Make my best homemade apple butter recipe during apple season for a delicious spread your and your family can enjoy all winter long!
When the fall months arrive, there’s aroma I like better than the smell of apples cooking in the kitchen! Whether I’m baking a homemade pie, making apple cobbler, homemade applesauce or preserving jars of apple butter, there’s something about apples that makes me feel settled and cozy inside. And I love knowing I’m using food in season, at it’s freshest and best point.
If I’m perfectly honest, apple butter is one of those things I don’t always get ’round to making every year. Let’s be real here: it does take a significant amount of time to make! But things got easier for me when I learned to cook my apple butter down in the oven. It sure beats standing over a stove, stirring thick, pureed apple while being splattered by hot bits of flying sauce!
I also learned to speed the process by leaving my apple peels on. If you cook them long enough, you can puree them into oblivion in your kitchen blender. No food mill needed. This technique saves on time and the mess too!
Here is my best homemade apple butter oven recipe.
Tools You’ll Need
- large pot with thick bottom (get the one I love to use)
- wood stirring spoon
- cutting board
- paring knife
- large bowl
- kitchen blender
- large oven roaster or dutch oven
- preserving equipment for freezing or canning
You’ll notice there isn’t a food processor, immersion blender or food mill on the list. You don’t need one for this recipe. Just a strong kitchen blender will do, provided you use thin skinned apple varieties for making your sauce.
Apple butter is primarily made from cooked down apples, so there aren’t many ingredients in this easy oven recipe!
- 12-15 pounds of apples (about 20 cups of cooked apples)
- 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4-1 cup of sweetener (white sugar, brown sugar, honey or maple syrup)
Variety of Apples to Use for Fruit Butter
To choose the best apples for making fruit butter, there are a few things you need to think about, whether you buy sweet apples from the grocery store I do recommend going for sweeter apples (vs tart apples), particularly if you plan to make an unsweetened recipe. I’d also recommend using thin skinned fruit in this recipe as well. You can use any of the varieties below or any combination of apples listed here.
- Gala apples
- Golden Delicious
While you might enjoy the flavor of some other kinds of apples (such as Granny Smith apples), keep in mind that the fruit you choose should have sweet flavor and thin skin. And remember: apple butter is a wonderful way to use softer varieties of apples or even fruits that are overripe!
Best Homemade Apple Butter Recipe
Start with fresh apples and give them a quick rinse at the kitchen sink, if needed. Cut your apples in half and remove the stem and blossom end. Using a small paring knife, dig out the core, being sure to remove all seed pockets as well.
For this easy apple butter oven recipe, there’s no need to remove peels.
Toss apple halves into a large pot as you go. And when you’ve dealt with all your apples, add about 1/2 inch of water to the bottom of your pot.
Cover with a lid and set it on the stovetop under high heat to bring water to a boil. When you hear it start to simmer, reduce heat to low.
The cook time varies, but I usually account for 30-40 minutes in total for a batch this large.
Initially, you’ll want to stir the apples every 7-10 minutes, pulling cooked apples off the bottom so they don’t burn. But as apples soften and cook down, make sure you stir them every 3-5 minutes!
Cook your apples until they have disintegrated into a chunky apple sauce.
Pull your pot from the burner, remove the lid and let the cooked cool until there’s no danger of being burnt.
Ladle cooked apples into a strong kitchen blender and puree. Dump the apple sauce into a large bowl and repeat the process until everything has been pureed.
Measure out 19-20 cups of apple sauce and pour into a large oven roaster.
Set the oven to 350F and pop your sauce into the oven. Be sure to leave the lid off so moisture can evaporate.
Bake the sauce for an hour to an hour and a half. Stir it one or twice during this time, just to be sure nothing is burning.
Test the apple butter for thickness by scooping some onto a plate and chilling. When you’re happy with the consistency of this ultra smooth apple butter, it’s time to add your favorite spices and sweetener. I highly recommend you adjust it to your personal preference!
Set the oven roaster or dutch oven on the stovetop and measure in cinnamon, nutmeg and sweetener (if using). You can adjust it according to your particular taste. And when you’er happy with the final product, it’s time to decide what you’re going to do with it!
You can jar and refrigerate it. Or better yet? Preserve some in the freezer or water bath canner!
Watch the Tutorial!
How to Freeze Apple Butter
Apple butter freezes beautifully. You can put it up in a freezer bag, an airtight container or (my favorite) a mason jar with a lid. If you do use glass jars for freezing your apple butter, be sure to leave 2-3 inches of open space at the top. Apple butter expands as it freezes and without some empty space, it will crack your jar.
How to Water Bath Can Apple Butter
You can preserve apple butter using a water bath canner. Because apple butter is a thick spread like jam or jelly, most folks choose little jars for canning. Unless you have a large family, I wouldn’t recommend going bigger than a 500 ml or 16 ounce jar (pint size). Here’s how to preserve apple butter in a water bath canner.
- Cook your apples and puree.
- Pour puree into roaster or dutch oven, cook down and test sauce until you’re happy with the thickness and buttery texture.
- Set water bath canner on to boil.
- Fill jars with hot water at the kitchen sink to pre-warm, so hot fruit butter doesn’t crack the glass.
- Ladle hot apple butter into jars, leaving 1 inch open space (head space) at the top of your jar.
- Wipe the rim and set a canning lid in place.
- Tighten down metal canning band and pop the jar into hot water bath canner.
- Fill your jars, then set the lid back on your canner.
- Bring to a rolling boil and set a timer.
- Process according to jar size and your altitude (get full directions here).
- Remove small jars from canner and set on a cooling rack.
- Leave undisturbed for 12 hours.
- Remove metal bands, test for a seal and store on a kitchen shelf, pantry or canning room.
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How to Use Apple Butter
You might be wondering how you actually use apple butter at the table? Let me give you a few ideas!
- spread for biscuits, english muffins or morning toast
- spread on hot, fresh bread with actual butter
- topping for morning porridge
- filling for tarts
- add to apple pie filling for additional flavor
- use in the place of applesauce in baking recipes
- bake with pork chops