Homemade apple butter is a delicious condiment on toast, bagels, or biscuits. Or, make this recipe with fresh apples to use in other recipes!
One of my very favorite uses for fresh apples is to make homemade apple butter. It’s everything applesauce wishes it could be!
Difference between apple butter and applesauce
The primary differences between the two are the taste and texture. Basically, apple butter is a concentrated form of applesauce.
They’re both cooked, but apple butter cooks down for a longer period of time, until all of the moisture evaporates. As a result, it caramelizes the fruit’s natural sugars, creating a thick, creamy, extraordinarily sweet condiment.
- Wash and quarter the apples. Keep the skin on, and include the core. Not only are they full of healthy fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, but it also means less prep work!
- Simmer the fruit until it’s soft. This will take about 20 minutes. Keep the water at a simmer, and avoid bringing it to a boil.
- Process the cooked apples through a food mill. You’ll want to puree the fruit into a larger bowl, and you’ll need about 8 cups of apple pulp.
- Add sweetener and spices.
- Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Keep the pot uncovered, and stir often to prevent the mixture from scorching. During this cook time, the pulp will reduce and thicken.
- Cool and if desired, puree to create a creamier condiment.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate for longer storage. Transfer the apple butter to jars and cover them with lids. They’re great to give as gifts. Or, store them in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Homemade apple butter recipe video
To see how easy this is to make, watch this quick video!
- Best apples for apple butter
I really enjoy the tartness that comes from using Granny Smith apples. However, you can use any variety of baking apples, like Mcintosh, Jonagold, Gala, or Red Delicious.
Keep in mind that the flesh of some apples is firmer than others. If you use softer apples, you may not get the thick consistency that you want.
Some people really enjoy chunky apple butter, but I prefer it smooth and creamy. You can leave it slightly chunky or you can put it through a food mill like I do. Or, use an immersion blender or food processor to puree it.
- How much sweetener to use
Because some apples are sweeter than others, you can adjust how much sugar you use based on how sweet your apples are.
Otherwise, generally speaking, you’ll want to use 1/2 cup of white sugar for every 1 cup of apple pulp.
How to store homemade apple butter
First of all, to prevent it from spoiling, be sure to store homemade apple butter in a covered jar or airtight container in the refrigerator. A fresh batch should keep well under refrigeration for about a month.
If you know how to use canning equipment, you can preserve it. This will extend the shelf life for a much longer period of time. For a more detailed description of the canning process, read this tutorial: A Visual Tour of Hot Water Bath Canning.
Another option is to freeze it. Just transfer servings into freezer-safe containers, or even quart size zip top storage bags. Then, as you need them, pull them out and thaw them in the refrigerator.
How to Make Apple Butter
- 4 lbs Granny Smith apples (See Note 1)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups sugar (See Note 2)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground cardmom
- Wash and quarter each apple, keeping skin and core on.
- Add the cut apples to a large stock pot or Dutch oven with lid. Add water and vinegar. Bring to a boil, cover with lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Carefully scoop apples and liquid to a food mill (See Note 3) and puree into a larger bowl (See Note 4). I typically have 8 cups total.
- To a large stock pot or Dutch oven add the apple pulp, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, allspice, salt and cardamom. Whisk to mix thoroughly.
- Cook on medium low, uncovered for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Stir often to ensure bottom doesn't scorch. Apple pulp will cook down, reduce and get thick (See Note 5).
- Allow to cool slightly and puree if you prefer a smooth apple butter (See Note 6).
- Use right away and store in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 1 month, give as gifts, OR can immediately. If canning, follow the canning directions (I do the water bath canning method) in Note 7 below.
- I use Granny Smith, but any other tart cooking apple works like Jonathan or Jonagold.
- You will need a half cup of sugar per one cup of apple pulp.
- If you do not have a food mill, use a chinois or large sieve, pressing apple pulp and skin to extract as much pulp as you can. Discard skin and seeds.
- I extract the apple pulp into a large, 8 cup glass measuring cup, otherwise measure apple pulp after to decide how much sugar to use.
- You can cook on simmer, but it will take longer, 3 hours.
- Puree in a blender, food processor or hand blender if you desire a smooth product. I prefer to leave mine the consistency of a thick apple sauce.
- For a more detailed description of the canning process, read this tutorial: A Visual Tour of Hot Water Bath Canning: (https://www.thekitchn.com/hot-and-steamy-a-visual-walk-t-93802) and Water Bath Canning: (https://www.simplycanning.com/water-bath-canning.html).
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.