How to Make Apple Butter (No Added Sugar)


After tackling homemade applesauce, making apple butter seems like the next logical step.

sugar-free-apple-butter

If you’ve never tasted homemade apple butter, you’re missing out. It tastes like Fall in a jar!

I’m usually not the biggest fan of jams and jellies, but this stuff is good enough to eat by the spoonful. And it’s so easy to make! In fact, if you’ve already made homemade applesauce, all you have to do is add some spice and let it simmer longer, until the applesauce cooks down and gets thicker. Using a slow cooker makes this process easy, because you don’t have to worry about constantly stirring or burning the apples as they cook down. You don’t even have to peel the apples before you get started– the skins blend right into the applesauce, and add extra nutrition to the resulting butter.

Best of all, making apple butter is practically fool-proof. You can cook down the sauce to be as thick or thin as you like, and you can even (carefully) taste it as you go, adjusting the spices and sweetness as desired.

Though it’s unlikely you’ll burn your applesauce at such a low heat, if you do, all you need to do is pour the apple butter out of the slow cooker– the burnt parts will stick to the pot. Simply clean it off, and return the unburned apples back to the clean pot and keep cooking them down until the butter has reached your desired thickness. I cooked my apple butter until it had reduced by about half, making a little over 16 ounces. Depending on how many apples your slow cooker will hold, and how much apple butter you want to make, feel free to adjust the quantities to suit your needs.

As an added bonus, your house will smell AMAZING all day long while this apple butter simmers away, without the need for scented candles or artificial air fresheners. Win, win!

Homemade Apple Butter (No Sugar Added)
Makes 16-20 ounces

Ingredients:

3 lbs. apples (I used Fuji)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup water

Directions:

Core and chop the apples (I used this handy apple slicer to do it quickly) and place them in the bowl of your slow cooker. Add in the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and water then cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or until the apples are tender enough to fall apart with mashed with a fork. (If you’re using a VitaClay, this process only takes 2 hours.)

slow-cooker-apple-butter

To make applesauce, use an immersion blender to puree the cooked apples. (If you chose to peel your apples, you can just use a fork or potato masher to break down the apples.) You could stop here, and enjoy this delicious spiced applesauce, but you’ll need to keep cooking it down to create apple butter.

how-to-make-apple-butter

Loosely cover the pot with the lid, leaving a vent for steam to escape, and set the slow cooker to cook for another 6 to 8 hours on low, or until the applesauce has reduced by nearly half. Alternatively, you could heat the applesauce on high 45 minutes, then reduce the heat to low to quicken the process, but be sure to not leave it on high too long, or you’ll risk burning the apples on the bottom. (I cooked mine in the VitaClay for 45 minutes on the “stew” setting– which is high heat– then transferred the applesauce to a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat to finish the thickening process, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning.) Since slow cooker models vary, your cooking time may vary slightly, as well.

*Note: Since you have to leave the pot slightly uncovered while cooking, you may want to place some towels around your slow cooker to catch any splattering.

Once the apple butter is nice and thick, transfer it to a glass jar and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. (You can also freeze any extra for a longer shelf life!) Serve the apple butter over your favorite toast, pancakes, meats, salads, or simply enjoy it by the spoonful!

4.7 from 14 reviews
How to Make Apple Butter (No Added Sugar)
Author: 
Serves: 16-20 oz.
 
