Slow Cooker Apple Butter

This slow cooker apple butter is easy yet tastes traditional. It’s made with just apples, spice, sugar, cider, and vanilla and comes together with barely any more effort than peeling apples. Say so long to store-bought apple butter.

An almost empty jar of slow cooker apple butter with a spoon resting on the jar and smear of the apple butter beside it.

Simple pantry staples are slow-cooked to a smooth and seductively spicy loveliness in this apple butter recipe from chef Hugh Acheson. Guaranteed to evoke autumn each time you open the jar—which, we can assure you, will be frequently.–Renee Schettler

What Kind Of Apple To Use In This Slow Cooker Apple Butter Recipe

“Find a farm stand that sells local apples and buy a bushel. I love Arkansas Blacks, but you can use any good firm apple that you find.” That’s a plea from chef Hugh Acheson—and us—to buy local heirloom apples for this slow cooker apple butter.

The Southern legend—Acheson, not heirloom apples—has a lot more to say on the topic. “’The apple of my eye’ means something that you are enamored with and in awe of, something worthy of your love. And indeed, for me, apples from Northeast Georgia fit that bill. My heart is aflutter for the apples whose names have not been copyrighted. Arkansas Black, Winesap, Rome Beauty, Roxbury Russet, and Esopus Spitzenburg are all illustrious varietals that will join the long roster of extinct Southern apples unless we do one simple thing: buy them. Sadly, we have convinced a generation that love is cheap and always available on the supermarket shelf, with its little affixed stickers and small-print labels that whisper of faraway origins. These are commodities that have slowly pushed the local harvest to obscurity. I want to rekindle a romance.” Yeah. Exactly what he said.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 45 M
  • 10 H
  • Makes 144 (2-tbsp) servings | 9 pints
5/5 - 2 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the The Broad Fork cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Special Equipment: 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker



Fill a very large bowl or stock pot with cold water and stir in the lemon juice, ascorbic acid powder, or citric acid powder. 

Peel and core the apples and cut them into eighths. As you work, drop the apple pieces into the acidulated water to keep them from browning. When all the apples are peeled and cut, drain the apples and discard the water.

Place the apples in your slow cooker. Add the sugar, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, salt, vanilla, and cider, and toss well. 

Turn your slow cooker to high and cook for 1 hour. 

Turn the slow cooker down to low and cook for 7 1/2 to 8 hours, or until the apple butter is “jammy” in consistency. Stir regularly throughout the cooking process, and more frequently toward the end of the process. Be careful of splatters, as nothing smarts quite like hot jam. If a thicker consistency is desired, uncover the apple butter, increase the heat to high, and cook, uncovered by the lid but covered with a splatter screen, until more of the moisture evaporates, another hour or two.

Tester tip: If a smoother apple butter is desired, simply use your immersion blender to make it smooth. 

Transfer the apple butter to sterilized canning jars of your choice—just make sure they aren’t chipped or cracked. Fill the jars to 1 inch from the top and screw on the lids and bands. Let cool for 2 hours.

Keep the apple butter in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or hot-process according to the jar manufacturer’s instructions and keep on the shelf for up to 10 months. Originally published September 13, 2015.

Print RecipeBuy the The Broad Fork cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

This slow cooker apple butter is worth every minute. Really easy and mostly hands-free.

This is one time I really appreciated my apple peeler gadget. I have an oval 6-quart slow cooker, and I just barely got all my apples in there. I think next time I will play around with a bit more spice, but this had a nice mild flavor. I will admit, I don't have local apples. (Hawaii is sorely lacking in apple orchards—but we have really great pineapple!)

One great side effect of this recipe was that the house smelled absolutely wonderful for the entire day.

In some sense, all recipes for things like apple butter are a little vague. Part of the reason is that the cooking time depends on several factors. In this case, the quantity and type of apple, the type and age of slow cooker, the amount of liquid and sugar added, and the experience of the cook. Because I've made pear and peach butter in the past, I knew how to get my result to look like the one in the picture. The flavor was very good. I would make this again.

I made a few tweaks. I used a 4-quart slow cooker and followed the recipe up to the 7 1/2-hour mark, at which point the sauce still looked loose and very chunky. I used my immersion blender and made it smooth. Then I replaced the lid with a splatter screen. (Some recipes just call for propping open the lid instead.) I cooked it for another hour and then raised the temperature to high for another half hour. At this point, the color was similar to the one in the picture. (It's difficult to go by the picture because it doesn't really convey the actual consistency of the apple butter.)

I water-processed the apple butter because that's what I do with jams during this season. However, I still store everything in the fridge for safety's sake.


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. Hi! This looks great! Do you think I could mix in a few pears with the apples? They’re plentiful at our farmers markets right now.

    1. Elsa, the pears would give the butter a different flavor, but I think it would be a nice addition. Let us know how it turns out!

  2. I have my apples from our closest orchard and am ready to give this recipe a go. I usually use my oven but this method sounds promising, too! Save not only apples from extinction but local orchards as well. PLEASE.

      1. Well, uh, this recipe didn’t make it to apple butter. It was bubbling away and when we tasted it after some stirring we concluded we like it as applesauce! Great flavor. I used Grimes Golden apples and made one tiny change. I used a teaspoon of SNAP, a spicy spirit made by Art in the Age, instead of vanilla. YUM!!

        1. Penny, my guess is it needed to be cooked down more. Different apples have different moisture contents. Next time, try propping open the cover, or do as tester Adrienne Lee did and use a splatter screen towards the end. It allows the moisture to escape without causing burns.

          1. I’m sorry that I wasn’t clear about this. We decided to stop the cooking after a couple of hours when we tasted the stirring spoon. We wanted to eat it right away as is. So the remaining product is now in the fridge as applesauce. I am so sorry for any confusion.

  3. Has anyone ever treated apple butter like freezer jam instead of using the water bath method when it’s done cooking?

  4. So many apples this year so made this apple butter. Actually followed recipe to a T and it is wonderful. Do not have a scale at summer home so just filled up the slow cooker and let it go all night. Did not stir at all but used stick blender and it came out beautifully. Spices and sugar amounts were perfect for our very tart apples. Thanks!!!

    1. Sara, I’m thrilled to hear you had the same success with this recipe that we experienced. You are so very welcome! Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

  5. It’s a banner year for apples in the northeast so it was wonderful to find a simple and tasty recipe for using some of them. Got to love the slow cooker and its non-scorching properties. This will be an annual recipe in my repertoire. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. You are so very welcome, Dominique. It’s lovely to hear that you like this as much as we do. Appreciate you taking the time. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

Upload a picture of your dish