Whether you want to use up your opened jar of applesauce or are looking for tasty, only moderately unhealthy cookies, try out these applesauce cookie recipe. They are a warm, spicy fall cookie that pairs perfectly with warm apple cider or a glass of milk.
Applesauce is not just a substitute for oil in cookies; rather, it can also be the star of the show. It lends a muffin-type texture to the cookie, and of course, a slightly tart apple flavor. Best of all, you can customize it with toppings to suit your preference.
Below, we will top it with both caramel and an icing glaze so you can see them done two different ways, but the options are nearly endless. Use caramel for a true candy apple applesauce cookie, and coat with pecans or butterscotch chips. Cookies that have the candy apple approach will be fun for fall parties and get-togethers, and bringing something other than a standard chocolate chip is a great way to impress people with an easy-to-make cookie.
For a less decadent cookie, use a frosting glaze. It gives them a bit more sweetness and makes them a little more special. Alternatively, leave them plain for your children’s lunch box dessert or afternoon treat. Applesauce cookies are a great way to give them a taste of fall and something to look forward to in their pack lunch.
These applesauce cookies have no white sugar – only brown – so we can feel a little better about our nutritional choices as we tuck in.
Preheat the Oven
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You will cook the cookies 12-15 minutes, or just until the surface does not yield to a soft touch. At higher altitudes, the cookie turns out without adjustments as long as you cook it for a bit longer, about 15-18 minutes.
Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
This applesauce cookie recipe yields two dozen cookies.
Prepare the Batter
- ½ cup salted butter, cubed
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup applesauce
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup chopped pecans, optional
Using either a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter until it is smooth, and then add the brown sugar. Beat until creamy. Add the egg, applesauce, and vanilla. Beat until smooth and combined.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cardamom, cinnamon, ground cloves, baking soda, and baking powder. Feel free to customize the spices to your palate; allspice and nutmeg are also tasty in this applesauce cookie recipe and can take the place of cardamom if you do not care for it or have it on hand. The measurements suggested above yield a moderately spiced cookie. Dial up the cinnamon and cardamom to 1 ½ teaspoons each for an intensely spiced cookie.
Add the dry mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, and mix on low or hand-stir to combine. If desired, add pecans or walnuts, and then scoop the batter out onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Craisins also make a welcome addition to these cookies in place of or along with the nuts.
Where I grew up in southeast Kansas, many farmers grow acres and acres of pecan trees, and they were a dessert staple in both my community and family. To my father’s long standing shock, I failed to develop a liking for pecans, so my mother always made desserts half and half with and without pecans to accommodate our disparate preferences.
You can do the same with these cookies if you have someone who cannot or prefers not to, have nuts in their cookies. Simply spoon out the number of cookies you want without pecans and then add ¼ cup pecans, or a proportional amount, to the remaining batter.
These applesauce cookies spread very little and mostly retain the shape that they enter the oven with.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or just until the cookie remains firm against your fingertip. Remove to a cookie sheet and allow to cool.
Top the Cookies
You can eat the cookies as is, but you can also jazz them up a bit more with toppings to further customize them or make them more special.
Applesauce Cookie Icing Glaze
To add a bit more sweetness to these applesauce cookies, create a quick icing glaze.
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk the three ingredients together and either dip the cookies into the glaze or use a fork to flick the glaze across the cookies.
The perfect compliment on top of this applesauce cookie recipes is an amazing caramel!
Give these applesauce cookies a candy apple treatment by pairing them with caramel. Because only a little is needed, I used a single-serving cup of caramel meant to be used with apple slices. Microwave for about 15 seconds, and then dip your cookies into the caramel or use a fork to dribble it across the cookies.
If you are making a large quantity of cookies and need a lot of caramel, my favorite way to make it at home is to make dulce de leche from a can of sweetened condensed milk in an instant pot.
After applying caramel to your applesauce cookies, top them with more pecans or butterscotch chips to really deck them out.
Store the cookies at room temperature in an air-tight container for up to a week. Did you know that adding a slice of bread to the container can help them stay fresh longer? The bread absorbs the air inside of the container.
We often wrongly relegate cookies to zipper bags and plastic storage containers and miss the opportunity to make something that is easy to make a nice-looking dessert that can stand on its own. Serve your cookies on platters as demonstrated here, or in a cloche on your countertops if you are keeping them for your home.
Hope you enjoy this applesauce cookie recipe! Happy eating!
Excited for more apple content? Visit my apple trees page to learn more about apple planting, growing, picking, cooking, and more!
Still hungry for more? Then discover our other fruit recipes to stock up your kitchen with nature’s healthy and tasty goodies!