The Ultimate Guide to Homemade Apple Butter: Master the Art of this Irres

There are few things cozier than toast or biscuits with apple butter on a chilly fall day. Nicole McLaughlin shows you what you need to know about everybody’s favorite autumnal fruit spread, including how to make it at home:

What Is Apple Butter?

Chef John

Contrary to its name, there is no butter involved in the making of apple butter. The fruity spread, which is essentially highly concentrated applesauce, is made by cooking apples with spices (like cinnamon and cloves) or ciders until the sugars are caramelized. This process leaves you with a thick, brown, rich, and powerfully apple-flavored spread.

Apple Butter vs. Applesauce

Since apple butter is cooked much longer than applesauce, it has a totally different consistency. The extra time over the heat makes apple butter thicker and glossier than applesauce. While applesauce is soft and mushy, apple butter has a rich, spreadable texture that’s somewhere between jam and peanut butter.

Also, the sugars in apple butter are more concentrated than applesauce. This gives the spread a longer shelf life than the sauce.

Read more: What’s the Difference Between Applesauce and Apple Butter?

Apple Butter Uses

Alberta Rose

Use apple butter the way you’d use any fruit spread: Spread it on toast or biscuits, dollop it onto pancakes or waffles, stir it into your oatmeal, or use it to give your baked goods a burst of fruitiness. You can even use apple butter in savory recipes — brush it onto meats (such as pork, chicken, or turkey) before cooking to add delicious fall flavor.

Read more: 15 Ways to Use Apple Butter

How to Make Apple Butter


If you’ve ever made applesauce, congratulations! You know exactly how to make apple butter: Just cook cored apples with sugar and warm spices like cinnamon and allspice. The only difference? Apple butter cooks longer to achieve its brown color, rich texture, and deep flavor.

It’s traditionally cooked on the stove, but you can also make apple butter with your slow cooker or Instant Pot. “I love Chef John’s recipe,” shares Nicole. “It’s super smooth and spreadable.”

Get Chef John’s Apple Butter Recipe here

For step-by-step instructions, learn How to Make Apple Butter 4 Easy Ways. Plus, check our Beginner’s Guide to Canning and Preserving for expert canning, food safety, and storage tips.

Chef John

Apple Butter Recipes

Looking for the best apple butter recipes on the internet? You’ve come to the right place. Try one of these top-rated recipes next time you get a hankering for the fruity fall spread:

  • Apple Butter Spice Cake
  • Apple Butter Pork Loin
  • Apple Butter Cream Cheese Spread

What Kind of Apples Are Best for Apple Butter?

Any apples you have on hand will work just fine. “I use a mixture of Honeycrisp, Gala, and Granny Smith,” says McLaughlin. “You’ll need about 5 pounds to get started.” Choose a softer variety for a quicker cook time. Fuji, Golden Delicious, and Braeburn are also excellent choices.


  • 25 Apple and Cinnamon Recipes That Taste Like Fall
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  • 20 Ways to Have Apples for Breakfast

Explore our entire collection of Apple Recipes.