Homemade apple butter tastes like Fall in a jar, without any added sugar!
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs. apples (I used Fuji)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. Core and chop the apples (I used this handy apple slicer to do it quickly) and place them in the bowl of your slow cooker. Add in the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and water then cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or until the apples are tender enough to fall apart with mashed with a fork. (If you're using a VitaClay, this process only takes 2 hours.)
  2. To make applesauce, use an immersion blender to puree the cooked apples. (If you chose to peel your apples, you can just use a fork or potato masher to break down the apples.) You could stop here, and enjoy this delicious spiced applesauce, but you'll need to keep cooking it down to create apple butter.
  3. Loosely cover the pot with the lid, leaving a vent for steam to escape, and set the slow cooker to cook for another 6 to 8 hours on low, or until the applesauce has reduced by nearly half. Alternatively, you could heat the applesauce on high 45 minutes, then reduce the heat to low to quicken the process, but be sure to not leave it on high too long, or you'll risk burning the apples on the bottom. (I cooked mine in the VitaClay for 45 minutes on the "stew" setting-- which is high heat-- then transferred the applesauce to a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat to finish the thickening process, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning.)
  4. Once the apple butter is nice and thick, transfer it to a glass jar and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. (You can also freeze any extra for a longer shelf life!) Serve the apple butter over your favorite toast, pancakes, meats, salads, or simply enjoy it by the spoonful!
Notes
*Since you have to leave the pot slightly uncovered while cooking, you may want to place some towels around your slow cooker to catch any splattering.

Notes:

  • If you don’t have a slow cooker, feel free to make apple butter over a stove top– just make sure to keep the heat low and stir often to prevent burning.
  • You can start off using store-bought applesauce to save time, but the flavor is best if you start from scratch!

Reader Feedback: Have you ever made homemade jams or jellies before?

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Meet Megan Gilmore

Hi, Iโ€™m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned certified nutritionist consultant, trying to make healthy living as easy as possible. I believe in eating delicious whole foods on a regular basis to help naturally support the bodyโ€™s detox organsโ€” no juice fasting required. (Unless you want to!) If you make one of my healthy recipes, tag @detoxinista on Instagram or Facebook so I can see!

47 thoughts on “How to Make Apple Butter (No Added Sugar)

  1. Kayla

    I made a variation of this the other day and it was so good. It was better than a Yankee candle! In fact, my husband kept commenting on how good the house smelled. Keep the great recipe ideas coming!! Thanks!
    BTW- I tried to give this 5 five stars but my computer wouldn’t let me.

    Reply
  2. Doris Sampson

    I don’t have a slow cooker and don’t have time to stand over the pot to stir it off and on for hours. Can you recommend an oven-baked version of this. I freeze stuff…don’t can them. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Peter Rive

      set your oven to 250 Fahrenheit. Follow the same instructions as the slow cooker putting the apples into an ovenproof pot. Place the pot into the oven and let it go. It’s the same principle as a slow cooker, just not as energy efficient.

      Reply
  3. Antoinette

    Hi I love your blog, I did purchase a Vitaclay recently after reading your
    Applesauce recipe. I made the applesauce and it is heavenly and easy .
    I have 3 year old twins and they loved helping me prepare the applesauce .
    Thank you for healthy, clean recipes.
    I look forward to making this recipe and other Vitaclay ones.
    Cheers, Antoinette

    Reply
  4. Lucia Monteiro

    This applebutter looks amazing but i dont have a slow cooker (here in Portugal they’re not common, because nobody really has a habit of using them). Still i would love to make in using my stove top, but it’s kinda har for me to adjust the timings. Should it take pretty much the same over a low heat, that it would using the slow cooker or should I just go by feel, and check as it cooks?
    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    1. Megan Post author

      Nope, I’ve used the immersion blender in the Vitaclay several times and haven’t had any issues with scraping.

      Reply
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  10. Debbie P.

    I can just can this right – I mean to give as gifts (heat-processed jars) – I mean if I can it I don’t have to use it right away.I am a novice at canning. But just want to check – without the sugar (last year I made some with a slight amount of brown sugar) – it’s still getting thick and will can and preserve if in canning jars?

    Reply
    1. Megan Post author

      I’m not an expert in canning, but I would guess that they’d be fine if canned properly. Plenty of stores sell applesauce with no added sugar that has been properly jarred, so I imagine it’s the same concept.

      Reply
      1. Nora Preston

        I have made lots of the regular applebutter with sugar but now that my husband has been diagnosed with diabetes I have been looking for a good sugar free recipe. This looks great except why not use granny Smith apples.or would they be too tart without the sugar. I also do quite a bit of canning and see no reason this recipe can’t be canned. Ball makes an excellent book on canning and if you follow the directions even the most novice cook should not have a problem.This would have to be canned the pressure cooker method of course but if you follow the book you shouldn’t have a problem. By the way, the book that Ball puts out can be found in the magazine section most of the time. I am definitely going to give this a try.

