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"

  • i love my slow cooker- but as several have mentioned- there is sometimes the burn factor. I am a midwife and don’t always leave when the whistle blows ๐Ÿ™‚ and have had a few disasters. I will make just about anything in my slow cooker- especially entrees.Gather the ingredients, put them in, turn it on and VOILA! I often wonder why they are not advertised for use during the summer when they are equally as stupendous and don’t generate heat.

  • I have a small urban farm and market in Denver. We use our slow cooker to keep soups and stews warm on work days for our staff lunches. Thick bean stews, like chile are favs of ours. But we also use it on cold days and through our winter farm markets to heat hot apple cider to keep us and our customers warm and toasty!

  • My favorite use of my crockpot is throwing in a huge chuck roast on Monday and having Stroganoff on Tuesday, Stew on Thursday and beef enchiladas on Saturday!

  • I especially like to make dinners in my slow cooker. A favorite is chicken breasts with 1/2 a bottle of Italian salad dressing over the top. That’s it!

  • My favorite thing to make in a crockpot has got to be apple butter. The smell in the house is scrumptious. I don’t have a real good story about crackpots. I’ve been crockpottless for about 6 months now. I still have the housing but the crock broke in my hands when washing it one day. Just fell apart in my hands. The postage is just to much to replace it and can’t buy another one for a while.

  • How to choose just one…I guess spaghetti sauce is one of my favorites. My poor crock pot is on it’s last legs. It’s chipped and stainedโ€”and I’m always a little embarrassed to bring it to potlucks. I new one would be grand!

  • I love making apple and pear butter in my slow cooker! This year I made tomato sauce too! Really nice not to have to worry as much about scorching.

  • WOW! Hope I win.
    My favorite slow cooker recipe is:
    4 large cans of pears, drained (I am basically a lazy person. The thought of peeling and coring the pears….ugh! Cans are wonderful.)
    3 cinnamon sticks
    1 bottle of red wine of your choice, I use merlot

    Throw it all together in slow cooker for 4-5 hours on low. Then on warm until ready to serve.

    I usually serve warm with vanilla ice cream

  • Dinner and drinks (like chai tea) are my favorite ways to use my slow cooker. It really makes it so you can leave the house while your food is cooking. Brilliant invention. I’ll have to try that apple butter recipe, though… YUM!

  • I’ve always wanted to cook with a slow cooker but do not have one. Apple butter would definitely be high on my to do list if I had one though!

  • I, too, own a number of slow cookers and I LOVE them. My favorite way to use it is for overnight oatmeal. I can just never seem to get the oatmeal right when I cook it on the stove.

  • My mom would make Chinese rice porridge with the slow cooker using leftover turkey bones after Thanksgiving. It would be perfect because she is very forgetful, she’s burnt many pots through my lifetime.

  • I use my slow cookers for so many different things – including Apple Butter. My favorite these holiday days is the trio that my daughter gave me for Christmas last year. It’s perfect for cooking and keeping three different foods warm for get togethers. I make carnitas in the big crock, the trio will hold the beans, 2nd meat (chicken breast for the healthier crew) and rice all perfecty!

  • Oh, I am so bummed out! I plugged in my slow cooker last week and it wouldn’t turn on! So this would be really cool. While the most awesome thing I’ve ever made in a slow cooker is probably pulled pork, I love making black bean soup, cause it’s the easiest/cheapest thing in the world. Turn it on, throw in canned or dry beans, depending on what you got and how much time you have, quarter an onion, bay leaves, throw in whatever stock or water you’ve got, a ham hock and/or vegetables if you’ve got ’em. Later add cumin, salt & red pepper flake. It’s brilliantly fast.

  • I love to use mine to cook skinless chicken thighs with garlic and smoked salt while I am at work. When I get home, I pull the bones out, drain off the broth (save to use for soup), shred the meat and add barbeque sauce. The family loves BBQ chicken sandwich night!

  • I have three slow cookers: one for small batches of apple/pear butter, one for sauerkraut (the ceramic part is the perfect size…come to think of it I haven’t actually used the “cooker” part of that one), and the last for large batches of butter, homemade mac and cheese, and slow cooking chicken and stock. But I can always make room for one more ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Especially around holiday hectic times, before I start the day’s many tasks, I start SOMETHING in the slow cooker – black bean soup, something hearty, with a quick look in the veggie drawer of the fridge. In goes the half an onion, etc., along with the actual recipe. It’s awesome to then have it done when your pooped after a day of errands, baking, whatever!

  • What can’t you make in a crockpot? During the colder months I love to make soups and stews, during the warmer months I like to make baed potatoes and whole chickens.

  • Start something in the morning before you start the rest of your day, and voila! Dinner is there at the finish line when you’re the most pooped out!

