In the article, we will be discussing what can be used instead of unsweetened applesauce. We will walk you through the top five replacements. We will also explore which replacement works best in which situation.
What can I use instead of unsweetened applesauce?
Yes, you can use other sauces instead of unsweetened applesauce. Below, we will be discussing the best possible substitutes for our unsweetened applesauce. Our top picks for the same are:
- Pureed Apples
- Pumpkin Puree
- Mashed Bananas
- Fruit Purees
- Vegetable Purees
From 1977 to 1978, adolescents consumed about 300 calories per day from snacks; this number increased to 526 calories from 2005 to 2006. These 526 calories from snacks make up between 22 and 38% of the recommended daily calories for an adolescent female and between 16 and 33% for an adolescent male, depending on their activity level and exact age The United States Department of Agriculture and MyPlate promote sliced vegetables, fresh fruits, dried fruits, and unsweetened applesauce as healthy snacks for children along with lean proteins, nuts, and other whole food items (1).
What is unsweetened applesauce?
Applesauce is a puree made by cooking down peeled apples with water or apple cider to make unsweetened applesauce or adding sugar to be sweetened. Apples are not only high in pectin, apples are a rich source of nutrients and phytochemicals and processing apples into applesauce has only a limited effect on the nutrients and phytochemicals in apples (2).
When it comes to baking, unsweetened applesauce can be a good replacement for oil. Especially when you are making cakes, muffins, or bread. This allows the food to be moist without adding more saturated fats. As a bonus, unsweetened applesauce has sugars that are natural and already sweet. There is no need to add even more sugar for this. Therefore, it makes it healthier.
5 Alternatives for unsweetened applesauce
The best substitute for unsweetened applesauce, especially if you wish to avoid purchasing store-bought processed food, is pureed apples. All you need are apples and your blender! Just make sure to core your washed apples, and then just blend them on high power for a few minutes. There are no added preservatives, additives, sweeteners, etc. It’s all healthy and organic. The best part? You don’t have to make adjustments to your recipe since the ratio for unsweetened applesauce to apple puree is 1:1.
In typical industrial processes for apple purée production, raw apples are first diced and cooked at a temperature between 93 and 98°C for 4 to 5 min, then pulped and pasteurized at 90°C during 20 min to give, at 30°C, a shelf life of 6 months. The preheating process softens the fruit tissue and inactivates the polyphenol oxidase (PPO), the enzyme responsible for browning (4).
Pumpkin, a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, is one of the largest families in the vegetable kingdom, consisting of largest number of edible plant species.Pumpkin is an important dietary source of fiber, carotene, minerals (copper, zinc, iron and magnesium) and vitamins. In a study, cookies were prepared by mixing wheat flour and pumpkin puree. Results showed that the nutritional profile of the cookies were significantly increased by the pumpkin puree (5).
Replacing unsweetened applesauce with pumpkin puree is a good idea. You can either buy a can of it from the grocery store or you can make it at home, yourself. Since you can puree most fruits and vegetables, pumpkin isn’t an exception. However, it is advised to keep a close watch on your oven when you are baking goodies with pumpkin puree instead of unsweetened applesauce. While it works as a good substitute for unsweetened applesauce, it doesn’t substitute butter. Also, be mindful of the taste. Pumpkin puree wouldn’t have the same taste as unsweetened applesauce. So, you would need to adjust your recipe accordingly.
It is highly recommended that bananas are allowed to ripen before they are used as applesauce substitutes. Because then they become sweeter and have a higher level of moisture. However, since we are talking about replacing unsweetened applesauce, using normal bananas would be fine as well. About half a cup of applesauce is switched with one medium-sized banana. Be sure to add more water to keep the consistency the same. The time required for baking would change as well when you used mashed bananas. They would cook much faster and therefore, you will have to be on the lookout to avoid burning down the baked goods.
