The Best Homemade Apple Butter – with canning instructions

By Amanda Paa – Updated August 13, 2023
5 from 38 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, 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

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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 38 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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Recipe Rating

5 from 38 votes (15 ratings without comment)

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  1. Glendora Racy

    Is the 4 lbs of apples before or after peeling and coring?

    • Amanda Paa


      • Glendora Racy

        5 stars
        Thank you

  2. Nicole

    5 stars
    What shoukd the texture be? I made some yesterday and canned it. Mine seems to be like applesauce thia morning? Should it be thicker? New to canning. I felt like it cooked forever on the stove top once adding in sugar and spices.

  3. Donna

    5 stars
    I made a batch and it’s really good! Since I give them as gifts, I like to have a “Best by” date to add to the information but I am not finding one with the recipe. My other fruit butters are in half pints and they have a best by date of 2years… would this be the same? Thank you

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Donna! I usually do 18 months just to be safe!

  4. Cindy Gerson

    5 stars

  5. Jess

    5 stars
    I don’t need any pectin or lemon for the canning? Just checking before I jar it up!

    • Amanda Paa

      Correct! The pectin is in the apples and it is cooked down to the fruit butter consistency you prefer, then canned.

  6. Kevin

    Do you think it would work if I used half cane and half brown sugar? As well added a few extra dry spices?

    • Amanda Paa

      Yes, I think that would be lovely! I’d just be subtle on the spices, as you don’t want it to overtake the apple flavor.

  7. Wendy

    Why peel the apples? Once the apple cooks the peels are soft and using an immersion blender everything gets mixed together and is still very smooth.

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi! You get more of a caramelization of the apples during the cooking process when the skins have been removed.

  8. Cheka

    Can I use a steam canner? Totally new at this canning stuff.

    • Amanda Paa

      I don’t have any experience with steam canners, sorry!

  9. Peggy

    I made this apple butter today but I have reduced the sugar to 100gm (1 3/4 cups should be around 350gm, I checked) cos we generally do not like it too sweet. The sweetness is just nice for us.

  10. SandyEn

    5 stars
    Started work on my seasonal “Gifts from My Kitchen” this week with a batch of this Apple Butter. This morning we opened the jar we had reserved for ourselves put great fragrant dollops of it on our oatmeal. Oh yummm!
    Notes to Self: * This is so good it is likely to become a staple in my refrigerator so watch second hand sites and sales for an Apple peeler/corer (the only tedious part of the process).
    * Having used a variety of apples may have lengthened the cook process (different firmness of raw apples) prior to blending but I think the final product taste is even better because of it.
    * I used an immersion blender and it worked beautifully. Smoooooth, tasty and oh so aromatic.

    So all in all? My sincere thanks. This is definitely a keeper recipe.

    • Amanda Paa

      I’m so glad to hear this, Sandy! Thank you for making the recipe and the great notes. I like to use a variety of apples as well.

  11. Connie

    My apples are sweet, will it work to use hardly any sugar?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Connie! I wouldn’t recommend that; I’ve developed this recipe to be not be overly sweet regardless of the apples used, and still safe for canning. You will not get the same texture, either.

  12. Susan Haebig

    5 stars
    Hello Amanda,
    Could I freeze the Apple Butter, instead of canning?
    Thank you, Susan

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Susan! Yes, you can freeze the apple butter. Will be great for 8-10 months in freezer!

      • Sarah

        Yay! Came here to ask this as I’ve never canned anything in my life and don’t know where to start/how to do it. All my jams are freezer jams because of this…. someday I’ll learn!

  13. Dani

    5 stars
    I’ve made this an obnoxious number of times at this point! My friends and family have been raving over it. This recipe is a keeper!!

    • Amanda Paa

      yay, so glad you like the apple butter!

  14. Lisa Dickens

    Can I process this in 1/4 pint jars? If so do I use the 1/2 pint jar processing time?? By the way, the apple butter is delicious!!

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Lisa! Glad you like it! The processing time would be the same, 15 minutes.

  15. Elizabeth

    Looking forward to this!
    Can I substitute regular sugar for the cane sugar?

    • Amanda Paa

      Yes, both work great!

  16. Renee C

    Does anyone by chance know in weight about how much I should use? My apples are already peeled and cored. As they came off my trees I had a lot of waste and i’m sure my pre weighted apples would need to be more. TIA :)

    • Amanda Paa

      Hello! How much do they weigh peeled and cored?

      • Renee C

        I have a ton! Already peeled and cored them. Some apples yielded way less/more than others because of my worm and wasp problems. I do want to can and am new at this so I’m just worried about the Apple sugar ratio and having correct pH

        • Amanda Paa

          Use 3 1/2 pounds of peeled and cored apples and you’ll be all set!

  17. Faye Biffert

    5 stars
    Delish and sooo easy!! We used red delicious and golden delicious apples because a friend in NC had given them to us from their trees. My husband used a device that cores, peels
    and slices apples quickly. I also did not have cardamom so substituted a large pinch of ground cloves. Yum!

    • Amanda Paa

      Love to hear that, Faye! And so fun to be able to use homegrown apples from your friend.

