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Canning Apple Butter

This apple butter recipe for canning is delicious and low-sugar.
a jar of apple butter with fresh apples and cinnamon sticks

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Canning Apple Butter is an amazing way to preserve the apple harvest. This is the best low-sugar apple butter, and it’s delicious on toast, yogurt, muffins, or oatmeal.

a jar of apple butter with fresh apples and cinnamon sticks

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Homemade apple butter is a classic fall favorite. You can simmer this recipe in a slow cooker all day (your house is going to smell amazing!), or make it on the stovetop.

This apple butter recipe for canning is suitable for a water bath canner, but I’ll also teach you how to freeze it if canning is not your jam.

The act of canning apple butter is as iconic to fall as canning peaches is to summer. But lucky for you, this crockpot apple butter recipe is a lot more hands-off!

What Kinds of Apples Should I Use For Slow Cooker Apple Butter?

All kinds typically work great, but you’ll have the best results with any apple labeled as “saucing apples“. Easy-to-find varieties such as Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, and Cameo would all be great. 

If you have leftover apples, try your hand at Canning Apple Pie Filling, learn how to make dried apples, freeze a batch of apple slices, and whip up a batch of Healthy Cinnamon Apples. If you want to use homemade apple butter for something extra special, try it in a batch of Cinnamon Apple Donuts.

Can I Make This Apple Butter Sugar Free? 

Yes! This recipe is adapted from The Ball Blue Book Book Guide to Preserving. The original recipe calls for four pounds of apples and FOUR cups of sugar. All the nopes from me!

I have pared it down to only one cup of sugar because it helps keep the final (canned) product fresher for a longer period of time. But, I have canned it before without any added sugar and it is still shelf stable for 12 months.

Now, I never advocate changing up tested canning recipes, but given that you can safely can applesauce with no sugar added, I am completely comfortable canning low-sugar apple butter.

You can also use honey, but please note if you plan to can this apple butter, the high temps for preserving will kill any of the beneficial properties.

Canning Apple Butter Supplies

Check out this in-depth post for a complete list of canning supplies.


How to Make Apple Butter

*I’ll walk you through the process here with photos, and you’ll also find a detailed and printable recipe card with measurements is at the bottom of this post.

Peel and chop your apples into semi-uniform pieces. Pro tip: you don’t have to peel them but from a food preservation standpoint it does remove some contamination risk. I use this apple peeler to make quick work of peeling and coring apples.

Four steps in using an apple corer for making old-fashioned apple butter

Add the apples, sugar, and spices to your slow cooker (I use my Instant Pot with the slow cooker lid). Set your slow cooker for six hours on low.  After the time is up, blend your apples. I use an immersion blender, but you could also transfer in batches to a blender or food processor.

3 photos showing the steps to make slow cooker apple butter

Technically you’re done at this point if you’d like to be. Put it in containers and freeze if you’d like. But, if you want to learn to also can it, read on!

Can You Freeze Apple Butter?

Yes! Apple butter freezes like a boss. Cause um, you’re the boss applesauce. Sorrynotsorry! You can freeze in your favorite freezer containers, use silicone trays like these Souper Cubes, or even freeze in glass canning jars.

Make sure your use wide-mouth canning jars, or jam jars, and leave 1-inch of headspace (the space between the top of the apple butter and the top of the jar). Allow the apple butter to fully cool in the jars before freezing. To defrost: set the jar out at room temperature overnight.

How to Can Apple Butter

It is no longer necessary to sterilize jars before canning (hurray!) but you should make sure they are preheated enough to not crack when placed in hot water.

You can put them in a clean dishwasher and run them through a quick wash cycle, or place them in a large pan with some water in a low heat oven (my lowest temp is 170 degrees) until you need them. I’ve even just put hot tap water in them before and left them on the counter.

Wash your lids with hot soapy water and place them in a clean bowl for now.

Place a canning rack in your canner and fill it with enough water to cover your jars by 1 inch. Set it on the stove on high to start boiling.

Ladle in the warm apple butter (I like using a canning funnel), leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Headspace is defined as the space between the top of the food and the top of the jar. Remove the bubbles from the jar (I use a plastic chopstick).

Two photos showing how to can slow cooker apple butter

Use a wet clean rag and wipe the rim of the jars to make sure they are free of any delicious apple butter.

Place a clean lid on the jar, and then a ring, and tighten the ring to fingertip tight (tight enough that it won’t come off, but not so tight that a normal person couldn’t budge it).

Prep photos for canning homemade slow cooker apple butter

Lower your jars into the canner using a jar lifter. Secure the lid and set the timer for 10 minutes.

When the time is up, turn off the stove, and let the jars sit for 5 minutes in the canner, and then lift them out with canning tongs. Place on a towel where they can sit undisturbed for 12 hours.

After a few hours, to check for sealing, gently press down in the middle of the lid. If the lid has no give, it’s sealed. If you can press the lid in and it pops a bit, your jars are not sealed. You can reprocess them or store them in the fridge or freezer (only freeze jars that are wide mouth).

Store in a cool dry place for up to 12 months.

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes

  • You do not need to add water to the apple butter while it is cooking. After 30 minutes the apples will start releasing all their awesome natural juices.
  • You can also make this quickly in the Instant Pot if you’d like. Check out Katie’s Instant Pot Apple Butter for more the recipe. While the Instant Pot is faster, I love the smell of the apple butter cooking all day in the slow cooker.
  • Feel free to adjust the spices to taste. Personally, I see cinnamon as a condiment and tend to keep adding a ton little bit more throughout the process.
  • Do not add the jars to the canner as you finish filling them. You’ll want to pack the canner all at once to avoid uneven processing.
  • You can use this base recipe for other types of fruit – apricot, pear, and peach are all wonderful. Cooking and processing times/instructions are the same.
  • If you don’t have enough jars to fill the canner, consider Canning Water in a few jars to stock your emergency drinking water supplies.
mason jars of apple butter on a white board with buttered french bread
a jar of apple butter with fresh apples and cinnamon sticks
Print Recipe
4.88 from 16 ratings

Canning Apple Butter

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time6 hrs 10 mins
Canning Time10 mins
Total Time6 hrs 40 mins
This apple butter recipe for canning is delicious and low-sugar.



Slow Cooker Apple Butter Instructions

  • Peel and chop your apples into semi-uniform pieces.
    4 pounds apples
  • Add the apples, sugar, and spices to your slow cooker. Cook for 4-6 hours on low.
    1 cup sugar, 2 tbsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • After the time is up, blend the apples with an immersion blender, or also transfer in batches to a blender or food processor.

Canning Apple Butter Instructions

  • Prepare water bath canner by filling it with water, so that there will be at least 1 inch of water over the tops of the jars.
  • Wash and clean your jars. Fill with hot water or keep them warm in a clean dishwasher or oven.
  • Wash your lids with hot soapy water and place them in a clean bowl for now.
  • Ladle the warm apple butter into jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Headspace is defined as the space between the top of the food and the top of the jar.
  • Remove any bubbles from the jar (I use a plastic chopstick).
  • Use a wet clean rag and wipe the rim of the jars to make sure they are free of any delicious apple butter.
  • Place a clean lid on the jar and then a ring. Tighten the ring to fingertip tight.
  • Using canning tongs, add jars to the boiling water, and put the canner lid on. Pro tip: you must have at least 1 inch of water over the tops of the jars for safe canning.
  • Process half-pints for 10 minutes, or 15 minutes for pints.
  • Remove the canner from heat, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the jars using canning tongs and place them on towels on the counter undisturbed for 12-24 hours.
  • After everything has cooled, check the seal by pushing down on the middle of the lid. If it doesn't give way, it's sealed. If the lid bows a little bit, put that in the fridge and use it within 3 weeks.
  • Label the sealed jars, and store in a cool dark place for up to a year.


