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 -- with very little effort on your part!
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!
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! 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. 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!
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.
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.
Ingredients in Apple Butter
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar
Step 1: Prepare Apples
Peel, core, 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.
Step 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!
Step 3: Cook
Put a lid on the pot and let the slow cooker do the work!
How long to cook apple butter in the Crock Pot:
Cook on LOW heat for 8-10 hours, or on HIGH heat 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.
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.
Step 4: Puree
Finally, it's time to puree! You can certainly leave your apple butter chunky, but my family prefers it nice and smooth. 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 if that's all that you have.
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. I usually just refrigerate or freeze the apple butter, which works perfectly, too. If I make a batch in the fall, the jars keep very nicely in our freezer until it's time to share them with friends and family over the holidays!
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. 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.
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 preserves to expand when frozen.
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.
How to use Apple Butter
Enjoy the Crockpot Apple Butter in a variety of dishes, including:
- Slathered on top of Southern Buttermilk Biscuits
- In pancake batter or on top of pancakes (instead of syrup)
- On your morning toast
- Stirred into yogurt
- Stirred into oatmeal
- On top of vanilla ice cream
- In these delicious Apple Butter Baked Beans
- As a part of the dressing for this Tossed Salad with Apple Butter Vinaigrette
- In baked goods like Apple Bread, Bran Muffins, Baked Oatmeal, and Banana Bread
Please go ahead and try this soon...I promise that you will not be disappointed in this easy apple butter recipe!
More apple recipes that you'll love:
- Homemade Applesauce
- Apple Crisp
- Apple Dump Cake
- Old-Fashioned Cranberry Apple Crisp
- Mom’s Easy Apple Pie
Crockpot Apple Butter
- 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
- 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 post above.
This post was originally published in September, 2014. It was updated in August, 2020.
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