Old Fashioned Apple Butter Recipe

Written by: Karl Guzman



Time to read 8 min

Hey there, fellow homesteader! 🍎 Ever find yourself staring at a pile of apples after a hefty harvest and wonderin', "What on earth am I gonna do with all these?" We've all been there. The pies have been baked, the kids are munchin' on them, but there’s still a heap left.


Enter apple butter, the spread that tastes like autumn in a jar. Think of it as the sweet, spicy cousin of applesauce. And the best part? With our trusty canning technique, you can have a bit of that fall flavor all year round. This isn't just a recipe, it's a ticket to preserving those apple-pickin' memories. So, roll up those sleeves and let's turn those juicy apples into buttery gold! 🍏


Prep time

20 minutes

Dehydrate Time

2-3 hours


Roughly 4-5 pints


Water Bath Canning



Apple butter ain't your typical butter. Nope! It’s this rich, deeply flavored, spiced apple spread that’s been loved by generations, especially out here in the heartland. Now, imagine spreading that thick, velvety, apple-y goodness on some fresh, crusty bread on a chilly morning.


This classic dish hails from our forebears who believed in the mantra: "Waste not, want not." Back in the day, when there were more apples than anyone knew what to do with, ingenious folks cooked 'em down to this magical spread. They preserved it so that the bounties of the fall could be savored throughout the frosty winter months and even into the budding spring.


It's more than just a spread; it's a testament to hard work, ingenuity, and the love of good, honest food. And with our canning recipe, you'll be joining in that grand ol’ tradition. So, saddle up and get ready to dive into the world of apple butter making!


Hold on to your canning jars, dear friends! Making apple butter is a beautiful journey, but there are some things to keep in mind before we jump right in. Apple butter? It's not just simmering apples. We're condensing flavors, melding spices, and achieving a texture smoother than a country ballad.


First off, apples ain’t all the same. From the tart Granny Smiths to the sweet Fujis, each brings a unique flavor and consistency to our butter. It's like the difference between a banjo and a fiddle – each has its own charm. Mixing varieties? That can create a symphony of flavors in your butter.


And here's another thing: the thicker the butter, the longer it lasts. But! Beware of going overboard. Too thick, and you might just have a hard time spreading it on your morning toast. Lastly, those spices? They’ll intensify as the butter cooks down. So if you're thinking it ain’t spicy enough at the start, just you wait!


Before diving deep into the apple butter world, let's shine a spotlight on the main stars of our show.


First up, those glorious apples! Hunt for the ones that are nice and ripe, but still got that firmness when you give 'em a lil' pinch. That means they're just bursting with juicy goodness. Look out for any blemishes or soft spots; freshness is our best buddy in this recipe.


Now, sugar ain't just sugar. Depending on what you use, be it brown, white, or raw, you'll get a different kind of sweetness. Fancy a richer, molasses-like taste? Brown sugar's your pal. A lighter touch? Go for white.


Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves? Well, they're the backup singers that turn our apple solo into a full-blown concert. They add warmth, depth, and that signature autumn vibe. 


Pro tip: Freshly ground spices pack more punch than their pre-ground pals. So if you've got a grinder or mortar and pestle, now's the time to break 'em out!


And for the love of all things apple, don't forget the splash of lemon juice. It's the unsung hero, preserving the color and adding just a hint of zing.


Every seasoned canner knows that having the right equipment on hand can make all the difference. Here's what you'll want for this venture:


Denali 'The Tanker' Pressure Canner: The crown jewel for our apple butter endeavor. It’s built like a tank (hence the name!) with an emphasis on safety and efficiency. Its spacious interior and consistent heating make sure those apples break down just right, offering a smooth, buttery consistency.


Denali Canning Lids & Rings: The unsung heroes of the canning world. These ensure that our apple butter stays fresh, sealing in all that spiced goodness. Crafted for durability, they're the perfect companion to 'The Tanker', ensuring a tight seal every time.


To sum it up, with the Denali range of canning products, you're not just preserving food, but memories. Whether you’re a newbie or a canning connoisseur, with the right tools by your side, every jar becomes a testament to your dedication and love for the craft.


Canning apple butter, just like that quilt you made last winter, has its nuances. And we want you to feel confident every step of the way, so let's tackle some of the common hiccups folks run into:


  1. Settling & Separation: Sometimes, you might find your apple butter not behaving, with some separation happening in the jar.


    • Stir It Up: Before canning, ensure you've given your butter a good stir to evenly distribute all those flavors.

    • Consistency Matters: Cooking it down a tad longer can help reach that perfect, spreadable texture.

  2. Discoloration: Nobody wants brown apple butter when aiming for that gorgeous deep amber.

    • Freshness First: Make sure you’re using fresh, crisp apples. Aged apples can cause off colors.

