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Homemade Apple Butter (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)

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Make your own sweet and smooth apple butter at home with an Instant Pot or a slow cooker.

homemade apple butter in a mason jar

So let’s set the record straight… Apple butter has absolutely nothing to do with butter. I thought everyone knew this, but apparently not!

It is actually a flavorful spread made up of different types of apples (at least my version is!) that have been cooked for a long time to make a dark brown, amazingly fragrant, and incredibly tasty condiment/sauce that can be used as a topping, spread, or filling.

Apple butter is quite versatile, and you’ll be interested to know that the way we cook the apples is the same method we use to make homemade applesauce, we just cook the mixture of apples longer to the desired consistency, which is thick and smooth.

homemade apple butter in a mason jar

I grew up eating apple butter, and just tasting it reminds me of my dad. I distinctly remember him slathering it all over bread and eating it as a nightly snack (and yes, this delicious homemade apple butter has been dad-tested many times over the years and he always gives it two apple-butter-covered thumbs up!).

While I definitely enjoy my apple butter on top of any kind of carbs, I actually enjoy it the most mixed into cottage cheese (which apparently is a Pennsylvania Dutch thing, so that makes sense since that’s where I grew up).

apple butter in a jar with an instant pot in the background

Isn’t it funny how sometimes something so normal to you sounds so strange to someone else, simply because of where you grew up? I hope bringing this Instant Pot apple butter recipe (that also has a slow cooker version!)

APPLE BUTTER VS APPLESAUCE

If you’re new to apple butter, or perhaps if found yourself here accidentally, you may be wondering what the difference is between apple butter and apple sauce.

It really and truly comes down to a combination of the amount of time the apples are cooked and how much you purée the cooked mixture. It’s also a little in the flavoring/spicing.

instant pot applesauce in a bowl

Long ago, I shared my Instant Pot applesauce recipe (pictured above), and you’ll see the ingredients and method are very similar. The amount of time and the additional step of puréeing is really the only difference.

I also spice my apple butter differently, as apple butter is traditionally spiced more heavily and deeply than applesauce.

APPLE BUTTER INGREDIENTS

Where we live (Pennsylvania), September through November is totally apple season.

While it is definitely pumpkin season in the oven (or out of the oven in the form of pumpkin fudge or in pumpkin coffee), it’s apple season in the produce aisle, and I’ll tell you what… That is one big beautiful sight.

several kinds of apples on a wooden surface

We are Gala fanatics in this house, but I will admit it’s hard for me to pass up a Honeycrisp or a Golden or even a Fuji… Oh, who am I kidding? Give me any apple, and I will eat it right up!

I might even put apple butter on it. Too much?

For this traditional apple butter recipe, you’l want 6 pounds of apples (this is approximately 12 apples). You can use any kind you like, but I typically like to use some Granny Smith apples, some Golden Delicious, Macintosh, Gala, Fuji, and Honeycrisp. 

While the apples are the bulk of any delicious apple butter, we will add cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to our apple mixture.

We’ll also add a little bit of salt, and then, my special addition that brings all the rich flavor… Molasses.

While the molasses is a totally optional ingredient, I strongly urge you to include it. It brings depth of flavor and really does kick the spice level up a notch to create what I believe to be the best apple butter I’ve ever had.

aerial photo of apple butter in a jar

No, you don’t need water, maple syrup, cinnamon sticks, lemon juice, apple juice, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, apple pie spice, or apple cider vinegar to make this traditional apple butter.

These are all ingredients I have seen in other apple butter recipes, but I promise you that you can keep this simple, preserving the integrity of what apple butter actually is, which highlights the true apple flavor that should be the main focus of this condiment.

HOW TO MAKE APPLE BUTTER

When I first published this easy apple butter recipe, Instant Pots did not exist (it was back in 2014). I used to make a batch of it every fall and spend all day cooking it.

That’s all well and good, but when an Instant Pot showed up from Santa at Christmas 2017, I knew I could turn this slow cooker apple butter recipe into one for the Instant Pot so I could make it in a fraction of the time.

