jar of homemade apple butter

How to Make Apple Butter

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I recently learned how to make apple butter and I was a little embarrassed it took me so long to start making my own since its so easy. Apples have so many varieties with subtle differences in taste that you can combine varieties to come up with your own perfect combo. Once you taste the homemade version, store bought is seriously not worth a trip to the store.   Sure it takes a couple hours to cook, but hands on time is minimal.  

Cooking the Apples

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


sliced apples in a dutch oven
Nine apples quartered in a 5.75 quart oval Le Creuset Dutch Oven

What are the best types of apples to use to make apple butter?

I like to use  Gala or McIntosh apples and add in one or two Granny Smith for a nice flavor combo of sweet and tart.  As you would guess, the sweeter the apple the less sugar you will need.  Although softer apples will cook down quicker,  I don’t limit myself.   A few common apple varieties apples that make a nice apple butter either by themselves or mixed up include:

  • Braeburn 
  • Fuji
  • Gala
  • Gravenstein
  • McIntosh

What’s the difference between apple butter and applesauce?

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

Does apple butter need to be refrigerated after opening?

Yes, the apple butter needs to be refrigerated and should not be stored on a shelf since it is not canned.   The apple butter swill stay fresh for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Freezing Apple Butter without Canning

Prepare your mason jars by washing and rinsing, then boil the jars  for about 5 minutes. Carefully remove the jars from the boiling water and carefully pour out the hot water. When the jars are dry fill with the apple butter. Most mason jars have a freeze-fill line that shows you how much food you can safety 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.  The apple butter will stay fresh for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. For safety, if you see any off smells, or signs of mold, toss the jar.  

empty mason jars

Some of my favorite 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, taste like apple pie without the crust.
  • Thin layer on top of plain cheesecake

Homemade Apple Butter

Homemade Apple Butter

Yield: 6 half pint jars
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
CoolingTime: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes

Creamy homemade apple butter, perfect for topping on everything from biscuits to meats. Keep a jar or two in your freezer.


  • 5 fuji apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 3 gala apples. peeled. cored and quartered
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Add the apples to a 5-6 quart duth oven and pour the apple cider vinegar, water and salt over the apples.
  2. Cook over a medium heat for about 1 1/2 hours. Stir occassionally to keep apples from burning.
  3. When the apples are getting mushy and soft remove the dutch oven from the heat and use an immersion blender to smooth the sauce.
  4. Return to heat and add the brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla etract. Str to mix well and cook on a low-medium heat for about 1 hour or until the apples have reduced to the desired consistency.
  5. Pour apple butter into prepared mason jars. Let cool down, then place lids on the mason jars and refrigerate or freeze.


If your not canning and wil just freeze your apple butter, make sure to still sterilize the mason jars in boiling water.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 71Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 26mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 2gSugar: 15gProtein: 0g
The nutritional information provided here are estimates and are not calculated by a registered dietician.
What’s your favorite way eat apple butter?

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