D.I.Y. Friday: Homemade Apple Butter

D.I.Y. Friday: Homemade Apple Butter

Save money by making your own homemade apple butter by peeling and grating as many apples as you have, then cooking them down with just the right spices and a touch of maple syrup. Puree, and enjoy!

Apple butter in a jar on wooden surface

Have you ever purchased apple butter? It’s nothing more than cooked apples that have been sweetened, spiced and reduced, but a small 1-pound jar can easily run you $8 to $10.

Apple shreds in a red pot

When I’m making applesauce, I peel, core and slice apples thinly. They cook down really quickly that way, and the sauce is still pretty chunky if you handle it gently. But when I’m making apple butter, a quick and easy medium-grate is the way to go. There’s no need to core the apples when you grate them, either, which saves some active cooking time.

Just grate down to the core and move on to the next apple. Once the mixture is cooked and reduced, process it in a blender or food processor for a silky smooth butter (or leave it as is—it will still taste nearly the same and perform just as well in recipes).

Homemade Pumpkin Butter

Why make apple butter at all, you ask? Well, allow me to refresh your recollection of (or introduce you to) all of the recipes that we made last year and the year before with the homemade pumpkin butter you see above: everything from pumpkin chocolate chip squares and pumpkin donuts to crispy pumpkin animal crackers and fudgy pumpkin brownies.

Why pumpkin butter instead of pureed pumpkin? Same reason for preferring apple butter to applesauce in baking: applesauce and pureed pumpkin just have too much moisture to make anything other than a cake (or a cookie that looks like a cookie but tastes like a cake).

Try to balance the moisture by tweaking the other ingredients in the recipe and you just end up changing the taste and texture for the worse. But apple butter and pumpkin butter are thick enough to add taste, texture and flavor—without making cake where you meant to make cookies. Or even crunchy pumpkin biscotti.

Apples on a wooden surface

In the coming weeks, we’ll be baking with apple butter so why not make some this weekend? In the meantime, it’s delicious on toast, and I have a sneaking suspicion that you could make any of my pumpkin butter recipes into apple butter recipes by swapping out the pumpkin pie spice for an equal amount of apple pie spice, and switching the pumpkin butter for apple butter. Happy D.I.Y. Friday!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: About 2 1/2 cups


8 apples, washed and peeled (I used a mix of Granny Smith and Fuji)

4 tablespoons (84 g) pure maple syrup, plus more to taste

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons apple pie spice*

*To make your own apple pie spice, combine 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon + 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom + 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg + 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice.


  • Grate the flesh of each of the peeled apples on a medium grate into a large, heavy-bottom saucepan. Add the maple syrup, salt and apple pie spice, and mix to combine. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. The mixture will begin to liquify, and then will begin to cook down and darken in color. Continue to cook for up to another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is evenly golden brown and the liquid has reduced, leaving behind a thick paste.

  • For perfectly smooth apple butter, transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add more maple syrup by the teaspoonful to taste, up to another 2 tablespoons. If you add too much syrup, you will thin the apple butter. Transfer to a heat-safe container and allow to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator or using in a recipe (or on toast!).



P.S. If you don’t have one yet, don’t forget to pick up your copy of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread! Your support means so much to me.

Comments are closed.

  • Karen
    September 28, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    Maybe a silly question, but do you peel the apples before grating?

    • Karen
      September 28, 2014 at 9:39 PM

      Sorry, posted too soon and just saw that you indeed peel them :)

  • Jennifer S.
    September 22, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    This time, I’ll try not to burn myself with bubbling spittles that come out! :)

    Oh and I love this idea of DIY Fridays – you are so smart!

  • Teri Boyd
    September 21, 2014 at 2:02 AM

    Apple butter added to BBQ sauce is wonderful

    • September 22, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      Ooooh I’ve never tried that, Teri, but it sounds great!

  • Daphne
    September 19, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    I love making apple butter! One of my favorite ways to use it is in baked acorn squash. Cut them in half and scoop out the seeds. Place them cut side down in a baking pan and cover bottom of pan with water. Bake until almost tender. Flip them over so cavity is face up. Put a dab of butter and large spoonful of apple butter to fill in each. Put back in oven and heat through. It is fantastic! A wonderful side for a fancy dinner or an any night meatloaf or chicken.

