Spiced Apple Butter

December 19, 2012(updated on May 3, 2022)

This spiced apple butter is made in a slow cooker, which means that it is almost entirely hands off. I like to make this in the autumn and squirrel it away for holiday gift bags.

jars of spiced apple butter

Since I was very young, I’ve been something of a collector. I figured that if having one of something was good, then having three or four was even better. As a kid, this meant that I had more pens and pencils in my school bag than necessary and felt most comfortable when I had a back-up security blanket.

In my adulthood, this propensity towards duplication has most actively manifested itself in the kitchen. I have at least two dozen wooden spoons and spatulas (when just a handful would really do), three vintage waffle irons (because you never know when one might break) and five slow cookers.

Hamilton Beach slow cooker

There’s no really good defense for the wooden implements or the waffle irons, but I do have a rationale for the slow cookers. My slow cooker needs often vary and so having different shapes, sizes and eras to choose from give me options.

Dips go in the mini-cooker. When I make overnight oatmeal, the 2 1/2 quart pot is best. If I’m doing a batch of blueberry butter and want really low, slow heat, nothing works better than my vintage, 4 quart, harvest gold cooker. I also have kept a basic 6 quart cooker in the rotation for a while for stocks and soups, though I must confess, it has never been my favorite.

slicing apple with an old fashioned slicer

Then there’s slow cooker number five. It joined the line-up recently and rocketed to the top of my slow cooker hit parade. It’s the Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget model, with a lid that can be locked into a place and a thermometer probe that you can use to test internal temperatures without lifting the lid and releasing the heat. It allows you to set the cook time and temperature (when the time is up, it shifts to a keep warm setting).

This time of year, my slow cookers are in regular rotation for the production of apple and pear butters. I typically go with my vintage cooker, because I know that I can trust it not to burn (older slow cookers have lower set temperatures than the newer models). However, because of its capacity, it ends up yielding just a couple of pints. As you know, most of the time I like a small batch just a little more than the next girl. During the holiday season that changes and  I appreciate the option of larger yields for gift giving.


I realize now that I’ve avoided the newer cookers and their higher temperatures because I’ve never worked with one that had an auto shut-off before. I tend to let my fruit butters cook overnight. That was too much time for my brute force, either-on-or-off cooker. But having the option to set it to cook for 5 or 6 hours and then shift to warm has changed everything. I know this technology has been around for a while (my mom had a slow cooker when I was little that did something along these lines), but I’d never before experienced it. I am in love.

My fruit butter yields are higher because the new Hamilton Beach machine has a larger capacity and I’m not running the risk of burning the butter because it shuts off when I ask. I am a happy canner.

slicing an apple for spiced apple butter

Before we get to the apple butter recipe I’ve made three times in the last month in machine, I have to tell you one more reason why I really like it. It’s that “Stay or Go” feature. This slow cooker has a lid fitted with a silicone seal that can be locked into place. That makes it an able traveler, which is terrific for a regular potluck-attender like me.

I used it to transport and serve mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving (sadly, they were the worst mashed potatoes I’ve ever made; both lumpy and gummy at the same time. But the quality of the potatoes wasn’t the cooker’s fault) and it will be pressed into travel service again soon.

stay or go slow cooker lid

The formal recipe I’ve been using for this slow cooker apple butter is down below, but here’s the narrative version. You begin by filling your slow cooker to the top with sliced apples (I got about eight pounds into my cooker, but there’s some natural variation here). You add a little water (maybe 1/2 a cup) to help things along and then you let the cooker for for four to six hours on low, until you can mash the apples into sauce.

Then you puree the heck out of the applesauce, until the skins disappear. It works best in my Vitamix, but I’ve also achieved this same effect with an immersion blender and persistence. Then you return the puree to the slow cooker (it will only fill it 2/3 of the way up at this point) and cook on low for another six or so hours with the lid slightly askew for venting purposes, until the sauce has reduced into butter. Stir in sugar, spices, and lemon zest/juice for balance. That’s it! Making spiced apple butter is so easy and makes such good holiday presents!

