I recently learned how to make small-batch apple butter, and I was a little embarrassed that it took me so long to start making my own since it’s so easy. Apples come in so many varieties with subtle differences in taste that you can combine varieties to create your own perfect signature combo. A personal favorite is the Granny Smith apples.

More yummy amd easy fruit butters include a small batch blackberry sauce, a creamy pear sauce , easy orange curd recipe, or strawberry jam. Try any of these slathered over my small batch homemade breakfast biscuits.

Use leftover apples to make small batch apple strudel or old-fashioned apple cake.

Half pint mason jar of homemade apple butter.
homemade apple butter

It’s easy to make homemade apple butter on the stovetop! Enjoy the recipe any time of the year. If you have some leftover apples, give my mini apple crisp recipe a try.

Once you taste the homemade small-batch apple butter, store-bought is seriously not worth a trip to the store. Sure, it takes a couple of hours to cook, but the hands-on time is minimal.  

Apple Butter Ingredients

Recipe Directions

  • Add the apples to a 3-quart Dutch oven and pour the apple cider vinegar, water, and salt over the apples.
  • Cook over medium heat for about 1 hour. Stir occasionally to keep apples from burning.
  • When the apples are mushy and soft, remove the Dutch oven from the heat and use an immersion blender to smooth the sauce.
  • Return to heat and add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Stir to mix well and cook on low-medium heat for about 45 minutes or until the apples have reduced to the desired consistency.
  • Pour apple butter into prepared mason jars. Let cool down, place lids on the mason jars, and refrigerate or freeze.

Best Apples for Apple Butter

Peel, core, and cut the apples into quarters.  If you can, use organic apples.  The apples will cook down considerably, and the aroma of the apple cider vinegar will dissipate during cooking.   Bring the apples to a rolling boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Stir the mixture occasionally to avoid the apples sticking to the bottom and burning.

Easy Way to Peel and Core an Apple from Real Simple

After about an hour and a half, remove the Dutch oven from the heat and cream the apples using an immersion blender, blending until you have a smooth, creamy texture.  Return the Dutch oven to the heat and add the brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. 

Mix it all together and continue cooking for another hour or so to meld the flavors. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking and burning on the bottom of the pan.

sliced apples in a dutch oven
Apples quartered in an oval Le Creuset Dutch Oven

What are the best types of apples to use?

I like to use  Gala or McIntosh apples and add one or two Granny Smith apples for a nice sweet-tart flavor combo. As you would guess, the sweeter the apple, the less brown sugar you will need.   

A few common apple varieties that make a nice apple butter either by themselves or mixed up include:

  • Braeburn This one is tarter than sweeter and perfectly crisp.
  • Fuji – a mostly sweet apple variety.
  • Gala – a sweet crisp apple.
  • Gravenstein – a classic sweet-tart apple with hints of honey.
  • McIntosh – a classic sweet simple apple flavor.

What’s the difference between apple butter and applesauce?

Applesauce is a little thinner in consistency, and although the ingredients are similar, apple butter is cooked for a longer time. The flavor of applesauce is lighter and less intense than that of apple butter.  

Storing Tips

The apple butter must be refrigerated and not stored on a shelf since it is not canned.   The apple butter will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

Freezing Apple Butter without Canning

Prepare your mason jars by washing and rinsing them, then boiling them for about 5 minutes. Carefully remove the jars from the boiling water. When the jars are dry, fill them with the apple butter. Most mason jars have a freeze-fill line that shows you how much food you can safely put into a glass jar without risking breaking when the contents freeze and expand. The line is usually about an inch down from the top of the jar. Only freeze food in straight-sided jars, not jars with shoulders. 

When ready to use, thaw the apple butter in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. For safety, if you see any signs of mold or an off smell, toss the jar.  

empty mason jars

ways to use apple butter

  • Mix with a homemade cranberry sauce and use as a topping on pork chops, turkey, or chicken. 
  • On pancakes or waffles
  • On biscuits and toast instead of butter and jam
  • Mix into masked sweet potatoes
  • As a topping on vanilla ice cream, it tastes like apple pie without the crust.
  • A thin layer on top of plain cheesecake

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Half pint mason jar of homemade apple butter.

Small Batch Apple Butter

Creamy homemade apple butter, perfect for topping on everything from biscuits to meats. Keep a jar or two in your freezer.
4.75 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
CoolingTime: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 2 half pint jars
Calories: 71kcal
Author:Sydney Dawes

Ingredients

  • 2 fuji apples peeled, cored, and quartered
  • 1 gala apples. peeled. cored and quartered
  • 1 granny smith apple peeled, cored and quartered
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • teaspoon salt
  • cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Add the apples to a 3-quart dutch oven and pour the apple cider vinegar, water, and salt over the apples.
  • Cook over medium heat for about 1 hour. Stir occasionally to keep apples from burning.
  • When the apples are getting mushy and soft remove the dutch oven from the heat and use an immersion blender to smooth the sauce.
  • Return to heat and add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Stir to mix well and cook on low-medium heat for about 45 minutes or until the apples have reduced to the desired consistency.
  • Pour apple butter into prepared mason jars. Let cool down, then place lids on the mason jars and refrigerate or freeze.

Notes

Prepare the Jars: Even though this is not a canning recipe, and will just freeze your apple butter, make sure to still sterilize the mason jars in boiling water.
Choose the Right Apples: Varieties like Granny Smith, McIntosh, or Braeburn work well. You can also use a mix of tart and sweet apples. The better the apples, the better the apple butter.
Add Sweetener Gradually: Start with a small amount of sugar and add more to taste. The sweetness of your apples will greatly affect how much sugar you need.
Cook Slowly and Stir Frequently: The key to great apple butter is a long, slow cooking process. This allows the sugars in the apples to caramelize and develop a deep, rich flavor. Prevent sticking and burning and stir frequently.
Spice it Up: Add warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to enhance the flavors. Add them to the end of cooking to keep their flavors vibrant.
Blend Until Smooth: Once your apple mixture is thoroughly cooked down, use an immersion blender to mix until smooth. 
Test for Doneness: Spoon a small amount onto a chilled plate to test if your apple butter is ready. If no liquid separates around the edge, and the apple butter remains mounded, it’s ready.
BONUS TIP: A slow cooker can make the process easier. You can leave the apples to cook slowly and not worry about them scorching.
The recipe can be doubled to make 2 pints (32 ounces)

Nutrition

Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 71kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Sodium: 26mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 15g
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @AWeekendCook or tag #aweekendcook!
4.75 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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