Canning Apple Butter Recipe

with Sharon Peterson

Canning Apple Butter: A Delicious Way for Newbies to Get Started!

This is an incredibly easy recipe for canning apple butter in a slow cooker or Crockpot. Slow cook the apples overnight and your kitchen will smell heavenly in the morning.

Homemade apple butter slathered on lightly toasted and buttered fresh bread with a cup of tea or decaf coffee on the side is a favorite snack for me!

After cooking in the slow cooker, you will need to process this recipe in a boiling water canner.  Or you can freeze it or just put it in the refrigerator to use now.

You will need enough apples to fill your Crockpot, about 6 pounds of apples. I make this in my large, 6-quart slow cooker. Adjust the amount of apples and sugar to the size of your cooker.

Full Disclosure: I Varied a Bit.  

Note:  My source for this recipe is the Ball Blue Book. The exact ratios from my source are...

4 pounds apples and  4 cups sugar. 

This is one recipe that I vary a bit, so full disclosure. The way I make it probably has less sugar that recommended.  :)  You make your decision and add more for canning if you feel safer!  


Gather your canning supplies:


  • apples - enough to fill your Crockpot very full
  • 1-2 cups sugar (to taste)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt


Peeling apple.

For anny canning apple butter recipe, the apple peeler-corer-slicer comes in handy. It will cut your time in half. (For a video review, click here.)

If you are planning on canning apple butter, applesauce, or just plain apples, the apple slicer-corer-peeler really is handy. If you use one, see instructions that came with it.

If you do not have one of these, just prepare your apples the old-fashioned way, with a knife. If you do this with a knife, chop your apples up small.

Peel, core, and slice your apples.

Put your apples into your Crockpot. Fill it up to the brim. The apples will settle quite a bit as they cook and soften.

In a bowl mix sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Pour this mixture over the apples.

Cover and cook approximately 10 hours. Stir occasionally. Leave the lid slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape, as this will help the homemade apple butter to thicken up nicely. 

As the apples cook, you will be able to go from stirring with a spoon to a whisk. They will whisk up nice and smooth.

The color will get darker and darker as the apple butter thickens as well. I love to let them cook good and long. It makes the apple butter recipe so yummy.

Canning apple butter using the Crockpot.

Canning Apple Butter
Crockpot Tip

Only do the overnight cook if your cooker will cook at a nice low temperature. I have a Crockpot that cooks everything a bit too high. If I left this overnight, it would scorch for sure.

If your crock tends to cook too high, plan on rising several times during the night and stirring the butter.

I hope this canning apple butter tip helps you!

Start these in the evening. Cook on high for an hour just before going to bed. Turn down to low and give them a good stir. In the morning, whisk them up.

Let the apple butter cook down to your desired consistency. It will end up with a scrumptious browned color.

You can leave the lid off for the last hour or two to get a thicker consistency. Fill your jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims clean, remove any air bubbles, and place your lids.

For more details, follow water bath canning instructions.


Quarts or Pints?

You can make fruit butters in quart-size jars, but I'd suggest you think about it first. A quart of any fruit butter will last a looooong time. :0

I always can these in pints or half pints. Half pints are processed the same as pints.

The National Center for Home Food preservation has you sterilize your pint size jars and then process at 5 minutes. To avoid the task of sterilizing jars, I use a 10-minute processing time.  (Ball Blue book just says 10 minutes, adjust for altitude.) 

Read here for more information on sterilizing jars for canning.

Canning Apple Butter Recipe - Half Pints or Pints

  • below 6,000 feet elevation - process 10 minutes
  • above 6,000 feet - process 15 minutes

Canning Apple Butter Recipe - Quarts

  • below 6,000 feet elevation - process 15 minutes
  • above 6,000 feet - process 20 minutes

Best Apple Peeler Corer Slicer Video

Questions from Sharon's Inbox

"This is the first time canning apple butter & everything seemed fine until the next day when I noticed a thin liquid @ top of apple butter, is this bad or just normal separation?"

Assuming you processed it in a water bath, it is most likely just a normal separation. Just stir it in when you open the jar to use it. Watch for any bad smells or mold, but homemade apple butter is pretty hard to mess up! I love it.


How long does homemade apple butter keep?

If I get a hold of it? Not long! :) I LOVE homemade apple butter. In all seriousness, however, homemade apple butter should keep for at least 12 months, likely more, if you store it in a cool, dry place. 

What's the difference between applesauce and apple butter recipe?

Applesauce is a canned apple puree that's meant to be eaten by the bowlful. Apple butter is cooked longer, so it takes on a different consistency than applesauce, more like a jam or a jelly. It's also sweeter and more spiced than applesauce.

It’s apple butter time! I make mine in the crockpot & then water bath. Wondering if there a difference between cooking in the crockpot vs stove in the sweetness level?  Thanks for your help

I've never tested it but I don't think there would be any difference in the sweetness.   With the stove, the main thing is just being sure you are on hand to stir more often.  The heat is all at the bottom of the pot, with a crockpot the heat surrounds the apples and will be a gentler heat.  It does take longer though.  So it just depends on your preference in cooking style.  The sweetness will be all about the type of apples and any sweetener you add.  

Apple Butter Recipe

"Hi Sharon,
I'd like to make Apple Butter in the slow cooker, but i want to use my food mill to clear skins and seeds first.  So, my question is:  HOW?   Just take the apple sauce result and put it in the slow cooker?  for how long?
Thanks.  Irene"

Hi Irene, great question. I would just make applesauce with your food mill. Then add that to your Crockpot. The cook time will be less, but I can't give you an exact time. I'd estimate 6 hours maybe? It all depends on how juicy your applesauce is and how your cooker cooks. Try it out and let me know how it goes.  :) 


"Hello.  My question is when I am cooking down my apple butter recipe, do I need to cover my pot or just leave it uncovered?  I did this years ago and I cannot remember.  Thank you.  Elise"

Elise, you should either leave the lid off, or at least leave the lid ajar so moisture can escape. As the apple butter gets thicker, it may tend to splatter so that is why I sometimes just suggest to leave the lid ajar. A splatter screen is also a good idea if you want to leave the lid completely off. 


Homemade Apple Butter

Page last updated 7/24/2019.

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Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You are encouraged to verify all canning and food preservation advice on the USDA food preservation website. 

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