Apple Butter 101: All You Need to Know

Apple Butter 101: All You Need to Know

Last Updated on August 11, 2022 by Cinthia

One of my favorite sweet and natural things to add to my breakfast is apple butter. It has an amazing taste that compliments pancakes so well. I turned to it instead of apple sauce because it is just so much better! And, if you have a slow cooker or a pressure cooker, it is so easy to make. Today we are going to discuss everything about it. How to make it, how to store, and how long does it last opened and unopened. Does apple butter go bad? Let’s find out!

What Is Apple Butter?
Apple Butter 101: All You Need to K...
Apple Butter 101: All You Need to Know

Apple butter is a very concentrated form of apple sauce. By simmering it down with cider or water you get a thicker texture. It is a deep brown color because the heat makes the sugars, the fructose in the apples caramelize. 

It is not a marmalade. It is closer to a jam in texture but it is usually a bit chunkier. It is generally considered a spread. 

Although it contains the same elements as an apple sauce, it is basically cooked longer.

What Is Apple Butter?

How To Make Apple Butter

We recommend you use a crockpot for this as it will make the job so much easier! Although it is so easy to begin with that, that is hard to imagine.

Choose The Best Apples

Without measuring so much, just grab however many apples you have, from the variety that you prefer. Peel and slice them as thinly as you want. The thinner you cut them, the shorter the time they will need to cook, as they will break down faster.

Our favorite variety to use is Golden Delicious. They have the right amount of tang for their incredible sweetness. If you prefer something crisper, you can always use Red Delicious apples. We do not recommend you use Granny Smith apples, as they will hold their shape too much.

Add Some Sugar

Then, grab some sugar. We prefer brown sugar for this as it compliments the flavors of the season. Again, you can add as much as you want. It does not need a lot, as the apple itself already has a lot of sugar.

How To Make Apple Butter

As brown sugar is more expensive and tastes really strong, we tend to cut it with half white granulated sugar. If you really like its taste, then you can use all brown sugar.

Add Some Flavor

We add some vanilla extract. Vanilla beans would be better, but, of course, it is more expensive as well. It adds an amazing taste, though, so it is totally worth it!

Also to taste, add a pinch of salt and some cinnamon. Stir it all together and let the crockpot run all day, stirring occasionally to check it has not burned or stuck to the bottom.


The only fear with making apple butter is either burning it or it sticking to the pan, which is a pain to remove. If you have ever made jams or marmalades, it is a similar process.

You can take it out whenever you feel like it is done. We like it to be reeeeeally caramelized, so I let it run for as long as I can, but you can take it out sooner if you feel like it.

When you take it out it will be slightly chunky. If you prefer it smoother, you can always blitz it on the blender to achieve a more spreadable texture.

How To Use Your Homemade Butter?

We love to use it in any baked good to add some sweet tangy caramel apple flavor. It is a spreadable fall essence!

Some examples are cinnamon rolls, strudel, pie, cupcakes, spice cake. We also love spreading it on toast, pancakes, and waffles!

How To Use Your Homemade Butter?

My son is a fan of putting some of it on his custard ice cream to zhuzh it up. For this and pancakes, we also like warming it up in the microwave or over the stove to use it as a syrup.

How To Store your Homemade Apple Butter?

Canning or placing it in vacuum-sealed jars are a great option. Like that, you can leave it in the pantry for a very long time without fear of it going bad.

If not, you could also put it in freezer-safe containers and freeze it. It is also very practical.

Remember that if you have taken a container out of the freezer or you have opened a can or jar (homemade or not), you need to store it in the fridge.

Does Butter Go Bad?

A commercially bottled or canned apple butter can be stored safely in the pantry for up to 2 years. Afterward, it will not go bad but it will be past its prime and its color, taste, and texture may change.

This also greatly depends on storage conditions. You should store apple butter cans and jars in a cool, dry, dark area.

In the freezer, apple butter can last up to a year. We recommend you use airtight containers to avoid freezer burn. Once thawed, do not freeze again.

How To Store your Homemade Apple Butter?

Once opened or taken out of the freezer, apple butter should be stored in the fridge. It should always be tightly covered to extend its life.

If correctly stored, it will keep its quality for 1 more year. 

How To Tell If Butter Has Gone Bad?

By checking the smell, look, and taste of the apple butter, you will be able to tell if it would be best to throw it away.

An off odor or smell, dark or white appearance, spots, or if mold appears on it, it should be discarded. You should also throw it away if it turns sour.

We don’t think it will last that long inside your fridge, though! It does not matter how many years it can keep in the pantry, once opened it usually lasts only a few days at my place. The whole family loves it and I usually end up baking something and using it as well.

What do you think? Will you make your own apple butter? Leave a picture below!

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