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Apple Butter Recipe for Crockpot or Instant Pot

This apple butter recipe is on my “must have” list for apple season. The slow cooked blend of apples, sugar and spices is sure to please. My husband said it was so rich and smooth that it reminded him of ice cream. There’s no need to peel the apples, so preparing the recipe is quick and easy.

We include instructions for the crock pot, instant pot, and stove top, as well as canning instructions. This recipe smells wonderful as it is cooking.

apple butter

Apple Butter Ingredients

Before you start cooking, gather the following ingredients:

  • Apples – about 4 pounds – a mix of tart and sweet works well. I’ll share some of my favorites below.
  • Brown sugar – This contributes to the “caramel” flavor profile. You can use white sugar, maple sugar, coconut sugar, or sugar substitutes. Each adds a slightly different flavor and consistency.
  • Spices – I use a blend of cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla. If you are not a spice person, a little cinnamon will do, but I love the richness that comes from the blend.
  • 1 lemon – lemon juice adds an extra “pop” of acidity and brightness to the recipe.

Crockpot apple butter works well, but you can speed up cooking time by using the Instant Pot. Slow cooking apples on the stove top is another option, but you need to be careful to prevent scorching. I use a thick bottomed pot or a SimmerMat for cooking down the apple puree.

SimmerMat
SimmerMats are a game changer for simmering on the stove top without scorching.

Note, the print friendly version of the recipe is at the bottom of the article. This section takes you through the process with a little more detail.

How to Make Apple Butter

Wash, peel, and core the apples. Cut them into quarters. There’s no need for peeling or finer chopping, as they break down nicely during cooking.

Prep your slow cooker, Instant Pot, or heavy bottomed stock pot on the stove top.

Add the apple chunks, sugars, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Stir well to ensure the apples are evenly coated.

SLOW COOKER – Cover the slow cooker and set it to low heat. Let the mixture cook for 6-8 hours, or until the apples are soft.

INSTANT POT – Close the Instant Pot lid, set the vent to the sealing position, and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Allow for a natural pressure release for 10-15 minutes before manually releasing the remaining pressure.

STOVE TOP – Add about a half cup of water to the apples mixture before you start cooking. Cook on low heat, stirring regularly, until apples are soft, about 1-2 hours.

Once your apples are soft, use an immersion blender, blender or food processor to puree the apples until smooth. If you don’t have a powered blender, mash with a potato masher.

Continue cooking on low, uncovered, for an additional 1-2 hours to thicken the apple butter. If your Instant Pot has a simmer option, use that. Alternatively, transfer the apple mix to the stove top or crock pot to finish cooking. “Saute” tends to spatter, and “Keep Warm” doesn’t provide enough heat.

Once the apple butter reaches the desired thickness, let it cool. Transfer it to clean, airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Freezing and Canning

Freeze for longer storage, or process in a boiling water bath canner. Process pint or half pint jars for 10 minutes with 1/4 inch headspace.

I take you through the canning process (with video) in our apple jelly recipe.

Which apples should I use?

I generally use whatever apples I have available, but if you’re going shopping, opt for softer varieties of apples. Firm, tart apples like Granny Smith or Pink Lady are not the best choice for this recipe. Our goal is a smooth butter, and these varieties hold their shape well even after cooking.

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A mix of apples is great, but using a single variety is fine, too. These are some common varieties that readily cook down to a creamy texture.

  • Jonathan: Jonathan apples are known for their sweet-tart flavor.
  • Gravenstein: Gravenstein apples are tart and aromatic, providing a bold apple flavor to the butter.
  • McIntosh: McIntosh apples are sweet and slightly tart, making them a popular choice.
  • Jonagold: Jonagold apples are a hybrid of Jonathan and Golden Delicious varieties. They offer a nice balance of sweetness and tartness.
  • Golden Delicious: Golden Delicious apples are sweet with a mild flavor. Combine them with other more tart varieties to create a well-balanced flavor profile.
  • Winesap: Winesap apples have a complex and spicy flavor with a good balance of sweetness and tartness.

Local orchards often have Seconds – apples with minor blemishes – that they sell at a discount. These work great for apple butter. They may also have baking blends or other bulk pricing.

