Slow cooker apple butter is the perfect spread to serve this fall! Spiced with cinnamon and cloves, it’s sweet, tart, and impossible to resist.
Plus, with this easy recipe, you can make it for a fraction of what it costs in the store.
Apple butter is one of my favorite slow cooker apple recipes, and it’s super easy to make.
The recipe is almost hands-free. And when it’s done, you’ll have something tasty you can keep for yourself or even give out as holiday gifts.
What Is Apple Butter?
So, what is apple butter?
Homemade apple butter is my all-time favorite treat when the weather cools.
But you might be surprised to find there isn’t a hint of butter included in this recipe.
Apple butter is actually applesauce, only thicker and better.
It calls for long cooking hours to get that concentrated flavor, wonderful texture, and caramelized color.
And the slow cooker is the perfect appliance for the job.
What Is the Difference Between Applesauce and Apple Butter?
The main difference between applesauce and apple butter is the cooking time.
Applesauce features apples, sugar, and spices, but it’s only cooked for about 30 minutes.
That shorter cooking time means you need to peel the fruit and the final product will be thin and pale.
In contrast, apple butter caramelizes after so long in the pot. That allows the apple flavor to concentrate.
And since it’s cooked for so long, you don’t need to peel the fruit.
Have you ever made homemade applesauce? Well, this recipe is pretty similar.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Apples – Make sure you get the freshest apples so the flavor is best. McIntosh, Gala, Red Delicious, and Fuji are some of the best options. I like to use a mix so the butter is more complex.
- Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Cloves – This blend offers just the right amount of fall flavors to complement the apples. Use ground spices so you don’t have to root around for cinnamon sticks in the pot.
- Salt – You’ll only need a little to cut through the natural sweetness of apples.
- Brown and White Sugar – I love using a mix of brown and white sugar. It gives plenty of sweetness, and the brown sugar makes the flavor to die for when it caramelizes.
- Vanilla Extract – You can leave this out, and it’ll still be scrumptious. But if you have it, you won’t regret it.
How to Make Slow Cooker Apple Butter
When I say that this recipe is easy, I mean it. The most you have to do is chop a few apples.
After that, the slow cooker does all the work.
- Core and dice the apples. You can leave the skins on.
- Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker – everything but the vanilla.
- Mix well, then set the heat to low.
- Cook for about 10 hours, mixing occasionally.
- Add the vanilla, then puree with an immersion blender.
- Cook for 2 more hours, uncovered.
- Turn off the heat and let the apple butter cool for about an hour.
Finally, transfer the apple butter to a heat-proof container and let it cool completely before securing the lid and popping it into the fridge.
Best Apples for Apple Butter
As mentioned, I usually use a mix of apples. That way, you get a different flavor with every batch.
But what are the best apples for apple butter?
Well, there are no hard and fast rules. You can use just about any apples you have on hand.
However, the softer varieties generally work best because they cook down faster. That includes:
- Golden Delicious
Of course, this will cook for 10-12 hours, so even hard apples will soften in that time.
The only thing I suggest is to not use only sweet or only tart apples. You want a blend of those so the flavor is balanced.
Tips for Making Apple Butter in the Crockpot
Even though the crockpot will do most of the work, there are still a few things to keep in mind:
- Keep the skins on. They’ll give extra flavor and a boost of vitamins, too. And after 12 hours in the crock pot, they’ll be nice and soft.
- Don’t add water to the pot. The natural juices from the apples come out after 30 minutes of cooking, and that’s all this needs.
- Cook it low and slow. You can make this on high (cook for 5-6 hours). But it’s best cooked low and slow. For best results, it needs a minimum of 8 hours.
- Don’t forget to stir. Yes, this is a set-it-and-forget-it recipe. But you do need to stir it every now and then.
- No immersion blender? You can either leave it kind of chunky or use a potato masher once it’s cooled slightly.
- How to know when it’s done? Scoop and small spoonful of the butter and turn the spoon over. If it holds, it’s ready. If it drips off right away, it’s not thick enough.
How to Use Apple Butter
From cinnamon rolls and pies to spice cakes and waffles, you can spread apple butter on almost anything.
Here are my go-to serving suggestions:
- On morning toast or a cinnamon bagel
- In a spiced layer cake with cream cheese frosting
- As a cupcake center with cinnamon frosting
- Over pancakes or waffles
- With a cheeseboard
You can even use it in place of pumpkin puree or mashed bananas in a bunch of tasty recipes.
How to Store Apple Butter
Once it’s cooked and cooled, apple butter has a decent shelf life. But be warned – it’s so delicious, it might not last that long!
To store: pour cold apple butter into an airtight container or mason jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
To freeze: pour apple butter into a freezer-safe bag and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
To thaw: Thaw frozen apple butter in the fridge overnight. Stir before use.
How to Can Apple Butter
If you want to make a big batch of apple butter and have it safe to eat for up to two years, you’ll need to can it.
Be sure to read the full instructions so you can have everything ready to go before you start.
You need to can the apple butter right out of the slow cooker, while it’s still hot.
Here’s how to can apple butter:
- Sterilize mason jars and lids with hot soapy water or in the dishwasher.
- Add water to a stockpot and bring it to a boil. There should be enough water to cover the mason jars.
- When the water is boiling, heat the clean jars by dunking them into the water. Pour out the water and place them on a kitchen towel.
- Using a funnel, ladle the hot apple butter into the hot jars.
- Leave about 1/4 inch at the top, then stir gently with a sharp knife to remove any air bubbles.
- Wipe the rims with a paper towel, then secure the lids in place.
- Carefully lift the jars into the boiling water and cover the pot for 10-15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let the jars sit for another 5 minutes.
- Remove the jars from the water and leave to cool for 24 hours.
After a day on the counter, the apple butter is ready to be stored! Keep it in a cool dark place for 18 months to 2 years.
More Apple Recipes To Try
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