So you have a bunch of apples and don’t know what to do with them? Sure, you could make applesauce, but if you’ve got a little time to spare, you could make something more versatile: homemade apple butter. Seriously, you’ll want it on everything! Once you learn how to make apple butter, you might make it an annual tradition.
What is apple butter?
Apple butter is a smooth fruit spread made from apples, sugar and spices. That’s right, no butter here! It’s similar in style to pumpkin butter (if you’re familiar) but made with apples instead.
What is the difference between applesauce and apple butter?
The difference between applesauce and apple butter lies in the cooking. Both start by cooking down apples with sugar and spices. Once soft, you’ve got homemade applesauce. However, if you continue the cooking process, you get apple butter. By doing this, you’ll achieve a darker, thicker, more flavorful spread. As with applesauce, the hardest part is peeling, coring and chopping the apples. After that, it’s all hurry-up-and-wait.
Ingredients for Apple Butter
- Apples: Peel, core and finely chop the apples. Apple peelers and corers really speed up this process.
- Sugar: Apples only hold so much natural sweetness, so we add a good amount of sugar to help this crockpot apple butter shine.
- Cinnamon: Warm cinnamon is the quintessential fall spice and apple’s #1 complementary flavor.
- Cloves: We use cloves in this slow-cooker apple butter recipe to kick up the coziness.
- Salt: All the sugar and spice would be way too sweet without a dash of salt to balance it out.
Step 1: Slow-cook the apples
Add the apples to a 3-quart slow cooker. Pour in the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt over the top. Give everything a quick stir and cook on your slow cooker’s high setting for an hour.
Step 2: Reduce heat and continue to cook
Reduce the heat to low. Cook for an additional 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is dark brown and has thickened. This is a good project to start on a lazy fall day.
Editor’s Tip: As the mixture thickens, stir it more frequently to prevent sticking.
Step 3: Uncover and cook some more
Uncover and cook on low for an hour longer. If desired, stir with a wire whisk until the apple butter is smooth.
Step 4: Eat (or freeze!)
Once the mixture is completely cooled to room temperature, spoon the apple butter into freezer containers, leaving a half-inch headspace. Devour it immediately, or seal it and refrigerate or freeze.
This recipe might be the slow way to do it, but good cooks know that low and slow always delivers tasty results.
- Don’t be afraid of spices: We kept it safe with two cozy spices, but there’s a plethora of fall spices to use in this apple butter recipe. Pop in some cozy allspice and sweet and spicy nutmeg for added warmth.
- Splash in extract: Once all the cooking is said and done, splash in a bit of vanilla extract for a delicately floral flavor.
- Add brightness: Grate a bit of lemon zest into the apple butter, then cut open the lemon and squeeze in some of its juices. This simple addition will make a huge impact on the overall taste of your apple butter.
How to Store Apple Butter
To store slow-cooker apple butter, transfer it to freezer containers, leaving a half-inch headspace and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Can you freeze apple butter?
Yes! Freeze cooled apple butter in freezer containers for up to three months. Liquids expand as they freeze, so leave extra room at the top of the freezer container. Thaw the apple butter in the refrigerator when you’re ready to use.
Apple Butter Recipe Tips
What is apple butter used for?
Apple butter can be spread on toast or a hunk of fresh bread, stirred into oatmeal, used as a condiment on a cheese plate or charcuterie board or swapped in as a quick baking substitute for applesauce or pumpkin. Of course, enjoying it with a spoon straight out of the jar is a tasty option, too!
What are the best apples for apple butter?
Because crockpot apple butter takes a long time to cook, a softer variety like Fuji or golden delicious are the best types of apple for apple butter. You can also use Braeburn, Corland and Idared.
How do you make smooth apple butter?
If you prefer not to have any apple chunks in your apple butter, you can use an immersion blender to take it to creamy perfection. Although, if you ask us, getting a bite with an apple chunk only makes it better.