Homemade Applesauce with Chinese Five-Spice

The key to making delicious applesauce, says butcher Erika Nakamura, is using fresh apples and adding enough lemon juice to offset their sweetness. Adding Chinese five-spice allows for a more savory flavor, which is ideal when serving the applesauce alongside roast meats. Slideshow: More Apple Recipes 

Homemade Apple Sauce with Chinese Five Spice
Photo: Abby Hocking
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs


  • 3 allspice berries

  • 3 whole cloves

  • 1/2 tablespoon fennel seed

  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

  • 1/2 cinnamon stick

  • 1 star anise

  • 6 Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and thinly sliced

  • 6 McIntosh apples—peeled, cored and thinly sliced

  • 7 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Flaky sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Wrap the allspice, cloves, fennel seed, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick and star anise in a small piece of cheesecloth. Using twine, tie the cheesecloth into a bundle.

  2. In a large bowl, toss the apples with 6 tablespoons of the lemon juice and the brown sugar. In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter. Add the apples and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to let off moisture, about 5 minutes. Put the spice bundle in the pot, cover and transfer to the oven. Bake for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the apples have softened.

  3. Discard the spice bundle. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the apples, season with sea salt and stir until a chunky sauce forms. Scrape the applesauce into a bowl and serve warm or cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Make Ahead

The applesauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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