Made with fresh apples, spices, and brown sugar this Slow Cooker Apple Butter is perfect on your morning toast and pancakes. You can even add it to savory dishes like pork and turkey. This sweet, caramelized spread requires just a few ingredients and 10 minutes of prep.
It stores very well in the fridge, freezer, or can be canned for longer term storage, and makes a great edible gift!
The Best Crock Pot Apple Butter Recipe
If there was ever a condiment I looked forward to in the fall months, apple butter would be it. Sweet, freshly picked apples cooked with warm fall spices until it’s perfectly caramelized and spreadable. What could be better on your toast or biscuits on a fall morning?
What I love about making apple butter in the slow cooker is that it takes hardly any effort at all. Just core and chop the apples, then toss them in the slow cooker with everything else. 12 hours later, my house smells like fall. A quick whirl with the immersion blender and the apple butter is ready!
While we eat our fair share of this ourselves, this recipe renders 8 cups, so I always set some aside to give as gifts.
What Is Apple Butter?
Apple butter is, essentially, a thick, spreadable apple sauce. Unlike recipes like whipped maple butter, there’s not actually any butter in this recipe at all. Instead, apple butter is made with fresh apples, sugar, and spices, which are cooked and blended until they reach a thick, caramelized jam-like consistency that can be spread on toast, muffins, or a variety of things.
Apple Butter vs Applesauce
Apple butter and our homemade applesauce are very similar. In fact, their ingredients are pretty much the same. The difference? Apple butter cooks for much longer reaching a more condensed, concentrated version that essentially caramelizes during the extended cook time.
This homemade apple butter recipe is made with just a handful of ingredients – primarily apples, sugar, and spices.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Apples – See below for suggestions on which apples are best for apple butter.
- Sugar – I use primarily brown sugar in this recipe, as the rich molasses flavor helps the apple butter to caramelize and add flavor. However, I do add a bit of regular white sugar for extra sweetness as well.
- Spices – I use a mix of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. If desired, you can replace this with 1 & 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of apple pie spice.
- Vanilla – For extra flavor.
What Are The Best Apples to Use?
I like to use Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, Ambrosia, Fuji, or Gala. For the best flavor, try using two or three varieties in this recipe. Just be sure to avoid Granny Smith; they are too tart and firm for this recipe.
To Peel or Not To Peel?
Here are a few easy ways to switch up the flavor of your apple butter.
- Use a sugar replacement. You can sub in Splenda for the granulated sugar, if needed.
- Adjust the sweetness. The amount of sugar needed can vary based on the sweetness of your apples. Adjust according to the apples you use and your personal preference.
- Make Gingerbread Apple Butter. Add in 1 tablespoon of ginger, a teaspoon of allspice, and 1 cup of molasses for a spread that tastes just like a gingerbread cookie.
- Add a boozy twist. Adding rum to the mixture is also delicious. I recommend dark or spiced rum.
- Make it thicker. The longer you cook the mixture with the lid off, the thicker the overall texture will be. If you want it thicker, just cook it a bit longer.
How to Make Apple Butter in the Slow Cooker
The best part of this recipe is that it’s almost completely hands off. You can toss it together in the morning and come back to it in the evening or start it before bed and finish it up in the morning.
(Scroll down to the printable recipe card for details and measurements, and don’t miss the video below.)
- Add everything to the slow cooker. Spray the slow cooker with a nonstick spray. Add the cored and diced apples to the slow cooker, along with the rest of the ingredients, except for the vanilla. Stir to coat.
- Cook. Cook on low for 10 hours, stirring once halfway through.
- Puree the apples. Stir in the vanilla. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until completely smooth.
- Cook without the lid. Switch to high heat and cook the mixture for 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours without the lid, until desired consistency is reached. Stir occasionally. (Note: the longer you cook with the lid off, the thicker the overall texture will be.)
- Cool and store. Transfer to canning jars. Cool completely, then seal and refrigerate.
What If I Don’t Have An Immersion Blender?
If you don’t have an immersion blender, pour the apples into a blender and puree until smooth, then return to the slow cooker. You may need to work in batches, depending on the size of your blender.
Video: How to Make Crockpot Apple Butter
Ways to Use It
Apple butter is great on toast and pumpkin spice muffins, stirred into your oatmeal, plain yogurt or cottage cheese, blended into smoothies, spooned over ice cream, on pumpkin pancakes or biscuits, or spread on graham crackers. It’s also wonderful with savory dishes like pork tenderloin and roast turkey.
How to Store, Freeze, & Can
- Storing leftovers. I recommend storing apple butter in mason jars. I like to store mine in 8 ounce jars, though 4 ounce jars make great gifts. Tightly sealed in a glass jar, your spread will last for about 2 weeks in the fridge. (It can only be kept in the pantry if you go through the full canning process.)
- To freeze. This apple butter also freezes beautifully, so freeze what you know you won’t use right away. Just be sure to leave about an inch of room at the top of the jars for expansion. Freeze for up to 6 months and thaw in the fridge. (Note that straight-sided mason jars are freezer-safe, not ones with rounded shoulders.)
- Can you can apple butter? Yep! Canning apple butter is an option – especially if you want to give it as gifts or just store it in the pantry. Once the lids have been sealed, place in a canner, covered with water by 2-inches. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 12 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. When timer goes off, use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack. When fully cooled, wipe them with a clean, damp washcloth then label. They’ll last in the pantry for up to a year.
More Apple Recipes:
- Homemade Apple Pie Filling
- Easy Apple Dumplings
- Caramel Apple Nachos
- Apple Pie Bars
- Baked Apples
- Apple Cobbler
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
- 6 & 1/2 pounds whole apples (see note below)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Coat a 6 quart slow cooker with nonstick spray.
- Core and dice the apples into 1-inch cubes – no need to peel them!
- Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker; stir to coat.
- Cover the slow cooker with the lid and cook on low for 10 hours, stirring once halfway through, until the apples are tender and dark brown.
- When done, remove the lid and stir in the vanilla.
- Using a handheld immersion blender, puree the apples until completely smooth and no chunks are left.
- Keep the lid off, switch to high heat, and continue to cook for another 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until thickened and desired consistency is reached.
- Spoon into 8 ounce canning jars, let cool completely. Use as desired. (Storage information for fridge, freezer, or canning is included in the article above this printable recipe card.)