Fruit butters are the easiest condiment in the world to make, which means you should keep at least one kind around for use in any season. In summer, you can make peach or plum butter, but fall belongs to the apple. All you need for great homemade apple butter is apples, sugar, spices, a slow cooker and time. When you cook the butter for a long time, the apple flavor concentrates and it's so good. And the apple butter recipe is flexible, too. Want to throw some cranberries in there? Go for it. Use maple syrup instead of sugar? Absolutely. Add some bourbon for a little bit of a kick or vanilla extract for flavor? Yes, please. You can use apple butter in so many ways, too. Spread it on toast or a muffin, serve it with pork chops or on top of ice cream.
This homemade apple butter recipe is the simplest and easiest. You'll need about 10 or 11 apples (about three pounds of apples). The best apples are the softer kind because they cook down faster. Look for Fuji, Mcintosh, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Braeburn or Cortland. But if the only apples in the house are Granny Smith, Red Delicious and Honeycrisp apples, you can make those work.
Peel, core and chop the apples and add them to your Crock-Pot. Then add a mix of brown sugar and white sugar, lemon juice, ground cinnamon and ground cloves, nutmeg or allspice (or your favorite apple pie spice blend). Set the slow cooker to low, pop the lid on and walk away.
Basically, you're cooking apples down to applesauce and then cooking that apple puree even more to turn it into apple butter. When your whole house smells really good, the apples have started to break down. You'll need about 10 hours total time for the apple butter to cook. Stir the apples a couple of times every hour and keep a closer eye on them toward the end of the cooking time because as the apple butter cooks down, it will burn more easily.
The slow cooker apple butter is done when it's dark brown and thick. One way to test if it's done is to drop a spoonful on a plate; if the butter doesn't have any liquid around it as it settles, then it's done. If it's not the consistency you want, you can always cook it longer. If the apple butter isn't as smooth as you like, you can use an immersion blender or puree it in a regular blender or food processor. Spoon the apple butter into half-pint or pint jars and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or freeze in freezer-safe containers for up to a year.
Quick note: If you don't have a Crock-Pot, no problem. You can make this apple butter on the stovetop. Use a Dutch oven or another pan with a heavy bottom and add 2 cups apple cider or apple juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until the apples or soft, then mash them with a potato masher. Continue cooking the mixture over medium-low heat for 30-45 minutes. This method takes less time, but you need to watch it more closely.