A thick and delicious homemade apple butter recipe, with step-by-step, stovetop and slow cooker instructions. An amazingly smooth fruit butter that is perfect for spreading on sourdough toast!
Who doesn't love a toasted sourdough english muffin or sourdough toast, slathered with some good, old-fashioned apple butter?
I'm telling ya, when it comes to apple butter, nothing compares to homemade. The smell of it cooking on the stove or in your crock-pot is divine!
So what is apple butter? It's essentially pureed apples, mixed with sugar, ground cinnamon and cloves and then simmered until the mixture is reduced to a thick consistency.
Apple butter does not actually contain any "butter" at all. It's given this name because of it's smooth, buttery-like texture and spreadability.
What's the difference between apple butter and applesauce? While the ingredients are generally the same, applesauce is cooked for less time which keeps the consistency thinner, like a sauce. Apple butter, however is cooked down until the puree is reduced and it becomes thick enough to stick to the back of a spoon!
Either way, you're only a few steps away from jarring some up of this delicious fruit spread for your family!
Step by step stovetop instructions
I prefer the stovetop method because I can get my jars filled and preserved in a water bath canner in just under 2 hours!
Peel and core the apples. Cut apples into 1 inch pieces and put them in a large stockpot with 2 cups water. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally.
Use an immersion blender to puree the fruit or puree in a blender until completely smooth. Measure 8 cups of apple puree and return it to the stockpot. (If you have more than 8 cups, measure remaining puree and add ½ cup sugar for every 1 cup of puree.)
Add the sugar and spices to the apple puree and simmer on low to medium-low heat until it reaches the desired consistency, 45-60 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid sticking or burning.
To check for doneness, remove some on a spoon and hold it away from the pot for 2 minutes. The apple butter is done if it holds its shape on the spoon.
Ladle the hot apple butter into clean, sterilized half pint or pint jars, leaving a ¼ inch headspace at the top. Remove air bubbles and wipe the rim, to remove any residue.
Center the canning lid on the jar and screw on a ring. Adjust the band to finger-tight. If not processing in a boiling water canner, let the jars cool, tighten bands and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Slow cooker instructions
The slow cooker is another option for cooking down the apples if you are looking to "set it and forget it". It will take roughly 10-12 hours to cook in a crock-pot.
- Place chopped apples, water, sugars and spices into a slow cooker. Cook on LOW heat for 10 hours.
- Remove the cover and use an immersion blender to puree the mixture.
- Turn the slow cooker to the HIGH setting and continue to cook, uncovered or until the desired consistency is reached. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching on the bottom of the slow cooker.
Because of the long cooking time, peeling the apples is not necessary. They will become very soft and blend smooth.
Tips for success
My favorite apple to use with this recipe is Granny Smith apples. Their tartness balances out the sweetness of the sugar and produces a very flavorful apple butter.
Any apple variety can be used so I recommend getting whatever is in season or on sale!
I like to use an immersion blender to puree the softened apples but you can also use a regular blender. Carefully ladle the hot, softened apples into the blender, puree and then measure out the fruit.
This recipe calls for granulated sugar along with light brown sugar. The addition of light brown sugar gives more depth of flavor and a darker color to the butter. However, it can be made using only white granulated sugar as well.
Another way to check for doneness is to place a small amount of the cooked butter on a chilled plate. If the liquid does not separate around the edge of the apple butter and the mixture holds its shape, it is ready to be ladled into jars.
How to store
Homemade apple butter can stay good, in the refrigerator, for up to 1 month. If it is preserved by water bath canning, it will be shelf stable for up to 18 months depending on the canning lid used.
How can you tell if apple butter is bad or spoiled? The best way is to smell and look at the apple butter: if the butter develops an off odor, flavor or appearance, or if mold appears, it should be discarded.
How to preserve apple butter by canning
Canning apple butter is a wonderful way to preserve apples. Once the apple butter is ladled into jars, the jars are submerged in boiling water for 10 minutes. This processing time varies according to the altitude you are at.
Once the jars are processed and the lids have sealed properly, the apple butter can be stored in your pantry for 12-18 months without refrigeration. (The shelf life information of the lids you are using can be found on the outside of the box they came in.)
Once opened, it will stay good for up to 1 month in your refrigerator.
For complete instructions for canning apple butter, check out our Guide to Water Bath Canning.
Recommended kitchen tools
- immersion blender (affiliate link)
- stand blender (affiliate link)
- water bath canner (affiliate link)
- canning kit (affiliate link)
- half pint ball jars (affiliate link)
More easy canning recipes
Click for a FREE apple butter label printable!
Homemade Apple Butter Recipe
- 5 lbs. granny smith apples
- 2 cups water
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- Peel and core the apples. Cut apples into 1 inch pieces and put them in a large stockpot with 2 cups water. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the fruit or puree in a blender until completely smooth. Measure 8 cups of apple puree and return it to the stockpot. If there is any remaining puree, add ½ cup of sugar for every 1 cup of apple puree.
- Add the sugars and spices to the apple puree and simmer on low to medium-low heat until the desired consistency, 45-60 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid sticking or burning. The apple butter is done when thick enough to hold its shape on the back of a spoon.
- Ladle the hot apple butter into clean, sterilized jars, leaving a ¼ inch headspace at the top. Remove air bubbles and wipe the rim of the jar to remove any residue. Center the canning lid on the jar and adjust the band to finger-tight. Let the jars cool, tighten bands and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Slow Cooker Instructions
- Place chopped apples, water, sugar and spices into a slow cooker. Cook on LOW heat for 10 hours. Remove the cover and use an immersion blender to puree the mixture. Turn the slow cooker to the HIGH setting and continue to cook, uncovered or until the desired consistency is reached. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching on the bottom of the slow cooker.
How to Can Apple Butter
- If canning, prepare the water-bath canner by filling with water and bring to a boil while you are making the apple butter. Once you've filled all of your jars, place them on the rack and lower it into the boiling water. Make sure there is 1 inch of water covering the tops of the jars. Process for 10 minutes for pint size jars or smaller. (If you are over 1000 feet above sea level in elevation, see Altitude Adjustment Chart)Turn off heat and let jars rest in canner for 5 minutes. Remove the jars from the canner, using a jar remover. Place them on a kitchen cloth to cool for 12 hours. Check seals and refrigerate any jars that did not seal properly.
- Peeling the apples is not necessary when using the crockpot. The apple skins cook down to a really soft texture which makes them easy to blend.
- Another way to check for doneness is to place a small amount of the cooked apple butter a chilled plate. When the liquid does not separate around the edge of the butter and the mixture holds its shape, it is ready to be ladled into jars.
- If water bath canning, check that the lids have sealed and leave the rings off when storing to prevent a false seal.
- Homemade apple butter will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
- Click here for the FREE apple butter printable labels.
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