      • Côme

        5 stars
        I made this recipe today with Fuji apples from our tree in Northern California. It turned out spectacular. Some notes that might be of interest:
        1) I reduced sugar by a third and it still tastes fabulous. Maybe with Fuji less sugar is possible.
        2) I made a double batch size and started with 12 lbs apples to arrive at 8lbs net after peeling and coring. About 1/3 loss. This made 14 pint jars.
        3) it took about 15 minutes on induction heat level 5 boiling the apples in water to get soft and then I blended fine in a Vitamix.
        4) it took a lot longer than 1hr45 to cook thick, more like 2 hours on induction level 2 plus an hour on 3. The last hour was pretty messy as it boiled and spattered solids out of the pot. Use a big pot. Going lower on heat and longer meant less stirring needed and no burning. You want it to be thick enough that when you turn a heaping spoon sideways most of it stays on the spoon.
        5) I wonder if adding Xantham Gum like when you make a thick hot sauce would reduce cook time.
        6) also wonder if a Crock Pot with no lid could be used on low heat and just leave it for the afternoon to cook.

  18. Sarah Orbison

    5 stars
    This is a great recipe and the apple butter is amazing!

    • Amanda Paa

      Yay! Thanks for making the recipe, Sarah.

  19. Raphaëlle

    Thank you for this recipe, it is just starting to cook. Can you please clarify the cooking time for each steps, approximately. Thank you!

    • Amanda Paa

      Hello! Time will really depend on the moisture in your apples and the heat you are using to cook down. It is best to just go by the texture and thickness you are looking for.

      • Raphaëlle

        5 stars
        Thank you for the prompt reply 🙏🏼

  20. Alyssa N.

    5 stars
    This is a great recipe, lightly spiced and lots of rich apple flavor! I’m not one to follow recipes exactly so I did add a bit of Braggs apple cider vinegar before cooking down with sugar and spices. Delicious!

    • Amanda Paa

      Love to hear that! I really enjoy the big apple flavor, too.

  21. Chris

    5 stars
    Turned out great and was first time making apple butter

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad to hear that!

  22. Karen R Paxton

    Can you use plastic containers,freeze after cooking? Thanks

    • Amanda Paa

      Yes, you sure can do that!

  23. Shirley

    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 💜🙏💯

    • Amanda Paa

      Yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed it Shirley!

  24. Ania

    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?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi! You could freeze in glass jars leaving 1 inch from top of jar to apple butter. Will last for up to a year!

  25. Laura Kohler

    If I only have one kind of apple, is it ok to add lemon to this for a tang effect?

    • Amanda Paa


  26. Susan Wagnon

    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

    • Amanda Paa

      Love that nostalgia. Enjoy! ❤️

  27. Brenda

    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?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hello! I consulted with Ball Canning and the processing time for pints for apple butter is the same, 15 minutes.

  28. Julie

    Can this recipe be doubled or tripled?

    • Amanda Paa

      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!

  29. Patti

    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?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Patti! The extra sugar will not affect safety of the recipe or shelf life.

  30. Carye

    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?

    • Amanda Paa

      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!

  31. Annette Sue Hall

    Can I use apple juice instead of water when cooking apples?

    • Amanda Paa

      That will be fine, it may just be a bit sweeter, so you could reduce the sugar by 1/3 cup.

  32. Jessica

    Two questions ;
    1. This recipe doesn’t need pectin ?
    2. How long of a shelf life.does it have after canning it?

    • Amanda Paa

      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.

  33. Carol Thompson

    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!

    • Amanda Paa

      Thanks for sharing that story, Carol!

  34. Carrie H

    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.

    • Amanda Paa

      oh the ginger and orange zest sounds amazing! and thank you for the high altitude notes.

  35. Candace

    When you puree the apples, do you include the water you boiled them in? Newbie here.

    • Amanda Paa

      Yep, you do! The water will have reduced significantly during the stovetop boiling.

  36. Eva

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

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Eva! I haven’t tested it with an alternative sweetener, so I’m not sure how it would turn out.

  37. Toni

    Instead of canning, can I freeze the apple butter?

    • Amanda Paa

      Yes, you can freeze this!

  38. Bill

    4 pounds after coring and peeling?

    • Amanda Paa

      4 pounds before coring and peeling.

  39. Debra

    5 stars
    Excellent. I made this and it is heavenly

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad you liked the apple butter, Debra!

  40. Krista Hirseland

    Can we add other ingredients, for example, maple syrup or chili flakes?

    • Amanda Paa

      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.

  41. Jenn

    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!

    • Amanda Paa

      Yes, I love the subtle cardamom too! Adds such a nice compliment to the apples. Glad you liked the recipe!

  42. Dab

    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.

    • Amanda Paa

      hello! it can differ with each batch depending on the moisture level of the apples. i go off of the desired thickness rather than time.

  43. Sam

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

    • Emily

      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

  44. Diana Swanson

    would using 1/4 pint jars work?


    how many jars does this make? And what size jars? Thank you

    • Amanda Paa

      yep, that works great! just keep same headspace.

    • Robin

      The receipe says 5 – 6 1/2 Pint jars.

      • Cary J

        5 stars
        first time making this EVER, it turned out so yummy, i added nutmeg, what a delicious flavor it added, i made two separate batches!! the best recipe ever!!

        • Amanda Paa

          yay, so glad you enjoyed it!