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It wouldn’t be fall without a few batches of this easy Crockpot apple butter! Thanks to the slow cooker, the sweet spread fills your house with the cozy aroma of simmering apples, cinnamon, and cloves. Store the jars in the fridge or freezer, or can them in a hot water bath to make them shelf-stable. The apple butter is delicious on biscuits, spread on cornbread, and slathered on pancakes, waffles, and your morning toast.

Front shot of a platter of slow cooker apple butter on a plate with cornbread

Crockpot Apple Butter Recipe

Apples are the pride and joy of autumn in Virginia, so we always end up with a surplus of the fresh fruit at this time of year. I’ll never let a local apple go to waste, and this homemade apple butter has quickly become a regular fall tradition. It’s truly the BEST apple butter recipe I’ve ever tasted — and I’ve tasted many different varieties!

I love that my only job is peeling the apples, and the slow cooker does the rest of the work! I can even leave it to simmer on low overnight, so that I wake up to the most glorious pot of sweet, warm apple butter in the morning. Now that’s heaven!

Overhead shot of apple butter on a white wooden table

What is Apple Butter?

Apple butter is a thick, rich, highly concentrated form of applesauce, where low-and-slow cooking is the name of the game. That’s why it works so well in the Crock Pot! To make apple butter, apples are slowly cooked down with cider or water, to a point where the sugar caramelizes and the apple butter takes on a deep brown color. Apple butter often includes warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, and allspice as well.

The origins of apple butter go all of the way back to the Middle Ages, when the first monasteries with large orchards produced the butter as a way to conserve the fruit. Apple butter doesn’t actually include any dairy, in spite of its name. Instead, the term “butter” refers to the butter-like thick, soft consistency, and apple butter’s use as a spread for breads (source).

Best Apples for Apple Butter

You can use any apples that are readily available. I often use a blend of whatever we pick from the orchard or from our trees in the yard. That said, soft apples are great because they cook down quickly and don’t hold their shape in the way that Granny Smith or other pie-friendly apples will. Good options include: Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Cortland, Jonathan, Rome and Jonagold apples. If you prefer fuji, gala, honeycrisp, or granny smith apples, those are fine, too — they just tend to be a bit more crisp to start. The type of apples that you choose will obviously impact the flavor of your applesauce, so my best recommendation is to use a variety that you think tastes good!

Close overhead shot of a bin of apples

How Many Apples?

You will need a total of about 5-7 pounds of apples (or however many apples it takes to fill up your 6-quart Crock Pot). Depending on the size of your apples, the total number will vary. In general, five pounds is equal to about 10-15 apples.

Peeling apples

Why do you put a penny in apple butter?

Copper pennies were traditionally put in the bottom of an apple butter kettle to scrape the bottom of the kettle and to prevent the apple butter from burning. It was also said that a young woman who splashed the apple butter when she stirred the kettle would make a poor housewife. Hah! You do not need to do this when preparing apple butter in the slow cooker, so skip this old wives’ tale!

Adding spices and sugar to a slow cooker

Ingredients

This is just an overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a batch of crockpot apple butter for canning. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Apples: any apples will work, so choose a variety that you think tastes good! Nice options include Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Cortland, Jonathan, Rome and Jonagold apples.
  • Granulated sugar and brown sugar: to sweeten the apple butter. You can use less sugar if you like a more tart batch.
  • Cinnamon, cloves, and allspice: warm spices that give the apple butter that classic cozy, fall flavor. Feel free to add some nutmeg, ginger, or even some vanilla extract at the end, if you like.
  • Water: just enough to steam the apples as they start to cook and break down.
Pureeing apple butter in a crock pot

How to Make Apple Butter in a Crock Pot

This easy Crockpot apple butter recipe comes together with just a handful of basic ingredients and 3 simple steps. Once you’ve peeled and chopped the apples, your hardest job is done.

