Learn how to make homemade apple butter in the slow cooker! Sweeten with honey (optional) and use apple peels. Perfect for canning – plus four flavors!
We stopped buying jelly a few years ago when I realized many store-bought jellies contained high fructose corn syrup.
Instead, we make homemade apple butter. The method couldn’t be simpler and it’s really a forgiving process. No culinary skills are required and you don’t even have to be home for much of it!
It’s ideal for those who:
- Want to eat better food,
- Want to save a few bucks, and…
- Don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen.
Is there anyone this doesn’t apply to?
What is Apple Butter?
Here’s the 1-2-3 process:
- Cook down apples until they are super soft and mushy.
- Blend them up until they are super smooth like applesauce.
- Add just a little sweetener and cook again until thickened like jam.
Is Homemade Apple Butter Healthy?
When you pick up a jar of Smucker’s Apple Butter off the shelf at Walmart, you’ll see ingredients that aren’t real food.
Ingredients: APPLES, APPLE CIDER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP.
Wow. High fructose corn syrup is on our no-go list. And it’s listed not once, but twice!
Traditional apple butter, on the other hand, is made with just two ingredients. Apples and honey. No white sugar needed!
How to Make Crockpot Apple Butter
Jams and jellies don’t come easy to me (hence my no-cook strawberry freezer jam recipe), so using the slow cooker is my saving grace when making homemade apple butter.
- Wash, quarter, and remove stems from apples. Add to slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours. Reduce heat and cook on low for 8-12 hours.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the apples. A regular blender or food processor will work also, just be careful since the apples will be very hot.
- Stir in honey and continue to cook on low for 2-6 hours until desired thickness.
Additional Apple Butter Recipe Tips
There is great flexibility with the cooking time of this recipe.
- Cooking the butter on high for an extra hour or two does not affect the butter. (Ask me how I know!) But it will be darker and have a more concentrated flavor.
- I have made butter by cooking on low first, then high, and the results are the same.
- Propping both ends of the lid open will speed up the evaporation process, but only do this if you are home. This ensures your butter doesn’t cook down too much, too fast.
- The skin of the fruit naturally contains pectin, which helps to “gel” the fruit butter. Shop according to the dirty dozen and clean fifteen list. Aim to buy organic produce to reduce pesticides if you plan to use the skin and ALWAYS wash your fruit using a natural produce wash.
How to Make Apple Butter in the Instant Pot
The process for slow cooker apple butter is pretty long. If you want to speed up the process, you can use an Instant Pot (here’s the one I have).
- Wash, cut, and remove stems from 6 lbs of apples. Add to Instant Pot.
- Add ¼ cups of apple juice or water. Close and seal the lid.
- Cook on HIGH pressure for 8 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10-15 minutes.
- Take off the lid and use an immersion blender to smooth the apples.
- Add ¼ cup honey or maple syrup.
- Set Instant Pot to Saute on Low. Stir and let simmer for about 15 minutes until thickened.
- Let cool before adding to jars to store.
How to Store Apple Butter
Homemade apple butter needs to be stored in the refrigerator. If you don’t think you will finish it within a couple of weeks, I suggest freezing or canning.
- Use this guide to freeze in jars without breaking them.
- Use this tutorial on how to can applesauce to preserve your apple butter. The process is the same for canning, just use the apple butter instead of applesauce!
More Apple Butter Flavors:
You can really get creative with your apple butter. In fact, you can make fruit butter without any apples!
Our current apple butter in the fridge is a strawberry apple flavor. It came from marked-down, over-ripe strawberries at the farmer’s market combined with the first pickings of the apple season. The flavor of the strawberries deepens in the cooking process, and the apples compliment the richness so well.
- Strawberry Apple Butter: 3 cups strawberries + 3 pounds apples + ¼ cup honey. Cook down strawberries and apples. Add honey when pureeing the fruit.
- Spiced Peach Blackberry: 6lbs peaches + 1 pint of blackberry + 3 Tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cloves. Cook down peaches only; add blackberries and spices when pureeing fruit and cook down.
- Peach Blueberry: 6lbs peaches + 1 pint of blueberries. Cook down peaches only; add blackberries when pureeing fruit and cook down.
- Maple Vanilla Apple Pear: 3lbs apples + 3lbs pears + 2 Tbsp maple syrup, 2 Tbsp vanilla extract. Cook down apples and pears; add maple syrup and vanilla when pureeing and cook down.
I encourage you to get creative with your flavors. Using over-ripe and marked down produce is PERFECT for homemade butter!
Here are a few tips to reduce the cost of fruit butter:
Making your own crockpot apple butter can get pricey if you use organic or out of season produce. Your best bet is to aim for fruit that’s priced at a $1 per pound.
- Save on organic fruit by asking local markets for jam berries or “seconds.” These fruits are usually slightly bruised or damaged, but they’re just as nutritious as the pretty ones. Since you’re going to cook them and puree them anyway, there’s no need for them to be pretty! (Here’s the Ultimate Guide to Shopping the Farmer’s Market on a Budget.)
- Make fruit butter from fruit NOT listed on the dirty dozen: cherries, pears, domestic nectarines, plums, blueberries, raspberries, oranges, bananas, honeydew, cantaloupe, papaya, watermelon, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos and pineapple are all available options.
- Avoid making fruit butter that requires all organic produce. Apples, grapes, imported nectarines, peaches, and strawberries are all listed on the 2013 dirty dozen. While these fruits make amazing butter, cut them with produce that isn’t on the dirty dozen list.
- Buy fruit seasonally and aim to pay no more than $1/lb. If you can find fruit for less and if your budget allows, buy more! Seasonal eating has more benefits than just price, too!
- Freeze any fruit that’s going bad. Once you have enough fruit in the freezer, make a batch of butter! The fruit will let out moisture as it cooks down anyway, so the extra moisture from the freezing process won’t matter.
- 6lbs apples (washed, quartered and seeds removed)
- ¼ cup honey (optional)
- Put the apples with the skin on and honey into a slow cooker (I use this one). Cover with the lid and turn on high for 4-6 hours, but no longer than 8 hours.
- Reduce heat to low for 8-12 hours.
- Puree fruit using an immersion blender (I have this one), or in batches with a blender (I use this one). Be careful since the fruit will be very hot.
- With the pureed fruit in the crockpot, prop at least one side of the lid open with a knife or chopstick. This allows the water inside to evaporate, thickening the apple butter.
- Cook on low for 2-6 hours, until apple butter is desired thickness.
- Store fruit in glass jars in the freezer, refrigerator or can using these basic steps.