You do not need to add water to the slow cooker. After 30 minutes they’re going to start releasing all their awesome natural juices while cooking.
Stovetop Instructions:
Cook apples, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on low for 3-6 hours, stirring occasionally.
Nutrition Facts
Canning Apple Butter
Amount Per Serving (1 tbsp)
Calories 10
% Daily Value*
Fat 0g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 0mg0%
Potassium 12mg0%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 0g0%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 0g0%
Vitamin A 5IU0%
Vitamin C 0.5mg1%
Calcium 2mg0%
Iron 0mg0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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66 comments on “Canning Apple Butter”

  1. Hi! I’m new to canning and have been wanting to make some apple butter to can with my newly picked apples. Your recipe looks nice and easy (hands down my favorite way to cook anything). But before I start, I just want to confirm that I Do Not need to add sugar? I can omit that step? I can’t stand the thought of adding sugar to these delicious apples. I prefer as natural as possible. I read your notes, but for my own sanity, wanted to confirm anyway. Thanks!!

  2. You mentioned that you cannot safely can in your instant pot. I just read where you can do that. I have a glass top stove and I was looking at single burners to use instead but the one that is safe for canning is very expensive. I am just getting started and I read that I could use my instant as the last step before setting the cans aside to seal. I was very excited to read this and now you are saying it can’t be done safely. Is this still your thought? Thank you.

    • Hi Tammy, perhaps there is a new model of Instant Pots that allows for canning. Would you send me the link of the type you have? I do not feel comfortable recommending anything without seeing the data.

      I do know that Ball came out with a countertop canner, but it is not the same as an Instant Pot.

  3. I had a bunch of apples that my kids were not eating….. picky little things! Searched for an apple butter recipe and found this one. Sounded easy enough and I had all the ingredients and jars on hand…. let’s do this!
    So EASY!! I didn’t peel the apples and I did use my Instant Pot and put it all in and took the kids to the beach. The house smelled wonderful when we got home. Blended it up and canned it. SO YUMMY! I gave my son a sample bite on some toast. About 5 minutes later he came looking for his own piece. You have a winner here. Thanks for sharing5 stars

  4. Is this recipe safe for canning without the addition of lemon juice?

    • Yes, because the PH of apples allows them to be canned without any additional preservatives. For instance, I do not add anything when I can applesauce because the National Center for Home Food Preservation notes that it is not necessary.

      If you do want a preservative for safety, the sugar in this recipe serves that role.

  5. I’m curious why the top of recipe says eight 8 oz. jars, but at the bottom it says five. That’s quite a big difference.

  6. I’ve just finished canning 21 quarts of peaches. I’ve been canning for 30 years but I cut the peaches in half before putting in quick water bath to loosen the skins. Prior to this I’ve always dunked them whole. Your way is far superior! Skins slide off so easy. By the way, I LOVE your bits of humor applied throughout your writing. Gives me a well deserved giggle!

  7. I’ve been canning for 50 years. Came across you site today. Loved your recipes and so many good tips. I’ve just discovered using slowcooker for pear butter and will be making your recipe for apple butter in few weeks. Keep writting and sharing these lower sugar ideas.

  8. I really enjoyed this recipe for the poor quality apples the grow in my yard. Next time I will substitute some of the ground cinnamon for cinnamon sticks. I found the texture a little displeasing because of that and I think that’ll be the best solution. I also did got for a very long cooking time in my crock pot because the thickness continued to be too thin, think that had a lot to do with my apples though, and only got 3 half pints. Being that the apples were free that’s just fine.4 stars

    • Do you know what kind of apples they are? The thinness of the product makes me think they might be more of a juicing apple.

      Glad it worked out for you with your adaptions!

  9. Thank you so much for this recipe! I’m excited to try canning for the first time. I’m curious about the length of time the apples are in the slow-cooker. Almost every other recipe I’ve found recommends nearly twice as much time. Ten hours on low, followed by two more after blending. Have you found the longer cooking time unnecessary? Or does the shorted time have anything to do with the canning process?

    • It’s just been my experience that it absolutely does not take 10-12 hours at all. I’ve been making it for years and can’t imagine cooking it longer. UNLESS someone else is using an apple that is a lot juicier. Dry, crisp baking apples is the way to go.

  10. Hi! How many 8 oz jars does this recipe make!!?