  1. Prepare Apples. Peel the apples with an apple peeler, cut out the cores, and quarter the apples. You don’t need to worry about slicing or dicing the apples very small, because they will break down in the slow cooker.
  2. Combine Ingredients in Crock Pot. Add the rest of your ingredients to the slow cooker with the apples: white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and a little bit of water. You probably already have everything that you need in your pantry!
  3. Cook. Put a lid on the pot and let the slow cooker do the work! Cook the apple butter on LOW for 8-10 hours, or on HIGH for 4-6 hours. Remove the lid, give the apples a stir, and continue cooking the apple butter uncovered for an additional 2 hours on LOW or 1 hour on HIGH.
  4. Puree. You can certainly leave your apple butter chunky, but my family prefers a nice and smooth texture — similar to apple sauce. I use a handheld immersion blender to quickly puree the apple butter right in the slow cooker, but you can also use a standard blender or even whisk by hand if that’s what you have.
Square side shot of crockpot apple butter in a jar with a plate of cornbread

How to Tell When Crockpot Apple Butter is Done

You’ll know that the apple butter is finished when the apples are broken down and practically fall apart when you stir the pot with a wooden spoon. It should also cling to a spoon when you scoop it up.

How to Thicken

Since the slow cooker traps a lot of condensation and liquid in the pot, you’ll want to remove the lid during the final part of the cooking in order to allow the apple butter to thicken. If it’s not thick enough after cooking uncovered for 2 hours, you can let it simmer uncovered for even longer until it reaches the desired consistency. You can let the apple butter cook for hours, if you like. It will just get thicker and richer! The sugar that you add to the apple butter also helps to thicken the mixture.

Can you overcook apple butter?

No, not really! You can’t overcook apple butter in the slow cooker. The spiced apple flavor will just intensify the longer it goes.

Close up overhead shot of a spoon in a jar of apple butter

How to Store Homemade Apple Butter

This Crockpot apple butter can be used for canning, or as a freezer jam. For shelf-stable apple butter, be sure to sterilize and process according to safety instructions (those instructions are included below).

Homemade apple butter will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 7-10 days. Do not leave homemade apple butter out at room temperature for more than 1-2 hours, unless it’s properly canned. It needs to be refrigerated in order to stay fresh. You can tell if apple butter is bad when it has an “off” odor, flavor, or appearance, or if mold appears.

Freezing Instructions

To freeze, transfer the cooled apple butter to freezer-safe jars, Ziploc freezer bags, or other airtight containers and freeze for up to 3 months. It’s safe to use glass jars for freezing (such as mason jars), but remember to leave about ½ inch of headspace to allow room for the sauce to expand when frozen.

Spoon in a jar of homemade crockpot apple butter

How to Can Apple Butter

Prepare the apple butter as instructed. Apples are naturally high acid fruits, with a pH somewhere between 3.2 and 4.0. That means they’re just fine for water bath canning without any added acid.

It’s a good practice to sterilize the jars and lids before canning. This process kills any bacteria, fungi, or yeasts before filling. There are a variety of ways to sterilize the jars (here’s a helpful article with different options). I typically use the dishwasher, and make sure that the jars and lids stay hot in the machine until I’m ready to fill them.

Once the apple butter is done, and while it’s still bubbling hot, ladle the butter into the hot, sterilized jars. A funnel makes this easy and not too messy. I recommend straight-sided half-pint jam jars, which are easy to pack cleanly without air bubbles. It’s important to make sure that you don’t have any air bubbles in your jars.

Fill the jars leaving ½-inch of headspace to allow room for expansion. Wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth, and seal the lids. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Leave the jars in the hot water for an additional 5 minutes (this stabilizes the temperature and prevents siphoning as the jars are removed). Carefully transfer the jars to a towel on the countertop and allow them to cool completely.

Once the apple butter has had a chance to cool, you can check the seals. The lids should be down in the center or stay down when pressed. Unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 3 weeks. Properly sealed and processed jars of apple butter should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place (such as a pantry). The properly canned homemade apple butter will last for up to 1 year.

