Apple Butter

This fall, we're tackling a little apple butter project. The goal? Make 75 jars of apple butter by October 17! The reason? Our very good friends are getting married 10/17, and their wedding guests will be receiving jars of apple butter as their party favors. Awesome, right? We're psyched. I'll be sure to post pictures of the apple butter all dressed up for the wedding, but you don't need that right now. What you DO need is the recipe for making apple butter, because apples are in season, and there is no better time then right now to make delicious, spicy, apple butter that you can process in a hot water bath and have for a full year. Our apple butter is a big hit over the holidays, and David's grandmother requests a jar every time we visit her.

I make this apple butter in my crock pot. It takes almost 24 hours from start to finish, but it's worth it and the butter practically makes itself. I recommend having an immersion blender on hand to smooth the butter out at the end, but you could probably give it a quick whirl in your blender or just whisk it to break up the chunks of apple.

Recipe: Spiced Apple Butter
Yields 7 half-pint jars

You'll need:
  • a 5-quart crock pot
  • approx. 10-15 apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks or wedges (I like to mix apple types, such as Macs and Cortlands, or Gravensteins and Lady Golds.)
  • 2 cups of sugar (I use white, but plan on testing out substituting 1 cup of brown sugar in the future)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves, optional*
  • 1/2-1 tsp nutmeg, optional*
  • juice of one lemon

*These spices give the apple butter a warmer, more grown up, spicy flavor. I do not like the taste of cloves in many recipes, but I find it's undetectable by my taste buds as CLOVES in this recipe.

Toss apples into crock pot, filling generously to the top. Feel free to stuff it full! Sprinkle sugar, water, cinnamon, (and cloves or nutmeg, or both), and lemon over apples. Cover crock pot and cook on HIGH for one hour. Then turn your crock pot on to LOW, and let cook for approx. 20-24 hours, stirring occasionally, but making sure it doesn't burn (like the last batch I made). Cook until the butter is thick and a dark rusty brown color. Blend with your immersion blender directly in the crock pot, to smooth out the butter. It should be THICK! If it has an applesauce consistency, keep going.

Process the apple butter with a short processing time (5 minutes in the hot water bath). For more information on how to properly preserve using a hot water bath, I encourage you to visit the Ball's Fresh Preserving site.

A NOTE ON COOKING THE APPLE BUTTER: I tend to start this recipe later in the evening, about an hour or two before heading off to bed. That way, I can monitor the first hour of cooking on HIGH, and then set it for LOW for 8 hours. When I get up in the morning (don't worry. I don't always get 8 hours of sleep, it's just the closest!), I check on the apple butter, give it a good stir, and re-set it for another 8 hours. I make sure I'm going to be home close to 8 hours later, as I want to monitor the last few hours of cooking, because burnt apple butter is frustrating and only ends up in the trash. After the second round of 8 hours on LOW, I stir again, blend, and either cook down on LOW for another 2 hours or so, or I turn the crock pot to WARM and keep it that way until I'm ready to process in the hot water bath.

Everyone's crock pot is different so be sure to monitor it the first time you make this recipe and take notes on how long it takes to reach the desired consistency.


  1. Thanks for posting this recipe! This is the first time I've successfully made apple butter, and it is delicious! One note: I found it very sweet with 2 cups of sugar, so I only used 1/2 cup in my second batch. Just a bit of sugar really makes the apple flavor pop, I think.

    Good luck cranking out 75 jars for the wedding! You must have your crock pot running constantly! I would love to get a jar of apple butter as a wedding favor - what a great idea.

  2. Tick tick tick. The 17th is close. How are you coming on 75 jars?
    I used 1/2 C of brown sugar, 2 T of molasses, and 1/4 C cider vinegar for the sugar and lemon juice. I'm with you on the cloves, though. Good stuff! Thanks.

  3. We are on our last 2 batches! Turns out we only need 50 jars, so we're golden. After tomorrow evening's preserving (remember, this is a 24 hour process),I'll have to make them presentable with a nice tie of string and a little card. Will post photos of finished product. I'm curious as to why you decided on apple cider vinegar, as opposed to the lemon...I tried a friend's apple butter today, and they cut the sugar to 1/2 cup but did everything else the same. It was a little more tart, but still delicious. Thanks for the comment!-Nicole

  4. All done!

    There are now 56 jars of apple butter canned and ready to be labeled for the big day (this weekend).

    For nic's sake I don't think we'll make any more this season.

  5. Making a second batch toda so checking back in. Why apple cider vinegar? I had intended to substitute apple cider for the water and forgot, so I compromised. Today I used the full 2 cups of sugar (1/2 white, 1/2 brown) as my son complained that he thought it should be sweeter.
    I ran across an apple butter BBQ sauce at an apple farm (NW GA is rife with them) and am going to use some of this for that purpose.
    Congrats on getting all those jars for the wedding!

  6. Wow, apple butter BBQ ribs got rave reviews. Yum!

  7. Would love to have Laura's Apple Butter BBQ Sauce recipe. And do you can it?
    Lori Green

  8. There was a reason I stumbled across this blog yesterday, and that's because I'M debating making apple butter jars as mt wedding favors. Our big day's a little over than a month away, so I'm strapped for time and ideas. Apple butter may seem a little seasonally off for summer, but I prefer it over jam any day, and who makes the rules anyway?

    I was curious how big of jars you used. I'm pulling my big 12-quart crockpot to make my batches, but I'm still wondering just how long it will take.



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