Sugar-Free Apple Butter Recipe

5 pints
3 hr 15 min

Get all the fall feels with this sugar-free apple butter recipe! Cinnamon, allspice, and cloves flavor this easy and healthy apple butter recipe. This post details how to make this apple butter on the stovetop or in a slow cooker or crockpot. Additionally, we discuss several different options to process your apples; food mill, food processor, blender, or immersion blender. And, do you want your apple butter to be just a little chunky or silky smooth? It’s up to you!

Making apple butter couldn’t be easier. At its core (get it?), you put several pounds of apples with their peels in a pot and cook them until they’re soft. Then you mush them up (you have several options to do that), add some fall spices, and cook them for a bit more.

That’s it! That’s all you need for homemade apple butter! And this apple butter is healthier than many as there is no sugar added to it.

what apples to choose

Choose any of the softer apple varieties for your apple butter. These apples cook down quicker. You can choose one variety, but I prefer a combination:

  • Braeburn
  • McIntosh
  • Honeycrisp
  • Fuji
  • Jonagold
  • Cortland

I know costs a bit more, but I always choose organic when making apple butter, especially since the skins are left on.

slow cooker apple butter or crock pot apple butter

You can make this sugar-free apple butter in a slow cooker or crock pot. Add the apples and cider and cook for ten hours on low.

To thicken it a bit more, let some moisture escape by only partially covering the pot for another two hours. If you opt to use an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, you could add all the spices right at the beginning and just blend it all after the apple butter has thickened.

chunky or silky smooth apple butter

If you use a food mill, your apple butter will be just a tad chunky. I use ‘chunky’ loosely, it won’t be chunky, but it won’t be silky smooth either…more like applesauce.

Using food mill to process apples.

But, if silky smooth apple butter is your goal, then simply whir it in the food processor or blender.

Silky smooth sugar free apple butter.

applesauce versus apple butter

Apple butter is basically applesauce that is cooked even longer and more heavily spiced. The slow cooking makes it almost caramelized.

A stack of jars filled with sugar-free apple butter, with a few fresh apples.

canning homemade apple butter

You can easily water bath can this apple butter, and this recipe includes directions for water bath canning.

supplies I use for canning

While canning isn’t hard, it does require a few pieces of equipment to make the task much easier:

  • A Jam Pan or Maslin Pan
  • Weck Can Lifter or Ball Can Lifter
  • Magnetic Lid Lifter
  • Headspace Gauge
  • I use both Weck Jars and Ball Jars.
  • Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
  • A clean surface
  • Clean Towels
  • A bowl of white vinegar

The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is my bible. Even if I think I could make the recipe in my sleep, I double-check myself against the Ball Book…that whole botulism thing. It should be your first purchase if you are new to canning. My cookbook library inventory recently expanded with the addition of The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes! Another great canning and preserving resource is the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia website.

A dollop of apple butter on a scone.

what to do with your sugar-free apple butter

Top pancakes and waffles

Mix it in your oatmeal

Use it instead of applesauce in a recipe

Put it on a cheeseboard

Serve it alongside pork or chicken

Add it to your sweet potato recipe

Dollop it on your grilled cheese sandwich (especially good with brie!)

Sugar-Free Apple Butter Recipe
Recipe details
  • 5  pints
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 3 Hours Total time: 3 hr 15 min
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  • 4 pounds apples (preferably organic)
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Wash apples.
Cut apples into quarters or eighths. I use our apple cutter, which cuts the apple into eighths and removes the core. There is no need to peel the apples.
Combine the apple slices and cider in a large saucepan and heat over medium-low/medium heat until they fall apart, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
At this point, you have a couple of options:
Put a food mill over a bowl and add the apples to the food mill. This will remove the skins and leave a chunkier apple butter. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the food mill to get all the good pulp.
If you want to remove the skins but have smoother apple butter. Then you could use an immersion blender, food processor, or blender after you've put the apples through the food mill.
Leave the apples in the pot and use an immersion blender to puree the apples. This option will leave the skins on so that you will get some skin bits in your apple butter. But you will also get smoother apple butter.
Put the apples in either a food processor or blender. Once again, the skins will stay on, but you will get smoother apple butter.
Add pureed apples with spices to a large saucepan.
Simmer over low heat, frequently stirring until thickened, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
To test for doneness, place a teaspoonful of apple butter on a cold plate.
If the apple butter stays mounded on the plate without liquid separating from the apple butter, then it is done.
Refrigerate the apple butter for up to two weeks, freeze it, or can it.
To can your apple butter.
Spoon your apple butter immediately into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace
Remove air bubbles and wipe the rim with white vinegar
Center lid on the jar
Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.
Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water by 2". Add additional boiling water as needed to raise the water level.
Cover the canner and bring water to a gentle boil. Process for 15 minutes, adjusting time as necessary for elevation. (see notes)
Remove jars and place them upright on a rack to allow them to cool completely.
Refrigerate any jars that did not seal
  • This recipe assumes some knowledge of proper and safe canning techniques. Please see the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for guidance.
  • Elevation Adjustments:
  • 1,000 to 3,000 feet add 5 minutes
  • 3,001 to 6,000 feet add 10 minutes
  • 6,001 to 8,000 feet add 15 minutes
  • 8,001 to 10,000 feet add 20 minutes
Lynn @ Nourish and Nestle
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