When apples are in season, I’ll find any excuse to eat them in all forms. Apple bread, apple cake, apple granola, apple pie, apple crisp, apple bars…the list goes on.
One of my favorite ways to use up in-season fruit is to make a jammy spread. For apples, my go-to recipe is an apple butter.
What is Apple Butter?
Applesauce and apple butter are both essentially apples slow cooked with sugar and spices, until you have a saucy and smooth apple-mix.
For applesauce, you pretty much are cooking it until it’s soft, mushy, and can be blended into a chunky snack.
Unlike applesauce, apple butter is cooked much longer until it becomes thick and caramelized.
Because apple butter is thicker than apple sauce, it can be used as a spread on toast, scones, bagels, or swirled into yogurt or oatmeal for a touch of sweetness.
I tend to keep my apple butter a little on the chunky side (personal preference), but you can blend as much as you’d like until it’s a super smooth puree!
Why You’ll Love Small Batch Low-Sugar Apple Butter
- It’s small batch! You don’t need a large slow cooker or a ton of apples. You can double or triple the recipe as needed to scale up.
- It’s easy to make – Just peel the apples and toss them with the other ingredients. Toward the end you’ll blend the apples but it takes minutes of “hands on” work.
- It uses simple, easy-to-find, pantry ingredients. Most of the ingredients we use here are items you likely have on hand.
- It’s Paleo friendly and has NO refined sugar! Too many apple butter recipes are loaded with sugar. We add just enough to keep it sweet, but not so much to make this unhealthy.
- You can freeze it! Portion it out and freeze for later.
- It’s the perfect way to use up (and preserve) those last few apples from your apple picking haul!
How to Make Low-Sugar Apple Butter:
- Peel and core your apples. If you leave some of the skin on that’s okay but I don’t recommend leaving the skin on all of the apples as it will not break down all the way.
- Add the ingredients to the slow cooker. Toss the apple with the maple syrup, molasses, and spices.
- Cook on low, covered for approximately 5 to 6 hours until the apples break down (start checking around 5 hours).
- Blend the apples to your desired consistency. Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender before returning to the slow cooker.
- Continue cooking the apple mixture (no lid) until it is thick, jammy, and caramelized. This should take another hour or two.
- Enjoy warm or cold.
How to Store Apple Butter:
- This apple butter should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The apple butter will last approximately one week.
- Freezing: To freeze the apple butter, move it to an airtight container with approximately 1/2 inch of space at the top. When you’re ready to use it, allow it to defrost in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. The apple butter will last in the freezer for up to three months.
Substitutions and Modifications:
- If you don’t have maple syrup on hand, you can swap it out for honey.
- You can omit the molasses or add extra maple syrup or honey. The molasses gives a nice flavor to the recipe, but depending on your variety of apples you may not need the added sweetness.
- You can modify the spices to your personal preference. I’m not a huge fan of nutmeg, so feel free to add more as needed.
Serving Suggestions for Low-Sugar Apple Butter:
- Mix into overnight oats for a decadent morning treat.
- Serve on a charcuterie board alongside sliced meats and cheeses.
- Mix into yogurt or cottage cheese.
- Use as an ice cream topping.
- Make an apple butter peanut butter sandwich. A winning combination!
If you Enjoyed this Recipe, You Should Try:
Small Batch Low-Sugar Apple Butter
- 1 1 to 2 quart slow cooker (small)
- 2 pounds apples (3 medium or 4 small) cored, partially peeled, and diced into chunks (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup, substitute honey'
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1.5 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- Place the cored and sliced apples in the bottom of your slow cooker. Sprinkle the spices on top of the apples.
- Pour the maple syrup and molasses on top of the apples, stir to combine. Cover, and allow to cook for 5 to 6 hours on low.
- Turn off the slow cooker, remove the lid, and allow the apples to cool for a few minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the apples (directly in the slow cooker) until smooth. Alternatively, you can transfer the apples to a blender to puree them. If you do the latter option, take care as the apples will be hot. Return the apples to the slow cooker after blending.
- Turn the slow cooker back on low and cook, uncovered, for another 1 to 2 hours until thick and caramelized. If your mixture still appears runny, continue cooking until your desired consistency.
- Turn off the slow cooker and let the apple butter cool for 30 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. You can freeze the apple butter in an airtight container (leave about 1/2 inch of room at the top) for up to 3 months. To defrost, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- Nutrition (Calories) based on 1 tablespoon.
- I like to *roughly* peel the apples - leaving some of the skin on. The most important part is properly coring the apple.
- You can use whatever apples you like, but my favorite types for this recipe are: Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Cortland, Fuji or a combination thereof.