It’s also when I published my Instant Pot applesauce recipe, which has since become one of my favorite ways to use my Instant Pot (second only to perfect hard boiled eggs, which we make WEEKLY in this house).

That said, whatever appliance you have is absolutely fine. The only thing I like about the Instant Pot recipe more than the slow cooker one is how fast it can get done.

sliced and cored apples on a surface with an apple peeler in the background

Both versions of this recipe start the same. It’s simply a matter of combining sliced apples, sugar, spices, and molasses and cooking them.

PRESSURE COOKER APPLE BUTTER

Place all of the ingredients into the Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Stir everything to coat.

apples, sugar, and spices in the bottom pot of an instant pot to make apple butter

Secure the lid in place, then set knob to “sealing.” Press “manual,” then set the timer for 10 minutes.

When the Instant Pot comes to pressure, allow the apples to cook until the timer goes off. Use natural release by letting the timer count up to 15 minutes without venting. When the timer reaches 15 minutes, carefully move the knob to “venting” to release any remaining pressure.

Press “cancel” to turn off Instant Pot, then remove the lid and use an immersion blender to purée the apple butter until completely smooth. You may also purée it in batches in a food processor or regular blender, being careful not to burn yourself.

cooked apples in an instant pot ready to be pureed to make apple butter

Lastly, press “slow cook,” then use the “-” button to set to “less,” then set the timer for 30 minutes. Replace the lid and allow apple butter to continue to cook, removing lid once or twice to stir, if you are able.

Allow to cool, then use or store!

SLOW COOKER APPLE BUTTER

This is one of those things you’ll be able to let sit for quite some time, so set aside about a 12 hour window from start to finish if you’re using a slow cooker.

You won’t want to put all of your apples into your slow cooker at, say, noon, unless of course midnight apple buttering is your thing, and then by all means… Go for it. No judgement here.

When you’re ready to work in that 12 hour window, place all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and stir everything to coat.

apples covered in sugar and spices in the bowl of an instant pot to make apple butter

Turn the cook power to low, then cook the apples for 10 hours, stirring occasionally, if you are able.

After the 10 hours, remove the cover and use an immersion blender to purée the apple butter until completely smooth. You may also purée it in batches in a food processor or regular blender, being careful not to burn yourself.

apple butter in the pot of an instant pot

Return all of the apple butter to the slow cooker (if you removed it), then cook for an additional 2 hours on low with the lid slightly ajar to thicken apple butter. If you prefer it even thicker, cook on low until it reaches the desired consistency.

CAN I CAN THIS APPLE BUTTER?

While I cannot speak specifically on canning this apple butter recipe, I do encourage you to do it if you are familiar with the process. I’d also love to hear from you, because I know nothing about canning and would love to be able to offer instructions to do so.

My understanding is that it has to be at a specific level of acidity, which I don’t know that this is. If you are an expert on this topic, please email me and let me know your thoughts!

STORING APPLE BUTTER

This homemade apple butter will last in the fridge for about 2 weeks. It will also freeze well, so you can save it for later!

WHAT CAN I DO WITH APPLE BUTTER?

Wondering what to do with all this apple butter? I’m glad you asked!

apple butter in a jar

Here is a list of suggestions I put together for ways you can enjoy your spreadable apple deliciousness:

•apple butter and peanut butter sandwich
•on ice cream
•with cottage cheese
•with ANY cheese (especially Brie)
•in yogurt
•in oatmeal
•in a recipe where you might use applesauce
•on pancakes/waffles/French toast
•on bread
•on biscuits
•on crackers
•in this apple quick bread
•in this apple pull-apart bread
•as a glaze for pork or ham

I hope this easy Instant Pot apple butter serves you well any time you’re feeling an apple-y, spicy, treat. It’s perfect for the fall holiday season and can absolutely carry you into the winter ones, too.

