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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    114 comments
    1. Realynn
      December 11, 2020 AT 11:57 pm

      I love this recipe! I’ve made it three times now. It’s so good! The apples are sweet enough on their own, so you don’t even miss the sugar.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 12, 2020 AT 12:33 am

        So glad you’re loving this recipe, Realynn. 🙂 Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!

    2. Heather
      October 31, 2020 AT 9:15 am

      Another winner! This was an easy and delicious way to use up the rest of our apple-picking apples. I would definitely recommend!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 2, 2020 AT 12:21 am

        Woo!! So glad you loved this apple butter, Heather!

    3. Prof. Iron
      October 27, 2020 AT 10:48 pm

      I have made this recipe twice and I love it. I added ginger to the second batch for a tad more kick (I would recommend if you like a kick). Mom and Dad are addicted to this as well. Works to sweeten oats and even yogurt.

    4. Lorna
      October 13, 2020 AT 3:31 pm

      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! 😉

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 13, 2020 AT 5:34 pm

        So glad you enjoyed this apple butter, Lorna! You can definitely use more water and less ACV next time. 🙂

    5. Rachael W.
      October 12, 2020 AT 9:30 pm

      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!!!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 12, 2020 AT 10:48 pm

        Ahh yay! So glad this apple butter worked in the instant pot. Thanks for coming back to share what worked for you. It’s super helpful for other readers, so I appreciate it. <3

    6. Julie
      October 10, 2020 AT 7:42 pm

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

    7. Julie
      October 4, 2020 AT 1:18 pm

      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!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 4, 2020 AT 7:45 pm

        Oh yay, glad this apple butter still turned out for you, Julie! Thanks for coming back to share how you made yours. That’s super helpful for other readers, so I appreciate it. 🙂

    8. Shauna
      October 1, 2020 AT 7:40 pm

      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!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 1, 2020 AT 11:21 pm

        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

    9. Isabelle P.
      October 1, 2020 AT 6:25 pm

      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 😊

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 1, 2020 AT 11:25 pm

        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!

    10. Kristin
      September 30, 2020 AT 8:46 pm

      Hi! Can I do this on the stove top or instant pot?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 1, 2020 AT 11:39 pm

        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!

    11. Magda Dumka
      September 30, 2020 AT 2:37 pm

      Hello,

      For the apple butter recipe, can this be made in a instant pot?
      Thank you

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 30, 2020 AT 5:13 pm

        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. 🙂

    12. Monique
      May 24, 2020 AT 11:17 pm

      Super easy and tasty

    13. Tomi
      November 10, 2019 AT 1:19 pm

      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.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 10, 2019 AT 7:23 pm

        Hey Tomi, I normally use a mix of Red Delicious and Gala apples and they work perfectly. You can really use any type of apples for this butter.

    14. Laura
      October 18, 2013 AT 9:15 pm

      What consistency should the Apple butter be? Mine has been in the crock for about 20 hours and is still not very thick…

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 18, 2013 AT 10:10 pm

        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! 🙂

    15. Susan Farrar
      October 8, 2013 AT 10:03 pm

      How many calories per serving? It’s not in the nutrition information.

    16. Elie
      September 30, 2013 AT 4:53 pm

      Has anyone tried adding anything to this? I want to make a crock pot blueberry apple butter.

    17. Lonnie Beck
      September 26, 2013 AT 6:52 pm

      What do i do if its very runny? The apples are very mushy.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 26, 2013 AT 11:19 pm

        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! 🙂

    18. bikehikenc
      September 24, 2013 AT 10:51 am

      I am making this now and the smell is wonderful but it does not seem to be cooking down. It is very liquidy?? Any suggestions?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 24, 2013 AT 10:24 pm

        Not sure if you’re still cooking it, but sometimes it takes a quite a long time for it cook down. Also, taking the lid off and cooking it for a few hours on high should help evaporate the liquid. Let me know how it goes!

        1. bikehikenc
          September 25, 2013 AT 10:11 am

          Thanks so much…. i actually did just that and it turned out great! Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe!

          1. Brittany Mullins
            September 25, 2013 AT 3:57 pm

            Yay! I’m so glad it turned out well. Enjoy!

    19. Marie
      September 20, 2013 AT 4:15 pm

      Have you ever hot bathed this recipe and not put it in the freezer?

      1. Katrina
        September 25, 2013 AT 4:04 pm

        I’ve canned this recipe in a hot bath canner! I actually did 48 mini jars last Christmas and everyone raved about it :).

        1. Brittany Mullins
          September 25, 2013 AT 4:24 pm

          Thanks so much for commenting Katrina. I’m sure Marie and Jennifer will be happy to hear this!

      2. Brittany Mullins
        September 21, 2013 AT 8:20 pm

        No I haven’t.

        1. Jennifer
          September 23, 2013 AT 10:43 am

          I was going to ask the same thing! I want to can this for gifts.

    20. Jenya
      August 22, 2013 AT 3:10 pm

      T – is for table spoon
      t – tea spoon?

    21. Lexie
      January 8, 2013 AT 12:39 pm

      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!

    22. jamie
      November 25, 2012 AT 12:48 am

      Love this recipe! You are a genius! Great taste! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 25, 2012 AT 5:18 pm

        So glad you enjoyed it!!

    23. Amy
      October 20, 2012 AT 7:40 pm

      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.

    24. Amy
      October 18, 2012 AT 9:42 pm

      Can you can these to preserve them without having to freeze?

    25. Katie
      October 15, 2012 AT 3:05 pm

      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?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 15, 2012 AT 9:50 pm

        You could try shipping it but I’ve only ever stored it in the fridge or freezer.

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