        Reply
    2. Jillian

      Be careful using the heat process method without any sugar or acid, as this may alter your results and create a less stable product. You could consider adding some lemon juice to cover your bases. f you have a pressure cooker, you could use that method. That is how all the sugar free items at the store are preserved.

      Reply
      1. judy

        The pressure cooker method of canning apple butter? This is my first time at canning anything “sugar free”. Where would I find this method directions?

        Reply
  11. Kat

    Made this apple butter today. It’s excellent! So yummy and flavorful. I used 4 apples and it only took about 4 hours in my CrockPot to get a really rich, flavorful apple butter.

    Reply
  12. April

    Hi! If I don’t have a immersion blender, what else could I use during that step? Or maybe I just need to get an immersion blender ๐Ÿ™‚ What else do you use it for? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Megan Gilmore Post author

      If you have a regular blender you can just transfer the cooked apples into that, or into a food processor. The immersion blender is just handy when you don’t want to get an extra dish dirty. I mostly use it for blending soups directly in the cooking dish, but I have a friend who makes her smoothies directly in her drinking cup, too!

      Reply
      1. sue

        LITTLE OFF SUBJECT BUT i=I USE MY IMMERSION BLENDER FOR MIXING CAKES, MASHING POTATOES, SMASHING BEANS – ALMOST EVERYTHING. BEST THING I EVER BOUGHT!

        ANXIOUS TO TRY YOUR APPLE BUTTER!

        5 STARS BASED ON INGREDIENTS; DOESN’T SOUND LIKE TOO MANY SPICES.

        Reply
  13. Danielle S

    This is a great, easy recipe, and it really is super delicious! My kids enjoyed it on their waffles this morning. Thanks!

    Reply
  14. Erin

    Everyone of all ages (from 2 yrs old – 45 yrs old) in my household loved this recipe!!! My husband and daughter brought me more apples asking me to make more. What a hit in this family!

    Reply
    1. gerry

      Read previous comments, have to add lemon juice or unstable. You can pressure can this if you don’t use lemon.

      Reply
    2. T

      YES. My mom has waterbath canned her apple butter AND apple sauce for over 40 years with no sugar added. She uses really ripe apples which contain enough natural sugars.

      Reply
  15. Lea

    My mother used to peel, core and slice apples to freeze for pies in the winter (Thanksgiving and Christmas, etc.). She saved the cores and peels for apple butter. How she did it – she placed the cores and peels in a heavy duty roasting pan, added some water (I don’t know how much – she NEVER measured anything!!). She then put the roasting pan in the oven at about 250 F. for 2-4 hours (depending on how much she had in the pan, I assume). When the time was up, she put the resulting concoction through her food mill, getting applesauce. Then it was back in the roasting pan with the spices and baked another few hours until it had reduced to her satisfaction. She then put the apple butter in 1/2 pint jars and sealed them in the water bath canner.

    My mother was famous locally for her jams and jellies as well as her baked goods. Apple butter from applesauce is the ONLY jam I have ever been successful with!

    Reply
  16. Maeghann D.

    I substitute lemon juice in place of the water and leave out the clove and ginger and add in a few pears. We get bushels and bushels of pears and apples off the trees in the back yard each year. Love this stuff!!!!

    Reply
  17. Sonia

    Made this apple butter today. This recipe was so delicious. I made a few modifications and used gala apples just because they are my favorites. I also added some lemon juice, a little extra clove and about 1/2 tsp of cardamom to really give the apple butter more of a enhanced spice flavor. Such a great fall recipe, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  18. Melissa

    This is so yummy. I added a small container of blackberries as well because I suspected it would give the butter a tart flavor I would really enjoy. I went ahead and let it cook for about 24 hours as well. It’s so yummy. I’m so happy this con be accomplished without adding sugar! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    Reply
  19. Marguerite

    How would you recommend making this using the instant pot? I just got it and I am excited to try it out, but I am still trying to figure out how it works! if you have any tips ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply

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