This simple stovetop apple butter recipe is quick, easy, and has no processed sugar! Fresh apples, cinnamon, and a bit of maple syrup make this sauce rich and velvety. Vegetarian, Vegan.
Let's talk apple butter!
This easy, cozy, use-it-on-anything dip is one of fall's most magical elixirs.
We make ours without processed or refined sugar: A splash of maple syrup is all you need to complement the natural sweetness of fresh fall apples.
Also? No peeling necessary! A good immersion blender will smooth out those apple peels; there's no need to spend extra prep time removing the skins.
All you'll need:
- Fresh apples
- Lemon Juice
- Maple Syrup
- Pinch of salt
No maple syrup?
If you aren't vegan, honey is a great replacement here. We've also swapped brown sugar, molasses, and apple cider for the maple syrup with good results!
Which apples should I use?
Our rule of thumb: Use any apples you like to eat! You can stick with one variety, or mix a few of your favorites together.
We've tested this recipe with more than a dozen apple varieties, including Red Delicious, Sansa, Granny Smith (these make a very tart but very cool apple butter!), Honeycrisp, Fuji, McIntosh, Liberty, and plenty more! They're all good.
While the apples you use will impact the final flavor and consistency of your sauce (sweeter apples = sweeter apple butter), you can always adjust the flavor by stirring in more spices, lemon juice, or maple syrup once it's blended.
How to make apple butter
- Prep. Core and chop the apples and throw them in a saucepan with the spices, lemon juice, and maple syrup.
- Cook. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 hours until apples have softened (and your house smells like heaven).
- Blend. Turn off the heat, let the apples cool for at least 15 minutes, then purée with an immersion blender until smooth.
How to use apple butter
Some of our favorite places to add a spoonful of this cozy sauce:
- Overnight oats
- Pork chops
- Grilled cheese sandwiches (it's excellent on this bacon and brie sandwich!)
- Ice cream
- Goat cheese or apple butter brie crostini
Apple butter is also delicious in baked goods! We love using it in:
PS - See all of our favorite ways to use this spread in our Apple Butter Recipe Collection!
A few recipe FAQs
Yes! You'll need a few small tweaks to make this work perfectly for a crock pot: see our slow cooker apple butter recipe for all the details.
Let it cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for several months. We like freezing apple butter in small mason jars with tight-fitting lids, then defrosting a jar in the fridge overnight whenever you need one.
This recipe has not been tested for pH levels or other safe canning practices, so we do not recommend canning it with a water bath or pressure canner. If you’d like a recipe that’s been tested for safe home canning, we recommend this one from Ball!
The final consistency will depend on the water content of the apples you use, and it can vary quite a bit each time: don’t worry if your apple butter looks a little runny right after you blend it! Just return the saucepan to the stove over low heat and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until it reaches your desired consistency. Apple butter will also thicken a little as it cools!
Let the cooked apples cool completely, then put the mixture through a food mill or blend in a food processor until smooth. Regular blenders are a little hit-or-miss with this recipe: most high-powered blenders will do just fine, but this mixture is a bit too thick for some of the older blenders we've tested and doesn't always blend smoothly. We recommend an immersion blender, food mill, or food processor for best results!
Video: How to make apple butter
Easy homemade stovetop apple butter with no processed sugar.
- 5 medium apples (about 3 pounds) cored and roughly chopped
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- Stir all ingredients together in a medium-sized pot. Cover and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 hours, until apples have softened and reduced.
- Turn off the heat, remove the lid, and let apples cool for at least 15 minutes.
- Blend apple mixture with an immersion blender until smooth.
- If you want to thicken your apple butter, return it to the stove over low heat and let it cook down until it's reached your desired consistency.
- Serve apple butter warm or let it cool and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Additions and Substitutions. Use honey, molasses, or brown sugar in place of the maple syrup. Use more or less of the cinnamon, cloves, and lemon to suit your personal taste. Add a splash of bourbon or whiskey to the apples as they cook for extra depth of flavor.
What kind of apples should I use? Use any apple varieties you like, or mix a few different varieties together! The sweeter the apples you use, the sweeter your apple butter will be. We've tested this recipe with more than a dozen apple varieties (Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, Sansa, Fuji, McIntosh, and Liberty are just a few) and they've all worked well.
Do I need to peel the apples? We don't bother to peel the apples in this recipe: a good immersion blender will purée everything quite well and you won't even notice the peels! That said, if you want the smoothest possible apple butter, you can peel the apples beforehand and/or run the apple butter through a food mill to remove any texture.
To store, let apple butter cool completely, then transfer to airtight containers (we love using small mason jars). Store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for several months (we've kept it up to a year in the freezer with no quality loss). Let frozen apple butter thaw overnight in the fridge when you're ready to use it.
Looking for a slow cooker version? We have you covered with this crock pot apple butter recipe.
Exact cook times vary pretty widely with homemade apple butter: the water content of your apples has a big impact on timing and consistency, and every stove is different, so it's useful to check in on the apple butter frequently as it cooks and go by visual cues as opposed to just a timer. I generally take 2 hours to cook the apples before blending, and follow with another 30 minutes on low heat to thicken; one of our recipe testers on the opposite coast generally only needs one hour on the stovetop before her apples are ready to blend.
Wondering what to do with apple butter? Spread it over a toasted slice of small batch crusty bread or a pumpkin biscuit, add a dollop to some brie crostini, or use it in baked goods like apple butter muffins, apple butter coffee cake, and apple butter spice cake.
- Serving Size: ¼ cup
- Calories: 87
- Sugar: 17.9 g
- Sodium: 75.3 mg
- Fat: 0.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 23 g
- Protein: 0.3 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: fall, autumn, thanksgiving