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Sugar-Free Slow Cooker Apple Butter Recipe Easy Enough for Busy People

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If you love apples, you’re going to love this spiced slow cooker apple butter recipe. The flavor is fabulous, of course, but the fact that it’s a mix-and-forget it crockpot recipe makes it easy enough for even the busiest of people to tackle!

Try this strawberry compote for another easy fruit spread.

two pint size canning jars full of brown slow cooker apple butter, spoon in front

Slow cooker apple butter recipe

The slow cooker is a great invention for meals, but it’s also a surprising hack for canning some fruits. In this case we’re talking about crockpot apple butter. Since it needs to be reduced into a thick spread, slow and easy is the way to do it. You can cook it on the stovetop (see notes below) but if you have a slow cooker, it’s really the easiest way to make it.

Just what is apple butter?

First, let’s be clear: It’s not butter. There’s no butter at all in this recipe, in fact. Rather, it’s a spread that is made by cooking applesauce down until it’s a concentrated, spiced spread perfect for topping toast or muffins. One of the great things about making homemade fruit butters is that you can make them entirely without added sugar, trusting the fruit to provide enough sweetness. This is true of apple butter, too. It will be plenty sweet without any added sugar!

homemade applesauce in a pot with a potato masher

From applesauce to apple butter

This recipe starts with homemade applesauce. Of course, you could certainly start with fresh apples. To do this, fill the slow cooker with peeled chunks of apple. Add 2 cups of apple juice or water and cook on low for eight hours or so, until the apples have become applesauce. Measure applesauce and adjust additional ingredients as necessary. Since the apples will cook down substantially, the resulting quantity of apple sauce will likely be smaller than the 16 cups of applesauce called for in this recipe. Continue cooking according the the directions below.

What kind of apple is best?

I’m a fan of Gravenstein apples, but if you don’t have those available, this recipe can be made with any variety of apple. Golden Delicious apples and Gala apples will make a sweeter spread; Granny Smith apples will be a bit more tart.

Cooking this apple butter recipe on the stovetop

To make this recipe without a slow cooker, combine ingredients in a large stockpot. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until applesauce is warmed through. Turn burner down as low as possible and continue to cook, uncovered, for several hours or more, stirring regularly. As the mixture thickens and reduces, you’ll need to stir more often to prevent sticking and scorching.

Your house will smell wonderful!

When is this apple butter done?

Spoon a small amount of apple butter onto a plate. If the it separates and liquid appears around the edge, keep cooking. When the apple butter retains its mound shape without separating, it’s ready to be processed.

Canning Safety

Canning is an excellent way to preserve food for the pantry, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. 

  • Know the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning. Low acid items must be pressure canned for safety. 
  • Altering ingredients may change the recipe’s pH, posing a safety issue. 
  • Use the proper jars and lids. Never reuse lids, with the exception of the Tattler lids that are intended for such a purpose.
  • For more on canning equipment, please go here
  • This recipe has not been officially tested (sadly, there’s not such a service available) but has been made following safe canning procedures.

Canning apple butter

This slow cooker — or crockpot — apple butter recipe for canning is pretty hands-off during the cooking stage. Once it’s reduced sufficiently, the steps for canning it are much like any other canning recipe.

  • Start with clean half-pint or pint-size jars.
  • Spoon hot apple butter into jars.
  • Wipe jar rims with a damp cloth to ensure sealing.
  • Set lid on jar and screw canning ring on finger tight.
  • Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes if you are below 1,000′ elevation, 20 minutes if you’re between 1,000′ to 6,000′, or 25 minutes above 6,000′.
  • Use a jar lifter to remove hot jars from the water bath and set them on a towel-covered countertop for several hours. [More about canning equipment here.]
  • Allow to sit undisturbed for 8 hours or overnight. As jars cool, the lids will seal (that pleasing little ‘tink’ is a canner’s favorite sound! Check this by pushing in the center of cooled jars (don’t do this when they’re hot). If the lid is solid, the jar is sealed. If it flexes, it’s not. Put unsealed jars in the fridge and use those first.
  • Remove rings from sealed jars, rinse and dry jars, then store in the pantry.
jar of apple butter from above, with blue and white striped towel

★ Did you make this apple butter recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

two pint size canning jars full of brown apple butter, spoon in front

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Yield: 112
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 14 hours
Total Time: 14 hours 10 minutes

With no added sugar, this slow cooker spiced apple butter recipe is a delicious way to preserve the flavors of fall.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low for 14 hours or until thickened.

Canning apple butter

  1. Spoon hot apple butter into half-pint or pint-size jars. Wipe jar rims with a damp cloth to ensure sealing.
  2. Set lid on jar and screw canning ring on finger tight.
  3. Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes if you are below 1,000' elevation, 20 minutes if you're between 1,000' to 6,000', or 25 minutes above 6,000'.
  4. Use a jar lifter to remove hot jars from the water bath and set them on a towel-covered countertop for several hours.
  5. Allow jars to sit undisturbed for 8 hours or overnight; check for seal. Put unsealed jars in the fridge and use those first.Remove rings from sealed jars, rinse and dry jars, then store in the pantry for up to two years.

Notes

Makes roughly 7 pints. 

To begin with fresh apples instead of applesauce, fill the slow cooker with peeled chunks of apple. Add 2 cups of apple juice or water and cook on low for eight hours or so, until the apples have become applesauce. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 112 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 15Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 1g

Did you make this recipe?

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On sugar free canning: https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/nutrition-food-safety-health/food-preservation-without-sugar-or-salt-9-302/

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

3 comments… add one
  • Steve Reist Oct 19, 2019, 2:42 am

    Hi Kris, Great idea to make apple sauce 1st and then process into apple butter. I’ve never made apple butter before but found a Victorio food strainer in our kitchen so no need to peel or core the apples just steam them, let them cool send them through the food strainer and them into the crock pot for apple butter. I also like the idea of no or very little sugar added, my apple sauce tastes sweet enough. I have an insta pot and crock pot going right now. One with apple cider vinegar and one without. Thank you for your ideas and example! Steve in PA

  • Megan Feb 27, 2020, 6:52 pm

    Okay, now that I have obsessed over your whole site.. I am so excited to try your homesteading ways out! My husband and I want to have our own homestead in the next 10 years! We are doing a lot of preparing/learning now so it will be a easier transition.

    Thank you for this!

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