Old Fashioned Apple Butter for Canning

The perfect apple butter recipe for canning, made on the stovetop or in your slow cooker. Optional apple brandy plus plenty of spices make this a fall classic you’ll make every year.

half pint jars of apple butter

Old Fashioned Apple Butter

The perfect, classic blend of sugar, spices and apples, with the addition of a secret ingredient. Stovetop and slow cooker instructions.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Serving Size 6 half-pints


  • Waterbath canning equipment
  • Pint or half-pint jars


  • 4 pounds apples, peeled and quartered about 12 medium apples
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup apple brandy can substitute apple cider or water
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated. sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  • Prep fruit, waterbath canner, and jars. Heat empty jars by running through the dishwasher or heating in a 200-degree oven. Place rings and lids in water to simmer. Fill the canner with water and place on stovetop. Depending on how fast your cooktop is, you can heat the canner now or later in the process.
    peeled apples in bowl.
  • Cook the apples until soft. Place apples, water, and apple brandy in large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover the saucepan, and simmer the apples until they are soft enough to be easily pierced with a fork.
    saucepan of apples cooking
  • Blend the apples until smooth and add the sugar, spices, lemon juice, and salt. Using an immersion blender, blend the apples until completely smooth. Add the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until combined.
  • Cook until thickened. Bring the apple butter to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. This step will take between 15-30 minutes. The apple butter will become darker as it cooks.
  • Fill jars and process in canner. Fill hot jars with hot apple butter, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Wipe the rims clean and place the lids on top. Screw the bands on, tighteneing the jars until fingertip tight. Process in canner for 15 minutes, fully submerged.
  • Cool and store. Let the jars rest on th counter 24 hours until cool and sealed. The jar lid should not move when pressed. Store in a cool, dark place for 1 year.


You can also make this in the slow cooker very easily!  In Step 2, cook the apples and brandy in the slow cooker, covered on low, for 4-6 hours.  Blend, add the sugar and seasonings, and cook on high, 2-3 hours.  Put the lid on but place a wooden spoon underneath so moisture can escape.  Can as directed.
FInd free printable labels for your apple butter here.
Calories: 30kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 27mg | Potassium: 5mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg
ingredients on white counter

You’ll need the following for this fall treat:

  • Fresh apples
  • Water
  • Apple brandy (This adds amazing flavor, but if you don’t have it, you can substitute apple cider or just plain water.)
  • Light brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Bottled lemon juice. Canning recipes require bottled lemon juice because the acidity level is steady.
  • Kosher salt
apple brandy bottle in frony of bowl of apples


make sure to weigh and prep the apples first!

Before you start, prep your apples, all you need to do is peel them and quarter them.

The easiest way to peel these apples is to do it by hand. Even if you have a fancy apple peeler with a turning handle, you could have them all peeled twice by the time you set it up.

weighing apples on digital scale

There’s no need to slice them! Just peel the apples and put them in the saucepan.

🥫 Storage instructions

Like most canning recipes, properly canned apple butter will last at least a year in a cool, dark place. Once you’ve opened a jar, consume it within a week or two.

Apple butter freezes very well if you don’t want to can it. Try pouring the finished product into freezer bags and freezing fllat for easy storage. When you’re ready to eat, defrost them overnight in the fridge and pour into a mason jar for easy serving!

2 half pint jars of homemade apple butter

🔍 FAQs

What’s the best liquid to cook apples in for apple butter?

Apple brandy! It’s the secret ingredient in this recipe. There are many affordable brands of apple brandy these days, including the famous and expensive Calvados. I buy a brand that is less than $12 for this bottle, and it’s enough for a few batches of apple butter and a few drinks! But if you don’t have it and don’t want to get it, no worries. Just use apple cider or water.hand holding bottle of apple brandy

What are the best kind of apples to use?

Don’t stress over picking the right apples for apple butter; it really doesn’t matter! Granny smith is popular for baking and other apple sweets, but they are very firm and take a bit longer to soften.
It’s nice to have a blend of different varieties. I normally make apple butter on a day when we have a hodgepodge of apples, and I have never once worried about what variety to use.

Can I make this recipe in the slow cooker?

Yes! Absolutely. Our favorite way to make this is in the slow cooker. It takes longer, and it isn’t really any easier. But the fragrance that fills your kitchen while the apples cook is amazing!
Instead of cooking the apples in a saucepan, just place them, the water, and the apple brandy in your slow cooker with the lid on. Turn it on low, and the apples will soften in about 4-6 hours. Puree the apples, add the remaining ingredients, and then use the slow cooker on high to finish cooking the apple butter. Place the lid on, but with a wooden spoon underneath so that moisture can escape. This step will take a few hours.

📘 More Apple Recipes

🍽 Serve it with

butter knife mixing up jar of apple butter
Old Fashioned Apple Butter for Canning

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I have Made this Apple Butter recipe many times. I give as gifts. Everyone wants more when theirs is gone. I don’t peel the apples. I cut in small size and make it in the crock pot. YUMMY

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe is simular to the one that I got from my german grandmother, but I lost it. It was enough to trigger my memories. The internet tends to be the go all to sesarch but realized that it is not so easy to find due to in-leads for adverstisement.

  3. 5 stars
    This is DELICIOUS! I will definitely be using this recipe again. It was definitely sweet so I will probably reduce the sugar a bit next time (personal preference) and the whole process took so much longer than I thought it would (waiting for the canner water to boil, sterilizing the jars, etc.) but it was well worth the effort. Thanks for sharing!

  4. 5 stars
    Great recipe! Easy to follow and understand. This is the best Apple Butter recipe ❣️ Thank you for my sick easy and clear explainations. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes!