Looking for an easy, five-ingredient apple butter for holiday giving? Look no further than this small batch Maple Bourbon Apple Butter!
My family got our first immersion blender when I was in middle school. I can’t remember where it came from, though if I was forced to guess, I’d bet that it was a gift from my grandmother. While she didn’t cook much herself, she garnered a great deal of pleasure from buying culinary appliances and giving them to others (probably in the hopes that they’d prepare something for her with it).
My sister and I claimed that immersion blender as our own, using to make jam and yogurt smoothies for breakfast and after school snacks of skim milk and chocolate SlimFast (it was the nineties, after all). Since then, there’s rarely been a time when I didn’t have an immersion blender in my kitchen.
These days, I pull out my immersion blender on a near-daily basis and use it for soups, purees, fruit butters, jams, gravies, salad dressings, and mason jar mayonnaise. When I heard that OXO was bring a new immersion blender to market, I was excited to check it out because I knew that my current immersion blender was nearing the end of its lifespan and OXO products are always so thoughtfully designed [EDITED TO ADD: OXO has discontinued their immersion blender. It’s a shame because it’s an excellent tool. Mine is still going strong].
Guys, the OXO immersion blender is even better than I had hoped. The blender head is made of sturdy nylon, which means you don’t have to worry about scratching your bowls or cookware with metal. The shaft is coated in silicone, so that you can knock the drips of the blender without dinging the edges of your pan (I have a few pots that are pockmarked from repeated immersion blender banging). The blending end removes from the motor with the press of a button. The motor end has heft and the DC motor produces a lot of power.
No matter what speed you’re on, the blender starts slowly to prevent splashes and then ramps up to whichever of the six speeds you’ve set it at. The speeds are controlled digitally and you can set them using the dial on the top of the blender. The cord comes with a useful clip on the end, so that you can wrap it around the handle and secure it in place. The wide power button is easy to press and hold. Oh, and let’s not forget about the headlight, which illuminates whatever you’re blending. On my dark stovetop, this is so useful.
For its maiden voyage in my kitchen, I used this lovely immersion blender to make a batch of Maple Bourbon Apple Butter. Wanting to really test it, I cored and chopped five pounds of apples, but left the peels on (unlike this recent butter, where I peeled). In my experience, not all immersion blenders can break down even long-cooked apple peels, but this one handled it like it was nothing.
No matter how large or small the batch size, I use a two-blend process when I make apple butter. I cook the fruit down into a soft sauce, puree the heck out of it, cook it down until it thickens and darkens, and then work it with the immersion blender again.
The reason for the second puree is two-fold. First, the peels aren’t always quite soften enough to disappear during that first round of blending. Second, most fruit butters clump a bit while you’re cooking them down, and I prefer a super smooth butter. Pureeing just before the butter goes into the jar ensures that silky texture.
As the fruit was cooking down, I spent a little time pondering flavorings. I have plenty of spiced apple butters on my shelves, and wanted to opt for something different here. I know that the combination maple, bourbon, and orange zest isn’t a particularly novel one, but combined the richness of the long-cooked apples, was just the thing I was craving. My plan is to keep two of the jars for myself, and tuck the remaining two into gift baskets for people I know will appreciate it.
Disclosure: OXO sent me this OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender to try and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Maple Bourbon Apple Butter
- 5 pounds apples cored and chopped
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- Place the apples in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add the water and set the pot on the stove over medium-high heat. When you hear the water simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook covered, for 45 to 60 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the cooked apples (peels and all) into as smooth a sauce as you can manage.
- Set the oven to 300 degrees F and place the uncovered pot in.
- Bake the applesauce for 2-3 hours, stirring once every 45 minutes or so. The apple butter is finished cooking when it has gone several shades darker, seems quite thick, and smells a bit caramelized.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.
- If the butter has reduced in volume to the point where you can't effectively use an immersion blender, transfer it to a smaller pot.
- Add the maple syrup, bourbon, and orange zest and stir to combine.
- Using the immersion blender, puree a second time. Work the blender head around to ensure that you get maximum blending coverage, and that you also work the orange zest into the mix.
- Funnel the finished butter into clean, hot half pint jars.
- Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
- When the time is up, remove the lid from the pot and slide it off the hot burner. Let the jars cool gradually in the water to help prevent the product from siphoning.
- Finally, remove the jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
- Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature and will keep for a couple of years. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
How do you clean the blender? (My last one had this funny enclosed shaft that got potato soup stuck in it…gross!)
The head separates from the body, so you can clean it easily. There’s no funny shaft for something to get stuck in.
