Get all the fall feels with this sugar-free apple butter recipe! Cinnamon, allspice, and cloves flavor this easy and healthy apple butter recipe. This post details how to make this apple butter on the stovetop or in a slow cooker or crockpot. Additionally, we discuss several different options to process your apples; food mill, food processor, blender, or immersion blender. And, do you want your apple butter to be just a little chunky or silky smooth? It’s up to you!
Making apple butter couldn’t be easier. At its core (get it?), you put several pounds of apples with their peels in a pot and cook them until they’re soft. Then you mush them up (you have several options to do that), add some fall spices, and cook them for a bit more.
That’s it! That’s all you need for homemade apple butter! And this apple butter is healthier than many as there is no sugar added to it.
what apples to choose
Choose any of the softer apple varieties for your apple butter. These apples cook down quicker. You can choose one variety, but I prefer a combination:
I know it costs a bit more, but I always choose organic when making apple butter, especially since the skins are left on.
slow cooker apple butter or crock pot apple butter
You can make this sugar-free apple butter in a slow cooker or crock pot. Add the apples and cider and cook for ten hours on low.
To thicken it a bit more, let some moisture escape by only partially covering the pot for another two hours. If you opt to use an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, you could add all the spices right at the beginning and just blend it all after the apple butter has thickened.
chunky or silky smooth apple butter
If you use a food mill, your apple butter will be just a tad chunky. I use ‘chunky’ loosely, it won’t be chunky, but it won’t be silky smooth either…more like applesauce.
But, if silky smooth apple butter is your goal, then simply whir it in the food processor or blender.
applesauce versus apple butter
Apple butter is basically applesauce that is cooked even longer and more heavily spiced. The slow cooking makes it almost caramelized.
canning homemade apple butter
You can easily water bath can this apple butter, and this recipe includes directions for water bath canning.
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While boiling water canning isn’t hard, it does require a few pieces of equipment to make the task much easier:
- A Jam Pan or Maslin Pan
- Jar Lifter
- Magnetic Canning Lid Lifter
- Headspace Gauge
- Ball Jars or Kerr Jars or another suitable canning jar.
- A Wide-Mouth Funnel
- The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving or The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving.
- A clean surface
- Clean towels
- A large spoon or measuring cup to scoop the jam or preserves into each jar.
- A bowl of white vinegar and a clean dishcloth or paper towels.
The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is my bible. Even if I think I could make the recipe in my sleep, I double-check myself against the Ball Book…that whole botulism thing. It should be your first purchase if you are new to canning. My cookbook library inventory recently expanded with the addition of The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes! Another great canning and preserving resource is the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia website.
what to do with your sugar-free apple butter
- Spread it on your toast, biscuit, or scone
- Use it to make these apple butter bars!
- Top pancakes and waffles
- Mix it in your oatmeal
- Use it instead of applesauce in a recipe
- Put it on a cheeseboard
- Serve it alongside pork or chicken
- Add it to your sweet potato recipe
- Dollop it on your grilled cheese sandwich (especially good with brie!)
- 4 pounds apples (preferably organic)
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Cut apples into quarters or eighths. I use our apple cutter, which cuts the apple into eighths and removes the core. There is no need to peel the apples.
Combine the apple slices and cider in a large, covered saucepan and heat over medium-low/medium heat until they fall apart ( 1 1/2 to 2 hours)). Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
At this point, you have a couple of options:
- Put a food mill over a bowl and add the apples to the food mill. This will remove the skins and leave a chunkier apple butter. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the food mill to get all the good pulp.
- If you want to remove the skins but have smoother apple butter. Then you could use an immersion blender, food processor, or blender after you've put the apples through the food mill.
- Leave the apples in the pot and use an immersion blender to puree the apples. This option will leave the skins on so that you will get some skin bits in your apple butter. But you will also get smoother apple butter.
- Put the apples in either a food processor or blender. Once again, the skins will stay on, but you will get smoother apple butter.
Add pureed apples with spices to a large saucepan.
Simmer over low heat, frequently stirring until thickened. Another 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
To test for doneness, place a teaspoonful of apple butter on a cold plate.
If the apple butter stays mounded on the plate without liquid separating from the apple butter, then it is done.
Refrigerate the apple butter for up to two weeks, freeze it, or can it.
To can your apple butter.
- Spoon your apple butter immediately into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace
- Remove air bubbles and wipe the rim with white vinegar
- Center lid on the jar
- Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.
- Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water by 2". Add additional boiling water as needed to raise the water level.
- Cover the canner and bring water to a gentle boil. Process for 15 minutes, adjusting time as necessary for elevation. (see notes)
- Remove jars and place them upright on a rack to allow them to cool completely.
- Refrigerate any jars that did not seal
This recipe assumes some knowledge of proper and safe canning techniques. Please see the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for guidance.
1,000 to 3,000 feet add 5 minutes
3,001 to 6,000 feet add 10 minutes
6,001 to 8,000 feet add 15 minutes
8,001 to 10,000 feet add 20 minutes
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