Healthy Apple Butter



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This healthy homemade apple butter is made in the slow cooker without any added sugar. Enjoy as a spread on toast or stir into a warm bowl of oatmeal.

As soon as the weather turns, I am rapidly making as many fall flavored treats I can think of! I typically make at least one batch of apple butter each year. If you’ve never made or tried it, it is super versatile, naturally sweet and absolutely delicious! And despite its name, there’s no actual butter involved! If you’re looking for a way to use up quite a few apples, here’s your recipe.

Apple butter in a jar with a twine bow tied around the jar.

Apple Butter Ingredients:

  • apples – I recommend a sweeter variety like Gala or Honeycrisp.
  • apple cider vinegar or water – I used apple cider vinegar and really liked the tanginess it added to the apple butter but you can simply use water if you don’t have ACV or don’t want your apple butter to be tangy at all.
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla extract
  • ground cloves
  • ground nutmeg
  • sea salt
Bird's eye view of a jar with a spoon and filled with apple butter. The jar has a twine bow tied around it.

The Difference Between Apple Butter and Applesauce

Both apple butter and applesauce are made by cooking apples with water, spices and sugar (if using). The main difference between the two is that apple butter is cooked longer so the mixture becomes a thick, caramelized consistency. Applesauce is soft and creamy too, but is typically a thinner, lighter consistency. The other difference is that apple butter is usually spiced with an array of spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla. Occasionally you’ll see cinnamon applesauce, but most of the time applesauce is plain.

So basically, you start making applesauce and just keep on cookin’ it down to get to apple butter!

How to Make Apple Butter

Core and slice: Core and slice your apples. You can peel them if you’d like, but there’s no need. The peels will soften as the apples cook and blend right up! Add your apples to a slow cooker or crock-pot.

Mix and cook: Add the apple cider vinegar or water and spices into the slow cooker. Stir all ingredients together, cover the pot and set to cook on low. Cook for 5-6 hours.

Blend: Once the apples cook down and are a dark brown color, turn off the crockpot and use an immersion blender to puree the apples until smooth. Another option is to transfer the mixture into a blender and blend until completely smooth.

Cook again: Once the apples are puréed, turn your crock pot on high and cook for 1-2 more hours. This will help thicken and caramelize the apples.

Four photos of the stages of making apple butter in a slow cooker. 1. Chopped apples in the slow cooker. 2. Cinnamon topped on the apples. 3. Apples cooked. 4. Apples puréed into butter,

How to Eat Apple Butter

Apple butter is similar to a preserve or jam. Here are some ways I like to enjoy it:

  • On bread or toast
  • Mixed into overnight oats
  • As a topping for pancakes or waffles
  • Swirled into baked goods before baking or just a spread after they’re done baking
  • As a sandwich spread
  • As a spread for a charcuterie board
  • Brushed on chicken for the last few minutes of cooking
  • Serve it up as baby food – I didn’t know if Olivia would be keen on apple butter because of the spices but she LOVED it. I gave it to her straight up and stirred some into her oatmeal.
Glass jar filled with apple butter and decorated with a twine bow.

How to Store Apple Butter

After letting the apple butter cool completely, portion into airtight storage containers. I filled 2 8 oz canning jars with this recipe. Homemade apple butter lasts about three weeks in the fridge and for up to a year in the freezer. I usually keep one jar in the fridge and put the rest in the freezer to enjoy at a later time or to give as a gift!

Bird's eye view of a jar filled with apple butter.

More Apple Recipes to Try:

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4.74 from 42 votes

Healthy Apple Butter

This healthy homemade apple butter is made in the slow cooker without any added sugar. Enjoy as a spread on toast or stir into a warm bowl of oatmeal.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Servings: 1 1/2 cups


  • 6 medium apples, choose a sweet variety like Gala or Honeycrisp
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, or water
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of sea salt


  • Place cored and sliced apples (not peeled) into a large slow cooker or crock-pot.
  • Add apple cider vinegar (or water) and spices. Stir all ingredients together, cover and let it cook for 5-6 hours on low.
  • The liquid will reduce and the apples will be very soft, dark in color and smell heavenly. Turn the slow cooker off and then use an immersion blender to puree the apples until smooth. Another option is to carefully transfer the apples to a blender and blend until completely smooth.
  • Once the apples are pureed, turn the slow cooker on high and heat the apple butter for 1-2 hours, uncovered. This will help it thicken and caramelize.
  • Once the apple butter is the consistency you like, turn off the slow cooker and let the apple butter cool for 30 minutes before transferring into airtight containers for storage. Let the apple butter cool completely in the containers or jars before placing in the fridge.
  • For storage: apple butter will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or up to a year the freezer.



Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 51kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Sodium: 13mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sauces/Condiments
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple butter
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

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Recipe Rating


    1. YAY! I am so excited to hear that you are loving this recipe, Tiffany. Thank you for your review + star rating, I really appreciate it.

  1. 5 stars
    The reason for my comment is to be sure everyone knows what a fantastic dip apple butter is for sweet potato fries!!! I don’t know why more restaurants don’t offer it.

    Recipe sounds great. I haven’t tried it yet but hope to soon.

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Brittany, I am so happy to have found your apple butter recipe! I grew up in Lancaster County, PA, and my favorite apple butter is the no sugar added apple butter from Kitchen Kettle Jams and Jellies. Unfortunately, I don’t live there anymore, and it is very costly to have mailed to me. Your recipe is just as good…I just finished putting a batch in the refrigerator and can’t wait until tomorrow morning to have it on some toast. I used honey crisp apples and used water instead of apple cider. I could not get my little crockpot to cook it hot enough to darken, so I finished it off in a non-stick skillet, which worked just fine. The spices are spot on…much better than the last batch I made, which was edible but not nearly as good. I’ll have to take some time to search your site for more delicious recipes. Thank you!

    1. Aw this means so much to me, Debbie. I am so glad you found this recipe and I am happy it turned out amazing for you. Thank you so much for sharing your review + star rating, I truly appreciate it!

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