For the production of banana puree, ripe bananas are crushed, with or without water, and the puree thus obtained is preserved for use in bakery products, production of smoothies, or further processed to obtain juice or dried powder. It can also be added to other fruit juices, being a cheaper source of sugar and starch filler, which provides body to the texture. This also acts as a potassium supplement to the mixed fruit smoothie. The main constraint of adding banana puree or pulp is the discoloration of the puree during processing and storage, which is due to the oxidation of tannins and activity of polyphenol oxidase on the phenolic compounds. The enzymatic activity can be reduced or inactivated by the use of chemicals such as sodium metabisulphite and ascorbic acid (6).
The best thing about unsweetened applesauce is the fact that it is at the core just apples that have been pureed and treated, and processed to be made into applesauce. You can do that to several fruits. The list, therefore, for fruits that you can puree and use as replacements for unsweetened applesauce is endless. However, here are the easiest and quickest ones we think you should try.
Fruit purees are elaborated with varied fruits (peach, apple, pear and banana, or others like apricot, orange or pineapple), and enriched or not with vitamins. Water or juices are added to fruits. There are several steps in the preparation of fruit and vegetable purees: peeling of the skin of the fruit, size reduction, heating to either soften the tissue and/or inactivate enzymes, straining of the heated mass through finishers (finishing), and the addition of starch or sugar to obtain the desired consistency (3).
- Pears: Being closer to the taste, it is a good idea to make pears puree. It would work as either an ingredient or a substitute for oils.
- Raspberry: If you are indulging in brownies and chocolate cake, raspberries can be pureed and used instead of unsweetened applesauce.
- Pineapple: Another fruit you can puree and replace unsweetened applesauce with are pineapples, due to the high moisture and the different flavour.
- Apricots: If you are looking for a balance of sweet and sour flavour, apricots are the best fruit to puree. It adds more tanginess than the original unsweetened applesauce, but it makes up for that by being healthy.
Much like fruits, a number of vegetable purees can also be used as stand-ins for unsweetened applesauce. For one thing, you can use beet purees in baking. However, beet has a tendency of taking over the colour of the finished product. The other vegetable that you can puree and use is zucchinis. In fact, the creamy texture of applesauce would be there in your finished product if you used a zucchini puree instead of unsweetened applesauce.
Vegetables are known to have health benefits but are often non-appealing to children/ adolescents due to their bitterness, undesired texture, and their low satiating capacity. One of the possible solutions to increase vegetable intake by children is to incorporate vegetables in a food matrix that they do like. Vegetables puree, such as spinach puree and pumpkin and carrot puree can be incorporated into cookies, noodles, yogurts and cakes (7,8).
Other FAQs about Sauces that you may be interested in.
In this brief article, we discussed the five alternatives one can use instead of unsweetened applesauce. We have explored five different substitutes for unsweetened applesauce. We also explored which replacement works best in which situation.
- Svisco, Elizabeth, et al. Variation of adolescent snack food choices and preferences along a continuum of processing levels: The case of apples. Foods, 2019, 8, 50.
- Hayek, Saeed A., and Salam A. Ibrahim. Consumer acceptability of chocolate chip cookies using applesauce as a fat (butter) substitute. Emir J Food Agri, 2013, 159-168.
- Balestra, Federica, et al. Physico-chemical and rheological changes of fruit purees during storage. Procedia Food Sci, 2011, 1, 576-582.
- Picouet, Pierre A., et al. Minimal processing of a Granny Smith apple purée by microwave heating. Innov Food Sci Emerg Technol, 2009, 10, 545-550.
- Gurung, Bina, Pravin Ojha, and Dilip Subba. Effect of mixing pumpkin puree with wheat flour on physical, nutritional and sensory characteristics of biscuit. J Food Sci Technol Nepal, 2016, 9, 85-89.
- Mohapatra, D., Mishra, S., Singh, C.B. et al. Post-harvest Processing of Banana: Opportunities and Challenges. Food Bioprocess Technol, 2011, 4, 327–339.
- Shere, P. D., A. N. Devkatte, and V. N. Pawar. Studies on production of functional noodles with incorporation of spinach puree. Int J Curr Microbiol Appl Sci, 2018, 7, 1618-1628.
- Salwa, A. Aly, E. A. Galal, and A. Elewa Neimat. Carrot yoghurt: Sensory, chemical, microbiological properties and consumer acceptance. Pakistan J Nutr, 2004, 3, 322-330.