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.

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:

If you make this healthy homemade apple butter, please be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Your feedback is super helpful for the EBF team and other readers who are thinking about making the recipe. 

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

Healthy Apple Butter


  • Author: Brittany Mullins
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 7 hours
  • Total Time: 7 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

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.


Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Place cored and sliced apples (not peeled) into a large slow cooker or crock-pot.
  2. Add apple cider vinegar (or water) and spices. Stir all ingredients together, cover and let it cook for 5-6 hours on low.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. For storage: apple butter will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or up to a year the freezer.

Notes

  • Category: Sauces/Condiments
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 51
  • Sugar: 8g
  • Sodium: 13mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 14g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: apple butter

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    109 comments
  1. Really amazing fall flavours, perfect with porridge on those cold mornings! Very simple recipe too! I probably would put a bit less apple cider vinegar in next time, just because I hate ACV by itself, and so this apple butter makes me think of ACV!! But that’s only me! 😉

  2. I made this last night using my Instant Pot and Brittany’s suggestions to do so, it came out so perfect! I doubled the recipe but used half pears, half cider vinegar, half water, 1/2 T Penzey’s cake spice, 1/2 T cinnamon. It took 30 minutes on sauté to reduce and required stirring the entire time to not scorch. Absolutely perfect in <1 hour!!!

  3. Super easy, clean, and delicious! A little too vinegary though— next time I’ll try 1/8 cup ACV and 1/8 cup water.

  4. I got a little impatient waiting for it to cook down – so I turned it on high and let it get thick and caramelized and mashed it up instead of blending – so it’s more of a chutney consistency – it’s delicious on warm gf bread and I’m planning to use it on some pork tenderloin too! Thanks for this healthier recipe and for something to do with our apple picking haul!

  5. Just packaged this apple butter up for a neighbor and ourselves (made a double batch!) and it is TO DIE FOR! I love that there is no added sugar so I can serve it to my 11 month old with oatmeal or toast too!

    • Ahh yay!! This makes me so happy to hear, Shauna. I’m so glad you’re loving this apple butter. Thanks so much for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I really appreciate it. <3

  6. Went apple picking and I was wondering what to do with all those apples. First time making apple butter and it was a success!!! So good, thick, flavorful, sweet with a hint of tartness. I added 1/4 cup of coconut sugar and 1/2 tsp of ground ginger, but I don’t really taste it. Thanks Brittany 😊

    • Yayy! So glad this apple butter is a hit. It’s the perfect thing to make after apple picking. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to make it and to come back and leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it!

    • Hey Kristin, I’ve only made this in the crock pot, but it would probably work just fine in an instant pot.This is what I would try:
      1) add ingredients to your instant pot, seal and pressure cook for 15 minutes
      2) quick release the pressure and remove lid
      3) puree the apples with an immersion blender or regular blender
      4) add back to instant pot and press saute for 10-20 minutes, stirring frequently so it can thicken.

      Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

    • Hey Magda – I haven’t tried making it in the instant pot, but it should work just fine! I would maybe pressure cook it for about 15 minutes, let the pressure release and then us an immersion blender or regular blender to puree. Definitely let me know if you try it and what steps you take. I’m sure it’ll be helpful for other people. 🙂

  7. Just saying, red delicious apples would NOT work with this recipe. They are NOT for cooking.
    I have always needed to take the lid off for a while to make this work. Works best to use an immersion blender.

    • Take the lid off and cook it for a few hours on high. This should help evaporate the liquid. It can take a long time, sometimes. And don’t forget to blend it, that will help with the texture too! 🙂

  8. I also left out the cloves and used all spice. Mine turned out a little more liquidy than one would prefer so next time I may add an extra apple or two or reduce the liquid 1/4 cup. Otherwise it is excellent and works perfectly with a no-knead pumpkin bread!

  9. Not liking cloves (or having any on hand) I substituted with all spice. Everything else remained the same. Absolutely delicious. These and home made
    Deoderant will be added into baskets for Xmas presents. Thank you for a no sugar added recipe.

  10. My mom brought over a bunch of apples from her trip to the orchard this week and I can’t wait to make this! It sounds like the best recipe of all the ones I’ve looked up. I know it says to refrigerate it, but is that necessary? I really don’t need more than one jar of it for my husband and I, and I have some friends & family that recently moved away that I would LOVE to mail a jar to if possible. Do you think that is possible or would it go bad on its way there?

  11. Thanks for a great recipe, I just finished making it and not only does it taste great but my house smells amazing. One question though, my butter seems more runny than it should. This is my first time making apple butter so I don’t know if it will thicken as it cools or if there’s something I’m doing wrong. Any insight would be appreciated, thanks!

    • You probably didn’t do anything wrong Katrina. Some apples tend to be juicier than others so maybe yours released a lot of juice making it more runny. Hopefully it thickened up as it cooled. Let me know. 🙂

  12. I have been having so much fun with this recipe!! It’s delicious and healthy. I’ve made it 4 times now, trying different apples each time. I put them up in little disposable tupperware-style plastic containers you get at the grocery store. This keeps the cost down. A recipe yields about 7 or 8 of the little 1 and 3/16 cup tubs put out by Glad, or Raley’s brand. They have been wonderful little hostess, thank-you, or “just because” gifts. Once I put a couple of chopped fresh mangoes in with the apples. It was good, but I really like 100% apples better, so that is what I’m sticking with now.