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Apple Butter Recipe for Crockpot or Instant Pot

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Smooth and spicy, this apple butter recipe is wonderful as a topping, or for eating straight out of the jar.

  • Author: Laurie Neverman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 5 cups 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 12 medium-sized apples (about 4 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Juice of one lemon

Instructions

  1. Wash, peel, and core the apples. Cut them into quarters. There’s no need for peeling or finer chopping, as they break down nicely during cooking.
  2. Prep your slow cooker, Instant Pot, or heavy bottomed stock pot on the stove top.
  3. Add the apple chunks, sugars, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Stir well to ensure the apples are evenly coated.
  4. SLOW COOKER – Cover the slow cooker and set it to low heat. Let the mixture cook for 6-8 hours, or until the apples are soft. INSTANT POT – Close the Instant Pot lid, set the vent to the sealing position, and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Allow for a natural pressure release for 10-15 minutes before manually releasing the remaining pressure. STOVE TOP – Add about a half cup of water to the apples mixture before you start cooking. Cook on low heat, stirring regularly, until apples are soft, about 1-2 hours.
  5. Once your apples are soft, use an immersion blender, blender or food processor to puree the apples until smooth. If you don’t have a powered blender, mash with a potato masher.
  6. Continue cooking on low, uncovered, for an additional 1-2 hours to thicken the apple butter. If your Instant Pot has a simmer option, use that. Alternatively, transfer the apple mix to the stove top or crock pot to finish cooking. “Saute” tends to spatter, and “Keep Warm” doesn’t provide enough heat.
  7. Once the apple butter reaches the desired thickness, let it cool. Transfer it to clean, airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to a month. The apple butter thickens as it cools.

Notes

Freeze for longer storage, or process in a boiling water bath canner. Process pint or half pint jars for 10 minutes with 1/4 inch headspace.

If you don’t have a range of spices, substitute 1 teaspoon of cinnamon for the cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg.

Share a photo and tag us — we can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

What’s the Difference Between Applesauce and Apple Butter?

Apple butter is basically applesauce that’s cooked down to thicken and caramelize the apples. Often apple butter includes more of a range of spices, and is a bit sweeter.

We enjoy applesauce “as is”, and use it in baking (like in this chocolate cake roll) to add moisture to recipes. It also makes excellent homemade fruit leather, alone or mixed with other fruits.

Apple butter is closer to a jam or jelly. We use it as a spread or topping, or enjoy it by the bowlful.

homemade apple butter on toast and in jar

Apple Butter Uses

Here are some delicious ways to include apple butter into your meals and snacks:

  1. Spread on toast, bagels or English muffins
  2. Top pancakes or waffles
  3. Mix into yogurt
  4. Fill pastries, crepes, or cookies
  5. Pair with cheese – Brie, cheddar, or goat cheese all pair well with apple butter.
  6. Glaze for meats: Use apple butter as a glaze for roasted meats, such as pork or chicken.
  7. Stir into oatmeal or porridge
  8. Ice cream topping
  9. Sandwich Spread: Use apple butter as a unique and flavorful spread for sandwiches. It pairs well with turkey, ham, or even a grilled cheese sandwich, adding a touch of sweetness.
  10. Dip for Snacks: Dip pretzels or graham crackers into apple butter for a tasty snack.

Whether you spread it on toast or gift it to friends and family, your homemade apple butter will surely become a cherished fall tradition.

Apple butter recipe

More Apple Recipes

Our home orchard is maturing nicely, which means we have lots of apples to enjoy. For fresh eating, baking, or preserving, apples are tasty and budget friendly. These are some of our favorite apple recipes.

Easy Apple Cake with Caramel Topping

Apple Pie Bars

Cranberry Apple Pie

Apple Scrap Vinegar

How to Preserve Apples for Year Round Use

Author & Homesteader Laurie Neverman Profile Photo

This article is written by Laurie Neverman. Laurie grew up in the kitchen, learning baking and home cooking from her momma. At age 15, she and her mom and two sisters created Irene’s Custom Cakes & Catering, which was her summer job through most of high school and college.

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