Revised and updated. Originally posted September 3, 2016.
Fresh apples! The smells and flavors of fall. . . apples, cinnamon, cloves, YUM! Fall is my favorite season, hands down.
One of the best ways to preserve the flavors of fall to enjoy year-round is to make apple butter. Traditionally, apple butter was made on the stove-top requiring vigilant attention for most of a day and had WAY more added sugar than necessary. While (slightly) less traditional, this slow cooker apple butter is made from real food ingredients and is incredibly simple to make. Don’t get me wrong, it still takes quite a bit of time to make but using a slow cooker allows you to sleep while it cooks!
It is amazing to wake up to a slow cooker crock filled with thick and bubbly apple butter ready to spread on whole grain gluten free toast, or add a dollop to your morning oatmeal, yogurt, or oatmeal pancakes. With just 6 simple ingredients and very little added sugar (optional), once made, this slow cooker apple butter makes a great addition to breakfast, dessert, or a snack. It also makes an amazing homemade gift from the heart. It’s time to make some apple butter!
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
- 12 cups applesauce homemade or store-bought no-sugar added
- 1 cup apple cider or apple juice
- 1 cup coconut palm sugar or dark brown sugar (optional)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice fresh or bottled
- 2 tbsp cinnamon ground
- 1/2 tsp cloves ground
Make 12 cups or 3 quarts of applesauce, you have 3 options:
- Use a variety of fresh apples and turn into applesauce by peeling, coring, boiling until soft, then pureeing with a food processor, blender, or immersion blender.
- Use a variety of fresh apples and turn into applesauce by cutting whole apples into quarters, boiling until soft, then processing with a food mill or sauce strainer to remove the core, seeds, and skin.
- Start with 3 quarts of no-sugar added canned or thawed frozen applesauce.
Make the apple butter:
- Add applesauce to a 3 quart slow cooker (or larger). Add all additional ingredients and stir to combine.
- Cover the slow cooker and set to “low”. Cook on “low” for about 8 hours or overnight. Stir occasionally if desired (but not necessary).
- After about 8 hours, remove the slow cooker lid and stir the apple butter. Keep the lid off for about 2 to 3 hours to allow more moisture to evaporate.
When the apple butter is your desired consistency (nice and thick and spreadable), you have 3 options:
- Can it: fill half pint jars leaving 1/2 inch head space, cover with two part lids, then process for 10 minutes.
- Freeze it: let apple butter cool, spoon into half or quarter pint jars leaving 1/2 inch head space, put on lids and freeze.
- Refrigerate and give away: let apple butter cool, spoon into jars, put on lids, and store in the refrigerator. Use and/or give it away with a use-by date of 2 weeks from the date you made it.
- This recipe was heavily adapted from the original at Recipes that Crock!
- If the temperature regulation on your slow cooker is marginal or the “low” setting seems too hot, don’t leave the apple butter on “low” overnight as it might burn. Instead, set the slow cooker to the “warm” setting overnight and continue with steps 4 and 5 in the morning.
- I've made this in my 6 quart InstantPot on several occasions and it works pretty well but I find that my old-school slow cooker actually maintains temperature for long periods better- regardless, use what you have!
Make it? Have questions? Leave a comment below!