Hi! This recipe sounds great and I think I want to try to make it, but I know I don’t have a pot that I can put directly in the oven (because of the handles). Will it be okay if I transferred the content to another pan like a cake pan (oven safe)?
Yes! You can totally transfer it to a cake pan. Just make sure it’s a non-reactive one (no aluminum or bare cast iron).
Just put aluminum foil over your handles. I do it with mine and they don’t burn.
Darn, I was hoping for a giveaway. My immersion blender has just been retired as it started smoking the last time I used it. Putting this on my Christmas list!
That looks delicious! Peeling all those apples is what I don’t like. I guess I need to check into a way to get that done easier/faster.
There are some pretty reasonably priced apple peeler. I got lucky and my Mom had an extra she didn’t need.
I also use my tomato press for removing seeds and peels after cooking.
This recipe doesn’t call for you to peel the apples. You just core and chop them. The peels stay in.
Read the article.
Even easier, put the whole apple, quartered but not cored, through a food mill! Check out the applesauce recipe on this site for more detail.
sounds divine! thanks so much for the review. my current immersion blender (close to 20 years old) is still holding it own, but maybe i’ll just have to add it to my registry as an appliance upgrade!
But it’s only 200 watts.
For an extra $5 I can get an All-clad with 600 watts.
Love the recipe. I am going to make that this year when Pippins finally arrive in the stores.
Sounds yummy & a light on the blender gotta love that!
This recipe looks so yummy. Thank you for sharing.
I know I’m not, but looking at the pictures makes me wish I was going to be the recipient of one of those two jars! Why is it we live so far apart? 😉
I made this today! I started yesterday in a crock pot, and then baked it in the oven for awhile. It wasn’t done, so I finished baking it this morning. After I added the orange, maple, and bourbon it needed a little something more, so I added a dash of salt and a few shakes of cinnamon which made it wonderful! It’s processing as I type. I’m excited to give it as a gift.
How long did you put it in the crock pot for and at what temp? Thanks!
Sounds wonderful! Thanks for the recipe. One question – any idea about how much applesauce 5lbs of apples makes? I have an overabundance of unsweetened applesauce left from last years glut of apples that I’d like to use up in lieu of starting with whole apples.
Made this over the weekend as it looked amazing. It reduced in the oven by 2/3, would that be about right? I can’t say I’m used to any Apple Butter though, it was still a little runny-like if compared to a jam. Would that be correct?
What you’re looking for in telling if a fruit butter is done is that there isn’t any watery liquid separating out from the pulp. It will thicken more as the butter cools.
Hi there, Just made this (it is currently processing), but I could not get all of the skins to fully blend..so I had some stringy parts that I had to physically remove with tongs. I know this will only make it more “home-made”, but what could I have done besides cook it longer? I cooked the apples as advised, and yet the skins would not fully incorporate no matter what.
Otherwise, an easy recipe.
ps–I also added a dash of cinnamon. Felt like it needed it.
It might be that your immersion blender wasn’t as strong as it needed to be. But probably, you just needed to cook it longer. If it happens again, you could also push the cooked butter through a food mill. Or to avoid this issue entirely, you could peel the apples next time.
Is it possible that you could cook it in the crock pot instead of baking it in the oven?
I’ve not tried it that way, so I can’t speak from experience, but you could certainly give it a try.
Hi! I am having trouble getting mine to thicken up within the three hours, any suggestions? I thought about increasing the oven temp and adding time.
If it’s not thickening, increase the heat and time.
I don’t have orange zest,,can I leave out or substitute lemon zest?
Substitute or leave it out! Either option is fine.
so excited for this recipe! Do you think we could double it? Or is that doomed? thanks!
You can double it. Just know that it will take longer to cook.
Awesome! I know it kind of defeats the purpose of a small batch recipe, but a big group of us is going apple picking this weekend and we have a lot of apple butter enthusiasts 😉 thank you!
Just make 6 pints but used the crock pot method and kind of messed up on the maple bourbon part. I used 1/4 c maple flavored Crown Royal and 2 T syrup. It is yummy and will make Christmas presents. The immersion blender is great. So much for regular grandma’s apple butter. Now the kids are going to wonder why I have a bottle of Crown. A splash in a cup of tea before bed and I sleep like a baby. Ha.
Does it matter what kind of apples you use. There is so many varieties of red apples at the market now. Each one had a different taste, so I would think that would affect the taste of the Apple butter. I don’t know tho.
I’ve just purchased three of your books and can’t wait to get started. My only question is, can I use a regular blender instead of a stick/immersion blender? I don’t have a stick/immersion blender and I won’t really have the budget for purchasing one after I’ve got hold of all my preserving tools and equipment.
