How to Make Homemade Apple Butter Recipe for Canning

apple butter recipe

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Nothing tastes better on a cold, fall morning than homemade apple butter on a piece of warm toast with a glass of tea.

I’m serious guys! I might have a bit of nostalgia about a good apple butter recipe, which makes me love it even more than the average person.

You see, my aunt used to go to apple butter festivals all the time, and I grew up watching her make it at home. She used those HUGE apple butter kettles – made of copper – and according to my little eyes at the time, I swear she used boat oars to stir the pots.

The apple butter cooked for days outside, caramelizing and turning into this warm, cinnamon-y, delicious goodness that won her hundreds of prizes throughout her lifetime.

Unfortunately, I don’t have access to her large apple butter kettles, but I do remember how it was made. It’s been a staple for my family for years; I have to make apple butter in a crockpot. Here’s how I do it!

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The Best Apples for Homemade Apple Butter

Not all apples are the same. If you’ve tried a few varieties, you know they all still taste like an apple, but they have different levels of tartness or sweetness as well as softness vs. firmness.

When you’re making a canned apple butter recipe, you want soft apples because they will cook down faster. You don’t need to use all of the same apples; feel free to mix varieties. Sometimes, that can help to create a better flavor with more depth.

Some of the best apples for making an apple butter recipe include:

  • Braeburn
  • Cortland
  • Fuji
  • Gravenstein
  • Idared
  • Jonamac
  • Liberty
  • McIntosh

Even though I think Granny Smith and Honeycrisp are two of the very BEST types of apples, they truly don’t work the best for apple butter. I used Jonathan, and while they taste great, the tartness meant I spent more time developing the flavor to cancel out the tart flavor.

Gathering Your Apple Butter Ingredients

The great thing about making apple butter is that the ingredients are commonly found in most pantries. Everyone has their own recipe and twists, but the general ingredients I follow include:

  • Apples – DUH!
  • Sugar or brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves

Everyone has their own special kick or twist. My aunt used to add Red Hot Candies to her recipe sometimes, and it’s really delicious that way. I’ve tried dashes of vanilla as well.

Don’t be scared to try something new or add a new flavor profile. With apple butter making, a lot of time is spent taste testing and seasoning until it’s the perfect taste for what you want.

Out of time? Let me tell you a secret – you can use pre-made applesauce from the store to create apple butter. SERIOUSLY! I’ve used the brand Musselman to create apple butter before when I ran out of time. Life happens guys!

Get Started Making This Apple Butter Recipe

I want to warn you – making a good apple butter recipe is going to take HOURS, and I’m not kidding you. I highly suggest that you start the recipe at night in a crockpot to reduce how much time is spent the next day cooking it down.

We cannot fully replicate apple butter recipes that were made outside in large kettles for 36-48 hours inside. As much as I wish we could, it’s just not possible.

Here’s how I make mine at home; I think the results are delicious!

First things first, you need to wash your apples; I typically use a water and vinegar soak to clean them up. Then, it’s time to peel, core, and slice them.

apples soaking in the sink waiting to become apple butter
Look at those delicious apples just waiting to turn into apple butter!

Listen, you could do this with a manual hand apple, but I highly suggest you buy a combo peeler, corer, and slicer. They’re so easy to use; my kids can do it with me, but it reduces the time by half – at minimum. You can move so much faster.

Making apple butter recipes is so much easier with a peeler, corer, and slicer.
Here’s my 4 years old going to town with it! He thinks it’s so fun, and I love how fast it is.

By the way, keep those apple peels and cores. You can use them to make apple scrap jelly. They also can be added to your compost OR fed to your chickens!

Apple peels can be used to make jelly or feed your chickens!
That’s my Kitchenaid bowl – so you know there is a lot in there!

Anyway, toss everything into your Crockpot. I needed to use two different slow cookers to hold all of the apples I used, but you might not need two.

Now, add 1/2 cup of water, turn it on low, and let them cook for hours. You’ll need to stir frequently, typically once an hour or so, to get the heat to move through everything evenly.

I fit a good deal of apples in my Instant Pot that I used as a slow cooker.