  13. Hi! I really want to try this, but I’m afraid of leaving my slow cooker on over night (its REALLY old and tends to over heat!) If I wanted to do this on high, how long should I leave it in for? Also, does it need to refridgerated or kept out? I can’t wait to try this!
    Thanks so much 🙂

    • I’ve never made it on high, but I’d say 6-7 hours. You’ll just have to test it out and see if it’s done by then and if not, let it go for longer.

      And yes, it does need to be refrigerated.

  14. This really is good. I have made it several times and even added blueberries to it! Have not had ONE person say they did not like it! 🙂

  15. Made this last night and pureed it this afternoon, and it turned out great! I accidentally doubled the amount of cloves & nutmeg, so it had more of a punch, but still tasted delicious. Thanks! 🙂

  16. I have never had homemade apple butter, only store bought but this recipe sounds so natural and delicious. Also a better alternative to jelly/jams which can be filled with sugar. Definitely going to have to try this with my mom when I go home next weekend. I have also never thought of mixing the apple butter into my oatmeal in the morning, such a great idea and probably taste fantastic. Loving the fact that it’s no sugar added, apples have plenty of natural sugar already. I was wondering if you have any other recipes for other fruit butters?

  17. Hi! I wanted to tell you that I made your apple butter and it was so easy — and tasty! Loved not peeling the apples, it was sugar-free and just went into the slow cooker. What a win-win-win. I linked to your site (and this recipe) today from Foodlets. Hope you get a little traffic bump!

    Best, Charity

  18. Thank you for the recipe. I just have one question. Most recipes tell you to peel the apples, but yours does not. Can you feel the texture of the peeling once you blend the apples? Or it it completely smooth?

  19. thank you soo much for this recipe- i made several batches and canned it for Christmas presents! this was perfect for my diabetic family members!! it smelled amazing and canned effortlessly! my only regret was not making it sooner!!! thanks so much 🙂

      • i just got done canning my double batches- i always water bath my apples for 20 minutes to be on the safe side but i’ve seen recommendations anywhere between ten to twenty minutes!!

  20. I discovered your blog recently and I love it! I tried this recipe and everyone keeps raving about it. Thank you for the great idea!

  21. Hi! I just discovered your lovely blog and I truly enjoyed reading it this afternoon. This recipe reminds me of something a friend of mine did. But the apple butter she did was far too sweet for my taste. I might try my hand in this and see how it turns out.

  22. I made your apple butter recipe, it was PERFECT!
    Thanks for making a healthy recipe, and it’s better then any apple butter i’ve ever tasted.

  23. so i have gushed about this apple butter in my overnight oats quite a bit on twitter. i would like to let you know of three people i gave jars to, all have completely finished theirs within a week! they all love it as well – just thought you should know! thanks for all your awesome recipes!

    meg

  24. I came upon your recipe while searching for a quick and easy recipe for apple butter. See, I try to plan my menus each week and one of the recipes I planned to use called for apple butter. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the extra to buy it last minute, but I did have all the right stuff to make it with (lucky for me). So Tuesday night I found your blog and this delicious recipe. A big plus is that my husband is diabetic so the “no sugar added” part is a big plus for us. I put everything in the crock pot Tuesday night then went to bed. Sadly, I woke up sick with a bad sore throat and cough so I didn’t get to make the other recipe…but it sure was nice waking up to the lovely smell of fresh apple butter cooking away! I forced myself to finish the apple butter and boy am I ever so grateful. It was delicious warm and even better when it cooled. I couldn’t eat anything else…. Thanks for a great recipe!

  25. Just wanted to let you know that I put up on my FB that I am making apple butter and I have had so many comments. Not to mention, a friend asked me to send her the recipe so I sent her the website link and I told another friend that when it was done (if I made it right lol) I will send her a jar and it made her whole day 🙂 So I think overall this recipe was a big hit and it isnt even finished yet lol

  26. I can’t believe how something this simple and amazing can avoid me for all these years. Imagine the possibilities of this apple butter, all the things you can put it on, in and with. Thank you for opening up the floodgates of creativity in my brain by introducing me to this. Great stuff! And perfect for the fall!

  27. I made this last night and it is amazing! I’m excited to use it with my oatmeal tomorrow! The lovely smell helped with the awful skunk smell that permeated our walls after our dog got sprayed…

  28. Oh damn! I had been doing well without a crockpot for awhile and now I am seeing that I need to go buy one this weekend along with a big bag of apples. This just sounds YUMMY!! I am thinking this, spread on one of my homemade sweet potato/cranberry/almond muffins would be HEAVENLY for breakfast (or dessert!)

  29. Yummm apple butter! There is a farmer’s market around me that makes no sugar added apple butter. I have really been enjoying it in my oatmeal but I bet making my own would be better. Can’t wait to try the recipe!

    And bonus that I get to use the crock pot… I feel like I am never quite sure what to use that for…

  30. oh yeah..i’m good. haha..sounds amazing! i’ve always wanted to try it…i think i’m going to make if for christmas gifts!! 🙂

  31. I am so excited! Apple butter was one of the spreads that I grew up with, and I’ve wanted to make my own variety at home. However, all the recipes I’ve seen are chock-full of added sugar, which seems so silly to my fruit-loving self! Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I can’t wait to give it a try!

  32. This looks fantastic!!!!! I love Apple Butter, but homemade apple butter blows all of the store bought ones out of the water. I never think these things need added sugar. You are right, entirely sweet enough on their own.

  33. That is handy, I was talking today about other uses for apples. Nice to have something else in my repertoire other than apple crumble! What are the nutritional stats like? x

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