  • I don’t have one. Proud of my cooking skills, I turned down a slow cooker graduation present (asking for a waffle iron instead, reasoning that anything a slow-cooker can cook, I can do on the stove but waffles _require_ waffle irons). Upon reaching my thesis year of grad school I realized my mistake: my peers had homemade soups and stews for lunch that their slow-cookers slaved away on. I had crumby sandwiches on homemade bread that didn’t turn out. As a VISTA volunteer, I arrive home late craving soup and stew (warm, filling, and frugal) … and wish for that slow cooker.

  • Any kind of apple butter in the crockpot is a hit! I also like using it to keep my mashed potatoes warm on holidays. But my favorite slow cooker use is hot apple cider!! I add cinnamon sticks, cloves, spices and it stays hot and smells so good! I keep it on when kids are home for holidays or snow days and they just ladle it in mugs all day!!

  • My hands down favorite use is for pulled pork! I love to slow cook a pork shoulder in apple cider vinegar and brown sugar for hours!

  • Chili, soup, and hot beverages are some of my favorite uses. Then again, we rarely make *exactly* the same dish twice in it.

  • My best slow cooker recipe is for a vegetarian tofu chili. My friend made this for when we moved into our new home. We had some young men helping with the heavy stuff, and she fed us all the chili. The fellows scarfed it down without knowing it was vegetarian. Several of them proclaimed that they hated tofu, so it couldn’t be that! My other favorite use is for spiced cider for the holidays–heat it up, keep it warm, just keeps getting spicier. Yum!

  • I love making apple butter in the crock pot, but the clamping lid is wonderful. I’ve always used the cuisinart to puree the apple butter with great success. Thanks!

  • Oh, it’s hard to say my absolute favorite way to use my slow cooker…but one of the ways I frequently use it is to “roast” a whole chicken. I have done so overnight so I have chicken to use for other recipes, or I time it to have fresh, hot chicken for dinner. It’s usually so moist and tender!

  • I used my ancient slow cooker to make apple butter this fall. The smell that filled the house throughout the day was divine! I’d love to try another batch in a new cooker! :o)

  • I love making soups in slow cookers. My favorite is a ham bone soup with beans and tomatoes and kale and a little polenta to thicken it up!

  • My favorite slow cooker meal is beef stew. When I was younger, my mom would make all sorts of slow cooker meals but my favorite was always beef stew! I knew then that I would have a slow cooker in my household when I had a family of my own. Needless to say, I still don’t have one ๐Ÿ™ I have shopped around, looking for the perfect one but have always left the store disappointed. The Set n’ Forget slow cooker you talked about sounds wonderful! I would love to win one, so my dreams of slow cooking can finally come true!

  • I made apple butter in a slow cooker once – my apartment smelled so wonderful! But I think the best use is making gluwhein for a party. It keeps the wine serving temperature with no effort.

  • I make EVERYTHING in my vintage (love the lower temp) slow cooker: lasagna (with tomatoes I canned), pork and potato stew (with tomatillo salsa I canned), pulled pork, tomato butter (from your recipe), beef shanks – even a whole chicken! I would love to have a larger cooker though!

  • I love to make stews and casseroles type things. I love mine, but it is kind of old. It would be great to win a new one! Thank you for the chance!

  • My hubby and I work opposite shifts, I get up first and leave early. I put dinner in the crockpot before leaving and know that he will have a home cooked dinner ready for him to take with him before he needs to leave. Plus I get to come home after a busy long day and commute to a hot meal ready for me also.

  • I actually almost always use mine for batches of apple and pear butter. In fact, I made a batch just the other day! My farmer friend gives me large batches of damaged fruit and this is the best way I know how to deal with it.

  • Pot Roast, hands down, a family favorite! Put the meat in early in the day with all the seasonings, then around noon throw in the veggies, and by 5:00 dinner is done.

  • Wow, awesome giveaway! I really love slow-cooking, but lately my irregular hours away from home prevent me from using my low-high-off model. This cooker looks wonderful!

    I love making soups/stews/chilies in my slow cooker. One of my favorite chili recipes has sweet potatoes and chipotles in it. Mmmmmm.

  • I like to use my slow cooker for cooking dried beans. Another favorite use is using it to cook ground beef and then adding in other ingredients for tacos or pasta sauce.

  • I would have to say it’s a tie between oatmeal, and cheesy dips. I love that after 6-8 hours, I have a huge pot of oatmeal that my husband and I can take to work all week.

  • I have recently done some slow cooking in a garage sale pot. I like this method. I have always done my slow cooking in cast iron pans in the oven or stove top.

  • Actually, i have not been much of a slow-cooker user until I found your blog and have done all of your slow cooker butters. Grew up on the old fashioned ones and didn’t much like them. If i am lucky enough to win, i will try to start from scratch and re-learn how to use on for better results.

    What I really wanted to say is that I truly love your blog and your cookbook. i spent the summer small batching everything in sight and loved it all. our biggest issue right now is the enormous amount of shelf space I am using with jars! Thankfully, no one leaves the house over Christmas without several jars, so i will greatly deplete my supply soon. Thanks so much for teaching me how to put a little bit of food in jars. you have changed my life!! Merry Christmas!

