The Best Homemade Apple Butter – with canning instructions

By Amanda Paa – Last updated: August 13, 2023
5 from 19 votes
Preserve an abundance of apples by making this extra smooth, caramelized apple butter! This delicious fruit spread is simply an apple puree that is cooked down, concentrating the tart, sweet flavors. A stovetop recipe that includes water bath canning instructions.
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apple butter in a glass jar with top off, apples surrounding jar
apple butter in a glass jar, top off, with spoon in it.
woman holding apple butter in hands, with a brown craft label

You can find more of my canning and preserving recipes, here.

Homemade apple butter is a taste of fall in a jar.

Each spoonful has a rich, caramel flavor, silky smooth texture, and just the right amount of warm spices.

It’s very easy to make on the stovetop, where the low heat causes the natural sugars of the apples to caramelize and thicken, resulting in a deep brown color and decadent flavor. It’s a wonderful ingredient to use in both sweet and savory ways, and I can’t wait for you to make a few of these delicious recipes that use apple butter!

This luscious fruit spread is the perfect way to use up an abundance of apples, similar. You’ll use 4 pounds of apples, which will make 5-6 half pint jars of apple butter. The jars make the perfect gift when paired with a loaf of sourdough bread, as well as any of my canning recipes!

apple butter being stirred with a whisk in a saucepan
apple butter on a gold spoon, resting on a round spoon rest

How to Can Apple Butter:

What’s most important is having your canning tools ready before you start.

  1. Start by sterilizing your Ball® jars and lids with warm soapy water.
  2. Peel and core your apples. Then chop into rough chunks.
  3. Add apples to a saucepan with water, and boil until soft.
  4. Use a food mill or high speed blender to process until completely smooth.
  5. Return puree to saucepan and add sugar and spices, whisking until combined. Simmer on stovetop until reduced, thickened, and takes on a caramelized brown color.
  6. Meanwhile, heat sterilized jars so they are hot, in your water bath canner. Have your jar lifter, towel, funnel, and spatula within your reach.
  7. When apple butter is ready, fill each jar individually with apple butter leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Screw lid on until finger tight.
  8. Put each jar back in your water bath canner once filled, and repeat. This is not an assembly line process. Once you’ve filled all jars and returned them to canner, bring it to a boil.
  9. Process jars 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool 12-24 hours.
liberty apples arranged on a blue surface

What Variety of Apples Make The Best Apple Butter?

Apple butter is as pure as it gets. Just apples and a bit of sugar and spices cooked down, concentrating the flavor of this autumn fruit. For that reason, I like to use a mix of tart and sweet apples rather than just one variety. My favorites are:

  • Cortland
  • Liberty
  • Sweet 16
  • Pink Lady
  • Honeycrisp

Unlike apple pie, in which you need to use firm apples to stand up to the heat of the oven, softer textured apples work well for apple butter because they cook down faster.

homemade apple butter in a glass jar with apples surrounding
apple butter in a clear ball jar with spoon it

The Secret to Extra Smooth Apple Butter

I’ve used a food processor and a food mill to puree the apples for apple butter, but nothing breaks them down as well as a high speed blender! Simmer your apples until they give no resistance to a fork, then blend until they are silky smooth.

When reduced on the stovetop, this smooth apple puree will turn into a glossy, caramelized apple butter.

Delicious Ways to Eat Apple Butter:

fall cheese board with apple butter, ground cherries, crackers, blue cheese, cashews

More Heartbeet Kitchen Canning Recipes:

apple butter in a clear ball jar with spoon it

Homemade Apple Butter (for canning)

A tried and true apple butter recipe with the smoothest texture and wonderful apple flavor! Apples are simmered, then pureed and cooked down until rich and caramelized. Canning this apple butter preserves it so you can enjoy all year round.
5 from 19 votes
Prep Time :20 minutes
Cook Time :1 hour 45 minutes
Additional Time :15 minutes
Total Time :2 hours 20 minutes
Yield: 5 to 6 half pints
Author: Amanda Paa



  • 4 pounds apples (Cortland, Liberty, Sweet 16, Pink Lady, and Honeycrisp are great options)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 3/4 cups organic cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom


  • You’ll need 5 or 6 half pint jars for this recipe.
  • Core and peel apples. Cut apples into quarters.
  • Combine apples and water in a large saucepan. Cook apples at a simmer until soft. Puree mixture using food mill or high speed blender.
  • Return apple pulp to saucepan. Add sugar and spices, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook at a gentle boil over medium heat until apple mixture is thick enough to mound on a spoon, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from heat.
  • Ladle hot apple butter into a hot jar leaving a ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar and apply band, adjust to fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  • Process jars 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool 12-24 hours, listen for the pop to know they are sealed. Check lids for seal 12 hours later, they should not flex when center is pressed.
  • Now that your pantry is full, here are 23 recipes that use apple butter for you to make!

