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10 Best Apples for Apple Butter

What are the best apples for apple butter? Well, it depends on how sweet or tart you like it.

But from Fuji to Braeburn, there are no wrong choices!

A Jar of Apple Butter with Cinnamon and Bread

Apple butter is one of my favorite fall recipes to whip up for friends and family.

Sweet varieties are generally the best apples for apple butter because you don’t need to add as much extra sugar to the mix.

That said, you usually need sugar to make it thick. So if you don’t like things overly sweet, you’re better off with tart apples to keep things balanced.

What Is Apple Butter? 

If you’ve never had apple butter before, think of it as a delicious cross between jam and applesauce

The process of making apple butter involves slow cooking pureed apples and spices. The result is a silky and sweet fruit spread that was made for fall!

Caramelized apples with spices, brown sugar, and vanilla are perfect for toasted bread. But it also makes a terrific topping for muffins or even a cake filling.

You’ll want to pick softer apples to get the smoothest apple butter. That means anything you’d usually use for baking generally is off the table.

Of course, you’ll slow cook the apples and can even blend the butter when it’s cooked. So if you want to use Granny Smiths, go for it!

Check out this list of ten of my favorite apples for apple butter, and get ready to fall in love with this beautiful fruit spread!

The Best Apples for Homemade Apple Butter

Fuji Apples in a Woven Basket

1. Fuji

There’s nothing like opening your lunch box to find a yummy Fuji apple nestled in the middle.

This juicy apple variety is not only good for snacking, but it’s also great for baking, too!

Fuji apples are soft, slightly sweet, and perfect for apple butter.

The lightly sweet flavor pairs well with the cinnamon and brown sugar. Plus, the juices help the apples break down in no time!

The best part about Fuji apples is that they’re available nearly everywhere, year-round. So there’s no need to wait for fall to stock up on apple butter!

Braeburn Apples in a Wooden Box

2. Braeburn

Braeburn apples are a lesser-known variety of red apples that’re perfect for baking because of their sweet and tart flavors.

When enjoying a Braeburn apple fresh, they are incredibly juicy.

But as they cook, they don’t release too much juice. This will help your apple butter hold its texture as the apples cook.

Because they’re a cross with Granny Smith, Braeburn apples are perfect for fall baking. The tart flavor will go great with the warm spices in apple butter!

Cortland Apples in a Wooden Bucket

3. Cortland

I won’t lie; I’m a sucker for Cortland apples. Of all the red varieties, they’re my favorite because they aren’t overly sweet.

What I love most is their soft texture. Rather than a super crisp bite, they’re a bit more tender – and kinder on the teeth!

This tender texture and the sweet-tart flavor make Cortland perfect for apple butter.

Not to mention how perfectly those flavors balance with cinnamon in warm apple butter!

Golden Delicious Apples in a Woven Basket

4. Golden Delicious

I once thought that Golden Delicious apples were just for snacking. I mean, they’re just so light and tasty, they don’t need anything else. 

Okay, a bit of caramel or peanut butter never hurts!

But the subtle flavor and soft texture pair perfectly with the spices in apple butter.

And luckily for you, this variety of apples is available year-round.

Idared Apples on White Table

5. Idared

Idared are more tart than sweet, making them great for baking. Their creamy flesh is delicious in pies, tarts, and apple butter, too!

If you’re looking for a little bit of color, Idareds are a perfect pick! Cook them with the skins on, and the spread will take on a pink hue as it cooks.

If you can get your hands on Idared apples, they keep wonderfully in the refrigerator.

This will give you some extra time to prepare big batches of apple butter. 

Fresh Gravenstein Apple

6. Gravenstein

Gravenstein apples are a less popular variety. Mainly because they don’t store well, meaning they must be used quickly after harvesting.

But if you can get your hands on some, make some apple butter! They’re particularly tart, which makes for excellent baking.

If you have some leftover, make a batch of apple cider to go with your apple butter and toast!

Fresh Grimes Golden Apples

7. Grimes Golden

You may not have heard of Grimes Golden apples before, but they will look quite familiar!

They’re closely related to Golden Delicious and share many of their characteristics.

What I love most about Grimes Golden apples is their rich and spiced flavor. When you eat them fresh, you’ll notice the unique taste of these apples.

Combine their naturally bold and spiced flavor with brown sugar and cinnamon? Talk about delicious apple butter!

Jonamac Apples on a Cloth

8. Jonamac

Jonamac apples are ideal for snacking. They have firmer flesh, are juicy, and are perfectly sweet.

Of course, any apple that’s delicious to bite into is going to be great in apple butter! 

Jonamac apples make a great pick because of their spiced undertones.

They naturally have a cinnamon or nutmeg flavor to them, which goes excellent in baked goods, too!

Because the flesh is a bit firmer, it’s best to cook them longer. This will help to break down the apple for the smoothest apple butter possible.

Liberty apple

9. Liberty

If you haven’t baked with Liberty apples, stop what you’re doing and go buy some! They have gorgeous red color and are ideal for a variety of uses.

Outside of simple snacking, Liberty apples are considered a dessert apple. This means baking pies and tarts or cooking applesauce and apple butter!

The flesh of Liberty apples is very fine, with a citrusy undertone.

McIntosh Apple in a Wooden Cutting Board

10. McIntosh

Are you looking for a delicious blend between green and red apples? Look no further than McIntosh for your next batch of apple butter.

McIntosh typically have green and yellow skin with patches of blush. Their appearance is as diverse as the flavors you’ll find in them, too!

These apples will have bits of honey, spice, and fruity flavors in every bite. Because of this flavor profile, they work well with the spices in apple butter.

Apple Recipes You’ll Love

Apple Coffee Cake
Apple Strudel Muffins
Applesauce Cake
Apple Brown Betty

10 Best Apples for Apple Butter

What are the best apples for apple butter? Well, it depends on how sweet or tart you like it. But from Fuji to Braeburn, there are no wrong choices!


  • Fuji

  • Braeburn

  • Cortland

  • Golden Delicious

  • Idared

  • Gravenstein

  • Grimes Golden

  • Jonamac

  • Liberty

  • McIntosh


  • Select your favorite apple variety.
  • Organize all the ingredients for apple butter
  • Prep a delicious recipe in 30 minutes or less!
Best Apples for Apple Butter

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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