What’s the best substitute for applesauce? This unsweetened applesauce substitute recipe uses pears for a 1:1 applesauce alternative that works in baking your favorite recipes. You can use this substitute applesauce for oil or instead of butter in baking. You can even use this substitute applesauce for eggs in some cases. It’s only two ingredients and vegan, plant-based, and gluten-free.
🍎 Applesauce Substitute
There are a number of ingredients that work well as an unsweetened applesauce replacement, depending on the recipe. Here are some foods you can use as a whole or partial replacement for applesauce in baking:
- Pureed apples (which is basically just homemade applesauce)
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Pumpkin puree
- Mashed banana
- Other fruit puree (such as Asian pear puree, berry puree, or pureed prunes)
- Peanut butter
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Blended silken tofu
- Coconut oil
- Melted butter
- Pear sauce
Those are a lot of choices! Are you wondering what to use in your recipe when you’re out of applesauce?
My absolute favorite applesauce substitute in baking is the pear puree recipe below. You can use it as a 1-to-1 applesauce substitute in any recipe, such as applesauce cookies, brownies, or applesauce cake.
I can’t say that about many of the applesauce alternatives above. For example, if you try to replace all of the applesauce with oil or honey in an applesauce bread, the recipe won’t turn out well. For your favorite baked goods that rely heavily on applesauce, you need an alternative that has a similar flavor and texture to apples.
⭐ Substitute for Applesauce Benefits
Why is this recipe the best way to substitute applesauce? Here are a few reasons:
- Sweet: Pears are sweet without imparting a strong flavor, like mashed bananas would. They’re about as close to apples in the fruit world as you can get.
- Same consistency: This applesauce replacer is very similar in moisture levels and consistency to applesauce.
- Similar nutrient benefits: Unlike with some applesauce substitutes, pears are fairly similar to apples nutritionally. They are both low fat and provide fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and other vitamins and minerals.
- Simple: Not counting the water, you only need 2 ingredients to make this alternative to applesauce. It’s so easy!
- Vegan applesauce: Unlike some applesauce substitutes (such as butter) this applesauce substitute is vegan. Aside from being whole food plant based (wfpb) and vegetarian, it’s also gluten free.
- Low in saturated fat: If you want to replace the applesauce in a recipe without raising saturated fat, using other fruit purees is a good choice. This is a heart-healthy substitute for applesauce.
- Delicious: This applesauce substitute is so tasty, you could have it for dessert! It makes a nice post-workout or afterschool snack.
🥘 Applesauce Substitute Ingredients
All you need are pears, water, and a cinnamon stick to make the best applesauce substitute. In fact, you could even skip the cinnamon if you don’t want that flavor in your recipes.
You can use any variety of pears you wish in this recipe; I used a mix. If your pears are a little hard and underripe, try them here. Popping them in the slow cooker for an extended period turns the pears sweet without added sugar.
This recipe is very similar to my homemade unsweetened applesauce recipe. The biggest difference is that the firm pears don’t break down as easily as the apples. To get the pears more “saucy,” I mashed them with a potato masher towards the end of cooking.
Speaking of kitchen equipment, you need a peeler, a good knife, a potato masher, and a crock pot for this recipe. Here are the slow cookers I’ve tested this recipe on:
- Crock-Pot SVC700-B, an oval slow cooker with 7-quart capacity
- A round-based Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker (using the slow cooker function)
I've noticed oval-based crockpots don’t tend to heat foods as evenly as circular-based ones. If you’re using an oval cooker, you may want to stir the sauce every few hours to prevent burning.
🔪 How to Make Applesauce Substitute
Peel, core, and chop the pears into large pieces. I used about 8 cups of pears for this recipe, but it’s flexible.
Put the prepared pears in your crock pot with the cinnamon stick and 3 tablespoons of water. Cover the slow cooker with the lid. If you’re using a Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot, leave the steam vent open.
