Caramel-Apple Applesauce (Paleo & Whole30)

Look, I know what you’re thinking. “Applesauce? Boring. What am I, a baby?!” And if I’m being honest, I don’t usually get excited about applesauce, either. But this is no ordinary applesauce.

It’s plush and velvety, like a bed of delicious caramelized pillows of happiness that you can eat.

This is not the unsweetened applesauce you use in recipes like Chicken Nanking, Kickass Ketchup, or Bimbimbap. No! Just plunk store-bought sauce into those savory recipes. This applesauce deserves it’s own bowl and spoon.

And the recipe really couldn’t be simpler: simmer apples, ghee, and cinnamon over low heat until the apples fulfill their destiny by succumbing to caramelization and becoming a new form of apple that melts in your mouth.

Credit where it’s due: I adapted this recipe from author Chuck Wendig—and now we will take a side road from Appletown to Bookville, because I love when food talk turns into book talk, and when book talk turns into food talk.

I was introduced to Chuck Wendig’s twitter feed by another writer I adore: Jennifer Reese of Tipsy Baker (who, incidentally writes quite a bit about books and food). Chuck—I call him “Chuck” even though I’ve never met him because I’m not gonna call him “Mr. Wendig”… I’m not the freakin’ New York Times. Anyway, Chuck is very prolific so he’s got a lot of books I think you’ll like. There’s the Miriam Black series (“Miriam Black knows how you’re going to die. She merely needs to touch you—skin to skin contact—and she knows how and when your final moments will occur.”), his New York Times best-selling Star Wars trilogy, a damn fine nonfiction book about writing called Damn Fine Story, and my favorite: Invasive.

This is some of what I said about Invasive on Goodreads: It’s completely un-put-downable. A truly thrilling thriller, it’s got a badass female protagonist—and plenty of other awesome female characters—as well as demon ants, spiders, potential conspiracies, flashbacks, dramatic weather, a coral atoll, and so much more. Basically, it’s everything you want in a gripping read. I was up for three hours in the middle of the night reading it this week, which is not great for actual resting, but was very fun and indulgent.

And now, the Wendig ring road has brought us back to Appletown.

You can use any variety of apples for this recipe, and I encourage you to try several kinds in the same pot. I used Granny Smith, Pink Lady, and some other red-skinned apple that only had a Czech name on the sign, so, you know, don’t worry too much about the types, but do consider a mix of sweet and tart. The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of ghee, but if you want, you can bump that up to 4 or 5 to make it especially caramel-y and luscious.

Caramel-Apple Applesauce

Makes about 5 cups | Prep 10 minutes | Cook 1 hour | Whole30 compliant

  • 3 pounds apples—any and all varieties

  • 3 tablespoons ghee

  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (Whole30: replace with vanilla bean)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cinnamon stick


Get started. Place a large soup pot over medium high heat and add the ghee. While it melts, peel, core, and slice the apples, around 1/4-inch thick. You don’t want them too thin.


Add the flavorings. Place the apples in the pot and add the vanilla, salt, and cinnamon stick. Stir to coat the apples in the melted ghee, reduce the heat to low and cook another 40-60 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. If it’s too dry at any point, add 1 tablespoon water (or more ghee, if you want to be indulgent). Keep cooking until the apples are very soft and you like the way it tastes. It should be finished in 60-75 minutes.


Big finish. Let it cool slightly then transfer to an an airtight container. Store in the fridge for weeks.

Tastes Great With

Eat it with pig! This applesauce will turn regular ol’ pan-fried pork chops, pork loin, or ham steaks into something worth talking about. If you add a pile of slow-cooked sauerkraut to the plate, all the better.

Get desserty! Crush a few Gingerbread-Spiced Pecans or Sweet & Salty Spiced Nuts and drop ’em in the bottom of a ramekin, add Caramel-Apple Applesauce, then top with more crushed nuts. Eat with a spoon and be so happy.

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