Easy Homemade Stovetop Apple Butter Recipe

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This is absolutely my favorite stovetop apple butter recipe made with fresh, crisp apples and delicious cinnamon spice. It's my go to recipe every apple season, and while I love to can it, I include both freezing and canning instructions for whichever works best for you.

Just a bit ago, I gave you my favorite CrockPot apple butter recipe. I've had a lot of readers ask for a stovetop version of both that and my Instant Pot apple butter.

So, drumroll… I leave here my best apple butter recipe, stovetop edition.

blue Dutch oven with old-fashioned apple butter and wooden spoon

That's right; you don't need any special appliances to make this more traditional apple butter recipe. All you need is your stove and a stock pot or Dutch oven.

Now as I've mentioned before, I do highly recommend an apple peeler for easy stovetop apple butter. It really does make the job of coring, peeling, and slicing apples so much quicker and easier.

When I make homemade apple butter, I also like to add a secret ingredient that really adds to the flavor and gives it an even cozier feel than it already has.

What's the Difference Between Apple Butter and Applesauce?

This old-fashioned apple butter recipe is a mixture of apples and spices, with a texture that's very similar to canned applesauce and Instant Pot cinnamon applesauce; but the taste is a little sweeter, a little darker, and filled with cinnamon spice flavors.

Why Make This Recipe?

You are going to love this easy stovetop apple butter because it…

  • Is super easy to make – Coring, peeling (if you choose to peel the apples), and slicing the apples is a job made much easier and quicker with a Johnny apple peeler. Then it's just a matter of mixing everything together in a Dutch oven and letting it simmer, 'til it's ready to mash up with a blender. Easy peasy.
  • Doesn't require a ton of stirring – Once you get it cooking, you can just stir occasionally as it simmers. There's no need to stand over the stove with this recipe.
  • Smells like heaven – I always know it's fall when the aroma of apple butter lingers in the air. It's such a cozy, comforting scent… Why have they not made an apple butter candle yet?
  • Tastes downright heavenly – I like to use spices like nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon to really give it a delicious flavor. I also add my favorite secret ingredient (keep reading to find out what it is).
  • Is budget-friendly – Depending where you buy your apples and your spices, you can make a batch of 5-6 half-pints or 2-3 pints for less than $10. A bit of advice… I'm very partial to canning apple butter in the fall because it's usually pretty easy to find apple seconds at a local orchard or farmer’s market. Buying seconds means you can buy a HUGE box of less-than-perfect apples for a lot less than normal cost, which is going to save you a ton of money. I also like to buy spices in bulk at our local grocery discount store and sometimes thru Amazon; I especially love Badia spices and seasonings. When you compare the cost of making homemade to store bought apple butter, you're saving money. Plus homemade is just better all 'round.
ingredients for stovetop apple butter recipe on white marble countertop

Ingredient Notes

  • Fresh apples – When it comes to picking the kind of apples to use, I recommend apples that are both sweet and tart to really give it a flavor kick. Some of the best apples for making apple butter include Jonathan, Jonagold, Braeburn, McIntosh Red, Winesap, Cortland, Fuji, and Gala. Jonathan and Jonagold are two of my favorites; I've also combined Fuji with Gala to make a really delicious apple butter.
  • Molasses I prefer to use just regular molasses over blackstrap molasses.
  • Lemon juice – I prefer to use a fresh lemon juice, either straight from a lemon or my favorite shortcut, Minute Maid lemon juice you can find in the freezer section of some grocery stores; I've been able to find it at my local Walmart. There are multiple reasons for adding lemon juice to apple butter, but it's usually to help preserve or protect the color of your apples over time (making your apple butter stay pretty), and/or to make the apple butter more acidic for home canning. Wind fallen apples (including seconds) can have a lower acidity and a higher mold/bacteria count than umblemished apples.
  • Vanilla extract This is my secret ingredient, and you'll understand why I add it when you take your first bite. It's so good!

