Apple butter is a comforting autumn treat made by mixing apples with sugar & spices, then slow-cooking into a rich, smooth spread. It's perfect to top off muffins, pancakes, ice cream, oatmeal, and even cocktails!
Every fall when I was young, my family would drive from Chicago to Michigan to pick apples at my Uncle's apple orchard. When we got home we would drop off bushels of apples at my Grandma's house, and the first thing on her list to make was spiced apple butter. I can still remember that comforting aroma wafting through her house as the apples cooked!
What is Apple Butter?
Apple butter is not butter at all, but rather a spreadable fruit preserve that has a consistency similar to butter. It was first made in the Middle Ages by monks living on orchards in Germany and Belgium. It made its way to the U.S. by way of Appalachia in the mid-1800's.
An apple butter recipe, often called spiced apple butter, consists of several pounds of apples mixed with a combination of spices such as sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and/or allspice. The mixture is slow cooked for a whole day to allow the apples to break down to a smooth consistency.
Apple Butter Ingredients
You'll only need a few ingredients:
- Brown Sugar
- Vanilla extract
Types of Apples You Can Use
The end result should be a sweet and spicy fruit spread, therefore you'll want to avoid tart apples. Gala apples are my favorite variety for this recipe. If you can't get Gala, other good options include Jonathan, Fuji or McIntosh.
Steps for Making Apple Butter
- Peel, core and dice apples, then place in a 6 quart crockpot.
2. Add all remaining ingredients to crockpot except vanilla, then cover and cook on low for 10 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. After 10 hours, remove lid and use an immersion blender to smooth any remaining chunks of apples. Stir in vanilla, and continue cooking uncovered for 1-2 hours, until desired consistency (it will thicken further as it cools.) Place apple butter in airtight container or jars and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- For best results, peel your apples. Some recipes call for leaving the skins on, however you always risk getting undissolved tough skin in your finished product.
- Peel apples quickly using an apple peeling tool.
- Dice apples quickly using a chopping tool. I use the large dicing blade.
- Use an immersion blender to quickly and neatly blend your ingredients inside the crockpot.
- Keep your finished product refrigerated. This recipe does not include instructions for canning for long-term preservation.
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Homemade Crockpot Apple Butter Recipe
- 1 6 qt. slow cooker
- 1 immersion blender
- 5.5 lbs. Gala apples peeled, cored, and diced into small pieces
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Place apples in the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples and stir until well combined.
- Place the lid on the slow cooker and turn the heat on low. Cook for 10 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Remove lid and use an immersion blender to puree apples until completely smooth. (If you don't have an immersion blender, place mixture in a blender, puree, and return mixture to slow cooker.)
- Continue cooking uncovered on low, stirring occasionally, for an additional 1-2 hours until desired consistency is reached. Apple butter will continue to thicken upon cooling.
- Transfer to an airtight container or individual airtight containers. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Add ¼ teaspoon allspice for additional spice.
- Add ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice for fall flavor.
- Use a tablespoon of Bourbon in place of the vanilla for added depth.