  • It’s always nice to meet another person who suffers from crockpot lust! I particularly love to make soups in my crock pot. Tuesday is our crazy day this school year, so we don’t all eat at the same time. The crockpot keeps the soup piping hot until everyone has their dinner. Okay, that’s probably more than you wanted to know, but I got all excited thinking about my crockpot!

  • I use mine for a lot of cooking. I especially love to use it in the summer when I don’t want to heat up the kitchen. My favorite way, is to make chili in the slow cooker.

  • So far I am all about the pulled pork, and my mom makes some killer beef stew in the crock pot! I am looking to adventure out into the realms of apple butter and pear butter and PUMPKIN butter!

  • I don’t have any experience with slow cookers. I usually use a pressure cooker for tender meats and quick cooking, so I have a lot to learn going the other route. This slow cooker you are offering looks wonderful.

  • I don’t have a favorite slow-cooker recipe, because I’ve never owned a slow-cooker. I’ve been wanting one for a while, though, to make winter comfort food!

  • I have been making a crazy amount of chili in my friends slow cooker I borrowed. My dude loves it and I think we finally nailed down our recipe!

  • Slow cookers do so many things great without the fuss, but I think my favorite is applesauce. Throw the sliced apples in with a little bit of spices, cook for hours without extra work and can for deliciousness during the winter! Love not having all the fuss:)

  • We were using it for chili, pot roast, spiced cider, and beans until the insert broke. I hadn’t realized how much I used it til then.

  • I love the ease of popping a whole chicken in the slow cooker with some spices (lemons too, if I’ve planned ahead) and coming home to a meal and broth bones!

  • I’m not sure what my favorite use would be since I’ve never had one or used one! But probably soups/chili. It would be great to have in the winter!

  • No particular dish, but it’s so nice to walk in the door after a loooong day and be greeted with the aroma of dinner already underway!

  • I have never owned or used a slow cooker. I love the idea of small batches of jams and butters. I have been collecting some of your recipes that sound really good to me to try when I get a slow cooker. Then maybe I will try canning them, something else I have never done.
    Love your blog, everything looks so beautiful and tasty.

  • I have never used a slow cooker! I would love one!
    I would use it all year round! I think most people use them in the fall and winter.
    I think it would be great to use in the summer when it is really hot and humid!
    I would love to make main dishes, and try making yogurt!

  • I agree about the different reasons for my different slow cookers. I have been afraid of the automatic turnoff. Now yes please.. And my hubby won’t kill me if I WIN it verses buying one. Lo

  • I would say cooking pot roasts are my favorite crock pot use…nothing like coming home to a cooked meal! I’d like to try blueberry butter in one next summer.

  • My most recent favorite slow cooker recipe is Pumpkin, Coconut, Cashew & Chicken curry! It’s delicious! Overall I just love it for prepping dinner so I don’t have to do it when I get home amongst giving attention to my two littles. I also put it to use making butters, although my repertoire could use expansion in that category! Mine is not very big, so I would love this bigger model! Fingers crossed!

  • My favorite thing to do with the slow cooker is caramelize onions! HUGE batches of them, until they are basically melting. You don’t get the really dark brown bits like you do when you use a pan, but you can make so much more, and can them for later use!

  • love to fill it up in the morning and come home in the evening to smell supper already cooked. Going to throw chili fixin’s in it tomorrow morning so I can run Christmas errands all day.

  • Our crock pot was lost in a recent move.. the details are too sad to recount here..

    I’m a big fan of vegetarian soups and stews in the crock pot but I’m open to exploring with new appliances in general.

  • Homemade tapioca pudding!

    I only have a 2 and 4 qt. model, neither of which is programmable, so this would be grand!!

  • My favorite thing to make in a crock pot is a pot roast and another thing to add or equal that is an Herb Chicken as well. Both amazing!! Tis the Season!!!

  • Acck! I just finished making 12 half pints of apples butter and missed this post. Maybe I will summon the energy to make more if I have a new slow cooker to work with……

  • I don’t own a slow cooker, and until recently hadn’t given it much thought. But between your use of it for fruit butters and a friend’s use to make beans and bean stews, I’ve been wanting one. It was going to be a post-holiday gift to myself, but hopefully I’ll get one of these, they look great!

  • It’s a tie- both Chili and pulled pork are at the top of my list! BUT- there are a ton of other things that I have made with a slow cooker: stew, ribs, curry, fruit butters- even bread!

  • My favorite slow cooker use is for smothered pork chops. Love how those onions make the whole house smell good and how the meat falls right off of the bones!

  • Right now I’m so happy to have read your blog posting about using a slow cooker for making fruit butters, each time I read your posts I am learning something new. In the past I’ve used my old slow cooker for making braised meat based stews, etc., but now I’ll be happy to try out your spiced apple butter recipe in the slow cooker. Thanks for the extra special Hamilton Slow Cooker giveaway.