How to Make This Stovetop Apple Butter Recipe

Before starting anything, it's important to wash your apples. I always soak mine in a vinegar/water bath for at least 10 minutes, then rinse. You'll need about 4 pounds of apples.

It's also important to prep your jars for canning or freezing. That means washing, sterilizing, etc.

Then Just Follow These Steps…

  1. Core, peel, and slice the apples; again, an apple peeler for apple butter makes this step so easy. Cut out any worm holes or bad spots, as well. Note: While I do leave the peeling on when making applesauce, and you can do that for apple butter too, I usually choose not to for this recipe.
Johnny apple peeler for peeling, coring, and slicing apples on white countertop
  1. Put the sliced apples in your Dutch oven pan.
peeled and sliced apples for apple butter in blue Dutch oven
  1. Add molasses, sugar, brown sugar, spices, lemon juice, and vanilla extract to the apples.
adding molasses, cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar, and spices to sliced apples in blue Dutch oven
  1. Stir everything together well.
stirring apple butter ingredients in blue Dutch oven with wooden spoon
  1. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat; then reduce the heat to low and simmer, with the lid on the Dutch oven, for about an hour, or 'til the apples are softened and tender. How long it needs to cook will depend on the type and texture of your apples. If using a harder, crisper apple, it may take longer.
cooking traditional apple butter recipe in blue Dutch oven with wooden spoon
  1. Remove the lid, turn off the heat, and remove your Dutch oven from the stove. Allow the apple butter to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Then using an immersion blender, blend the apples into smooth apple butter, or 'til you reach the consistency/texture you want.
blending stovetop apple butter in blue Dutch oven with immersion blender

Freezing Instructions:

I stored apple butter in the freezer quite a bit before I learned how to can it, so it works just fine without any worries. And frozen apple butter should keep for at least a year.

  1. When your apple butter has cooked, allow it to cool to room temperature.
  2. Then just ladle or pour it into freezer safe containers that seal; leave 1/2 inch headroom at the top, to allow for expansion as it freezes.
  3. Label the containers, and place them in the freezer.

Canning Instructions:

I prefer water bath canning apple butter. Canned apple butter should keep for 1-2 years in the pantry.

  1. While your apple butter is cooking, wash half-pint jars (jelly jars) or pint jars in hot soapy water, rinse, and keep warm. We like to place ours on a baking sheet in a lower temp oven to stay hot.
  2. Once you've mashed up the apples, promptly ladle or pour the resulting apple butter mixture into the hot jars you prepared ahead of time. This is where a funnel pitcher comes in super handy. Be sure to leave about a 1/2-inch gap at the top of each jar.
pouring easy stovetop apple butter from funnel pitcher into jelly jar using red jar funnel and funnel pitcher
  1. Wipe the rim of each jar with a wet towel or rag, place the lid on, and tighten the band.
  2. Then place the hot jars down in a boiling hot water bath canner with 1-2 inches of water over the jars, and process those jars in the hot water bath for about 20 minutes.
hot water bath canning jars of apple butter in water bath canner
  1. Allow your jars to rest for at least 24 hours, but be sure to check every lid to make sure it's sealed shortly after canning.
  2. Before moving to the pantry, write what it is and the year on the lid, so you know when you made it. There are plenty of options for pretty jar labels for apple butter, and you can even turn your home canned apple butter into holiday gifts or hostess gifts.

If you choose to can it, Ball has wonderful Canning Guides to guide you through the process. You can also consult the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.

Expert Tips and Recipe FAQ's

How do you make homemade apple butter thicker?

After blending the apples into apple butter, you can place the apple butter back on low heat on the stove, and cook uncovered for 30 minutes to 1 hour if you want it to thicken up more. While I have never had to do this, it's a good way to make homemade apple butter thicker.

How should I store it?

If you're not freezing or canning your apple buter, it should be kept in the refrigerator. It should keep in the fridge for about 2-3 months.

