If you've got barrels of leftover apples from that trip to the orchard, we've got just the thing for you. This easy apple butter recipe is about to become a family favorite!

jar of homemade apple butter, from Shelf Cooking

We know those gift shop jars of apple butter are tempting. We know they're probably delicious, too! But are they worth the $10-$15 price tag? We vote no.

*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

If you got apples on hand already, it's SUPER affordable to make your own big batch of apple butter. And don't worry; it's foolproof. We've got an easy apple butter recipe to prove it! Are you ready for this?


When it comes to making apple butter, are all apples created equal? Well, that depends! We happen to like our apple butter on the sweet side, so we typically use red delicious, gala apples, or a combo of the two. But if you like your sweet treats more on the tart side, Granny smith might be the way to go!

In general, the riper your apple, the better. Whipping up apple butter is the perfect way to use up your fruit before it goes bad, so don't be afraid to add some mushy apples to the mix.


scooping brown sugar to make apple butter, from Shelf Cooking

One of the things we love about this recipe is that it comes together with just a few ingredients! But if you're missing one or two, here are some ways to get creative:

  • Apple Substitute – Okay, clearly, apple is the star of the show here, but pear butter is quite good, too! So, if you don't have apples but do have pears that you need to use, give it a go.
  • Brown Sugar Substitute – Some folks prefer to use molasses or honey. We wrote a whole post about brown sugar substitutes, so if you're looking for other options, take a quick peek!
  • Apple Juice Substitute – All out of apple juice? Try using apple cider or white grape juice instead. (We actually think apple cider is even better than juice, but we also know it's not a pantry staple!)
  • Vanilla Extract – You can leave out the vanilla if you need to, but we think you should try this vanilla extract recipe instead!

Pretty simple, right? Let's keep going!


Great question! Yes, you can make apple butter in the slow cooker. It just takes quite a while. If you're staying in for a relaxing day of reading or cleaning and you want to go the slow cooker route, give it a try! The truth is, we're a little impatient when it comes to food, and the stovetop method takes a fraction of the time. 😉

In case you opt to use the crockpot, here's what you need to know. Just cook your apples, spices, and sugar on high for about two hours (we suggest leaving the cover off). Then, puree or blend and toss everything back in the slow cooker and cover for another ten hours of low and slow cooking. Be sure to stir every few hours!


bowl of fresh biscuits, from Shelf Cooking

Is it bad that we like to eat apple butter by the spoonful? It's just SO good! No matter how you choose to serve it, you won't be disappointed, but here are a few ideas:

  • On Bread – Have you tried our 3-ingredient buttermilk biscuit recipe? Apple butter is delicious on any type of bread, really!
  • In Overnight Oats – The next time you make overnight oats, add a spoonful or two.
  • On Pork Chops – Take pork chop night up a notch! Just spread a little apple butter on top during the last few minutes of cooking.
  • Pancake Topping – Skip the syrup and top your fluffy pancakes with apple butter instead.
  • Charcuterie Board – Round up your leftover deli meat, slice some cheese, and gather some crackers! Apple butter makes the perfect spread for a charcuterie board.

The possibilities are pretty much endless! You can spread some apple butter on your cornbread or French toast and add it to oatmeal, too. Have fun experimenting with new combinations!


Is your mouth watering yet? Wait until you taste this easy apple butter! By the way, it smells AMAZING while it's cooking. #Bonus

jar of homemade apple butter, from Shelf Cooking

Easy Apple Butter Recipe

Say hello to your new favorite way to use up apples! This recipe is so simple to make, uses just a few ingredients, and tastes incredible.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Servings 24


  • 8 apples, peeled and cored
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt


  • Peel, core, and slice apples.
  • Place all your ingredients except the lemon juice in a large pot, and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, until your apples soften. (Around an hour.) Stir every 10-15 minutes.
  • Use a hand blender, food processor, or normal blender to puree the apple mixture. If you don't have a hand blender, just puree in batches.
  • Place your apple puree back in the large pot and continue to simmer over low heat, uncovered, for about an hour.
  • Once the mixture is smooth and brown, stir in the lemon juice, then allow to cool slightly and enjoy!


If you don't plan to use your apple butter immediately, store it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to two weeks, or freeze for up to one year. A word of advice: liquids expand when frozen, so don't forget to save some room in your jar!
Keyword easy apple butter recipe

One more quick tip! Leftover baby food jars make great storage tools for apple butter. Freeze some, refrigerate some, or tie those little jars up in bows and gift your apple butter.

The next time you go apple picking, you'll know what to do! We hope you enjoy this fall favorite. 🙂

Tell us: what's your favorite fall food? Leave a comment below!

Homemade apple butter in a jar from Shelf Cooking.

Want to try a few more recipes we love to whip up this time of year?

Happy fall, y'all!