, I highly recommend you add it to your Bucket List. Just imagine it….rows and rows of trees bursting with the sweetest and juiciest apples the size of softballs. I remember picking so many with my brother and sister that carrying them back to the car was physical feat, but always worth it!
Because the best part of apple season came next…the appley goods! My mother is an incredibly talented baker and cook and I was often on her heels in the kitchen helping out (well, at least I like to think I was helping). I credit her for teaching me the art of cooking and giving me the confidence to make my food from scratch. My mom is the unsung hero of all my kitchen creations and TNN wouldn’t 100% not be here if she hadn’t invested her time and patience in teaching me my way around the stove and cutting board.
Anyway, I would remember all the amazing apple goodness that my mother would cook up after a successful apple picking trip. Baked apples. Apple pies. Simple apple slices with cinnamon sprinkled on it. And definitely homemade applesauce.
Applesauce is a wildly simple recipe to make and a great one to include the children in on! I have often made it with my preschool class, allowing children to use kid-safe knives (these are the ones I recommend) to roughly (oh so roughly when kids are running the show) chop the apples and add the cinnamon and water. We would cook it in a slow cooker in our classroom so the children could smell the warm flavors blending together into one amazing treat.
I cherish so many memories around applesauce making…both with my mother and the many children I have had the gift of teaching. It truly doesn’t feel like fall until a pot of warm applesauce is bubbling on the stove and is slathered on pancakes, muffins and all of the other baked goods.
But, me being me, I am always looking for ways to up the awesomeness of something good! Especially with veggies.
Many applesauce recipes call for added sugar, which I kind of think is a bit bonkers. Apples are such a naturally sweet fruit that they bring all the natural sugar to the applesauce party that is needed. So, I really encourage you to save the honey and maple syrup for another recipe and let Mother Nature be in charge of this one!
And while natural, classic applesauce alone is great, I am always looking for ways to add more veggies into my family’s diet. It has kind of become my thing and something so many of you have told me you come to TNN for.
So now, I have veggie-loaded the applesauce. The magical, childhood favorite now has a veggie-loaded twist. Paired with beautiful and naturally sweet butternut squash and carrots, this applesauce will still leave your kids seeing all of the heart eyes, but you can feel good knowing that they got an extra dose of veggies into their bellies while they are happy snacking away.
How to make this recipe with your kids
Alice has been cooking with me since she could sit up on the counter and hold a wooden spoon. It wasn’t always a clean project, but I remember the value of my mother’s investment in my own “kitchen education” and know that the mess is 100% worth it in the long run. So, I totally encourage you to involve your children in this cooking process.
Involving your children in the cooking process will also make this recipe and the veggies in it that much more enticing. Children naturally are more likely to try a new food if they feel invested in creating it. So cook this recipe and as many others as you can with your children!
Here are some suggestions for how to make this recipe with various ages of children. Of course, look at your child’s unique abilities and kitchen skills and adjust my suggestions accordingly!
For very young children: Have the ingredients already chopped, prepped and measured out. Allow them to pour ingredients into the pot (hand-over-hand for little ones who may not be strong enough yet) and use a large spoon to stir everything together.
For children ages 4-6: Core apples and allow them to use a child safe knife to roughly cut them into bite-sized pieces. If your child is new to using knives, but sure to offer hand-over-hand help at first and take the opportunity to teach knife safety (even though these knives are pretty harmless). Allow them to chop carrots as well. Butternut squash may be a bit tough for kiddos to get their knives through, so you might want let an adult or older child take care of that. Allow them to measure spices and liquids into the pot and stir everything together.
For children 7-9: Allow them to peel the butternut squash. If they have awareness of and practice how to safely use sharp knives, allow them to use one of those to chop the apples and veggies. Make sure to supervise their cutting as much as you feel they safely need. Allow them to measure ingredients independently and stir everything together.
For children 9+: Let them make this recipe independently! Help them gain confidence in the kitchen by putting them in charge. Make sure to use your best judgement for how much supervision and assistance they will need and act accordingly.
Does the orange color scare you? Skip the butternut squash and use yellow carrots instead of orange ones! The color of this sauce will be much closer to traditional applesauce and still veggie-loaded!
Want to make it in your slow cooker? No problem! Just use the same ingredients and same measurements and cook it on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4.
How about in your Instant Pot? You can cook it in there too! Just cook the sauce for 8 minutes on HIGH pressure and use the quick release method once the sauce is done cooking!
Love veggie-loaded recipes as much as I do? Check out my ebook, Veggie-Loaded Love, for oodles of veggie-packed recipes…including Flourless Chocolate Protein Muffins (with hidden greens) that will change your breakfast game….even with those picky eaters!
Easy Peasy Veggie-Loaded Applesauce
Carrots, butternut squash and apples…oh my! Applesauce is a classic childhood treat and a super simple recipe to whip up in your kitchen. However, I took applesauce to the next level but loading it up with naturally sweet, nutrient dense and delicious veggies! Deliciously kid-approved, full of warm fall flavors and easy peasy, Easy Peasy Veggie-Loaded Applesauce is going to change the snacking game in your house.
6 apples, cored and roughly chopped (I left the skins on for extra fiber, but feel free to peel)
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
2 cups cubes butternut squash (you can use fresh or frozen)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir
Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 15-20 minutes until apples and veggies are tender and cooked through.
Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce to your desired consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can let the sauce cool a bit and then transfer it to a blender to puree. For a chunkier sauce, use a potato masher to crush the fruits and veggies.
Enjoy warm or let cook completely before storing in an air tight container in fridge for up to a week or in your freezer for months.
Suggested Adaptations Does the orange color scare you? Skip the butternut squash and use yellow carrots instead of orange ones! The color of this sauce will be much closer to traditional applesauce and still veggies-loaded! Want to make it in your slow cooker? No problem! Just use the same ingredients and same measurements and cook it on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4. How about in your Instant Pot? You can cook it in there too! Just cook the sauce for 8 minutes on HIGH pressure and use the quick release method once the sauce is done cooking!