Difference Between Apple Butter and Applesauce: Short and Clear

It’s the end of summer, autumn is approaching, and all the apples on your apple tree are starting to fall. With so many excess apples, why not start making applesauce? Or how about apple butter instead? Come to think of it, is there actually a difference between apple butter and applesauce?

Yes! While the two are admittedly very similar, there are some big differences and some subtle differences between apple butter and applesauce. While they are both made using a similar process, applesauce is a puree, while apple butter is highly concentrated!

Both of these condiments have their own uses in the kitchen, but you can easily make both at home too. Keep reading to discover the real difference between applesauce and apple butter! 

What Is Applesauce? 

Before we look at the differences, let’s look at each individually. What is apple sauce? 

  • Well, if you’re a pork eater, then you’ll best know applesauce as the condiment that goes with your pork loins or your pork chops. It’s also used in baking, and regularly finds its way into cake batter or apple pies. 
  • The sauce itself is puree-like. It’s not solid, but it’s not liquid. It’s easily spreadable or easily incorporated into a variety of different recipes where a sweet sauce is called for. It’s sweet, it tastes like apples, and in our opinion, it’s delicious!
  • Apple sauce is prepared using (of course) apples. The apples need to be left to cook in either water or apple cider vinegar (or a combination of the two). Use an apple peeler (see this) to peel the skin off the apples before stewing them. For the sweetest sauce, sugar is often added to the mixture. 
  • The apples are broken down by the slow cooking process until they become what can only be described as a mush. You can puree this further in a blender or mash it up in the saucepan to get rid of lumps. Some applesauce enthusiasts love to add extra spices to the mix, too, including cinnamon, ginger, or vanilla. 

What Is Apple Butter? 

So what’s apple butter, then?

  • Apple butter is a much, much more concentrated version of applesauce. In fact, this is the major difference between applesauce and apple butter. 
  • Apple butter is better described as a paste or a spread rather than a sauce. Like applesauce, it’s also made by slow-cooking apples with water or apple cider vinegar (or both), but the apples, in this case, are left to stew for a much longer time.
  • For apple butter, you need to slow cook the apples until all the liquid has evaporated and the sugars begin to break down and caramelize. This results in highly concentrated apple butter. Like applesauce, it’s also easy to spice up your apple butter with added ingredients such as cinnamon or vanilla.
  • Popular uses for apple butter include simply spreading it on toast, or more commonly, using it in baking. 

What Is the Difference Between Applesauce and Apple Butter? 

Aside from the fact that one is concentrated and one is not, there are several other differences between the two. 

  • Applesauce is much lighter in taste, while the taste of apple butter on its own can be overpowering for many.
  • Applesauce can be used straight out of the jar, whereas apple butter usually needs to be diluted before it becomes enjoyable (not everyone will agree with this, though!).
  • The high concentration of apple butter ensures that it lasts much, much longer than applesauce, making it an excellent ingredient to store away in the cupboard over winter. 

Can You Make Apple Butter from Applesauce? 

It’s also possible to make apple butter from applesauce. Because apple butter is essentially a concentrated form of applesauce, all you need to do is slow cook the apple sauce until you have a much thicker, more concentrated paste. 

If you can’t find any apple butter at the store, but you can find applesauce, then by all means buy apple sauce and cook it down into butter at home.

You can even liven up that boring store-bought apple sauce with some extra spices or sugar: put the applesauce on the stovetop, then just keep slow cooking until the water evaporates and what you’re left with is – for all intents and purposes – apple butter!

And can you replace butter with applesauce in recipes? Yes, you can definitely do this! 

Simply boil down your apple sauce until you have a much thicker, paste-like sauce. In fact, applesauce makes for a great substitute for apple butter in your baking recipes. 

Is One Healthier Than the Other?

Is applesauce good for you? What about apple butter? And if you compare apple butter vs applesauce, is one better for you than the other? 

We all know how important it is to include fruits in our diet, and of course, there’s that age-old saying: An apple a day keeps the doctor away! But how healthy are these sugary, concentrated apple dishes? 

  • It’s important to remember that both applesauce and apple butter have high quantities of sugar in them. This is particularly true if you add extra sugar when preparing them at home. At the store, you might have the choice between sweetened or unsweetened apple products, too. 
  • Too much sugar is never a good thing, so you do need to remember to use applesauce and apple butter in moderation. As it’s more concentrated, apple butter contains much more sugar than applesauce, so be careful when selecting one or the other for different recipes!
  • Ultimately, though, we do need some sugars in our diet, and apples also offer a number of other health benefits. Apples contain important antioxidants, for instance, while they are also a source of vital vitamins, including Vitamin C.
  • For the healthiest applesauce or apple butter, it’s always best to make your own at home. That way, you can limit the amount of extra sugar, and be sure there are no sneaky additives in the recipe either!

Final Note: The Difference Between Apple Butter and Applesauce

Ultimately, applesauce and apple butter are similar, but actually very different. 

That’s the real story behind apple butter and applesauce. While both are prepared from apples cooked with either water or apple cider vinegar, applesauce is a puree, while apple butter is much, much more concentrated!

Apple butter can be made from applesauce, and both can be prepared using all those apples in your garden that have fallen from the trees. Each has its own use in the kitchen and on the dinner table, and each can be prepared using a slightly different array of spices to liven up the flavors!

Why not bookmark our guide on the difference between applesauce and apple butter, so you know which is best for your next cooking project?