5 from 3 votes

Spiced Apple Butter

A batch of apple butter, cooked in a slow cooker
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time12 hours
Processing Time15 minutes
Total Time13 hours
Servings: 3 pints


  • 7-8 pounds apples any varieties you like
  • 1/2 to 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced


  • Slice apples and heap them into a six quart slow cooker.
  • Add 1/2 cup water and set to low.
  • Cook until apples are tender and can be easily pressed into sauce. On low, this will take 4-6 hours. On high, it should only take 2-3 hours.
  • Puree softened apples into a smooth puree (it shouldn’t be necessary to peel).
  • Return to puree to slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours with the lid set slightly ajar so that it can vent.
  • Add 1/2 cup sugar, spices and lemon zest/juice. Taste and add more spices and sugar, if necessary.
  • Funnel hot apple butter into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
  • Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
  • When the time is up, turn off the heat and remove the lid. Let the jars rest in the cooling water for 5 minutes. When that time has elapsed, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortably handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.


My batch yielded just over 3 pints, but with all things that depend on reduction, yields will vary. I can see this batch ranging from 2 to 4 pints, depending on the water content of the apples and the length that you cook them.
This recipe can be canned in pints, half pints, quarter pints or any other small jar designed for boiling water bath canning. All jars pints or smaller are processed for 15 minutes. Should you want to can it in quarts, increase processing time to 20 minutes.

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5 from 3 votes

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1,103 thoughts on "Spiced Apple Butter"

  • Oh how I need another slow cooker! It seems that there is so many things I want to do all at once. I am teaching my 14 year old daughter and 12 year old son how to crock so they will be able to have cooked meals when they come home to their dorms when they leave off for college. No excuses! Love crocking soups and stews to freeze for quick meals later. I tried pear sauce this year in the crock and it made it so easy.

  • My favorite slow cooker use is to cook plain chicken breasts. Put them in on low and a few hours later they are cooked and ready to use in recipes!

  • Interesting timing because I’ve never made apple butter before but made several batches this year and then canned it to give as gifts. The slow cooking really seems to meld the spices and I’m getting so many compliments on it! I made it in this ugly old crock pot that won’t die (so I feel guilty replacing it since it works) from 1990 that I got for a wedding gift…(I’m now divorced)….a lovely new one would be such a gift!

  • I like to make chicken broth in my slow cooker. In addition to fresh chicken, I add bones saved from a couple of roast chickens. I cook it low and slow, for about 8 hours, to make rich, delicious broth with lots of gelatin from all the extra bones. Yum!

  • I use my slow cooker all summer long since no matter how low we set the A/C or how long we run it, the house never gets below 83 degrees. I think my favorite recipe that I have is chicken tacos from a Martha Stewart recipe magazine. I’ve been thinking about investing in another one lately. I tried to cook a turkey breast in my slow cooker over Thanksgiving and had the feeling that maybe the heating element wasn’t what it once was since it took so much longer to cook than the recipe claimed.

  • Beef stew. I know it’s not a canning use, but I love beef stew and like to let it stew away in the slow cooker while I’m busy doing other things.

  • Oh, my slow cooker is a Hamilton Beach one as well but it doesn’t have that handy feature! I cook mostly savory things in it as it hadn’t occurred to me to cook jams! But thanks for the idea, will try it on my day off and can control the timing or if I win a sibling for my other slow cooker baby!

  • I have been on the hunt for an old avacodo slow cooker as you suggested in a class, but no luck! What a great Christmas gift it would be to win a HB one!

  • My favorite slow cooker recipe is definitely overnight steel cut oatmeal. It is so nice to wake up to a house full of the smell of cinnamon, oatmeal goodness.

  • I like to use the slow cooked for pork roasts that get shredded up for various uses. The best variation lately was a recipe from rick bayless for pork tacos with raisins, almonds and a chipotle sauce. The raisins bit threw me at first, but they were delicious.

  • I have to say I’m addicted to slow cooker apple sauce. I make it at least once a week come Winter. My family eats it warm for dessert with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, Delish!

  • The slow cooker is how I manage a full time job and 3 little ones under age 5. Haven’t hit on a favorite recipe yet, though I’ve made a coconut thai beef that we all like a lot.

  • Until recently, I used my slow cooker mostly for meat dishes — roasts, barbecued ribs, chicken, etc. But lately…pear butter!

  • Love the idea of the locking lid. Maybe this would prevent me from “peeking”, as I do with my current slow cooker.

  • My favorite use for the slow cooker is to load it up the night before with a pork roast topped with some Honey Lemon Apple jam from your recipe. It makes a perfect glaze/sauce and the lemon keeps it from being too sweet. A cooker that turns to low when I tell it would be amazing!

  • Pulled pork! Also what is that fancy apple slicing implement you have so beautifully photographed and where might one aquire such a delightfully simple looking yet useful device? I’m really tickled by it..

  • Chicken stock is my fave to make in the slow cooker. I turn it on before we go to bed & it is already to freeze in the morning!

  • I use the crock pot for Bluegrass festivals. That way I can be away from the camper and listening to the music (the reason I’m there) and dinner is preparing itself. If only it could clean itself!!! I also use it during all the holidays for casseroles that I don’t’ have room in the oven for or for hot drinks! Would love to have this new one that does not let the steam seep out. My lids do not fit as tight. Good luck to all! Happy holidays & Happy New Year.

  • We looked at getting a new slow cooker a few years ago, but weren’t quite convinced about any of the newer models. I love making steel-cut oatmeal overnight, and split pea soup that doesn’t scorch. I hadn’t thought about doing small batch jams & butters; but that may be the final push for getting a new slow cooker – one way or another.

  • Love the features of this crockpot – especially the temp probe and lid seal. Chicken bone broth is what I make the most in my current crock pot, but chili is probably my favorite – although it wouldn’t surprise me if this apple butter recipe doesn’t give chili a run for the money!

  • My favorite thing to make in a slow cooker is pork chops in apple butter, especially on these cold winter days! Or, perhaps some hearty chili to warm us up.

  • My favorite thing in the crock pot is soup. When I was teaching, I would load it up in the morning, turn it on and walk out the door. Just walking in the house and smelling the aroma of homemade soup was so relaxing. The only thing better was when I remembered to also set the timer on the bread machine so we also had fresh bread to go with it. YUM!

  • My old cooker just died a slow death from overuse. My favorite use like yours is apple butter…there’s an apple farm nearby and I buy a 1/2 bushel in the fall. I got one of those hand crank peeler/slicers, and do a big pot of a variety of different kinds mixed together, but no sugar. I fill up the pot but then as it cooks down add more apples. Yum! (second favorite use: a great but easy coq au vin recipe that fills the house with an amazing smell. Haven’t figured out how to can that yet…)

  • I use a “vintage” one that was my parents and pretty phenomenally 1970s. My favorite slow cooker use is honestly whipping up a HUGE BATCH of carmelized onions. Long time but able to do like 8 – 10 onions at a time means I am sitting pretty with onions!

  • I would LOVE a new slow cooker. I’m spending the day making rosemary/pear jam, apple butter, chocolate truffles and pickled okra for Christmas presents! Can’t wait.

  • When I make apple butter and pumpkin butter, I always have to borrow my mom’s crockpot. I’d love to have one of my own, especially with all those fancy features!

  • Where to begin. Overnight oatmeal, keeping stew and soup warm for large dinners, warming a ham to correct temp when the oven is being used for a 28 pound turkey, making yogurt, and all kinds of other foods. Love, love, love slow cookers!

  • Favorite slow-cooker use is still for soup, but now that I know fruit butters can be made in them, I will stop doing those on the stove! Thanks for sharing your methods on your blog.

  • I also love doing apple butter in the slow cooker. Another favorite is pepper steak sandwiches. They’re so good to have waiting for us when we’ve been outside most of the day.

  • If I had a slow cooker it would be pot roast or beans. I use grandma’s cast iron Dutch oven. Love your idea of cooking fruit butters this way.

  • My mom made apple butter every season for years (also grape jelly from the neighbors vines and tomato chilli sauce). She had 9 kids so it was about saving money for her. I never thought about it, but she must have had a huge pot to make so much apple butter, way more than three pints. I don’t remember a gigantic pot in the kitchen though. It does amaze me how long we’ve been hauling crock pot meals to friends houses before someone thought of the clever locking mechanism. I want one too!

  • My favorite slow cooker use is for soups and stews. I’m trying to be a bit more adventurous (my friend and I recently made a batch of apple butter in the slow cooker and I just bought a new slow cooker cookbook), but because I worry a bit about leaving the slow cooker on when I’m not home for long stretches of time, I only use it when I can be home all day. I love the idea of the timer feature! If I could turn it on when I leave the house in the morning, then have it automatically lower the temp at some point in the day, I could come home 12 hours later to a meal that isn’t overcooked or burned on the bottom (and a house that isn’t burned, too!).

  • I like cooking beans and making roasts and chilis in my Crock-Pot. One chili is inspired by Tacos al Pastor, with pork, pasilla and guajillo chiles, annato, onion, and pineapple.

  • Beef stew, yum! Really anything though just because slow cookers are amazing to me-you stick everything in it, and in a few hours you have a meal. Almost no work!

    Thanks for hosting this giveaway, how exciting!

  • i asked santa for a new crock pot for christmas. its my soup cooker. nothing better than beef stew in the crock pot. except leftover beef stew mixed with fettucini alfredo. omg thats so delish.

  • Honestly, I’m terrified of my slow cooker. Despite yielding wonderful stews and juicy slow cooked chicken, I almost never use it unless I come across a particularly exciting recipe that specifically calls for it. I have a hard time trusting any hot cooking implement that I can supposedly walk away from. How is that not a guarantee for disaster? 🙂 I have always wanted to try slow cooker fruit butters and slow cooker yogurt. This post is inspiring me to work on my trust issues through a last minute pear butter for stocking stuffers.

  • I haven’t used a slow cooker in years but I’ve been hearing more varied uses for them that I’ll have to see if I can find mine. Thanks for another reason to hunt.

  • I only have one slow cooker, the Hamilton beach standard of 15 years ago. My family is much larger now and the handle is loose on one side making it unsafe to carry by the handles any more.
    A new slow cooker would be a very merry gift to me!

  • My son gave me a new crock pot for Christmas about 5 years ago after I “retired” the one I got for opening a bank account for him about 30 years ago. That first crockpot is still going strong after all those years, but I use it for dyeing wool/yarn so can’t use it for food anymore. My favorite use for the new one (which is larger) is reducing tomatoes. I put 10-15 lbs of tomatoes through a hand cranked machine that spits out the seeds & skins from one end and the pulp/juice out the other. I’m sure it has a proper Italian name, but I don’t know it. The pulp/juice goes into the crock pot overnight on low with the cover propped open a bit and in the morning, the reduced tomatoes are ready to be put up. So easy!

  • I use my slow cooker for so many things. My favorite is to make dinner before I leave in the morning for work and it’s ready when I come home!!! Thanks for the opportunity to win this one!!!

  • I use my crock pot at least weekly! I love throwing a pork butt into it and letting it cook for a really long time. I tend to start it in the evening of one day to have for dinner the next day! It comes out so tender, then put it over rice.

  • pork shoulder! I put a frozen pork shoulder in my slow cooker right before bed and set the cooker on low. I add a little wine or stock and go to sleep, waking to a kitchen that smells so good I can’t stay in bed. I tweak the spices, adding dribs and drabs of whatever’s on hand, but always S&P, garlic/onions, and the last bits from a few homemade jams & jellies plus a little more wine. It cannot fail and couldn’t be easier.

  • Chicken and Dumplings would be my favorite thing to make in the slow cooker. That is how my mom made them. The perfect comfort food for me.

  • I love cabbage, so my favorite slow cooker meal is pork and sauerkraut. In fact, that sounds like a good meal for New Year’s Eve!

  • We got our slow cooker as a wedding present, and since then it’s become my favorite way to cook a whole chicken with minimal effort. As a stay-at-home mom with a toddler, it’s wonderful to throw things into the slow cooker and go about my day. It’s a kitchen favorite. We like to throw a chicken, some potatoes or other root-y vegetables, a little beer, and some spices in the pot and leave it be. Delicious!

  • I love to go home on my lunch break and fill up the slow cooker with whatever I choose for dinner and then set it and when I come home from work dinner is ready! It can’t get any easier than that!

  • My favorite recipe are pinto beans that have evolved into these beasns with a bit of tomato paste seasonings (Mexican oregano,cumin, chile powder seasoning mix, garlic, onions, a couple of bay leaf and some chicken stock). Key is enough seasoning and not to over do the liquid. The day before I make a roast in the crock pot and next day we have tacos with homemade tortillas and beans. This may be my husband’s favorite meal.

