Wondering how to make apple butter? It’s super simple and this homemade apple butter only takes 1 1/2 hours, is free of added sweetener and is naturally vegan and paleo.
What is apple butter?
Apple butter is a super concentrated form of apple sauce that’s usually cooked very slowly to allow the sugar from the apples to caramelize.
There’s no butter in it! You use it the same way you use jam.
The muffins you see in the pictures are these vegan pumpkin muffins. It’s also great used in these apple butter donuts!
Where does apple butter come from?
When the first monasteries with large apple orchards appeared in the middle ages, apple butter was born as a way to conserve part of the fruit production. It originated in present-day Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany and made its way to colonial America via the settlers.
How do you make apple butter?
Making apple butter is really super simple.
When I first looked at apple butter recipes, I found recipes that took 8 hours of cooking… even 15 hours. But I wanted apple butter NOW! :D
So with this recipe, you core and then cut the apples (an apple slicer makes this a breeze). Then you put them in a large pot, together with spices and a little apple and lemon juice, and let it go for 1 1/2 hours.
You do have to stir it occasionally but I’d rather do that than let it go for 15 hours. Then you puree it.
When I was looking for recipes, I also found that people usually use a load of sugar in apple butter. 1 cup of granulated sugar, or even more, per pound of apples. Why?!
It could be that apple butter is supposed to be more like a dessert–item and I’ve just never had “proper” apple butter but I was super happy with this version.
Back when I had a crockpot, I made apple butter in it and I think that the version below tastes just the same. The color came out darker with a crockpot, but taste and texture is spot on!
Questions about how to make apple butter?
- What are the best apples for making apple butter?
Softer apple varieties cook more quickly but honestly, I think any apple would do well here. Except for Red Delicious. Just because I don’t recommend those apples for anything.
A mix of Fuji and Golden Delicious is great, but Idared, Cortland, Braeburn and McIntosh are also softer types that will work well.
- Can I use something other than apple juice?
I suppose you could but you’d have to think about whether or not it’d taste good with apples and the spices. If you want to omit it, you can use water but realize that it won’t be as sweet as with the juice.
- Can I omit the lemon juice?
I’ve only made it with lemon juice but I think you actually can omit it. The result will just be darker, which isn’t a bad thing!
- Is it possible to can this?
I’ve never really canned anything and don’t feel comfortable telling people that this recipe is safe to can. Especially because it doesn’t have any added sugar! I’m sure people will tell me that they can apple butter with no added sugar and it’s just fine but still… I’m not 100% sure if that’s safe.
I’d love to hear how it comes out if you try it! Enjoy. :D
How to Make Apple Butter (vegan, paleo)
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 3 1/2 cups (875 grams)
- 3.75 pounds unpeeled apples (1.7kg, about 12 medium)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/3 cup (80 milliliters) apple juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Core and cut the apples into eights.
- Place the apples, spices, apple and lemon juice in a large pot and stir to get the spices evenly distributed.
- Cover and cook on medium heat for 30 minutes.
- Using a wooden spoon or something similar, smush the apples as much as possible.
- Remove the lid and continue cooking for another hour, stirring every 15 minutes. The closer to the end you get, the more important this step is or the apples will stick to the bottom of the pan and potentially even burn if you forget about them for too long!
- Turn off the heat and if it's thick enough for you, remove from the heat.
- If you want it a little thicker, let it sit on the burner for another 30 minutes or even longer.
- Using an immersion blender, puree the apple butter. You could also use a blender or food processor, but the immersion blender is the least messy option.
- When cool, pour into containers and refrigerate for up for 5 days. Freeze any apple butter left after 5 days.
110 comments on “How to Make Apple Butter (paleo, vegan)” — Add one!
What type of apple is best to use to make your apple butter recipe. Your recipe looks wonderful and simple to make. I look forward to making some.
I’m sorry for just now seeing this! Hopefully you found the answer in the section of the post called “What are the best apples for making apple butter?” :) I’d copy and paste it for you but I’m on my phone and can’t. I hope that you’ll enjoy the apple butter!
Apple butter always reminds me of my childhood and the times spent at the local pumpkin farm. We always picked up their local made apple butter. It was delicious but making my own, even better!
What a lovely memory! :)
The apple butter turned out perfect! Thank you for these lovely fall recipes! We are enjoying them!