Square side shot of a table with apple butter and cornbread

How to Use Apple Butter

There are so many different things that you can do with apple butter. It’s delicious:

Please go ahead and try this soon…I promise that you will not be disappointed in this easy apple butter recipe! It’s also a simple gift to share with friends and families at the holidays, and always well-received.

Rustic wooden table with a plate of cornbread and a jar of apple butter

More Apple Recipes to Try

Square side shot of crockpot apple butter in a jar with a plate of cornbread

Crockpot Apple Butter

5 from 6 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 12 hours
Total: 12 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 cups
Calories 29 kcal
It wouldn't be fall without a few batches of this easy Crockpot apple butter!

Ingredients
  

  • 5 lbs. apples (any variety) (or up to 7 lbs. — however many you need to fill up your slow cooker)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ cup water

Instructions

  • Peel, core, and quarter the apples.
  • Spray the inside of a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray and place the apples inside. I use as many apples as it takes to fill up my slow cooker!
  • Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker and stir to combine.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 4-6 hours.
  • Uncover, give it a good stir, and continue cooking uncovered for an additional 2 hours on LOW or 1 hour on HIGH. This will allow the apple butter to cook down and thicken.
  • Use a hand blender to puree until smooth. If you don’t have a hand blender, transfer to a regular blender and puree in batches.
  • Store in mason jars in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or keep in the freezer. If you want to store the apple butter in a pantry, be sure to follow proper canning procedures (sterilizing and processing jars). See the canning instructions in the notes below.

Notes

Homemade apple butter will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 7-10 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to Can Apple Butter:
Prepare the apple butter as instructed. Apples are naturally high acid fruits, with a pH somewhere between 3.2 and 4.0. That means they’re just fine for water bath canning without any added acid.
It’s a good practice to sterilize the jars and lids before canning in order to kill any bacteria, fungi, or yeasts before filling. There are a variety of ways to sterilize the jars (here’s a helpful article with different options). I typically use the dishwasher, and make sure that the jars and lids stay hot in the machine until I’m ready to fill them.
Once the apple butter is done and while it’s still bubbling hot, ladle the butter into the hot, sterilized jars (a funnel makes this easy and not too messy). I recommend straight-sided half-pint jam jars, which are easy to pack cleanly without air bubbles. It’s important to make sure that you don’t have any air bubbles in your jars.
Fill the jars leaving ½-inch of headspace to allow room for expansion. Wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth, seal the lids, and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Leave the jars in the hot water for an additional 5 minutes (this stabilizes the temperature and prevents siphoning as the jars are removed). Carefully transfer the jars to a towel on the countertop and allow them to cool completely.
Once the apple butter has had a chance to cool, you can check the seals. The lids should be down in the center or stay down when pressed. Unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 3 weeks. Properly sealed and processed jars of apple butter should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place (such as a pantry). The properly canned homemade apple butter will last for up to 1 year.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 29kcalCarbohydrates: 7gPotassium: 28mgSugar: 6gVitamin A: 15IUVitamin C: 1.1mgCalcium: 4mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword: apple butter for canning, Crock Pot Apple Butter for Canning, crockpot apple butter, easy apple butter recipe, slow cooker apple butter
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This post was originally published in September, 2014. The photos were updated in September, 2022.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Blair!
    I made this yesterday and it is SO delicious! Actually making a second batch now. I have a question regarding canning. Yesterday, I guess I didn’t cook off enough water so it’s more like an applesauce consistency. Not thick enough. I realized this AFTER water bathing and sealed! Can I open the jars, reheat to cook off more liquid, and water bathe it again? If so, does this mean I need new lids?

    1. That’s a good question, Shelly! I honestly have no idea if you can re-can the apple butter. If you try it, you will definitely need to use new lids. Hope the second batch was a success!