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.
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.