Yay! I’m so glad you liked it. :) Thanks as always for your feedback (and sorry for just now seeing it!)
I’ve never made apple butter before but it looks delectable and the perfect way to use up loads of apples!
I think it is! :)
What a great idea to use all of the apples
Right?! So tasty!
I had no idea it was this easy to make! And honestly, the texture looks a lot better than the texture you get from store-bought kinds (yours looks thicker, less watery). Can’t wait to try this!
Oooh, good to know that mine is thicker! Woohoo. :D
So delicious and easy to make!
Mmmm! So delicious and easy to make!!!
It really is!
I love how easy this is! Just give me a spoon. :)
Here ya go! :D
How long can you keep apple butter in the fridge for?
I think 5 days to be on the safe side! It freezes great, though. :)
If you eliminate the lemon juice your Apple butter will darken.
Erin, Love the recipe. I’ve been preserving canned goods for over 30 years. One can use a potato masher instead of running it through a blender if that texture is ok with family members. I rarely use anything other than a peeler for my apple butter. And I didn’t always have one of those. Apple butter is great in an Apple Butter Stack Cake! My Grandmother made them for my father when he was young. Her recipe was lost, but we try each recipe that we find to see if it was like hers! Grandmother Kate is my inspiration for making the butter in the first place! Thank you for sharing your personal recipe! Its a good one!
I’d never heard of apple butter stack cake but just looked into it and it looks delicious! Thanks for the tip. :) And good to know that a potato masher works well. I’m happy that you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks a bunch for your comment. :)
CAn this recipe be canned?
This sounds perfect! I bet the added lemon juice keeps it lighter. I’ll be making it tomorrow!
I hope you’ll enjoy it! :)
I don’t think Apple Butter is a thing in Australia, so i’ve never eaten this before.
Didn’t have any apple juice handy, just used water + some extra spices. I also threw in some old red apples I had lying around.
I slapped this on some homemade pancakes with some maple and It Was Delicious (:
I bet this is delicious on pancakes with maple syrup! I’ll have to try that next time. I’m happy you enjoyed it and thanks for your feedback. :)
I just made this, and love it. I have nothing to compare it to, since AB isn’t a thing in my country, but even though I can’t say if that’s real AB, it doesn’t really matter, cause it’s yummy. It’s essentially apple jam anyway, right? When I first heard about it I wanted to make it but was thrown off by the huge cooking times, amounts of sugar, and uses of gadgetry I don’t own, and I’d have to be willing to squeeze it through a fine mesh strainer, which would probably make me never wanna make it again. So your recipe saved the day! Can’t wait to use it in recipes! The only problem is that when I make something special like this, I always feel like no occasion is special enough to use it, so it’ll probably be waiting for me in the freezer this time next year:). It’s unfortunately quite rare that I get ahold of a some organic apples(because of using the peel in it). Oh, and btw, I added some lemon zest, ginger and nutmeg, cause I couldn’t resist :). Mine turned out quite darker than yours for some reason. And it’s so wonderfully sticky and gooey, I’m willing to bet it would make a great substitute for some of the honey in granola bars, for its sticky-factor. Will try that for sure!
Haha. I’m happy you’re happy with it despite not having had apple butter! And what you say about the freezer is so funny because I do exactly the same thing! I found some apple butter in there last week and I haven’t made apple butter for at least two years. Whoops! I need to make a freezer inventory list. I love that you added zest, ginger and nutmeg – that sounds fantastic. I hope the granola bars will come out well! Sounds like a yummy and healthy change. Thanks a ton for your feedback, as always. :) I’m always so happy to hear from you!
I’ve lived in Canada for over a year now. I’m not much of a fan for apple butter. However, my ex has allowed my girls to come live with me up here. One of my girls likes apple butter, of course I can not buy it anywhere here. We just went apple picking over the weekend. Once I have all the spices I will be making this recipe.
Anyway my point is. You don’t need to have a special occasion to have or make apple butter. My daughter loves it on toast. She even makes peanut butter and apple butter sandwiches for school. She dips apple slices in apple butter as well. I hope these ideas help.
Thanks so much for the tips on how to enjoy apple butter. I love the idea of peanut butter and apple butter sandwiches! That sounds so tasty. I hope you’ll enjoy the apple butter!
Thank you for this recipe, it was very easy and yummy, love the no sugar. I wanted to ask if you had ever used peaches instead, or if you have a recipe for peach butter? Thank you again for sharing your recipes there are more I’m going to try. God bless you and yours.
I am so, so sorry I didn’t see your comment until now! I haven’t tried this recipe with peaches but it sounds like it’d be delicious. But I’d be worry that it’d need a little sweetener. I have made this honey-sweetened spiced peach jam which just uses a little honey as sweetener. It’s quite thick like peach butter would be. Thanks so much for your feedback and sorry again!
I’ve had good success canning chutneys that do not have sugar in them so a fruit butter should work.
That’s good to know! Thanks for the tip. :)
Freeze it in quart or pint jars it works great , I make fruit jelly’s all the time and freeze them no need water bath , just fill jars with hot apple butter or any jelly recipe put seal and lid on turn upside down cool down put in freezer pull and refrigerate when you are ready to use the night before
What a great tip! Thanks a bunch for sharing. :)
I love the idea of this recipe, yum! I want to make it, but I don’t know what I’d put it on or use it for. Any ideas?
Thanks in advance x
You can use it in baking like in this apple butter cake or in these apple butter donuts. And I just found this apple butter board on Pinterest with lots more ideas! I hope that helps. :)
Ah that’s perfect. I can’t believe how simple this is! Can’t wait to make it, thank you so much. Keep up the recipes, I can’t get enough x
Thanks, Sophie! I hope you’ll enjoy it. :)
I use this as a sweetener for my kefir and flax snack
Sounds good! Thanks for the tip.
WHat a great recipe! I used orange juice instead of apple – had an orange about to go bad, but added that lovely citrus-y-ness. Love the no sugar, too. The amount of sugar in other recipes is mind-boggling.
I’m with you! I have no idea why 1 or 2 cups of sugar is needed in apple butter or applesauce! It’s crazy. I’m happy that this recipe worked out well for you and I love your orange addition! Thanks for your feedback. :)
How much does this make? I don’t want to make so much that it spoils before we can use it. Thanks! It looks great.
It makes 3 1/2 cups but you can freeze any leftovers for several months in small containers or baggies. :)
Just found your website while looking for apple recipes – someone gave me a bag of fresh picked McIntosh apples. Would these work? Looks so easy – am ready to start!
According to this, McIntosh would be good here. I hope you’ll enjoy the apple butter! :)
Made it this afternoon. Followed reciped but it came out pretty tangy, so pulled out a couple of TBS and tested sweetening with Agave, then brown sugar. Brown sugar gave it a much smoother tastes, so added 2 TBS brown sugar and cooked it a little longer. Perfect! Thanks for the basic recipe – found lots of recipes using apple butter, from savory to sweet. So, will have plenty of options to use. Plan to freeze in many small containers. Will be great this winter for the two of us.
I’m happy to hear that it came out well and that the brown sugar made it a little less tangy! Canning scares me so I also freeze my apple butter so I can have it throughout the season. :) Thanks so much for the feedback!
Great idea, but do you take the skin off the apples?
No need to do that! It breaks down during cooking and adds natural pectin which helps the process. :)
This post is perfect! I’m a diabetic teen and most of the “jams” or apple butters out there are loaded wih sugar. Or if they do have the sugarfree version, it tastes okay but you know you’re not getting the full benefits of the apples since they’re not fresh. Thank you so much!
I’m so happy that you found the recipe! I hope you’ll try it and enjoy it. :) Thanks so much for your nice comment!
I use the inversion method for canning all the time, for full sugar and low sugar recipes (which still have about 4 cups of sugar per batch — low is a relative thing!), but i wouldn’t use it for sugar free recipes. Apple butter is actually the only thing I’ve canned that I’ve ever had any jars mold. And I think that’s because when simmering the apple butter, it doesn’t end up as hot as the full rolling boil you get with regular jam. Go for a low sugar pectin and try canning some peach or plum or pear or pear raspberry or pear kiwi or pear blackberry or pear mulberry, or … (I had a lot of asian pears one year.) In defense of red delicious, they can be very good, but ONLY if allowed to actually ripen on the tree. The crap they sell as apples in the store is atrocious. the only store apples at all edible are fuji, gala, granny smith, and pippen, in my opinion.
Thanks for your canning advice! I’m terrified of the whole canning thing so I just don’t even want to get into it. And I’ve probably just never had a properly ripened Red Delicious! I always skip by those rows at the apple orchard, just because the ones I’ve had from the store are so, so bad. I’ll have to give them a try! Thanks again. :)
Would apple cider be a goid substitute for the apple juice?
That sounds like an amazing sub! I hope you’ll enjoy it. :)
Haha, just had to comment about your RedDelicious scorn… Totally agree! As a kid, that’s all they had at the store and I could never figure out why anyone ate apples. Gala (or weird backyard varieties) only for me!
Need to try this on the weekend. Just picked a sac of apples and made a Brown Betty with the girls tonight. I’m rating based on expectation!
Haha. Yeah. Those apples are worthless! Does anyone actually like them?! I hope that you’ll enjoy the apple butter. :)
I made your apple butter recipe this morning & it was very easy quick & very delicious. I had everything except regular apple juice instead i used cranberry-apple juice & too tell you the truth there was nothing different in the taste,it tasted like regular apple butter.Thanks for this easy,quick recipe. I had fun making it. I’ll continue making. I was the hit with my famil & friends.
I’m happy to hear that it came out well! And cranberry apple juice?! Sounds good! Thanks so much for the feedback. :)
Do you need to peel the apples?
Nope! Just core and cut. :)
Did I miss the crockpot instructions?
Nope! This is meant to be a quick recipe, unlike regular crockpot recipes. But if you like, you can put your crockpot on low and let it go for 10 hours. :)
Could I use homemade apple juice for this? I have soooooo many apples that I’m loathe to buy apple juice
Of course! I bet homemade apple juice is even better. :)
Here is a question; what apple juice are you adding that does NOT add a sweetener? I used the half granny smith and half gala mix you recommended, and with NO added sweetener. The resulting flavor is weak and bitter. NO apple Juice, which has a sweetener added to it.
Just any regular no-sugar added apple juice. Mott’s, for example, has no sweetener added apple juice. “Mott’s 100% Apple Juice has no added sweeteners, artificial or natural. All sugar in the product is naturally-occurring and comes from the fruit juice.” Sorry you didn’t like the apple butter but the apple juice, which you didn’t seem to add, is an important ingredient.
You mentioned being worried about lack of sugar. I make conserves, butters, and applesauce without adding any extra sweetener. They can without issue.
Thanks for the info, Jenn! I’m happy to hear that. Now if I just weren’t scared of canning. ;)
I also can homemade applesauce all the time with nothing added. I used to use the “inversion” method, but lately someone told me as long as everything is hot I do’t even have to invert the jar.
Just heat the jars it he over for 20 minutes at 220 degrees, be sure the rings are clean and dry, and pour boiling water over the lids and keep hot until you place them on the jars and secure with the rings. Oh, I also make sure the top of the jars are wiped off before securing the lids. Don’t move them and as they cool you’ll hear that wonderful “ping” sounds of sealing.
Now this post is perfect! Fast, easy Apple butter and canning instructions!
I’m happy Janet stepped in with canning instructions! I’m clueless as far as canning goes. ;)
I have been researching apple butter recipes and, like you, have no patience for this 10+ hour business! I am sooo excited to try this! Thank you for sharing it!
Haha. Exactly! There’s no way I’m waiting 10 hours for anything to get done. Especially not something that I could do in a fraction of the time. ;) I hope you’ll enjoy the apple butter!
YUM!! Any idea the calorie count per tablespoon?
I’m afraid that I don’t and can’t really calculate it since it cooks down so much. Sorry! :(
We have a jar of apple butter (the brand is Filsinger’s) with ingredients of only apples and baking soda, and it’s 40 calories/tbsp. This recipe is probably similar!
Thanks for the info, Crissy! :)
I love this chunky sugar-free apple butter, Erin! I would spread it on my morning toast and whatever else I could find. Can’t wait to try it!
Apple is my favorite fruit and I often ad it to different pies, cakes and cookies. And I have never heard anything about apple butter! But if apples are not that sweet, what to do? What else can be added to make it sweeter?
I like the way you cook lady. I hate spending a million years waiting for something to cook. First, I more than likely will forget about it and burn it. Second, I hate waiting that long to eat it :) I’m buying a case of apples this weekend so I’m going to try this recipe as well as makes some apple chips.