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October 23, 2020


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  1. 5 stars
    This is almost exactly the way my mom and grandmothers made theirs!! Thanks so so so much for sharing your recipes for apple butter and applesauce 💜🙏💯

  2. That sounds so yummy! Can’t wait to make it. If I freeze it what container would you recommend and how long is it good for in the freezer?

  3. 5 stars
    Thanks for sharing this recipe, I was telling my husband that I wish I had written my father’s canning recipes down and then I found your website. Thank you Susan

  4. ½ pint jars would be a waste of lids for our family. We love apple butter and it disappears fast. How long do you water-bath for pints?

    • Hello! You could double it, but it will take a lot longer for it to cook down to the desired consistency because there is so much more fruit to cook down. I’d recommend making this apple butter in the quantity listed, but you are always welcome to try doubling if you prefer!

  5. 5 stars
    I put in too much sugar. 3 cups to 2 quarts purée. I know it will be sweeter but will it be a problem with the canning?

  6. 5 stars
    I have made 1 batch of this so far and it was super easy and the best apple butter I’ve ever had!! I have another bushel of apples waiting on me as we speak to make another batch. I did not peel the apples first and the peels blended up beautifully. I also didn’t have any cardamom and used a pinch of cloves because it’s what I had on hand. It was wonderful! This is my go-to recipe.
    Do you have any tips for adding bourbon or maple syrup to the mix? Would that change the shelf stableness at all?

    • Hello! So glad you enjoyed the apple butter! Adding bourbon (or any alcohol) in canning will not affect the shelf stableness or safety, as it is a natural preservative. You would want to stir it in after you take the apple butter off the stove, otherwise it will boil off the flavor. I would start with 1 tablespoon, taste it, and add more if you desire. Maple syrup I have not tested, sorry!

    • Hello! This recipe does not need pectin because the ph is already at the correct level for safe canning, and apples are very high in natural pectin. The shelf life is 12-16 months when stored in a cool, dark place.

  7. 5 stars
    I have not YET. But I will as I’m craving homemade apple butter. I appreciate that you say to use a variety of apples and firm apples are not necessarily the type to use. I prefer to use 3 – 5 different types (medium consistency). One thing I’ve not noticed in anyone’s recipes is…toward the end of baking down in the oven, add one red hot candy. Make sure it get melted and blended in with other ingredients. That gives the apple butter a light pink color (not pink) and will cause your apple butter to stand out in crowds, When I was a very young teen (now 78 yo) my aging neighbor taught me how to make apple butter. She made it and served it to me every time I visited, which was often!

  8. 5 stars
    I made this with apples I had cooked, puréed and frozen. I switched the cinnamon with 1 teaspoon of ginger and added some grated orange zest – Delicious!
    Also, I read in another recipe several years ago that if you’re using a high power blender, you don’t need to peel. I haven’t since, saves so much time!
    And an FYI, I live at 5K feet (MIle High City) and the altitude adjustment is an additional 10 minutes.

  9. Amanda can I use an alternative sweeter like, honey, pure maple syrup or coconut sugar in place of unrefined sugar?

    • hi! Yes, you could definitely add chili flakes or other spices that you like. I wouldn’t substitute too much of the sugar with maple syrup,
      as it may affect canning safety of final product.

  10. 5 stars
    This recipe is so good!!! Love cardamom, and it was a pleasant change from recipes I’ve used in the past using cloves and nutmeg. Planning my next batch soon!

  11. Just curious and I know you can’t be exact but in step four, approximately how long does it take to reduce to the proper consistency? Thanks.

  12. Hi. I’m not sure what a Hot water canner is and also ‘ adjust for altitude ‘. Sorry – I’m in the Uk.

    • a hot water canner is a water bath method where you submerge the jars under by at least a one inch of coverage. Adjusting for altitude is depending on how high you live from sea level depends if you have a shorter or longer processing time, if your not sure you can search “what’s my altitude?’ on the web and most sites will ask for your location to pinpoint it then it will tell you. hope this helps