Breakfast and brunch · comfort food · Farmers Market recipes · holidays · southern food

Cooking basics: Slow-cooker apple butter

I used Fujis, Galas, and Granny Smiths

Apple butter is a must for my fall each year. Its flavor and fragrance are so reminiscent of my childhood years that I make sure to either make or buy some every autumn. A few years ago I learned that making my own isn’t terribly difficult, so I made it yearly for my family,  but after I began working full time, I didn’t have the hours that it took to make it myself any longer.

That was, until I decided to make it in my slow cooker and then refrigerate or freeze it instead of canning it. That cuts down massively on the amount of time it takes to make a delicious batch! No need to stir a pot all day on the stove, and no need to pull out the boiling water canner and go through that fun but time-consuming process.

Here’s the recipe.

Mama Step's slow-cooker apple butter

Slow-cooker apple butter

Yields about 5 half-pints

  • 5 to 5 1/2 pounds of fresh apples, any combination (I use Granny Smiths along with Fujis and Galas for tartness as well as sweetness)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light; dark lends a molasses-like flavor)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3-4 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Combine dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, whisking to combine. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
  2. Wash, peel, core and thinly slice apples, and place in a large mixing bowl. (I leave on a bit of peel here and there to lend flavor and pectin to the mix)
  3. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the apples in the large mixing bowl, and use your clean hands to toss, completely coating every slice.
  4. Transfer to 6-quart slow cooker. Mine was filled to the rim!
  5. Cook on low for 9 to 10 hours, stirring occasionally if you happen to walk by.
  6. At the end of that time, use your immersion blender to smooth out the apples. I like mine to be somewhat chunky, so I don’t completely puree it.
  7. Taste at this point to see what you think; you might want a smidgen more of cloves, for example, or another teaspoon of vanilla extract to make it taste just the way you want it.
  8. If the apple  butter is thinner than you’d like, remove lid and continue to cook on low for another half hour or more, as long as you are nearby to keep an eye on it. Beware of scorching.
  9. This apple butter must be stored in the fridge, or if you’d prefer to freeze, leave at least 1 1/2 -inch headspace when pouring into clean jars for expansion before putting in the freezer. (Or freeze in freezer bags, if you prefer.) Since we didn’t can it with boiling water, it isn’t shelf stable.

Enjoy your apple butter on hot biscuits or rolls, toast, English muffins or croissants (can you tell I like breads?) or perhaps warm a bit of it to serve as an ice cream topping or glaze over your pound cake.  I often ate it in place of jelly on my PB & J sandwiches when I was growing up! I just love it, and hope you do, too.

You might also like:  Super-moist apple pecan cake with caramel glaze

Spiced apple-pumpkin bread with dried cranberries

Copyright 2013 Stephanie Hill-Frazier. All rights reserved.


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