Ingredient Intelligence

What’s the Difference Between Applesauce and Apple Butter?

updated May 1, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

When apples are in season, it’s practically our duty to eat them in every form: out of hand; in pie, crisp, or cake; and in the form of applesauce and apple butter. The latter two may look similar on the surface — soft and spoonable — but they are pretty different characters. Here’s how.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

The Difference Between Applesauce and Apple Butter

While both applesauce and apple butter are made by slow-cooking apples with water, spices, and maybe a little sugar until you have something soft and saucy, apple butter is cooked much longer so that the mix cooks down even further to become a thick, glossy, caramelized spread.


At its most basic, applesauce is made by cooking apples down until they become soft and mushy. It can be puréed to make it smooth or it can be left a little chunky, depending on preference. Ingredients like cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, citrus peels, and sugar can also be added to the mix to flavor and sweeten the sauce. Enjoy it as a snack or a wholesome dessert, in baked goods, or alongside pork chops.

(Image credit: Tessa Huff)

Apple Butter

Keep cooking applesauce past the stage where it’s, well, saucy, and you’ll get apple butter. Continue to cook the sauce and it begins to caramelize and thicken, making it almost jam-like. If you already have applesauce on hand, you can make apple butter from that, or you can start from scratch. Slather apple butter on toast or biscuits, bake it into a unique loaf of challah bread, or use it for something savory.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

Do you have a preference? Team applesauce or team apple butter?