Wild Thistle Kitchen: Slow Cooker Apple Butter

This slow cooker apple butter could not be easier. I got the inspiration and the itch to make some apple butter from seeing so many of my foodie friends making it once fall arrived. So I started scouring the internet and Pinterest for apple butter ideas and quickly decided to take matters into my own hands.

My biggest problem with most apple butter recipes is that they are LOADED with sugar. If you use the right kind of apple, you really don’t need any sugar at all. I went with some local Empire apples that have just the right balance of sweet and tart. I used maple syrup to add just a bit of sweetness — still a fraction of the amounts most recipes call for. That and a few cinnamon sticks and you are on your way to a delicious batch of apple butter.

My last little twist is to add some acidity. Balanced flavors are so important to me and to my style of cooking. In an effort to create a more balanced apple butter — and to put my little twist on it — I add a splash of apple cider vinegar. It’s a subtle difference, but so worth it.

Make this on a lazy weekend day and enjoy the slow process and the wonderful aroma that will fill your house as it cooks. And while you’re at it, make some homemade bread so you have something to slather this apple butter on when it’s done. Might I suggest my homemade Honey White Sandwich Bread? That is the loaf pictured here and it is truly the best!

I like to lightly toast a nice thick slice, spread on some good, salted butter and then add the apple butter on top. It is so, so good!


Slow Cooker Apple Butter


4 lbs. apples, cored and chopped (choose a sweeter variety such as Empire, Fuji or Gala)

1/4 cup real maple syrup

2 cinnamon sticks

1 split vanilla bean

1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1 cup apple juice or cider

1 cup water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


Place all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours, until apples are very soft and falling apart. Remove cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean.

Transfer apples and juices to high-powered blender or food processor. Make sure to work in batches and do not overfill or you will risk burning yourself once you start blending. Blend until you have a nice, smooth consistency. I really let it go because I prefer a very smooth apple butter.

Once it is all blended, return to slow cooker and cook another 2 to 4 hours uncovered, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick, jam-like texture. It will firm up more after chilling as well.

Transfer apple butter to jars or containers of your choice. I chose 6 8-ounce jars.


  • No need to peel the apples! The skin adds a nice color to the apple butter and you will not notice any texture once they cook for so long and are blended.
  • Add a splash of vanilla at the end of cooking if you don’t have a vanilla bean.

Photo by Anita Parris Soule. Courtesy Wild Thistle Kitchen.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *