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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1,103 thoughts on "Spiced Apple Butter"

  • I have used my slow cooker to make apple butter twice now. It’s so easy. I swore off making butters or catsup on the stove. Major pain in the patootie and splatter burns are not fun. And you don’t have to clean the ceiling either.
    Love your blog! …………pigz

  • My favorite slow cooker item has to be apple butter. There really is no other way to get it to the thickness I prefer.

  • I use my slow cooker mostly at thanksgiving to cook that 1 item that I couldn’t get on the stove top. Usually corn.

  • I love to dump a frozen meal into my slow cooker before I leave for work & have supper waiting for me when I get home!

  • I didn’t grow up with a slow cooker so I still don’t really get it. I got mine for free on the side of the road so maybe it’s time for an upgrade! I generally just use mine to keep things hot at potlucks.

  • I LOVE slow cookers. My favorite use is probably apple sauce / apple butter. But I love to make dinner in the crock as well – chicken, pulled pork , stews, lots of things ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Pulled pork.
    No wait, jambalaya. Definitely jambalaya.

    Or maybe a chicken, sausage, rice, veggie dish my wife whips up.
    Or maybe a nice yummy pot roast.
    and I’m intrigued by both the caramelized onions, apple butter and oatmeal….

    Too many choices, I am afraid, to have just one fave.

  • We use ours most often for meatballs at family gatherings, or for my meaty-cheesy dip that we serve up at New Years. Tried it a couple of weeks ago for apple-nectarine butter for the very first time. Turned out perfect! Thanks for the great instructions and recipe Marisa!

  • Chilis! Three bean vegan chili always cooks up nicely in my slow cooker. I’m hoping to use it for an oatmeal bar at a brunch as well.

  • I love to make corned beef brisket in my slow cooker, but I make a really mean pot roast in it, too. It’s great to pop it in and let it cook while I’m at work and come home knowing dinner is mostly done. I’d love another one that does more than have low, high and keep warm! I’d be certain to pay it forward and let someone have my current one!

  • I like using my slowcooker for my apple and pear butters. I use it for beans. I use it for roasts. I use it for hot wings. I use it for LOTS of things!!

  • Can you believe I’ve never owned nor used a slow cooker? With my introduction into fruit butter, however, I’m feeling the need! Not only butter, but soups and stews! This looks like a great model, and such a generous giveaway!

  • I have an old slow cooker that I make a whole chicken in. I leave the bones in the slow cooker after we’re done eating and make stock in it too. I would LOVE to have one that can travel. My office likes to have slow cooker potlucks and last time I lost a good chunk of matzo ball soup to my car’s back seat en-route to the last office potluck.

  • My routine when working nights and going to school- 2 little boys at home- Set up the meal in the crock. place in fridge. AM- set crock into pot turned to superlow. Sleep- awaken to a home cooked meal.

  • My crockpot gets regular use with morning oatmeal. My favorite way to cook beans is in the crockpot. No need to baby sit while cooking!

  • I’m all over the apple butter in slow cooker, but also a fan for pulled pork in slow cooker. Will be trying your recipe!

  • I am loving making steel cut oats in my slow cooker and use a light timer to get it started at three am so it is ready when I wake up. Thanks for the give away!

  • We still use a WestBend Slo Cooker we got as a gift from our employer for Christmas 1980. My husband made some excellent turkey chili in it just today. Yum!

  • I have taken the Buca di Beppo Chicken recipe w/capers, artichoke, and lemon and tossed it all in the crock pot with just a few changes. Was awesome.. I could make it once a week if I had enough people to eat it!

  • I picked up our crock pot at a garage sale in the summer with big intentions but haven’t made a lot besides apple sauce and a few stews. But those intentions are still there, so I hope to make much more in the future! We’ve done both apple butter and ketchup on the stove and it would be great to have a different option for those!

  • I love to use my slow cooker to re-work leftovers and items that just NEED to be used up: bread pudding, soups, and so forth

  • Chili! It always tastes better when it can simmer slowly and let the flavors meld over hours. I desperately need a new crock-pot, so this is perfect timing!!

  • My sister has this crockpot and she loves it!
    I like to dump in a roast, onions and garlic and come home to an almost meal. Make some rice or potatoes and there’s dinner. So easy. Our last crockpot died during our recent move… dropped it on the ground. Sad. This is a timely giveaway!

  • I have a crock pot/slow cooker that I love to use for cooking corned beef, soups, and my kick a$$ vegetarian chili. ( I would share the receipe but it is a closely guarded secret at this point).

    Since I have been exploring the world of canning and urban homesteading I use the crock for making my juniper berry saurkraut. I holds one head (cabbage) at a time. Perfect! But this now leaving me rather slow cooker limited. Do I start another batch of saurkraut or make chili, what about apple butter? So many choices and so little room!

  • My favorite use is recent – roasting an entire chicken, then putting the bones back in the slow cooker and making my own broth. Dual purpose and little time spent on my behalf!

  • I bought this crockpot 1-year ago and love,love-it. Have been thinking of buying a 2nd one – this give-away would be perfect! I am a BIG fan of crockpotting -using it for soup/stews, roasts, casseroles, desserts -at least 1-2 times/week. I don’t have a favorite -some of my conversions from traditional recipes to the crockpot – have been favorites!

  • I use my old slow cooker for a ton of things but I love it most for apple sauce and stews. I would love to try it with fruit butters and things like ketchup making! I enjoy reading your posts!

  • Oh, beef stew most definitely. I would love to have one I could set and forget though, especially with my 4 kids and crazy life ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I made a superb brown sugar pear butter in my slow cooker this year, but of course the very bottom burned. I’d LOVE one that would turn itself off.

  • I love mine for doing pot roast. But my favorite currently is the Navy Bean Soup my husband made – all by himself!

  • I love to make a roaster chicken in my slow cooker— when done in a broth with carrots, onions, celery and herbs, we get a meal or two of chicken in gravy over biscuits or brown rice and a quart or more of hearty base for any number of soul satisfying soups that can also be made in the slow cooker!

  • I use my slow cooker for lots of meals for the family. It is really good for breakfast on weekday mornings when you can sleep in.

  • Perhaps the list of what we don’t make in the slow cooker would be shorter! Love it for one-pot meals -meat+potatoes+vegetables – left to cook all day while off to work. House smells so wonderful when you return, tired and hungry, & supper is done!

  • I love good old pot roast in my slow cooker and lots of stews and soups. I need to use it for lots more, and your post is an inspiration. How fun would it be to let my butters slow cook? Fun!

  • I do not own a slow cooker and have only started seriously canning this year. However, knowing how easy it is and how much I love apple and pumpkin butter, I should really look into getting one!

  • I typically use my slow-cooker for things that need a slow braise–pulled pork, short ribs, etc. I’ve never tried it for things like fruit butters, but I’m very interested to try! Thanks for hosting such an amazing giveaway!

  • I really need to win this! Sadly, because of the size and age of my current slow cooker, I don’t use it much. I have used it to make overnight Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal and it makes the house smell AMAZING by the time you wake up! I also recently saw a recipe to make bread in the slow cooker so I would love to try that. (via Zoe Francois)
    Thanks for the opportunity!

  • I love apple butter and slow cookers have become my favorite kitchen appliance! This would definetly be a welcome addition and I can’t wait to try this recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Making Chicken Corn Soup was time consuming until I started using a slow cooker. Now I just put a whole chicken in before I leave for work and finish the job that evening. Tastes better too. When we get a big snow I’ll plop some frozen broccoli, cream of celery soup, half & half, and Old English cheese in the slow cooker. There’s a nice bowl of soup waiting for us after the driveway is shoveled.

  • I use my slow cookers all the time; if I think it can be cooked or warmed in a slow cooker I give it a try. I always cook my spaghetti sauce during canning season in a slow cooker, and like you I have various sizes and shapes (9 to be exact…is that obsessive?). Though, I don’t have one with a lid that can seal for transport. I have looked at them but always manage to convince myself that I probably don’t need to buy another one…. but if I won it who could argue with that!

  • My favorite thing to do with my slow cooker (I have 3 of various sizes, but none with a lid that clamps on for tranport! Brilliant idea!) is to dump the turkey/chicken carcass into it after we’ve carved it up for dinner, add water, and let it cook overnight. In the morning–it’s stock for freezing or ready to be made into soup of some sort! It saves me from having to find room in the freezer/refrig for the carcass, and I feel like I’ve got a jump on the next few meals!