    • September 22, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      Sounds good, Daphne!

    • Kristen Reynard
      September 22, 2014 at 5:32 PM

      Now THAT sounds like something I would totally eat – yum!! Made the pumpkin butter a few times last year and now the apple butter is next on my list….along with some acorn squash!

  • Val
    September 19, 2014 at 10:40 PM

    Would it work as a sub for nut butters in recipes?

  • Mel
    September 19, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Love, love, love this (the apple butter and the DIY Fridays). So perfect. I spend my weekends baking and prepping for the next week so this speaks to me. Plus, apple butter? Yum.

  • Jan
    September 19, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    How long will this keep in the frig? Can’t wait to get it made! Just got your book as well……..going to be busy in the kitchen!!!!

    • September 22, 2014 at 9:22 AM

      I have so far kept this in the refrigerator for 1 1/2 weeks with no problem, Jan. So I would guess you should be fine for up to 2 weeks. It has enough sugar that it will last that long without a problem.

  • Morgan
    September 19, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    I have made apple butter in the crock pot and it turned out really well. I just sliced the apples, added brown sugar, a splash of bourbon (trust me, this part is awesome), some salt, and a splash of water in the bottom of the pot. I let it go overnight and it worked really well!

  • Stitcher88
    September 19, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    Mmmm, try this – cut open a hot baked sweet potato and add a big, generous spoonful of apple butter, it’s delicious!
    You know someone’s gonna ask – could brown sugar substitute for all or part of the maple syrup?

    • September 22, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      Hi, Stitcher, since this is not a baking recipe where the types of sugars matter quite a lot (in baking, maple syrup is definitely not interchangeable with brown sugar), using brown sugar should be fine. You’ll just have to play with cooking times and taste!

  • Mare Masterson
    September 19, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    I really just need to win the lottery so I can retire and spend my time in the kitchen making your recipes. I get home at night anymore and I barely can eat dinner and clean up from it. I have a funeral tomorrow, so my Sunday is going to be packed with baking because I am totally out of bread and I have apples to use — pie, cookies, apple butter, applesauce, apple crack cake.

    • September 22, 2014 at 9:24 AM

      Hope your Sunday was a productive baking one, Mare!

      • Mare Masterson
        September 22, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        No it wasn’t. I had a funeral on Saturday and the party after. By the time I got home, all I could do was clean the house. After that, I was drained. Sunday was spent grocery shopping and cooking. I did make homemade applesauce for the apple crack cake. That cake will be made tonight when I get home, along with English Muffin bread. I prepared two dinners yesterday so that I can just bake tonight. Tomorrow night is your homemade yellow cake because Amber’s birthday is Wednesday and she wants the yellow cake with chocolate buttercream icing. How do I store the cake (without icing)?

  • Lucy
    September 19, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Each year I make jams, jellies and pumpkin puree. It’s the only way to go, it tastes much better and here we have fruit growing wildly on the road side, mostly apricots (from upturned crazy truck drivers losing their bins).
    making plum jam after the weekend, we are about to leave for the last camping trip of the year.

    • September 22, 2014 at 9:24 AM

      Wild fruit on the roadside, Lucy?! I have never seen that, and I’m suddenly quite jealous. :)

  • Donia Robinson
    September 19, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    I made the pumpkin chocolate chip squares (with TJ’s pumpkin butter – it’s reasonably priced!) twice this past week, and both batches were gone very, very quickly. I bet they would be awesome with apple butter!

    You know, someone is going to ask about the slow cooker…

    • September 19, 2014 at 9:46 AM

      I know I know, Donia (about the slow cooker)! I thought of it, but I don’t really think this is right for the slow cooker unless you allow steam to escape (since slow cookers create very moist environments and more than half the cooking time in this recipe is mostly reduction, not really cooking), in which case it would cook even slower … and require some attention. I just think that defeats the purpose!

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