Slow Cooker Apple Butter is the perfect way to kick off the season. This upgraded recipe is thick, creamy, and sweetened only with dates!
Growing up, we always looked forward to apple butter season. Each fall, members of my great grandmother's church came together to make hundreds of jars of apple butter to share with friends, family, and the community. We cherished those jars of golden goodness down to the very last drop! As an adult, I've often reminisced about that apple butter and decided it was time to start making my own to share! Slow Cooker Apple Butter is incredibly simple to make and is a perfect little bite of nostalgia.
If you are unfamiliar with apple butter, the name alone can throw you. There is no actual "butter" in the recipe at all. In fact, you may be surprised to discover that the ingredients are practically identical to applesauce! It all comes down to the cooking process. Apple butter is quite simply an apple 'jam' that has been slow cooked down to become thick, caramelized, and quite frankly, decadent. It makes a perfect spread on toast, mixed into yogurt, or dolloped right on top of ice cream. It's thick, creamy, and perfectly spiced and is what fall is all about.
Apples - Any favorite variety of apple will work for this recipe. We recommend choosing ones that you enjoy eating! Our go-to is Pink Lady/Cripps which are both sweet and tart, but Braeburn, Fuji, and Golden Delicious are great as well. You can even mix varieties together for delicious blends.
Dates - Apple butter is traditionally sweetened with granulated and/or brown sugar. We found that dates provided that perfect level of sweetness, from whole food form! Plus, there is the added benefit of nutrients and fiber, without the refined sugar. You can completely omit the dates altogether if you like your butter to have a little bite!
Slow Cooker - We opted for the slow cooker, but you can absolutely make this in an Instapot or even stovetop! If going the stovetop route, it's important to stir frequently to avoid burning as the mixture thickens.
Cooking Time - The cooking time may vary, depending on the apples used and cooking device. If your apples have more moisture to them, they may take longer to caramelize and cook down. The key is to watch for a deep golden brown color and the apples should be completely tender. If after pureeing your butter is thinner than desired, you can add back to your pot to continue cooking.
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
- 3 lbs apples, any variety Pink Lady, Fuji, Golden Delicious, or Braeburn recommended
- 8 pitted Medjool dates diced
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Peel and dice apples and place into a large mixing bowl. Roughly chop pitted dates and add to apples.
- Season apples and dates with cinnamon, vanilla, and salt and mix well.
- Add apple mixture to a slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 3 hours, or until apples are golden and completely tender.
- Puree apples using an immersion blender, or, allow apples to cool slightly before transering to a blender.
- Tip: if butter is thinner than preferred once blended, place back into the slow cooker to continue cooking down.
I used my Instant Pot. Manual setting for 15 mins, natural release for 15-20 mins, and sautéed for 15-20 mins. Absolutely delicious!