What are some ways I can use apple butter?

I really enjoy apple butter on my toast in the mornings with breakfast. It's also really delicious on Grandma's biscuits and Grandma's dinner rolls. And I especially love making my soda scones recipe and adding a dollop of apple butter on my buttered scone. So good! My friend Heather actually adds apple butter to the meatloaf in her meatloaf sandwich recipe, and I want to try this; it sounds so delicious.

spoonful of easy stovetop apple butter over jelly jar with drips of apple butter on rim

If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback. You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. And subscribe to my email list too!

Easy Homemade Stovetop Apple Butter Recipe

How to make the best stovetop apple butter recipe with crisp apples and delicious spices. Easy freezing and canning instructions included.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: apple recipes, Canning & Freezing
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Canning Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 3 pints
Calories: 673kcal
Author: Mel Lockcuff

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Before starting anything, it's important to wash your apples. I always soak mine in a vinegar/water bath for at least 10 minutes, then rinse. It's also important to prep your jars for canning or freezing. So, that means washing, sterilizing, etc.
  • Core, peel, and slice the apples; again, an apple peeler for apple butter makes this step so easy. Cut out any worm holes or bad spots, as well.
  • Put the sliced apples in your Dutch oven pan.
  • Add molasses, sugar, brown sugar, spices, lemon juice, and vanilla extract to the apples.
  • Stir everything together well.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat; then reduce the heat to low and simmer, with the lid on the Dutch oven, for about an hour, or 'til the apples are softened and tender.*
  • Remove the lid, turn off the heat, and remove your Dutch oven from the stove. Allow the apple butter to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Then using an immersion blender or standing blender*, blend the apples into smooth apple butter, or 'til you reach the consistency/texture you want.

Freezing Instructions:

  • When your apple butter has cooked, allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Then just ladle or pour it into freezer safe containers that seal; leave 1/2 inch headroom at the top, to allow for expansion as it freezes.
  • Label the containers, and place them in the freezer.

Canning Instructions:

  • While your apple butter is cooking, wash half-pint jars (jelly jars) or pint jars in hot soapy water, rinse, and keep warm. We like to place ours on a baking sheet in a lower temp oven to stay hot.
  • Once you've mashed up the apples, promptly ladle or pour the resulting apple butter mixture into the hot jars you prepared ahead of time. This is where a funnel pitcher comes in super handy. Be sure to leave about a 1/2-inch gap at the top of each jar.
  • Wipe the rim of each jar with a wet towel or rag, place the lid on, and tighten the band.
  • Then place the hot jars down in a boiling hot water bath canner with 1-2 inches of water over the jars, and process those jars in the hot water bath for about 20 minutes.
  • Allow your jars to rest for at least 24 hours, but be sure to check every lid to make sure it's sealed shortly after canning.
  • Before moving to the pantry, write what it is and the year on the lid, so you know when you made it.

Notes

*How long it needs to cook will depend on the type and texture of your apples. If using a harder, crisper apple, it may take longer.
*A hand blender (or immersion blender) really allows you to get the texture or consistency that you want. It makes it easy to purée the apples when they've fully cooked, without having to take them out and put them in a food processor or blender. You can just blend them up right in your cooking pot. If you like your apple butter a bit chunky, a potato masher will work well too.
How do you make homemade apple butter thicker?
After blending the apples into apple butter, you can place the apple butter back on low heat on the stove, and cook uncovered for 30 minutes to 1 hour if you want it to thicken up more. While I have never had to do this, it's a good way to make homemade apple butter thicker.
How should I store it, and how long will it last?
  • Canned apple butter will last about 2 years on the shelf.
  • Frozen apple butter will last about 1 year in the freezer.
  • In the fridge, apple butter will last about 2-3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 673kcal | Carbohydrates: 175g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 30mg | Potassium: 1121mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 153g | Vitamin A: 330IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 134mg | Iron: 2mg
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