Homemade Apple Butter: This deliciously sweet apple butter is spiced with the perfect fall flavors. It's so easy to make your own at home!
5 from 1 vote
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Homemade Apple Butter (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)

Make your own sweet and smooth apple butter at home with an Instant Pot or a slow cooker.
Prep Time30 mins
Bake Time12 hrs
Total Time12 hrs 30 mins
Recipe Author Lynn April
Servings: 6 pints

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds of apples1
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (150g) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon (15mL) molasses optional

Instructions

INSTANT POT

  • Peel, core, and slice apples (I use this apple peeler). Place in Instant Pot.
  • In a medium size bowl, whisk together both sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Sprinkle mixture on top of the apples. Drizzle in the molasses, if using, then stir apples a few times to coat.
  • Place Instant Pot lid on top, lock it, then set knob to "sealing." Press "manual," then set the timer for 10 minutes.
  • When Instant Pot comes to pressure, allow to cook until the timer goes off. Allow natural release by letting the timer count up to 15 minutes without venting. When the timer reaches 15 minutes, carefully move the knob to "venting" to release any remaining pressure.
  • Press "cancel" to turn off InstantPot. Remove cover and use an immersion blender to purée the apple butter until completely smooth. You may also purée in batches in a food processor or regular blender, being careful not to burn yourself.
  • Press "slow cook," use the "-" button to set to "less," then set the timer for 30 minutes. Replace lid and allow apple butter to continue to cook, removing lid once or twice to stir, if able.

SLOW COOKER

  • Peel, core, and slice apples (I use this apple peeler). Place in the slow cooker.
  • In a medium size bowl, whisk together both sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Sprinkle mixture on top of the apples. Drizzle in the molasses, if using, then stir apples a few times to coat.
  • Cook the apples on low for 10 hours, stirring occasionally, if able.
  • After 10 hours, remove cover and use an immersion blender to purée the apple butter until completely smooth. You may also purée in batches in a food processor or regular blender, being careful not to burn yourself.
  • Cook for an additional 2 hours on low with the lid slightly ajar to thicken apple butter. If you prefer it even thicker, cook on low until it reaches desired consistency.

COOLING AND STORING

  • Allow the mixture to cool completely.
  • Spoon into jars or containers2 and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You may also freeze apple butter up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator or at room temperature.

Notes

  1. Apples: this is about 12 apples. I like to use a mix of Macintosh, Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, and Honeycrisp. 
  2. Storing: I have never canned anything before, and get a lot of questions about canning this recipe. I imagine it can be done, so if you have successfully canned this apple butter recipe, please let me know!
Did you make this recipe?Mention @freshaprilflours on Instagram or tag #freshaprilflours!

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I love the idea of apple butter! It’s definitely not a thing here in Australia, but it needs to be! We are definitely getting a slow cooker when we move into our new house, and as an apple lover I am sure that this recipe will be a big hit in our home 🙂 I can’t wait to stir it into my oatmeal next winter, spoon it over my ice cream, and serve it with a cheese platter. Oh yum!

Do U know about an old fashion pumpkin cooky recipe?

I grew up with a mother from PA and a dad from NY but I was raised in FL and TN in the summers. They showed us many things to put it on and of course to cook with; such as: Biscuits, pancakes, donuts filling, ice cream toppers, pork chops, chicken, popcorn dip, yogurt, cottage cheese, fruit dip, oatmeal, layered between pound cake and my most favorite put it in BBQ sauce for a great flavor! There are so many more I could add but these are just a few of my favorites!

My Mennonite cookbook says to use Apple cider…cook that down half then add apples etc. Is this correct !?!? I’m goin to make a 40 gal copper kettle full !!!!!!

This is the only apple butter recipe I’ve seen that calls for molasses (outside of what’s already on brown sugar). Does it give it a different flavor? It’s definitely peaked my interest. Thanks.

5 stars
Thanks, Lynn, for the absolutely delicious Instant Pot Apple Butter Recipe. I honestly couldn’t believe how super easy it was…and so fast! The hardest part was waiting for it to cool down so I wouldn’t burn the roof of my mouth! The molasses was optional, but we used it and boy did it add depth of flavor.