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 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.
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.
How to Eat Apple Butter
Apple butter is similar to a preserve or jam. Here are some ways I like to enjoy it:
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.
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!
6medium apples, choose a sweet variety like Gala or Honeycrisp
1/4cupapple cider vinegar, or water
1/2teaspoonpure vanilla extract
pinchof 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.