The Best Homemade Apple Butter – with canning instructions

Last updated: September 26, 2022
5 from 14 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.

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 14 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 about 12 to 16 medium
  • 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. Check lids for seal, they should not flex when center is pressed.

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October 23, 2020


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    • 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.

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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