Soft & Tender Spiced Applesauce Cookies

published Nov 1, 2022
Applesauce Cookies Recipe

Applesauce cookies are perfect for after school or any time you could use a soft, homey treat that's not too sweet.

Serves12

Makes24 (2-inch) cookies

Prep15 minutes

Cook9 minutes to 13 minutes

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applesauce cookies on floral plate
Credit: Kelli Foster

I was first introduced to applesauce cookies in my early teens when I discovered my great-grandmother’s recipe while paging through a family cookbook. My mom had fond memories of these cookies, which were a holiday staple that she’d made with her grandmother. She and I continued the tradition by baking applesauce cookies together that winter, and I’ve baked them on and off ever since.

This recipe is inspired by my great-grandmother’s recipe and yields a soft, tender cookie that’s just sweet enough, with a hint of warm spices in every bite. They’re great for the holidays, but they also make a great lunch-box sweet or after-school snack paired with a cold glass of milk.

What Do Applesauce Cookies Taste Like?

Applesauce cookies are homey and comforting with craggy, domed tops that are reminiscent of muffin tops. They’re soft and tender and a not-too-sweet treat and have a spiced apple flavor with caramel-y notes from the brown sugar.

Credit: Kelli Foster

Why Do People Add Applesauce to Cookies?

There are a couple of reasons applesauce may be added to cookies. Some recipes rely on applesauce to reduce the amount fat (typically from oil, butter, or eggs), but that’s not the case in this recipe. Here, it’s added simply for flavor and texture. The biggest benefit of applesauce is that it adds moisture, which makes these cookies incredibly soft and tender. The applesauce also adds a gentle underlying flavor of sweet apple.

Does Applesauce Replace Oil or Eggs?

Not in this recipe. In addition to unsweetened applesauce, the recipes also uses a stick of unsalted butter and one egg.

Applesauce Cookies Recipe

Applesauce cookies are perfect for after school or any time you could use a soft, homey treat that's not too sweet.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 9 minutes to 13 minutes

Makes 24 (2-inch) cookies

Serves 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 stick

    (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

  • 1

    large egg

  • 2 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    grated fresh or ground nutmeg

  • 3/4 cup

    packed light or dark brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup

    unsweetened applesauce

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place 1 stick unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Place 1 large egg on the counter. Let both sit at room temperature until the butter is softened, about 1 hour.

  2. Place 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh or ground nutmeg in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine.

  3. Add 3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt to the bowl with the butter. Beat with the paddle attachment (or with electrix mixer beaters) on high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg, 1/2 cup applesauce, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and beat on low speed until combined (the mixture will look curdled).

  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on the lowest speed, gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined with no streaks of flour remaining, about 45 seconds total. The dough will be sticky.

  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Meanwhile, arrange 2 oven racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

  6. Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoon-portions of the dough and place on the baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart, 12 cookies per sheet.

  7. Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back. Continue to bake until the tops look dry and light golden-brown on bottom, 4 to 8 minutes more. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The dough can be scooped onto a baking sheet and frozen until solid. Transfer to a zip-top bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Bake from frozen for the same amount of time.

Storage: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.