Apple Butter Recipe

November 5, 2020

This easy and delicious homemade apple butter recipe will have you licking the spoon! Learn how to can apple butter to preserve all year long! 

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving.

Jar of apple butter on table

Homemade Apple Butter Recipe

Apple butter is a quintessential fall treat that can be enjoyed in so many ways! It is very easy to make, and worth every minute of the time it takes to develop its deliciously rich caramel flavor! 

This is the first time I have ever canned apple butter, and it is something I plan on making each year our apple trees gift us with a harvest! This year we have apples coming out of our ears!

Wondering what is apple butter? 

After learning more about apple butter, I discovered that the caramel apple coffee jam I made earlier this fall is a variation on traditional apple butter! You see, apple butter is simply a very thick, sweet apple puree, and contrary to its name, it doesn’t actually include any butter!  

Jar of apple butter on table

How to make apple butter: 

Step 1: Core and peel apples. You’ll need about 16 apples to make 6 (8 oz) half-pint or 3 (16 oz) pint jars. 

Step 2: Combine the apples and liquid in a large pot, simmering until the apples are soft. Then, puree the mixture using a food mill or immersion blender. 

Step 3: Add spices and sugar, and simmer until the mixture thickens into a “buttery” consistency. Stir frequently to prevent burning. 

Step 4: Once ready, ladle into hot clean jars. Place lids and screw on rings finger tight. Process for 15 minutes (adjusting for altitude) using a water bath. 

Jars of apple butter on table

Apple Butter vs Applesauce

Wondering the difference between apple butter and applesauce? While similar, apple butter is thicker and sweeter than applesauce.

Apple butter contains added sugar and is simmered for a long period of time to allow for more evaporation of liquid resulting in a very thick “buttery” consistency.

As the apple butter is simmered, the added sugar caramelizes and develops a rich flavor. 

Jar of apple butter on table

Apple Butter FAQs

Does apple butter thicken as it cools?

When canning, do not expect jams or jellies to thicken as they cool. They should be the desired consistency and/or specified temperature before removing from heat and preserving. In general, 220 degrees fahrenheit is the temperature a jam or jelly needs to reach to gel. You can also use a frozen plate or spoon to check the consistency. Learn more about troubleshooting jams and jellies

Personally, I like to allow my jams and jellies to really simmer down and thicken up. When you read: “bring the mixture to a full rolling boil that does not cease when stirred”, that means it needs to still be at a rolling boil as you stir it. 

Apple butter is traditionally cooked for a very long period of time. I simmered mine for a few hours during step 3 of this recipe. 

Which leads me to…When is apple butter done? 

As I mentioned, apple butter is traditionally simmered for a long period of time to allow the sugar to caramelize and flavors to develop. How long you simmer depends on the consistency you desire. I like a nice, thick “buttery” apple butter. 2-3 hours on medium-low heat was perfect for me. Be sure to stir frequently to prevent burning or sticking. If the mixture becomes too thick, add a small amount of water or apple juice for desired consistency.

Does apple butter need to be refrigerated? 

The beauty of preserving food is that properly canned food doesn’t need to be refrigerated! Once opened, the apple butter needs to be refrigerated. 

How to preserve apple butter?

This is a great recipe for preserving apple butter. It can be canned using a water bath method. Follow the directions below. For more information about home canning visit FreshPreserving.com.

Apple Butter Recipe via Fresh Preserving

Apple butter is an excellent accompaniment for roast pork or a wonderful substitute for jam or jelly on your morning toast.

Preserving Method: Water Bath Canning

Makes about 6 (8 oz) half-pint or 3 (16 oz) pint


You will need

  • 4 pounds apples (about 12 to 16 medium)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves

Directions

  • Step 1: Core and peel apples, if desired. Cut apples into quarters. Combine apples and water in a large saucepan. Cook apples at a simmer until soft. Puree mixture using an electric food strainer or food mill. 
  • Step 2: Measure 2 quarts of apple pulp; return apple pulp to saucepan. Add sugar and spices, stirring until sugar dissolves. 
  • Step 3: Cook at a gentle boil over medium heat until apple mixture is thick enough to mound on a spoon, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. If mixture becomes too thick, add a small amount of water or apple juice for desired consistency. Remove from heat.
  • Step 4: Ladle hot apple butter into a hot jar leaving a ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar and apply band, adjust to fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  • Step 5: Process jars 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool 12-24 hours. Check lids for seal, they should not flex when center is pressed.
Jar of apple butter on table
Yield: 3-6

Apple Butter Recipe

Jar of apple butter on table

Apple butter is an excellent accompaniment for roast pork or a wonderful substitute for jam or jelly on your morning toast.

Preserving Method: Water Bath Canning
Makes about 6 (8 oz) half-pint or 3 (16 oz) pint

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds apples (about 12 to 16 medium)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves

Instructions

    Step 1: Core and peel apples, if desired. Cut apples into quarters. Combine apples and water in a large saucepan. Cook apples at a simmer until soft. Puree mixture using an electric food strainer or food mill.

    Step 2: Measure 2 quarts of apple pulp; return apple pulp to saucepan. Add sugar and spices, stirring until sugar dissolves.

    Step 3: Cook at a gentle boil over medium heat until apple mixture is thick enough to mound on a spoon, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. If mixture becomes too thick, add a small amount of water or apple juice for desired consistency. Remove from heat.

    Step 4: Ladle hot apple butter into a hot jar leaving a ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar and apply band, adjust to fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.

    Step 5: Process jars 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool 12-24 hours. Check lids for seal, they should not flex when center is pressed.

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