An 80 year old family apple butter recipe adapted for the slow cooker. With just a few simple ingredients, this crock pot apple butter recipe will have your home smelling like a slice of autumn heaven!
Growing up, everyone around me knew what I meant when I told them it was, “Apple Butter Weekend.” For over 80 years, my family has gathered together to peel, chop and cook apples in a mongo copper pot over an open fire. Some of my most nostalgic childhood memories reside in this tradition.
After canning the apple butter, we’d have dozens and dozens of jars to work through and giveaway for the next 12 months until we gathered again to make a fresh batch. Apple butter has been part of my pantry all my life. Even as a scrappy college student, you could find a few jars toted around with me no matter where I lived.
With the passing of my grandparents, the tradition has evolved and looks a little different every year. 2018 was a rare year that the big copper pot didn’t make an appearance, leaving us all in a bit of an apple butter withdrawal. Well, I’m not one to be passive about things I want so I decided to take the apple butter creation into my own hands. I mean, I am a cookbook author and everything. And I have 35 years of apple butter making experience. How hard can it be?!
After snagging the family recipe from my mom (which was in the family safe, buried in a secret location) I kid, I joke… we share it freely. As if anyone is actually going to knock off the recipe and make 200 pints on their own. Good luck with that. I digress.
I took the family recipe (which calls for 10 bushels of apples and 40 pounds of sugar, mind you) and reworked it to be made in the slow cooker.
Now, I will say, I had pretty low expectations. I mean, can you really replicate apples slow cooked over an open fire surrounded by love and tradition? I think not. I had fully accepted that my brand would be a knockoff. When I sent a picture of it in progress to my family, my brother’s response was, “fraud.” When I mentioned possibly making it in the Instant Pot, my sister told me that was sacrilegious. I’m telling you. My family takes this tradition very seriously.
Despite the family criticism, I prevailed. And you guys, it was good. Like, REALLY good. I only made a few tiny adjustments to the recipe after my first round and I think I have it pretty darn near perfect.
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The first step to the apple butter process is to peel and chop your apples. Our family recipe calls for Jonathan apples but I couldn’t find those at the store. A quick google search told me that Braeburn were a good alternative so I went with that variety. Peeling and chopping 6 pounds of apples is quite the task. If you’re open to buying a little kitchen gadget, I’d recommend getting this apple peeler.
I know that it looks like some sort of torture device, but hear me out. You pop the apple on there, give it a crank and the device not only peels the outside but slices it and cores it as well.
Here is my two year old peeling an apple.
So after apples are peeled and chopped, they go into the slow cooker with all of the rest of the ingredients.
It will make your home smell like a slice of autumn heaven all day long.
Let these apples do their thang for about 4 hours or so and then pull out the big guns…the immersion blender! Swing by our Kitchen Faves page to see which one we recommend. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can work in batches and use a food processor or blender to work the texture down to a choppy puree.
Cook for 5 more hours (or so) and guess what? You’ve just made apple butter! I’m so proud of you!Print
A long-time family apple butter recipe adapted for the slow cooker. Simple ingredients, simple to make!
- 6 pounds Jonathan apples (I used Brae burn)
- 1.5 cups white sugar
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 tbsp ground Cinnamon
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 1 whole star anise
- Peel and chop the apples into small pieces. (Use this apple peeler to speed up the process.)
- Add apples, sugar, apple cider, ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks and whole star anise to the slow cooker. Stir until apples are coated in the ingredients.
- Cook for 4 hours on low.
- Remove the cinnamon sticks and star of anise
- Use an immersion blender to process the apples and smooth out the texture.
- Add the cinnamon sticks and whole star anise back in and cook for 5 more hours.
- Let cool, remove cinnamon sticks and star of anise.
- Store in mason jars.
You could easily freeze the apple butter in mason jars or in a freezer bag.
Spread that apple goodness on biscuits, crescent rolls, toast, or pancakes. Or, if you’re feeling like an adventurous homesteader, you can can them up, give them a water bath and store them in the pantry. You could also freeze the apple butter in mason jars, making sure to leave an inch of headspace so that the jar doesn’t crack. You could also free it in a freezer bags. So many options!