Crockpot Apple Butter (Small Batch)
This Crockpot Apple Butter is a spiced apple spread that’s slow cooked to perfection and captures fall in every spoonful. Recipe for small batch apple butter makes 1 jar.
Happy almost first day of fall! It’s technically tomorrow but I’m ready to celebrate it today with Crockpot Apple Butter.
One question I often get once fall rolls around is “what the heck is apple butter?!”
Apple butter isn’t new to my kitchen. In fact, I’ve been using it as an ingredient all the way back to 2012 with recipes such as French toast roll ups, apple crumb cake, and caramel apple cheesecake dip.
I’ve always bought a jar but I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making some. And naturally most recipes out there make tons and tons of jars.
For me all I need is 1 jar. That’s why I’m bringing you this small batch apple butter so you can try it without having to commit to a whole pantry of it.
Because homemade apple butter takes several hours to make, I opted to make crockpot apple butter because it’s mostly hands off; toss your ingredients together then turn on your appliance.
Of course I still get a touch nervous leaving my slow cooker unattended, so I just put it on while I’m working elsewhere in my apartment.
I did leave my place to take some recycling out. When I returned, my entire kitchen smelled like a crisp fall day with just enough sun shining to warm you up.
It was enough to put on a cozy sweatshirt and cuddle up with the cat.
What is apple butter?
Apple butter is a highly concentrated form of applesauce that is cooked until the sugar in the apples caramelize, giving it its dark brown color.
It’s similar to making homemade applesauce but cooking it much longer.
It has a thick, smooth texture spiced with cinnamon and clove that makes it excellent to spread on toast in the morning.
Which slow cooker should I buy?
Because I made small batch apple butter, I used a small 1.5 quart slow cooker which perfectly fits this recipe.
However, you don’t need a mini crockpot for this recipe! You can also use a regular-sized 6 quart slow cooker as well.
The benefit is you can mix all of your ingredients together directly in the cooker instead of a separate bowl.
Apple Butter Ingredients
To make your slow cooker apple butter, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Apples: Use a cooking apple such as Cortland, Jonagold, Braeburn, and Golden Delicious. You can mix and match for a sweet and tart balance.
- Granulated and brown sugars: Not only does sugar sweeten the butter, they help draw out moisture from the apples, which allows them to cook down. It also acts as a natural preservative.
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and salt: Spice mix used to flavor apple butter. You can also substitute 1 + 1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice.
- Lemon juice: Helps keep the apples from browning plus adds some acidity to balance the sweetness
- Vanilla: One final touch of flavor at the end
Should I peel apples for apple butter?
If you’re using an immersion blender, you can leave the peels on as it’ll blend everything up nicely.
However, I don’t own one so I use a regular blender. With this, you do want to peel your apples.
How To Make Crockpot Apple Butter
To make your small batch apple butter:
- Toss together your apple, both sugars, spices, and lemon juice in a large bowl until apples are fully coated.
- Add apples to a slow cooker then cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
- Remove the lid, turn the setting to low (if not already), and cook uncovered for 1 hour.
- Blend the apples (either in a regular blender or with an immersion blender) then stir in the vanilla. Taste and adjust for spices and lemon.
Transfer to a mason jar, cool to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
How can I tell when apple butter is done?
Your slow cooker apple butter is done when it has thickened to a spreadable consistency without a watery appearance.
It’ll thicken up a little more when cool but it shouldn’t be runny on a plate while warm.
Every appliance cooks differently. The cook times I give you should be good, but use your instinct if you feel your apple butter needs to cook longer.
What To Make With Apple Butter
Now that you have 1 jar of homemade apple butter, how do you serve it?
The easiest way is to spread it on some toast for breakfast. However, you can also use it as an ingredient in the following recipes using apple butter:
Crockpot Apple Butter FAQ
If you don’t have a crockpot, you can make your small batch apple butter in an Instant Pot or on the stove.
Yes, you can absolutely can my small batch apple butter! This is very handy if you have lots of apples to use up now but won’t be able to eat them in a timely manner.
Learn how to can apple butter with this handy guide from Sustainable Cooks.
If you don’t have a blender at all, you can use a food processor, use a mixer, mash it up by hand, or use a potato ricer. It may not be as smooth, but it’ll still be delicious.
- 1 + 1/2 pound cooking apples such as McIntosh, Golden Delicious, or Fuji (roughly 4-5 large apples), peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
- 1/8 teaspoon ground clove*
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, toss together apples, sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and salt then add to a 1.5 quart or 6 quart slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
- Remove the lid, stir, and turn down/keep the heat on low. Cook uncovered for 1 hour or until cooked down and thickened.
- Use an immersion blender directly in the slow cooker or transfer to a regular blender and blend until smooth.
- Stir in the vanilla then taste and adjust for spices if necessary.
- Transfer to a clean glass jar and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
To make in an Instant Pot
- In bowl of 6-quart Instant Pot, add the tossed apples along with 1/4 cup water. Cover the pot with the lid and lock. Set the steam release valve to Sealing.
- Select Manual Setting and set the cook time to 15 minutes. The screen will display "On" until the preheating cycle is complete, about 10 minutes. It'll then change from "On" to "15". Steam coming from the valve during preheating is normal.
- Once the cooking cycle has finished and beeped, allow the pot to sit untouched for 5 minutes for a natural release then move the valve to Venting for a quick release. Once the float valve is down and all pressure is released, unlock and open the lid.
- Blend apples using either an immersion blender or regular blender.
- With the apple mixture still in the Instant Pot, select the Saute setting. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until reduced and thickened to a jam-like consistency. Stir in the vanilla.
- Add tossed apples along with 1/2 cup water to a large Dutch oven or another large pot with a lid. Bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, cover with a lid and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until apples are softened.
- Puree the apples using an immersion blender or regular blender.
- Cook in the pot over medium-low heat for 45-60 minutes or until thickened, stirring often so it doesn't burn. Stir in the vanilla.
To make on the stove:
- *Instead of individual spices, substitute 1 + 1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice for the cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.
- Eat your apple butter on toast or use it one of these recipes using apple butter.