Does Apple Butter Need to be Refrigerated: Best Guide

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Last Updated on January 12, 2023

Today, we’re going to be answering the question: does apple butter need to be refrigerated? And looking at all things apple butter.

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 it, and how long it last opened and unopened. And most important: does apple butter need to be refrigerated? Let’s find out!

What is Apple Butter?

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 fructose (sugars) 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 cooked for 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 is hard to imagine.

Choose the Best Apples

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 tend to 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 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 really 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 in the blender to achieve a more spreadable texture.

Apple Butter Uses

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, and spice cakes. 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 ice cream to liven it up. For this and pancakes, we also like warming it up in the microwave, or over the stove to use it as syrup.

How to Store Your Homemade Apple Butter

Canning or placing it in vacuum-sealed jars is 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 Apple Butter Need to be Refrigerated? 

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 much longer.

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. Some signs to look out for are:

  • an off odor or smell
  • dark or white appearance
  • spots
  • mold appears on it

If you notice any of these signs, they should be discarded. You should also throw it away if it turns sour.

How Long is Apple Butter Good For?

Apple butter is a food product that lasts a significant amount of time. If the jar of apple butter is opened, it can last anywhere between 1-2 years at room temperature. For it to have this shelf life, it should be kept in a cool, dry place. However, once the apple butter has been opened, it should be placed in the refrigerator. At this point, it should last between 1-3 months. You can also freeze the apple butter. It should be stored in an airtight container; this way it’ll last for around a year.

What Does Apple Butter Taste Like?

The overwhelming flavor of apple butter is apples. However, it’s much more intense than you might think. It also has a caramelized taste; as well as a warming flavor from the spices. The spices used are typically cinnamon and cloves. It is thick and silky in texture and dark brown.

How Long is Apple Butter Good Once Opened?

Once opened, apple butter will last anywhere between 1-3 months. After opening, it should be kept in the refrigerator for best results. You can also freeze apple butter. If stored in an airtight container, it’ll last around a year in the freezer.

Simple Apple Butter Recipe

There are many apple butter recipes you can follow, but this is one of my favorites. It doesn’t require too many ingredients and most of the ingredients it does require you’ll already have in your pantry. The ingredients you’ll need for this recipe are:

  • 4lb of cooking apples
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

Now all you need to do is:

  1. Gather all of the ingredients you need for this recipe. Remove any damaged parts of the apple before cutting them into quarters.
  2. Add the water, and vinegar, and cut the apples into a large saucepan or pot. Once boiling, reduce heat until simmering. Cook your apples for around 20 minutes. At this point, they should be soft and you can remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Add the ingredients from the saucepan into a chinois sieve and pulp into a bowl.
  4. For every cup of apple pulp, add around 1/2 cup of sugar. Mix well until the sugar has dissolved and then add the lemon zest, juice, spices, and salt. Taste and adjust, if needed.
  5. Cook the mixture in a saucepan for around 1-2 hours. You’ll need to stir often and check regularly. Once ready, it should be smooth and thick. The color should be a rich, dark brown. Your apple butter is now ready to can.
  6. When your apple butter is almost ready, add your canning jars to a steamer rack and fill both the jars and pot with water. Boil and then leave simmering while you wash the lids.
  7. Remove hot jars from the water and fill them with the apple butter. Be sure to leave a small amount of emptiness at the top of the jar and then screw on the lid. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  8. Once they’re filled, return to the water bath for another 10 minutes or so. Dry with a towel and then leave the jars to cool at room temperature before storing them in a cool, dry place. Your apple butter is now ready to enjoy!


I hope this post has helped to answer the question: does apple butter need to be refrigerated? And helped you to become more familiar with all things apple butter. What do you think? Will you make your own apple butter? Please feel free to let us know in the comments below.

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