Apple butter and applesauce are both apple-based products that can be consumed as a snack, spread, topping, ingredient, or side dish. What are the differences between the two, though? In this article we’ll be comparing apple butter vs applesauce and exploring all of the reasons why they’re so different, despite having the same ingredients.
In short, the main difference between apple butter vs applesauce is the consistency. They’re both made from mashed apples, but apple butter is refined further to create a creamier consistency. This also makes it more calorically-dense and lacking in fiber when compared to applesauce.
Let’s dig into the details!
What Is Apple Butter?
Apple butter is a type of fruit butter made by slowly cooking down apples until they turn into a thick, dark brown paste. The mashed apples can then be chilled and mixed with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and allspice to create a sweet, creamy spread.
Apple butter can be used in a variety of ways, including:
- As a spread for toast, bagels and muffins
- As a sweet filling in dessert recipes
- As a topping for yogurt parfaits and oatmeal
- As a dip for charcuterie boards
- And more
Related: check out 16 ways in which apple butter can be used!
What Is Applesauce?
Much like apple butter, applesauce is also made by grinding down apples to a fine pulp. The main different is that, unlike apple butter, the pulp is not refined further. Instead, it is packages, served, and consumed as-is.
Since applesauce is less refined than apple butter, it tends to retain more nutritional value — especially fiber.
However, that’s not to say that applesauce is always preferable to apple butter. Apple sauce can used quite differently than apple butter, including:
- As a side dish in a variety of meals
- As a snack for kids and young children
- As an ingredient in various recipes and baked goods
- And more
Apple Butter VS Apple Sauce
Now that we’ve briefly touched on what both are and how they’re traditionally used, let’s have a look at how they compare to each other.
When comparing apple butter vs applesauce, it’s important to note that they are essentially different varieties of the same product. They’re both made of apples, but apple butter is best used as a dip or a spread, whereas applesauce is best used as a side dish, snack, or baking ingredient.
Let’s have a look at how the two stack up nutritionally. Having been made from the same product, you may assume that they’re nutritionally-identical, but that’s not entirely true.
A single 1 tbsp serving of Eden Organic Apple Butter Spread — the most reviewed apple butter product on Amazon, contains the following:
- Calories: 20
- Total Carbohydrate: 4g
- Total Sugar: 4g
- Added Sugar: 1g
- Fiber: N/A
- Protein: 0mg
- Sodium: 0mg
The ingredients include:
- Organic apples
- Organic apple juice concentrate
By comparison, a single 2/3 cup serving of 365 Whole Foods Market Organic Applesauce (unsweetened) contains:
- Calories: 90
- Total Carbohydrate: 22g
- Total Sugar: 15g
- Added Sugar: 0g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 0mg
- Sodium: 25mg
This popular brand of applesauce only contains a single ingredient:
- Organic apples
Let’s examine these differences a little more closely.
Applesauce Is Less Processed
One minor advantage that applesauce has over apple butter is that it requires one less step to make it.
As we discussed earlier, apple sauce is essentially apples that have been ground to a fine pulp. Apple butter is made the same way, but it is then heated and refined down into a paste to give it a creamier texture.
This added step refines the product further though, which changes its nutritional contents slightly, which impacts the way your body metabolizes it.
Applesauce Contains More Fiber
Touching on the previous point about applesauce being less refined, that same refining process is believed to be what strips the fiber away from apple butter.
Fiber is an indigestible form of carbohydrate that can help regulate digestive and may also help to lower cholesterol levels, according to Mayo Clinic.
While some brands of apple butter may contain trace amounts of fiber, applesauce clearly contains more per serving, seeing as how it is not stripped away in the refining process.
Applesauce Tends To Contain Less Additives
Because applesauce is less processed, that also means that it (usually) contains less added ingredients. But this can vary by brand.
Based on the brands of apple butter and applesauce surveyed, apple butter seems to require an added ingredient — apple juice concentrate — whether it be to aid in the refining process or to simply add sweetness and flavor.
Refined fruit juices can be problematic because they contain fructose. Fructose is a type of carbohydrate that, unlike glucose, can only be metabolized by the liver. When consumed in excess it may trigger fatty liver disease.
Applesauce Has No Added Sugar
This tends to vary by brand, but another benefit of choosing applesauce over apple butter is that it contains no added sugars.
Added sugars are problematic because they’re flavorful and calorically-dense, making it easy to overeat the foods they’re found in.
It should be noted though that although applesauce has no added sugar, it does contain significantly more sugar per serving. So if you’re looking to restrict your intake of total sugar, it may be wiser to reach for the apple butter.
Apple Butter Contains Less Calories Per Serving
One distinct advantage you’ll enjoy when opting for apple butter vs applesauce is that it contains far less calories per serving.
This may be slightly misleading, though. Because apple butter is commonly used as a spread or dip, the serving size is typically much smaller (in weight and volume) when compared to applesauce.
This is still a relevant factor, though. As we’ve touched on already, the main difference between these two apple-based products is the way that we consume them.
The Bottom Line
Now that we’ve pitted the two against each other and examined all of their differences, let’s conclude our comparison of apple butter vs applesauce by noting that they are both healthy, plant-based alternatives that are naturally low in fat and are an excellent way to add a touch of natural sweetness to various dishes and recipes.
In the end, both have more commonalities than differences. And why wouldn’t they? They’re both made from the same essential ingredients. The biggest difference is in the way they’re used, making this apples-to-apples comparison mostly a matter of personal preference.