Super smooth and rich homemade apple butter made with apples, sweetener, spices, and water. Use as a spread or in your favorite fall recipes! Stovetop, Instant pot and slow cooker versions included.
Every year in Russia, we get more apples than we can ever eat. We have 6 apple trees growing around our summer house, and they’re all very generous. We eat the apples fresh, give some to our neighbours and then look for ways to use up the rest.
My Mum makes apple fruit leather, too many apple pies and a few dozen of jars of apple butter. The apple butter that she makes is amazing, I eat it with a spoon and add it to everything possible!
What Is Apple Butter
Many people think that apple butter is a combination of apples and butter, but, surprise! Apple butter does not contain any butter! It’s actually a spread made with just apples and water (and spice!), where it’s slowly cooked on low heat until you get a thick and rich spread that resembles butter.
Apple Butter vs Apple Sauce
Apple sauce is made with the same ingredients as apple butter, which is apples, sweetener, water and spices. The only difference is the cooking time, apple butter is cooked for much longer than apple sauce which allows the sugars in the apples to caramelize and give the butter that rich brown color.
The texture of the apple butter is different to apple sauce. Apple sauce is loose and a bit watery, while apple butter is really condensed and similar to jam.
In short, apple butter is the condensed version of apple sauce.
What Kind of Apples to Use to Make Apple Butter?
Literally, any kind of apples will work! I even used 2 different kinds to make this apple butter that I photographed to share the recipe with you.
So any kind of apples that you have on hand will work!
How to Make Apple Butter?
This is really easy.
You have 2 choices:
- Wash, peel and core the apples and cut into quarters. OR,
- Wash, and cut into quarters.
There are pros and cons to both ways.
The problem with the skin is that you might still feel the waxy and papery feel of the skin in the apple butter if you leave it there. However, you can avoid this by running the butter into sieve or mesh strainer to get rid of any peels, apple core or seeds.
The good thing about leaving the peel and the core with seeds, is that most of the pectin is actually in the core and the peels hold so much flavor. So the choice is yours, but I personally find it much easier to peel and core the apples before I cook them. It also allows me puree them in using an emersion blender rather than running them through a mesh strainer.
In a large pot, place the apples, water, sugar or maple syrup, and spices and cook on low-medium heat stirring occasionally until the apples become very soft. This will take around 1 hour.
Using a hand/emersion blender, puree the apples and then cook on low-medium heat for one more hour. The mixture should become smooth, velvety and darker in color.
Crockpot Apple Butter Recipe
If you’re a fan of slow cooking, then a crockpot pot version of apple butter is for you.
All you have to do is place all of the ingredients in a slow cooker, and mix well. Cook on low for 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
When the cooking is finished, blend the mixture using a hand blender and store in sterilized jars.
Instant Pot Apple Butter Recipe
Place 4 lbs of apples with 1/4 cup of water (if you’re using a newer version of IP, it might give you a “burn” message so you’ll need to add 1/2 cup of water instead), sugar and spices (scroll down for the recipe card and exact amounts).
Cover with the lid, and make sure that the vent is in sealing position. Click on “manual” or “pressure cook” for 10 minutes. Allow the Instant Pot to cover to pressure, then cook for 10 minutes. When the cooking is done, allow it to naturally release which will take around 15-20 minutes.
Carefully open the lid, and blend the apples using an emersion/hand blender. If the consistency is not dense enough (especially if you added 1/2 cup of water), cook the apple butter down for up to 15 minutes on “sauté” setting and make sure that you’re stirring with a wooden spoon to avoid scrotching the pot.
Use within 2 weeks and keep it refrigerated, or freeze for up to 6 months. For canning, see notes below.
Canning Apple Butter
It’s possible to can apple butter and store it at room temperature for up to 1 year.
Pour warm apple butter into sterilized jars until the jars are completely full with no space for air. To sterilize jars, wash with hot water and baking soda, and rinse and boil the lids. Or run in the dishwasher.
Screw on sterilized lids, and place the jars upside down on their lids and let the apple butter cool down.
Can I Freeze Apple Butter?
Freeze in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Is Adding a Sweetener Necessary?
No, if your apples are sweet enough for you then you can skip adding any maple syrup or sugar. However, sugar helps preserve things like fruits and can help the apple butter from going off quickly. So if you choose not to use any sweetener, then keep the apple butter refrigerated and consume within 10 days or so. Or properly can it.
Another great apple recipe is this vegan apple pie, so make sure to check it out!
- 4 pounds (2 kg) apples
- 1 cup (250 ml) water
- ½ cup (100g) maple syrup or brown or granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon optional
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract optional
- ¼ teaspoon cloves optional
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Over the stovetop
- Wash, peel and core the apples and cut into quarters.
- In a large pot, place the apples, water, sweetener, spices and salt, and cook on low-medium heat stirring occasionally until the apples become very soft. This will take around 1 hour.
- Using a hand/emersion blender, puree the apples and then cook on low-medium heat for one more hour. The mixture should become smooth, velvety and dark in color.
In the Instant Pot
- Place apples, ¼ cup of water, sugar, and spices in the Instant Pot. If you're using a newer version of IP, it might give you a "burn" message so you'll need to increase the amount of water from ¼ cup to ½ cup.
- Cover with the lid, and make sure that the vent is in sealing position. Click on "manual" or "pressure cook" for 10 minutes. Allow the Instant Pot to cover to pressure, then cook for 10 minutes. When the cooking is done, allow it to naturally release which will take around 15-20 minutes.
- Carefully open the lid, and blend the apples using an emersion/hand blender. If the consistency is not thick enough (especially if you added ½ cup of water), cook the apple butter down for up to 15 minutes on "sauté" setting and make sure that you're stirring with a wooden spoon to avoid scorching½ the pot.
In the slow cooker
- Place all of the ingredients in a slow cooker, and mix well. Cook on low for 8 hours, stirring occasionally. When the cooking is finished, blend the mixture using a hand blender and store in sterilized jars.
- For the stovetop method, use 1 cup of water.
- For the Instant Pot, use ¼ cup of water unless you’re using a newer model of Instant Pot then use ½ cup of water.
- And for the slow cooker, use 1 cup of water.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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