Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Slow Cooker Apple Butter Recipe

This slow cooker apple butter is a solid start to breakfast, or a versatile condiment at dinner, or a great component in an apple pie. It’s a slow-cooked smooth, spice-laden treat that’s a great answer to the conundrum of what to do when faced with a bushel of apples. Get some beautiful bread, toast it deeply, spread some really good butter on it, and then add a big slather of this apple butter. This is one of those jars that loves to be given away as a host gift to a neighbor. Our family makes this every year to give to our kids’ teachers. It’s always a hit.–Hugh Acheson

LC Apple Of My Eye Note

“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—we’re talking about Acheson—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, what he said.

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

Slow Cooker Apple Butter Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 10 H
  • Makes 9 pints


  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or 1 teaspoon ascorbic or citric acid powder
  • 9 pounds local apples (such as Winesap, Rome Beauty, Arkansas Black, or just about any variety that you like)
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup nonalcoholic apple cider


  • 1. 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. When all the apples are peeled and cut, drain them and discard the water.
  • 2. 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. Then turn it 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 when the apple butter is jammy, but be careful of splatters, as nothing smarts quite like hot jam. If a thicker consistency is desired, uncover the apple butter and allow it to cook a little longer until some of the moisture evaporates.
  • 3. Transfer the apple butter to sterilized canning jars of your choice—just make they are not 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 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.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

This slow cooker apple butter is worth every minute. I will admit, I don't have local apples. (Hawaii is sorely lacking in apple orchards—but we have really great pineapple!) 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. One great side effect of this recipe was that the house smelled absolutely wonderful for the entire day. Really easy and mostly hands-free.

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. For the author, it may have worked exactly as written, but I made a few tweaks. What I look for in a recipe like this is whether the ingredients work, and after my tweaks, they definitely did. 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 guard. (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. The flavor was very good. I would make this again.


  1. I made slow-cooker peach butter last week. As soon as local apples are ready, I’ll be making this apple butter. This method is so much easier than stirring over a hot stove & the inevitable scorching.

  2. “Stir regularly” – Can you give me a sense of what “regularly” means? I’m looking forward to making this.

    1. Nancy, that’s a terrific question. At the beginning I’d stir it every 45 to 60 minutes or so. Towards the end, when the consistency is quite jammy, I’d give it a stir every 25 minutes. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of the results!

  3. 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.

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

  6. 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 as applesauce! Great flavor. I used Grimes Golden apples and made 1 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.

            1. Grins. I love your spirit of improvisation, Penny! What a great tip that it also works as applesauce! Thank you!

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