2-hour apple butter

2-hour apple butter

Throughout my early twenties, I lived in Georgia, and when fall rolled around, everyone would drive out to orchids to pick apples, harvest pumpkins, and get lost in corn mazes. I used to love visiting farms in the fall because I could load up on seasonal snacks like apple crisps, pumpkin doughnuts, and apple butter. Back then, a jar of apple butter would cost about $5, this was in the mid-2000s. Nowadays, I live in the New York City area and the cost of apple butter has double the price. 

I don’t know about you, but so much of my cooking journey has been motivated by the fact that I want to eat well and also save money. So when I saw that apple butter was selling for $10 to $15, way more than what I used to pay, I knew I could come up with my own recipe that was cheaper, tastier, and butter suited to my taste preferences. 

Typically, apple butter is very sweet. I like to control the sugar in my apple butter, so I actually don’t add any granulated sugar. Instead, I used a little bit of real maple syrup to help bring out the natural sweetness in my apple butter. My recipe for apple butter is simple, made with natural ingredients, healthy, and delicious. All you need is a bunch of apples and two hours to make it. Let’s get started! 

Fresh apples in bag

What apples are best for apple butter?

You want an apple butter that is naturally on the sweeter side. I find that the best apples for apple butter include McIntosh, Fuji, Gala, Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, and Red Delicious. You want an apple that is soft, sweet, and juicy. You can even mix and match apples to find your perfect combination. I DO NOT recommend using Granny Smith Green apples because they are too tart for this recipe, especially because I don’t use much sugar in it, therefore, you want an apple that has more sweetness. I like to use McIntosh because they can be sweet and a little tart, which I think gives the apple butter more complexity. 

Washed apple

Recipe: 2-hour apple butter 

Yields 3 cups of apple butter 

Prep time: 15 minutes | Active cook time: 1 hour and 45 minutes | Total cook time: 2 hours, plus time for cooling


  • 4 pounds of apples (about 12 medium-sized apples. I used McIntosh for this recipe) 
  • ½ cup of filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (you can use honey or agave here too) 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of  vanilla 
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon of allspice 
  • ¼ teaspoon of ginger (you can add more if you like it zippy) 


  • Powerful blender (I used a Vitamix for this recipe) 
  • Dutch oven or another heavy bottom pot


1. To prep, wash, and clean all your apples and then core them. You want to keep the skins on your apples for this recipe. The skins add color, flavor, fiber, nutrients, and also pectin, which helps thicken the apple butter naturally. You can throw away the cores, so save them in the freeze to make apple jelly or apple cider vinegar later. 

chopped apples on cutting board
2. Take you've chopped your apples, add them to your high-powered blender along with your water. The water will help make the blending process faster and put less stress on your blender.

Sliced apples added to blender with water

3. Using your blender, you will want to pulse the apples and water. Using a tamper will help you get the mixture smooth, almost to a apple sauce consistency. This should take a few minutes. 

Blended apple puree

4. After you blend your apples into a puree, you will add the mixture into a cool heavy bottom pot. I used my Dutch oven for this recipe because it’s a workhorse and makes this apple butter come together pretty quickly. 

Apple puree added to heavy bottom pot

5. Once you add your mixture into the pot, turn the heat to medium and put the lid back onto the pot, leaving it a crack open so that steam can escape. 

6. I stir the mixture every 10 to 15 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. After an hour, the apple puree should have noticeably reduced to a thicker consistency. I take the lid off once I see this change and stir every so often so that the remaining water evaporates and the apple butter condenses further. If the apple butter starts spurting, reduce the heat to low. After 30 minutes, the mixture should have reduced even more and the color should be a deep brownish red. 

Cooked apple butter

7. At this point, I add my seasonings, which include the maple syrup, vanilla, and spices. I mix that all together and let the butter simmer on low heat for about 5 more minutes. 

Maple syrup and vanilla added to apple butter

8. Once you add in your spices and let the apple butter cook for a few minutes, your apple butter is technically done.

Spices added to apple butter

9. Now you can let the apple butter cool completely before storing it in jars. The end result should give you about 3 to 4 cups of apple butter, depending on how big your apples are. 

Apple butter added to jar

10. This apple butter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. I like to serve it on toast, over yogurt, or mix it into muffins and cakes because it adds a rich apple flavor to baked goods, and also healthy fiber. Enjoy!

Apple butter on toast with cream cheese and walnuts

If you made this recipe, let me know what you think by leaving a comment below! 

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