One bite of this Homemade Apple Butter and you will want to stock up your pantry. This easy apple butter recipe is made with 5 simple ingredients and will make your house smell like an apple orchard as it simmers on the stove.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Do you have certain foods that remind you of your childhood? For me, apple butter reminds me of growing up in Pennsylvania because we always had a jar of apple butter in our fridge. That thick spicy spread was my go to for toast and peanut butter sandwiches.
The problem with apple butter is that it can be very hard to find in stores in some parts of the country. A while ago I wanted to make a batch of apple butter cinnamon rolls, but I had to go to four different stores to find a jar of apple butter. And it wasn't even very good apple butter after all that.
So, to fix that problem I decided to make homemade apple butter. It really is very easy to make with just a few ingredients.
You control the thickness of the apple butter, and your house will smell like a fall apple orchard as it cooks. Plus, this traditional apple butter recipe doesn't require any special tools.
What is Apple Butter?
Apple butter actually does not contain any butter. It gets its name from the buttery smooth texture. Apple butter is actually just a concentrated form of applesauce.
The difference between applesauce and apple butter is the amount of time they are cooked. Both are made from cooking apples and spices to a soft puree. Apple butter is cooked for quite a bit longer which gives it a caramelized color and a rich apple flavor.
You will only need 5 ingredients to make this apple butter on the stove top or in a crock pot.
- Apples - Any variety of apple will work. We prefer a mix of golden delicious and Gala apples.
- Apple Cider - I like to use cider because it gives it a bigger apple flavor. You can also use apple juice or water, if you prefer.
- Brown Sugar - This recipe calls for brown sugar which gives it flavor and color, but you can use granulated sugar too.
- Spices - A mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves give it just the right balance of sweet and spice.
- Vanilla Extract - Adds the finishing flavor.
How to make Apple Butter
A batch of this stovetop apple butter is very easy to do. It is the quickest method, but it also requires the most attention.
- Place the sliced apples and apple cider in a large pot.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes or until apples are soft and falling apart. Stir occasionally. The cook time may vary depending on the size of your pot.
- Remove from the heat and let cool 5-10 minutes.
- Puree the apples with a stand blender, immersion blender, or food mill. You should have 4 cups of apple puree.
- Stir the sugar and spices into the apple sauce and cook until thick, dark, and reduced to 3 cups. The time it takes will depend on the apples you used and the thickness you prefer.
- Remove and stir in the vanilla. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Puree again, if desired.
- Let the apple butter cool before spooning it into jars.
Tips and Tricks
- Depending on the variety of apples you use, more or less sugar can be added.
- Want to make this without processed sugar? Try sweetening the applesauce with ½ cup maple syrup before simmering it down.
- Reduce the cook time by using a jar of no sugar added apple sauce instead of cooking the apples down.
- Try using pumpkin pie spice, ground cardamom, or all spice as part of your spice blend to give the apple butter a different flavor profile.
- Use a splatter shield when reducing the apple butter because the hot puree will spit and splatter as it simmers.
- Stir frequently, so the apple butter does not stick to the pot or burn as it thickens.
- If the apple butter is still a bit chunky once it thickens, puree it again to make it smooth and silky.
- Use a METAL immersion blender when you puree the hot mixture.
Frequently Asked Questions
What apples are best for making homemade apple butter?
A softer variety of apple is best because they cook down faster. Some good choices are Gala, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Fuji, McIntosh, Honeycrisp, and Jonagold.
Using a mixture of apples will give your homemade apple butter a great flavor.
Do you have to peel the apples first?
No, you don't have to. I like to take the peels off, but that's just a preference. Once the apples cook down, and you puree everything you won't even know the peels are there.
The peels contain pectin which will allow the apple butter mixture to thicken faster than a batch made without peels.
How do you know when apple butter is done?
A homemade apple butter recipe is done when it is thick like jam. It should hold its shape on a spoon and not slide off immediately. If you pull a spatula through the pan, the mixture should not slide together very quickly.
How long does homemade apple butter last?
- Refrigerator - A jar of apple butter will last 3-4 weeks if kept in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator.
- Freezer - Place in freezer bags or containers and freeze for 6-8 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
- Canned - Apple butter can be canned in sterilized jars and will keep for a year. Make sure to follow basic canning guidelines!
How do you make apple butter in a crock pot?
Stir all the ingredients (minus vanilla) in the crockpot or slow cooker. Set the timer for 10 hours on LOW and walk away. Once the timer goes off, uncover and stir in the vanilla. Cook another 2 hours uncovered, then puree.
This is a great recipe to make overnight because then you can enjoy warm apple butter on your toast for breakfast.
How to Use Apple Butter
This traditional apple butter recipe is great for spreading on toast, biscuits, muffins, or pancakes. You can also use it as a spread on a charcuterie board.
But did you know it is quite delicious when used in baked goods too? Here are a few of our favorites.
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- 3 pounds apples, peeled, cored, sliced
- 1 cup apple cider or juice
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place the apple slices and apple cider in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes stirring often until apples are soft.
- Puree apples using a stand blender or metal immersion blender.
- Stir in brown sugar and spices. Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for 45 minutes or until thickened.
- Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Cool 5 minutes, then puree again for a smooth texture.
- Let cool before spooning into jars and placing in the refrigerator. Spread 2 tablespoons on toast or rolls.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 2 tbsp
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 63Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 9mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 2gSugar: 14gProtein: 0g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and are not guaranteed to be accurate. If you need special diet advice, please see a registered dietician.