  • The most common thing I use my CP for is Beans & Ham. I’m a southern gal, but was recently up in the NorthWest for a few years. My new friends up there raved about my beans & ham. “Whats your recipe?” they would ask. I would just chuckle and tell them “Ham, beans, salt & water” .

  • My favorite slow cooker use is pulled pork (pork shoulder). I’d consider making this recipe, too!

  • I love using my slow cooker to make carmelized onions. It smells heavenly and the carmelized onions can be used for French Onion Soup or as a topping for meats, potatoes or sandwiches. Yum! Love your blog, too.

  • I’ve just found your blog and am beyond excited to dig in!! I love using my slow cooker (actually my future sister-in-laws that we have borrowed long term) to make hearty meals while at work. I love the idea of the the buiilt in timer. We made overnight slow cooker french toast for thanksgiving morning. It was delicious, but I had to get up at 2am to turn on the slow cooker. blerg.

  • That slow cooker sounds like it’s just the ticket! Anything cooking would make the house smell just wonderful, love the probe. This time of year I love to fill mine with spices and citrus peels just for the ambiance.

  • I love my slow cooker almost as much as I love my pressure cooker. A humble pot of beans with a little ham hock bubbling away on a rainy Sunday makes the house smell so good and feel so warm. I usually only use on the weekends, though, because I feel like it needs to be babysat (I’m a hoverer). The slow cooker that you featured intrigues me… ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I don’t have a slow cooker but have wanted one for soups, dried beans, and โ€”now that I’ve read it’s possibleโ€”jams and fruit butters.

  • My absolute favorite use for a slow cooker is perpetual bone broth. Chicken carcass; garlic; veggie odds and ends (no carrots!); and water. Take it out as you need it and just refill the water. Since I broke all of my slow cookers about a year ago and have been getting by on hand-me-downs, keeping this recipe going for longer than one day has been a challenge.

  • I typically use mine for pot roast and stews, but am intrigued to try apple butter in mine. Would love one of these slow cookers!

  • I love a simple chuck roast with just onions and maybe some garlic. I just let it go all day for meaty deliciousness.

  • I have three old slow cookers that I use for dyeing yarn, and one newish one that I use for food. I love making stews and I just bought Indian and Italian slow cooker cookbooks.

  • Gosh. You all inspire me. I haven’t used a slow cooker in years but now I’m thinking I’ll get down the one I still have from the 70’s and see if it still works. Winter stews and soups–yum.

  • I use my slow cooker to make a large batch of spaghetti sauce, venison chili and I even bake potatoes in it. Just prick them with a fork and put them in their on high and dry,(no liquid) for 6-8 hours. Not exactly the same as the oven, but great when you have leftovers that are calling for baked potatoes. Great with leftover meatloaf or ham.

  • I use mine for stews – mainly elk and venison – the cooker does a great job, results in very succulent meat. I tend not to indulge but my husband loves what I cook.

  • Wow, I think I discovered you just in time! I’m enjoying browsing the posts. I love using my slow cooker for everything from applesauce to beef stew to Anasazi beans. It’s the most versatile thing I have, and I’ve been thinking I need to get a larger one. Mine only has high, medium, low and off – no timer at all! Thanks to you and to Hamilton Beach for a chance to win.

  • I like to use my slow cooker for soups but hands-down my favorite is a roast. Beef with potatoes, celery and carrots. Soon I will be getting some locally grown beef and I can’t wait to make a roast with it!

  • oh my! so many great entries you have! i have used slow cookers and crock pots for years. since the kids have left home, i have down sized to the biggest being a 4 qt cooker that has a hot spot ( ugh). i started making butters in small batches last year (used to use my roaster and the oven before) and of course that just doesn’t cut it. i also would love the timer prospect, so i guess if i don’t win this one, i will watch for sale and buy one

  • The best is yet to be! (I don’t have one). Fruit butters sound fabulous; and I do have some lovely Rancho Gordo beans that like low & slow cooking.

  • A slow cooker allows me to make some of the best soup stock from the odds and ends I froze over that last few weeks/months.