Apple Butter
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Growing up I loved to help my Mom make applesauce in the fall, but we never took the apples to the next cooking stage to make apple butter. I discovered the delicious joy of apple butter when I was grown, and it’s one of my favorite spreads for morning toast. To carry on the generations of cooking with love, I have the privilege of using the same iron kettle and food colander that my Mom used and which originally belonged to my Grandmother.

My Apple Butter recipe has the perfect balance of sweetness and spices with the flavor of crisp fall apples in every spoonful; I think you will love it.

You can use any tart cooking apple; I prefer to use Granny Smith apples. When preparing the apples just rinse them as you normally would before eating and cut them into quarters without peeling or coring them because much of the apple pectin and flavor is in the peels and core. After the first cooking stage the cooked apples are processed through a food colander which will remove all the peel, core, seeds and stems. I normally use light brown sugar, but I’ve sometimes made this recipe with granulated sugar and it is just as good, so feel free to use the sugar of your choice. For the apple cider I normally just purchase fresh pressed cider which is available in most grocery stores in the fall.
Recipe type: Dessert Topping | Fruit Spread
Apple Butter:
  • 6 pounds Granny Smith apples or other tart cooking apple, unpeeled, and uncored
  • 2½ cups apple cider
  • 2½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
Apple Butter:
  1. Cut the apples into quarters. (Do not peel or core the apples.)
  2. First Cook: Place the apple quarters and apple cider in a large heavy-bottomed kettle or pot, bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover and reduce heat to low to simmer. Cook the apples, stirring occasionally, about 20 to 30 minutes until the apples are very soft and starting to get mushy. Remove from heat.
  3. Ladle the hot apples into a food colander (or food mill) with a large pan underneath. Use the pestle to strain the apple pulp into the bottom pan. Measure the resulting puree; you should have about 10 cups of apple puree.
  4. Rinse the original kettle or pot the apples were cooked in to remove any stuck-on apple residue and add the apple puree back to this pot. Add the sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and lemon juice. Stir to completely blend the ingredients. Tip: the 2½ cups sugar is equal to ¼ cup sugar for each 1 cup of apple puree. You can adjust the sweetness and spices as desired.
  5. Second Cook: Cook the apple mixture over low heat, stirring frequently to prevent the puree from forming a crust on the pan bottom and burning. Continue cooking and stirring about 2 hours or until the mixture is very thick and the volume is reduced by about one-third. Be careful, the apple mixture is extremely hot and will burn your skin if you touch it. Tip: before beginning the second cook measure the volume by placing a long toothpick or wooden skewer and marking the depth of the mixture. After cooking re-insert the toothpick or skewer to measure and determine if the mixture in reduced by about one-third, or about 7 cups Apple Butter. Tip: If you have a splatter screen, this is the perfect time to use it since the apple mixture tends to bubble up and splatter while it is simmering. Place it over the simmering mixture to allow evaporation but to keep the splattering to a minimum.
  6. Ladle the finished Apple Butter into clean sterilized jars. Cool completely, cover jars and refrigerate. The apple and spices will deliciously mellow with refrigeration. Note: this recipe does not provide canning instructions for long-term or unrefrigerated storage.
Recipe Notes
Equipment: Large Heavy-Bottomed Pan, Food Mill Method: Stovetop Yield:7 Cups Storage: Cover and Refrigerate
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