    Love your blog and your wisdom. Have a wonderful Xmas and happy new year.

  • I think the best thing I’ve ever done in the slower cooker was pulled pork. My one slow cooker is a bit of an odd size– too small to do most standard recipes, but too big to heat up dip for parties. Maybe I’d use it more if I had one of these fancy new ones! Looking forward to trying a small batch of apple butter with the bag of “cosmetically challenged” apples I snagged at the farmers market this week.

  • I’ve used our slow cooker for everything from soap to stews but it’s never been a good family friend since it doesn’t travel well. I love the idea of having a turn off feature and lock n load handles…

  • A few times a year my Nana would spend the day making the most delicious corned beef and cabbage. I work full time and don’t have the time to nurse a roast to perfection that’s where my trusty hand-me-down slow cooker comes in. It’s fantastic coming home from a long day at work to a slowly cooked roast with minimal effort!

  • I use my slow cooker to make bean soups and to “hold” other dishes until I am ready to serve them. I am a busy mom and sometimes my opportunity to cook is hours away from dinner time. Yesterday at lunchtime, I made a simple veggie soup on the stovetop and then transferred it to the slow cooker to warm until dinner time. If I had transferred the hot soup to my fridge it would have warmed up my fridge…so putting in the slowcooker on low seems to work best. Also, the soup develops more flavor over the hours it gently simmers in the slow cooker. I am about to make some serious apple butter up in here, now! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • I don’t really have a favorite slow cooker use, having never had a slow cooker, but I can say that my favorite things I imagine doing with a slow cooker are bringing it to work and making soup for an evening meeting (one of my colleagues used to do this and it made our shared office smell so good!) and making fruit butters! (plus, funny you mention a Vitamix here: a slow cooker and vitamix are the 2 kitchen tools I’ve been wondering whether I really need, or whether I don’t need to spend the $$).

  • I use my current slow cooker for chili and other beans, as well as soups and stews. I’ve got apples and raisins stewing in it right now to be a french toast topping for tomorrow’s breakfast.
    Now that I’ve got a kitchen with counter space, I’d love to have a second, more reliable slow cooker to be able to reduce fruit to butters: I don’t trust mine to be going that long……

  • My favorite slow cooker use? Oddly enough, pulled pork. Boston butt coated with Penzey’s BBQ 3000 and a little cider vinegar in the bottom. Cover, cook on slow all day… delicious!

  • I love the idea of these giveaways– what a great way to help people try new kitchen gadgets! I am a little late for this one, but only just discovered your site. My favorite slow cooker recipe is a breakfast cereal with amaranth and sweet potato, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger and a dash of nutmeg. Nutritious and feels like a special treat in the morning!

  • Hi Marisa – strange question, I made your crock pot butter and put it in the fridge for two weeks. Is it too late to hot water bath can it?

  • I use my slow cooker for a stew once a week. It can be vegetable stew or add some meat to it. Delicious!
    We also love chile and have that at least 2-3 times a month. With a garden full of tomatoes and extra beans that went to see – we can make a chile that is almost completely from the garden! Yum!

  • 5 stars
    My favorite slow cooker use is overnight oatmeal. Walking to the scent of cinnamon and nutmeg is a little bit of heaven.

  • 5 stars
    We have made this recipe for a number of years, and continue to receive rave reviews from the family and friends who we share our bounty with. The butter has a very classic apple pie flavor and makes a wonderful filling for cinnamon rolls, condiment for toast/rolls and add to sauces, where a touch of sweetness is needed.

  • 5 stars
    Just wanted to mention that my favorite way to have apple butter is on buckwheat pancakes. Lots of simple recipes out there and they come out so beautifully, I’ve never had a fail. In addition, despite having ‘wheat’ in it’s name, buckwheat is gluten free. My recipe uses no fat and only 2 tablespoons of sugar (which I reduce to 1). Buckwheat also has lots of fiber. Marisa, I love all your fruit butter recipes!

  • Hi, I use my slow cooker year round and always make my own applesauce. I want to try and can it this year for the first time. I like this recipe because of all the spices. However, I didn’t know if I could leave it a little “chunky”?