Thanks from Belinda (in Australia)
You can certainly use a blender for this recipe rather than an immersion blender. It’s just a little more work that way.
I can manage that! Thanks for the reply.
I assume from the way the receipt is written that I should start with five pounds of apples to core versus five pounds of cored apples. Can you confirm? Thanks!
Yes, the weight it taken before you cut into the apples. For future reference, when you read “5 pounds apples, cored and chopped,” that means that the weight is taken before the coring and chopping. If you read “5 pounds cored and chopped apples,” that would mean that you core and chop before you weight.
I love your recipes and have recently tried this apple butter. I baked the apple sauce for 3 hours but felt it could still be a bit darker and richer in flavour – is there any harm in baking the sauce for longer? Also, I wanted to double the amount of maple, bourbon and orange zest because I couldn’t really taste the flavours. Would it be a problem to double these ingredients or would it ruin the preservation levels? Many thanks!
There is no harm in making the tweaks you suggest.
Could I replace half of the maple syrup with honey?
Thank you for the recipe. I just made 9 half pints. They are now in the water bath processing!
A fall visit to Maine involved apple picking and of course we filled a couple bags. So I needed a recipe for Apple Butter and came upon this one. I did double the Maple Syrup and Bourbon but the flavor is amazing. Kind of sweet, kind of smoky, with a hint of citrus. This will make great holiday gifts. Thank you.
Hi Marisa – I love this recipe especially the consistency baking the apples in the oven creates. Can I remove the bourbon from the recipe and still safely prepare it for a hot water bath? Thanks for this awesome site and your books! You are my go to resource!
Hi there, I am very new to canning and I am loving your website. My question is regarding water bath and low acid foods. I have noticed that your apple butter recipe etc. don’t have lemon juice or vinegar in them, but are processed via water bath, not pressure canner. Is there enough natural acid in these products to ward off botulism? I am nervous to start canning because of all the horror stories and appreciate your in put!
Hi, has anyone tried this with brandy instead of bourbon? Would it matter to the taste? Thanks!
If you like the taste of brandy with apples, it should be just fine.
I have the same question about food safeness. There is low sugar and no added acid here. What makes it shelf stable?
Apples naturally have enough acid to be safe for canning. And sugar doesn’t make something safe for canning, though it does help extend shelf life.
I use a steam canner….do I leave the jars in the steam canner for 15 minutes with heat turned off after processing the jars for 15 minutes? Do you think that will eliminate the siphoning???
I made this in the slow cooker yesterday and it came out great! I peeled (my immersion blender never gets the peels smooth enough) and chopped the apples, and put them in the crockpot (no water) on high for 5 hours, stirring twice. Then added the syrup, bourbon, and orange zest and blended.
I was trying to figure out from the comments whether this was okay – thanks for the tip! I may try vanilla instead of maple syrup.
I just made this in my instant pot and OMG! Took about 2 hours. I can’t do orange so I added about 2 tablespoons of cardamom. So much yum!
Do I drain the apples before I used an immersion blender? They are currently in pots on the stove
There shouldn’t be that much liquid left. I never drain them.
Do you have to can it immediately after making it?? I got started making it later in the day at the same time as making several cheese recipes. I don’t have enough burners to can it tonight. Will it be ok to can tomorrow? Will I need to reheat it before canning?
You can refrigerate it and can it another day. You do need to heat it prior to canning, though.
How can I make this in my Instant Pot?
You could borrow the Instant Pot technique I used in this peach butter: https://foodinjars.com/recipe/gingery-peach-butter/
Hey I know this post is a bit older, but I just made this recipe version that is in your small batch book. It calls for 2 lb of apples and 1/3 cup of maple, and I ended up tripling the recipe because I was trying to use up some apples. I thought it would be a good crock pot recipe for the day. But when I went to put the finished apple butter in jars, I didn’t even end up with double the amount you had. You got 2 half pints and 1 quarter pint, but in tripling all of the ingredients I only got 4 half pints and 1 quarter. Now I’m panicking because of seeing how little maple syrup is in this version on your website and realizing I’ve got a whole cup of maple syrup in so few jars. I did end up adding 3 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice also because I didn’t have freshly squeezed. I know you’ve mentioned maple as one of those add ins to not go over board, do you think this amount of maple syrup in so few jars is safe? And the same for the spices? Im only assuming mine must have just cooked way down more than it should have.
Given the amount of bottled lemon juice you added, I would feel comfortable with that volume of maple syrup. I am surprised that your yield was so low, but it happens.
Thank you SO much for your reply! I was really hating to have to throw out the apple butter. Glad I will be able to use it!!
Happy I could help!