Homemade apple butter made in the slow cooker could not be easier! Simply mix up your apples, sugar, and spices and let it cook down all day (or overnight), puree it, and enjoy. Slather it on bread or biscuits, top your pancakes with it, stir it into your oatmeal, or simply eat it with a spoon! The perfect fall (or, heck, year-round) condiment. Instructions included for stovetop preparation!
It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that apple butter was, in fact, not a variation of butter. While butter it was not, I found it was still utterly fantastic slathered on a piece of toast, or on top of brie and a cracker.
Apple butter has become one of my favorite things to stock up on during the fall season when it’s plentiful at farmer’s markets, orchards and local grocery stores. Once I discovered how incredibly easy it could be to make at home, I wasted no time making batches once apple season was in full swing each year.
Apple butter 101
So if it’s not actual butter, what is it?
Quite simply, it’s homemade applesauce that has been cooked quite a bit longer, which intensifies the flavor and gives it a caramelized color. It is then pureed for a super-smooth texture. It tastes like an ultra concentrated, incredibly thick and smooth version of applesauce.
How To Use It
Apple butter can be used in the same way you’d use any other fruit jam, but here are some ideas:
Spread on toast, biscuits, and muffins
Top your pancakes and waffles with it
Serve with crackers and cheese on a charcuterie board
Stir it into oatmeal
Use it in place of pumpkin puree or applesauce in recipes
Baste it onto chicken or pork chops
Add it to your grilled cheese sandwich
Apples and spices
Types of Apples to Use
The beauty of making homemade apple butter is that you can use whatever your favorite variety is! That said, softer varieties of apples lend themselves especially well to apple butter making because they break down more easily can achieve that concentrated flavor we love. You can use all one kind or a mixture.
Some great choices would include:
How to Prep the Apples
To prepare the apples, simply peel and core them, then give them a rough chop. Nothing fancy is needed here!
I use a simple mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves for flavoring the apple butter; the mixture creates such a warm, wonderful flavor!
I consider cinnamon a must, but feel free to play around with the others if you’d like; other options could include:
Apple pie spice
Stovetop vs crock pot
I love making apple in the slow cooker – it’s totally hands-off and so easy!
To make this version, the apples are tossed with sugar and spices and cooked on low for 10 hours, then the vanilla extract is mixed in and any large chunks of apples are broken up, then it is cooked for two more hours. Then, use an immersion blender (or regular blender or food processor) to puree the apple butter for that silky smooth consistency. Let it cool and transfer to jars or storage containers.
If you wanted to make it on the stovetop instead, you will need to add a bit of liquid to the apples, sugar, and spices so that the apples don’t stick to the pan – you could use apple cider, apple juice, or water (about 1 cup). Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, then puree using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender. Return to the stove and continue to cook until it is thick and deep brown color, about 1 additional hour.
Shelf life, storage, and freezing
This is a “refrigerator” version, meaning that it is not meant for long-time storage. If you are interested in a recipe suitable for canning and long-term storage, I recommend the recipe from Simply Recipes.
Refrigerator Storage – You can store the apple butter in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Freezer Storage – You can store the apple butter in the freezer for up to 1 year. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using it.
Place apples in slow cooker. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Sprinkle over the apples and stir gently to combine. Cook on low for 10 hours.
Stir in vanilla extract, breaking up any large chunks of apples that remain. Cover and cook for an additional 2 hours.
Remove cover and use an immersion blender to puree the apple butter until completely smooth. (Alternately, you could puree in batches in a food processor or regular blender.) If you want the apple butter thicker, you can continue to cook it on low with the lid of the slow cooker slightly ajar so that steam can escape.
Allow the mixture to cool, then spoon into jars and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month, or freeze for up to 1 year.