I seriously love the simplicity of this recipe! We’ll be going apple picking in the next few weeks and I’m adding this to my to-do list after stocking up :)
Me too! And I can’t wait. :) I hope you’ll enjoy the apple butter. Let me know how it comes out!
Delicious Apples are apples that are trying to be pears, and not making it. They are FEH.
Question about the apple butter — do you peel the apples? Did I miss that in the instructions? When I make apple sauce, I do not peel the apples — don’t even core them. I wash them well, cut them up, cook them with a MINIMUM of water — just enough to generate a little steam — and then put them through a food mill which leaves all the icky bits behind, but gives amazing flavor and a gorgeous pink COLOR, as you get all of the goodness of the apple except the oink.
But since this butter is blended, I don’t think this method will work. Hmm . . . if I try it that way, and Foley food mill it, I’ll let you know!
Thanks for the inspiration.
Hahaha. Love this comment.
I didn’t peel the apples! The peel has pectin in there, which helps it set up, so I didn’t bother with peeling. Plus it would have taken a lot longer. ;) Putting the apple butter though a food mill would work here, too! I just went for the less messy and quicker way here. I guess that could be why my apple butter wasn’t a pretty color like apple butter usually is?
I found recipes where you cook the apples, put them through a food mill, and then add the spices and cook further. Maybe that’d work for you! I figured most people don’t have a food mill so I try to find other ways of doing things.
I hope you’ll enjoy the apple butter! :)
Your apple butter looks so good, and i love that it’s sugar-free!
Thanks a bunch, Laura! :)
I just made apple butter for the first time this year (never had it before), and I did the crock pot method. Plus mine had sugar :) Love this version, wish I had seen it first. Made muffins with my apple butter today!
I’m sure your version tastes great with all the sugar! :) And apple butter muffins… yummy!
This looks great! I really like your spice proportions.
If you want to can this, it would require pressure canning, due to the lack of sugar and/or acid. I used to make large quantities of pumpkin butter all the time, and I always had jars go bad despite using a pressure canner, and despite having a good amount of sugar in it. Most of us are probably better off just making a small batch that we can keep in the refrigerator and not worry about.
Thank you, Susan!
And I agree. Canning this sounds slightly… worrisome. The whole canning things scares me to begin with and then you add a total lack of added sugar. I’ll just freeze what I can’t use in a few days. Thank you for your advice! :)
Hi Erin! I totally love your web! And this recipe looks so easy and healthy!!
I just have a question… what’s apple butter? I have never heard about this in my country (Spain) and I don’t know what it is. It looks like chunky applesauce, but the name says “butter”, so… Is it like peanut butter or something like that?
But anyway, I think it will taste great on a toast.
Have a nice day! :)
Hi Sara! Thanks for your comment. :) Apple butter is like a thicker version of apple sauce, but with autumn spices. It’s totally smooth and you can spread it on toast like peanut butter or you can bake with it. It’s great stuff! :)
A crock pot works great for apple butter. throw apples in and go to bed. in the morning serve hot apple butter on oatmeal! Jar the rest.
If only I hadn’t broken my crockpot. :(
Love that this apple butter isn’t loaded with sugar! Can’t wait to see the donuts!
Thanks, Jessica! And those donuts. Man. I ate 4 at once. SO good!
You are right about red delicious apples. I do not like the taste of them and you can’t cook them hardly. The only thing I can think of is in a Waldrof salad the red peel looks good. Hahahaha!! My favorite apple to cook with is the golden delicious. It will stay firm if you don’t over cook it but it will get soft if you want it that way. I like the honey crisp for a tart taste too.
Hahaha. So you only use Red Delicious for their looks? ;) And yeah, they don’t even taste good! Worthless things. Thanks for the apple tips! I’ll keep them in mind when I go apple picking. :)
Considering I get bored after about 2 hours of doing the same thing, this is recipe is perfect. Fifteen hours is a bit drastic. Your version looks absolutely wonderful!
Haha. Agreed! And thanks, Jennie. :)
Every year I think about making homemade apple butter, then cave and buy it at the orchard. This year, I think I should do BOTH!
Yay! Do do both! :D
I love that this is sugar-free!! Now I can eat the whole jar :)
Yeah you can! It’s just like eating applesauce with spices. :D