Slow Cooker Apple Butter Recipe
Warm cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple notes pair perfectly with slow-cooked apples to create a decadent homemade apple butter that is perfect for fall when apples are fresh and in season.
If you haven’t had apple butter – you are missing out! Apple butter is not actually butter or dairy-based at all! It is essentially apple sauce, but thicker and spiced with warm autumn spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. It’s sweet, smooth, and possibly one of the most delicious spreads to put on toast and baked goods throughout the fall season.
Have you gone apple picking this year? It has been a banner year for apple crops here in Colorado. It’s all dependent on spring weather – as long as we don’t get an early deep freeze, the trees can produce lots of apples in the fall.
We were blessed with a box of Macintosh apples that we picked from my neighbor’s tree. Her apples were falling into my yard and the squirrels were enjoying them so I sent the kids over to pick up as many apples as they could before the squirrels devoured them all.
I instantly made two recipes with the apples – healthy apple bread and homemade apple butter in the slow cooker. I had planned to photograph the two together, but my family consumed the entire apple bread in a matter of a day.
If you don’t have access to an apple orchard, Safeway has a full selection of fresh in-season apples this fall and they are also on sale. You can also buy apple butter in a jar from Safeway. Just be sure to read the labels and avoid any that have high fructose corn syrup.
Ingredients in Apple Butter
- apples – a variety of apples make the best apple butter. I like a combo of sweet and tart apples like Honeycrisp and Macintosh.
- apple cider – the braising liquid, by using unfiltered apple cider, you are keeping the flavor profile all apples.
- apple cider vinegar – this helps cut the sweetness and tartness of the apples and helps the apples break down. You could also use lemon juice here – you just need a little acid.
- vanilla extract – adds warm notes to the sweet and tart apples.
- salt – just a pinch helps mellow out the sweet and tart flavors.
- spices – warm cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and ground clove, or traditional apple pie spices are incorporated to infuse flavor in the apple butter.
- maple syrup – a natural sweetener, you just need 1/4 cup and it adds great flavor
- brown sugar – I like the depth of flavor profile of brown sugar in my apple butter, so I use 1/4 cup for a hint of caramelly sweetness.
- molasses – while not a traditional ingredient in apple butter, it really makes the apple butter pop – it adds a warm, sweet, yet robust flavor to your apple butter. If you are using tart apples for apple butter, the addition of molasses masks the tartness and warms up the apple butter with slightly smoky notes.
How to Make Apple Butter in the Slow Cooker
Peel, core, and cut the apples. Place them into the slow cooker.
Top with apple cider, vinegar, maple syrup, spices, salt, and brown sugar.
Cook in the slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours, stirring occasionally.
You’ll notice the apple butter transforms into a gorgeous chunky spiced applesauce. You can take a little out to serve with breakfast. Pour the applesauce mixture into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
Place the apple butter back into the slow cooker and add the molasses. You can also taste for sweetness here and add more maple syrup if needed, but I find the second step helps to intensify the flavors, so you don’t want to get carried away with adding sugar when the flavors will mellow out after simmering for an hour. Simmer on high heat for one hour, stirring frequently.
Allow the apple butter to cool, then place into glass jars with lids and store in the refrigerator.
How to Make Apple Butter on the Stove
If you don’t have a slow cooker, here are instructions for how to make a quick apple butter recipe on the stove:
- Peel, core, and dice the apples.
- Add the apples to a Dutch oven.
- Stir in the maple syrup and spices.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer on the stovetop. Cover, reduce to medium-low heat and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Once the apples are soft, puree them with a blender.
- Cook over medium-low heat for about 1 hour, until the butter is thickened. Stir in the vanilla and salt.
What Are the Best Apples for Apple Butter?
You can use any apples you like, but the more tart the apple, the more sugar you will need to add to your apple butter unless you like it tart. Most people like it well-balanced with a little tartness, lots of sweetness, and a good balance of spices.
- The best apples for apple butter are crisp and sweet.
- Using an apple with natural sweetness enhances the flavor of the apple butter without the need for added sugars.
- My favorite apple varieties to use for apple butter are Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala, or Pink Lady. I always use a mix to get a good apple flavor.
If you like more tart apple butter then stick with Granny Smith or Macintosh apples.
How to Store Apple Butter
The fresh apple butter will last 3 weeks to a month in the refrigerator in a glass jar with a lid.
If you want to keep it longer, then be sure to can it appropriately.
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
- 3 lbs apples, peeled, cored and chopped use a mix of sweet and tart apples (Honeycrisp, Gala, Granny Smith, Macintosh)
- 1 cup unfiltered apple cider
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks or 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- Peel, core, and cut the apples. Place them into the slow cooker.
- Top with apple cider, vinegar, maple syrup, spices, salt and brown sugar.
- Cook in the slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours, stirring occasionally.
- You'll notice the apple butter transforms into a gorgeous chunky spiced applesauce. You can take a little out to serve with breakfast. Pour the applesauce mixture into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
- Place the apple butter back into the slow cooker and add the molasses. You can also taste for sweetness here and add more maple syrup if needed, but I find the second step helps to intensify the flavors, so you don't want to get carried away with adding sugar when the flavors will mellow out after simmering for an hour. Simmer on high heat for one hour, stirring frequently.
- Allow the apple butter to cool, then place into glass jars with lids and store in the refrigerator.
How to Serve Apple Butter
Apple butter is fantastic on buttered toasted bread. It’s also delicious on pumpkin bread, apple bread, pumpkin spice English muffins, cinnamon raisin bread, scones and more! You can also bake with it to make cookies, blondies, apple pie bars, and an apple spice latte – a recipe coming soon for that!
Use the apple butter to make Apple Butter French Toast
Additional Apple Recipes
Maple Pecan Baked Oatmeal With Apples and Blueberries
Cranberry Apple Stuffed Pork Loin
Cranberry Apple Sage Vegan Stuffing
Butternut Squash Salad With Kale, Apples & Cranberries
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