    • Air Out: Remove as many air bubbles as possible before sealing. Trapped air can alter the color over time.

  3. Jar Seal Issues: That satisfying "pop" eluding you?

    • Ring Check: Using Denali Canning Rings ensures a tight fit. Don’t overtighten, just fingertip tight does the trick.

    • Lid Love: Always inspect the Denali Canning Lids for any dents or abnormalities. A perfect seal starts with a perfect lid.

  4. Too Thick or Too Runny: Struggling to get that just-right consistency?

    • Water Watch: If it's too thick, a splash of water during cooking can help. Too runny? Just let it simmer a bit longer to reduce.

    • Stirring Saves: Regular stirring during the cooking process ensures even consistency.

Remember, just like grandma used to say, "Patience is a virtue." Keep a cool head, follow the steps, and you'll have jars of golden deliciousness in no time.


Old Fashioned Apple Butter (Canning Recipe)


  • Prep Time: 30 minutes

  • Cooking Time: 2-3 hours

  • Canning Time: 15 minutes

  • Total Time: About 3 hours, 45 minutes

  • Servings: Depends on the number of apples used

  • Estimated Yield: Approximately 1 pint jar of apple butter for every 5 pounds of fresh apples


  • Fresh, crisp apples (any variety, though a mix of sweet and tart is recommended)
  • Sugar (to taste)
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground nutmeg (optional)
  • Ground cloves (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Water or apple cider (just enough to prevent sticking while cooking)



  1. PREP:
    Start by giving those apples a thorough wash to remove any dirt. Then, peel, core, and cut them into even chunks or slices for a consistent cook-down.
  2. Sweeten and Spice Up:
    In a large pot, combine your apple chunks or slices with a splash of water or cider to prevent sticking. Start with half a cup of sugar (you can always add more later) and sprinkle in your cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and a pinch of salt.
  3. Cookin' Time:
    Let the apples simmer on low to medium heat. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until they break down into a mushy, aromatic mixture, which typically takes about 2-3 hours. Aim for a thick, spreadable consistency.
  4. Blend it Smooth (Optional):
    For an extra smooth texture, use a blender or immersion blender to puree the apple mixture.
  5. Canning (Water Bath Method):
    Fill sterilized jars with the apple butter, leaving about a 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims clean, then apply the Denali Canning Lids and Rings. Place the jars in a water bath canner, ensuring they are completely submerged. Bring the water to a boil and process for 15 minutes (adjust time for altitude if necessary).
  6. Cool and Store:
    Once processed, remove the jars from the water bath and let them cool to room temperature. Check the seals before storing them in a cool, dark place.



  • Taste as you go and adjust the sugar and spices according to your preference.
  • The apple butter will thicken slightly more as it cools.
  • A slow and steady cooking process allows for the full development of flavors.



Dive into the world of apple butter pairings!


  1. Breakfast: Spread it on toast, bagels, pancakes, or swirl in oatmeal. Add nuts on top for crunch!

  2. Baking: It's fab in pastries, thumbprint cookies, or layered in cakes.

  3. Savory: Elevate sandwiches with turkey or chicken, or add to grilled cheese. Mix with BBQ for a tangy glaze.

  4. Desserts: Drizzle warm apple butter on ice cream, or layer in trifles.

  5. Drinks: Boost smoothies or create fall cocktails with bourbon.

  6. Snacks: Mix into yogurt or pair with cheese and wine.

Apple butter is magic in a jar, perfect for both sweet and savory delights. Get creative and find your yummiest combo!


Canning apple butter is not just about preserving the bountiful apple harvest; it's about encapsulating the essence of autumn, enjoying the fruits of your labor, and bringing warmth to chilly mornings.


The joy of canning is akin to capturing moments in jars, ready to be revisited any time you pop the lid. Whether you're a seasoned canner, a home cook, or someone wanting to venture into the world of preservation, apple butter is a perfect starting point.


A Few Parting Tips:

  • Branch Out: While apple butter is our star today, remember the world of canning is vast. From jams and jellies to pickles and relishes, the possibilities are endless.

  • Safety First: Always ensure you follow canning safety guidelines. Properly sealed jars ensure your apple butter remains fresh and safe to consume.

  • Share the Love: We'd be thrilled to see your apple butter creations. Share your canning adventures with our community. Whether it's on social media or in the comments, we love to hear from you!

  • Feedback Welcomed: How did your canning process go? Are there aspects of the recipe you tweaked? We value your input and look forward to suggestions or areas of improvement.

To wrap things up, remember that every jar you seal holds more than just food; it holds memories, effort, and a touch of nostalgia. If this guide has added value to your kitchen endeavors, do share it, leave a comment, or even just give it a thumbs up


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