5 Ingredients or Fewer

Judy Rodgers' Roasted Applesauce (and Savory Apple Charlottes)

September 14, 2021
7 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger. Food Stylist: Laura Arnold. Prop Stylist: Alya Hameedi,
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Makes 3 cups of applesauce and 4 charlottes (with sauce to spare)
Author Notes

No cinnamon, no cloves -- this sauce is straight up apple, mainlined to your belly.

It comes from Judy Rodgers' must-own Zuni Cafe Cookbook and -- as with everything she serves at the San Francisco institution -- she keeps it smart and simple, balancing the apples only as needed with small amounts of salt, sugar and apple cider vinegar. She throws in an optional bonus dessert recipe too -- a charlotte, which is basically apple pie, without having to make the pie. It's light, as apple desserts go, and it would make a great cooking project for kids. —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Judy Rodgers' Roasted Applesauce (and Savory Apple Charlottes)
  • Roasted Applesauce
  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds apples (Rodgers uses crisp eating apples, like Sierra Beauties, Braeburns, Pippins, Golden Delicious or Galas)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Up to 2 teaspoons sugar, as needed
  • About 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • A splash of apple cider vinegar, as needed
  • Savory Apple Charlottes
  • A chunk of day-old, chewy, peasant-style bread (4 ounces or more -- you won't use more than 2 ounces, but you need plenty to work with in order to get the right shapes)
  • About 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • About 1 1/3 cups Roasted Applesauce
  1. Roasted Applesauce
  2. Heat oven to 375 F.
  3. Peel, core, and quarter the apples. Toss with a little salt and, unless they are very sweet, a bit of sugar to taste. If they are tart enough to make you squint, add the full measure of sugar. Spread in a shallow baking dish that crowds the apples in a single layer. Drape with slivers of the butter, cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil, and bake until the apples start to soften, 15 to 30 minutes, depending on your apples.
  4. Uncover, raise the heat to 500 F, and return the pan to the oven. Leave the apples to dry out and color slightly, about 10 minutes.
  5. When the tips of the apples have become golden and the fruit is tender, scrape them into a bowl and stir into a chunky mash. Season with salt and sugar to taste, then consider a splash of apple cider vinegar to brighten the flavor. (Try a drop on a spoonful to see if you like it.)
  6. You can stop here (serving hot or warm) or go on to make the Savory Apple Charlottes.
  1. Savory Apple Charlottes
  2. Note: Make these ramekins in straight-sided 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups. Heat oven to 350 F.
  3. Slice the bread 1/8 inch thick. (Partially freeze if necessary to get even slices.) Avoiding the crust, cut 8 circles sized to fit the bottom of your custard cups, then cut 4 long rectangles to line the sides. Kitchen shears work well for this. The side piece should rise about 1/8 inch above the rims. (You can cut paper templates first to make this easy, but it's pretty forgiving.) A snug fit and even edges will make your charlottes prettiest. (Save scraps and rejects for croutons or bread crumbs.)
  4. Brush the bread evenly, on one side only, with the melted butter. Line the custard cups with the bread, pressing the buttered faces against the dishes. Set the 4 extra circles aside. Fill each cup with roasted applesauce. Set the remaining bread circles, buttered side up, on top, held in place by the surrounding bread. Press down lightly.
  5. Bake until golden brown on top, about 30 minutes. To serve, slide a knife around the edge of each charlotte, then turn out onto warm plates. If the bottom circles stick to the dish, retrieve them by sliding a salad fork under the edges. The charlottes should be golden brown all over, with tasty caramelized spots where the applesauce bled through the coarse-textured bread.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Pamela Turner
    Pamela Turner
  • flannery
  • paczryk
  • Shelley Matheis
    Shelley Matheis
  • Can I have a bite?
    Can I have a bite?
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

23 Reviews

witloof December 10, 2023
I make this every Chanukah to go with latkes, but this time instead of using lemon juice or ACV, I seasoned it with a tablespoon of boiled cider syrup. OMG YES.
Pamela T. November 11, 2019
Definitely genius! I’ve eyed this recipe for a few years while continuing to prepare another roasted applesauce recipe with more additions. That’s been fixed and I have a new go-to. This is almost like kitchen wizardry the way it transforms from quartered chunks to sauce. Can’t wait to use this sauce in Merrill’s applesauce cake with caramel sauce.
SclaterC August 22, 2019
Can this recipe be canned and stored shelf stable?
Erika August 21, 2019
Judy Rogers is THE San Francisco culinary giant. I would like to salute her reign that continues at Zuni Cafe since her all too early death in 2013.
nancyg January 18, 2018
I did roast the apples...unpeeled. I put thru the food mill & it was delicious !
nancyg January 12, 2018
I'm going to try this WITHOUT peeling the apples...but....I thought I'd use my food mill when they're roasted to THEN remove the skins. Anyone tried this?
sffoodie52 August 29, 2017
I'm back to write that every late summer/fall, this is the applesauce recipe I use. So easy and delicious. I have a batch in the oven now with mostly Gravenstein apples. Have a tray of pears from a friend's tree that's waiting for the oven next, using the same recipe. Thank you!
karencooks January 1, 2017
Easy and delicious with minimal added sugar!!! Had to bake longer than 30 minutes, but I had pretty large apples. I'm going to try not peeling the apples next time.
mela August 19, 2016
I make applesauce every year and thought I had found best-possible recipe with a minimum of sugar (thanks Martha Stewart), but this is fabulous.

flannery April 19, 2016
did a little bit of a riff on this tonight with some apples that were beginning to wither in my cabinet. i coated them with coconut oil and honey melted together, and added some dried thyme and lemon juice. kept the peels on out of laziness/for texture. i'm so happy to say that it's every bit as amazing as it looks! seriously perfect method!
paczryk January 2, 2016
Made it and it was *awesome*. My family isn't such a fan of the taste of butter so I made it again second time around without using butter and it was equally wonderful! I didn't have ACV, but used lemon juice - can only imagine that ACV would be even better. Somehow this technique seems to work best with apples that are past their prime or just plain mediocre that nobody wants to eat. Don't be too shy with the salt! Can't believe that more people aren't making apple sauce with this technique.
Shelley M. December 13, 2015
Gonna try this. No need to worry about the apples scorching on the stove top.
Can I. May 1, 2014
I love this and make it whenever I can. Sometimes I use olive oil instead of butter, but it's always good. My favorite way to eat it is for breakfast with yogurt. But I also love it by itself or with pork. I dream about making the charlottes.
Wilma D. February 6, 2014
I just made this. Of course, I was so excited that I didn't read the directions and I added the sugar, ACV and salt before putting in dish. Well, it came out really tasty and yummy. I added a bit more sugar after mashing and served on top of good vanilla ice cream. Thank you!!
EmilyC September 13, 2013
Made this today and it's perfect. Love everything from the roasting technique, especially the blast at the end that caramelizes the edges of the apples, to the call for apple cider vinegar over the more common lemon juice. So excited to have a big bowl of this in my fridge.
Galapagos November 3, 2012
You will want the cookbook! I've made nothing from it I haven't loved. Have to try theses now.
sffoodie52 October 31, 2012
This recipe is amazing! So simple and delicious; the "hardest" part is peeling and coring the apples. Am not a fan of cooked apples at all, but this is exceptional. I've made this 3 times this fall. Depending on the type/size of the apple pieces, I've had to bake longer than 30 minutes. Start with tiny amount of vinegar -- doesn't need much. Had to sign-up and log-in just to thank you for this recipe!
hungryheart May 2, 2012
i made this not expecting much with boring red delicious apples, and the result was stunning. i didn't use butter or sugar, and i drizzled about 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in with the apples at the beginning. i let it go on a little past 10 minutes so that the bottoms of the apple quarters began to caramelize as well. so luscious and thick. i've never trusted red delicious apples in the oven, but this recipe is seriously genius.
SusanR December 19, 2011
Made this last night for the first time to serve with latkes. This is absolutely my apple sauce recipe for the rest of time. Simple, and simply delicious!! I did not use the cider vinegar, it just was not necessary. Also did not use two tablespoons of butter, just lightly dotted the top. THANKS for this recipe!!
kathy D. November 10, 2011
This is Delicous and so easy. I'm making a big batch to give to family this weekend.