Slow cook unsweetened applesauce substitute for 6 hours on high. They’ll look very watery at this point, but once you mash them down, they’ll develop a more applesauce-like consistency. After mashing, I turn the slow cooker to low and cook an additional hour.
The varieties of pears you use do determine how watery this faux applesauce turns out. If it's still too watery after cooking, you can heat it on the stovetop to get more water off. (If you’re using a Ninja Foodi or other multipurpose cooker, simply take the lid off and use the “high saute” function.)
Once it’s ready, remove the cinnamon stick, and let the sauce chill in the fridge. I like to leave this sauce a little chunky. However, you can blend it with a food processor or immersion blender for a smoother fruit puree. Enjoy!
🌡️ Applesauce Substitute Storage
You can keep this applesauce substitute recipe in a covered container in the fridge for 3-4 days. It also freezes well in partially filled glass jars or food-safe plastic containers. If you freeze portions in ice cube trays, you can defrost just what you need for your recipe.
📋 Applesauce Substitute Nutrition
How many calories in applesauce substitute? How many carbs in applesauce substitute? One half-cup serving of this unsweetened applesauce substitute has 70 calories, 15 grams net carbs, and 0 grams protein.
The exact nutrition content of your recipe will depend on a variety of factors. Some of these include how much the pears were cooked down, which varieties of pears were used, and the ripeness of the pears. Cooking this applesauce replacer for a longer time helps to bring out the sweetness but also concentrates the sugars.
Applesauce substitutes are useful if you don’t like apples or have an allergy or food intolerance to apples. Some people may want a substitute for applesauce to use what they have, so they don’t have to go to the store. Others may want to replace applesauce to make a high calorie recipe for weight gain.
Applesauce works as a partial substitute for oil in recipes as a low fat way to preserve moisture. However, if you substitute all of the oil for applesauce in high-fat baked goods, there will be a texture change.
You can use applesauce substitute for egg when the egg is primarily there for moisture, not binding or leavening. Use 3-4 tablespoons of applesauce per large egg, plus a little baking powder if you need some leavening.
Applesauce works wonderfully as a 1:1 substitute for half of the softened butter or lard in many baking recipes. For an example of how this can work, check out my Kodiak Cakes blueberry muffins.
If the recipe contains a very small amount of apple juice, you may be able to sub applesauce. In other cases, substituting apple sauce for juice won’t work, since the applesauce is so much thicker.
This is not a low carb applesauce substitute because pears are not a keto friendly food. To make a keto substitute for applesauce, you could use berry puree, butter, oil, or plain yogurt (depending on the recipe).
👩🏻🍳 Recipes Using Applesauce Substitutes
You can use the pear sauce below in the same ways that you’d use applesauce. It works as a snack or try it as a side dish, warmed and served with pork chops. Another way to use it is as a substitute for some (or all) of the oil in baked goods.
Here are some recipes where you can use this applesauce alternative:
You can also try it in place of some or all of the mashed banana in this low calorie baked oatmeal recipe.
Applesauce Substitute (Substitute for Applesauce in Baking)
- 8 cups pears
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 tablespoons water
- Peel, core, and chop your pears into large pieces.
- Place the prepared pears in your slow cooker. Tuck in the cinnamon stick. Pour the water over the top.
- Cover the slow cooker with the lid. If you’re using a Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot, leave the steam vent open.
- Slow cook unsweetened applesauce substitute for 6 hours on high. They’ll look very watery at this point, but once you mash them down, they’ll develop a more applesauce-like consistency. After mashing, turn the slow cooker to low and cook an additional hour.
- The varieties of pears you use do determine how watery this faux applesauce turns out. If it's still too watery after cooking, you can heat it on the stovetop to get more water off. (If you’re using a Ninja Foodi or other multipurpose cooker, simply take the lid off and use the “high saute” function.)
- Once it’s ready, remove the cinnamon stick, and let the sauce chill in the fridge. I like to leave this sauce a little chunky. However, you can blend it with a food processor or immersion blender for a smoother fruit puree. Enjoy!