After it’s cooked down, it’s time to start seasoning. Toss in the sugar and the spices. This is where it comes down to two things – your preferences and the types of apples you use.

While there are some apples that work better for most apple butter recipes, you might not have that type growing at home or available locally. You can use any type of apples, but if you pick a variety that is more tart (like I did), you’ll find that you need to add more sugar and spices to help balance the flavor.

That’s okay! Add small amounts at a time, so you don’t accidentally overseason. Stir well, let it cook, then taste it again.

Apple butter really is a product of time and love!

Once you have it seasoned to your preference, it’s time to blend it up. I use a regular blender, spooning it out the slow cookers and then pouring into a pot on the stove once it’s pureed. You could use an immersion blender instead.

Now, your apple butter is done. At this point, I let it stay warm on the stove as I prepare the jars for canning.

Canning Apple Butter

I prefer to can my apple butter in half-pints (or jelly jar), but you’re free to use pints instead. With my family, I know I can reduce waste by using half-pints.

Once your water bath canner is boiling and your apple butter is hot on the stove, make sure you also sterilize and clean your jars, lids, and rims in hot water. I let them soak in my sink until it’s time to fill them.

Now, it’s time to fill those jars! Apple butter needs a 1/4 headspace, so make sure you measure it out each time you fill a jar. Wipe down the edges of the jar with a wet washcloth and put on the lids and rims.

Apple butter needs to be processed for 15 minutes for half-pints and 25 minutes for pints in a rolling water bath. Take out the jars when the timer is done, and let the jars sit on your counter for 12-24 hours undisturbed.

Look at all of those jars!

Now you have lots of canned apple butter to use throughout the year and not just in the fall and winter. It’s a delicious treat all year-round.

Storing & Using Home Canned Apple Butter

While regular apple butter that is not canned lasts about 3 months in the refrigerator or up to a year in the freezer, what about canned apple butter?

Home canned apple butter has a shelf life of two years, but after a year, the flavor might start to degrade a bit. Chances are the jars won’t last that long anyway!

For optimal storage, keep your jars in a cool, dark place. The back of your cabinet works perfect or a cellar down in your basement.

So, how do we use apple butter? Let me tell you that there are tons of ways to use it! Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Spread on toast, muffins, or graham crackers
  • Cooked in muffins
  • Spread over crepes or waffles
  • Mix in smoothies
  • Mixed in barbecue sauce
  • Cook pork chops in apple butter – seriously yum!

Homemade Apple Butter for Canning

Homemade, easy to make apple butter made in a slow cooker with canning instructions.

Course Snack
Keyword Apple Butter, Canning
Servings 15 half-pints

Ingredients

  • 10 lbs apples peeled, cored & sliced
  • 2 cups sugar (brown sugar is fine as well)
  • 3 TBSP Cinnamon to taste
  • 2 TSP Nutmeg to taste
  • 1/4 TSP Cloves to taste
  • 1/2 cup Water

Instructions

  1. Wash all of your apples. Then, they need to be peeled, cored, and sliced. Put them into your slow cooker and turn it on low, adding in the water.

  2. Let the apples cook slowly, for 6-8 hours, in your slow cooker. Make sure you turn and stir frequently, letting heat move through the apples at an even rate.

  3. After the apples are slowly cooked, add in the sugar and spices. Taste the mixture and let it continue to simmer.

  4. If needed, adjust the spices. It's always best to start with adding a small amount of seasoning and continuing to add a bit more at a time until you find what is your preference. The amount of sugar and spices needed vary based on the tartness of the apples you used.

  5. Once the taste you preferred is reached, use a blender or an immersion blender to puree the apple butter to the desired consistency. It should be similar to apple sauce with a smooth texture and no chunks visible.

  6. Start your water bath canner, and let your apple butter continue to simmer and stay warm as you wash and sterilize your jars, rims, and lids.

  7. Fill your jars with the hot apple butter, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe off the edges of the jar, place the lids and rims on, and put them on the wire rack used inside of the water bath canner.

  8. Process half-pints for 15 minutes and pints for 25 minutes. Let them sit on your counter for 12-24 hours resting after you can them before putting into storage.

What’s your favorite way to use apple butter?

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