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.
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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.
FOR CANNING Apple Butter, YOU’LL WANT:
- Water bath canner
- Jars – I recommend 8 oz jam jars unless you REALLY love apple butter and need it in bigger quantities
- New lids and rings
- Canning funnel
- Large saucepan (I used my dutch oven) or a slow cooker
- Jar Lifter
- Apple peeler (optional but helpful)
- Large mixing bowl
- Immersion blender (optional but helpful)
- Mixing spoon
- Cutting board
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.
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).
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).
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
tonlittle 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.
MORE CANNING RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE:
- Check out all my canning recipes
- Complete Guide to What to Can in Fall
- Canning Apricots
- Canning Whole Tomatoes
- Pear Sauce
- Peach Compote
- Dill Relish – Canning Homemade Relish
- How to Can Potatoes
- Canning Beets
- Canning Cranberry Sauce
- Low-Sugar Strawberry Jam
- How to Can Green Beans
- Homemade Strawberry Syrup
- Canning Pears
- Blackberry Syrup
Canning Apple Butter
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.
Cook apples, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on low for 3-6 hours, stirring occasionally.