Apple Butter Uses Aplenty

Recipes Using Apple Butter Add Natural Sweetness to Your Food

Apple Butter Uses Aplenty

Apple butter uses truly do abound. The apple itself is such a versatile fruit, which can be preserved in so many ways as a beverage, a sweet or savory sauce, a jam, a butter, a whole fruit, a pie filling, a dried chip, a fruit leather… the list goes on and on! If you take just one of these uses—apple butter—and look at all that it can be turned into, the list of apple uses grows again.

What a gift an apple tree is to a homestead—even a crabapple tree. There are many a crab apple recipe as well. If you can also pass on to your children the knowledge of how to care for apple trees, even better! I am a teacher and I love to share with my students each year the story of Johnny Appleseed, planting trees in early America so that those who came after him would have food to eat. We sing the “Johnny Appleseed Song” in thanksgiving for the gifts in our lives: This world is good to me, and so I thank this world, for giving me the things I need – the sun and the rain and the apple seed. This world is good to me.

My husband is a Michigan native, and we are lucky enough to own a getaway on a lake in Northern Michigan. One way or another, each fall, we end up with a box of apples. This year’s box came one day when I was out walking near our lake house. I passed this dilapidated old trailer which had been long abandoned. In the front yard was a huge old apple tree loaded with perfectly ripe fruit. I picked an apple, sat down under the tree, and enjoyed its crisp, juicy and slightly tart flesh. As I finished, I decided I couldn’t let these apples go to waste so I returned home for a big basket and picked as many as I could reach without a ladder. These would become this year’s batch of apple butter.

A basket of Michigan apples.

How to Make Apple Butter in a Crock Pot

First, let me share with you how I make my apple butter then we will look at some of the many apple butter uses out there.

I had about 7.5 pounds of apples, which I put through my little peeling and slicing crank machine.

This little machine makes quick work of peeling and coring apples.

The result was a large pot of apples peeled, cored and sliced into rounds. To that, I added four tablespoons of lemon juice and four cups of water. I covered the pot and cooked it on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples had softened significantly—about a half hour.

apples cooked down and ready to puree

Next, I used my trusty immersion blender to puree my apples. At this point, it was applesauce. Save some now if you want a little homemade applesauce!

To my sauce, I mixed in one and a half teaspoons of cinnamon, a half teaspoon each of cloves and allspice, and one whole star anise. Finally, I added just a half cup of honey for a touch of extra sweetness. I would recommend tasting your applesauce before you add any sweetener. If your apples are naturally very sweet, you might not need it. Since mine were on the tart side, I wanted a little extra sweetness. Mix these spices in and then transfer it to a large crockpot. Turn it on low and leave it, uncovered, to cook down. Stir it every few hours. Mine took about a day and a half to come to the nice thick texture I like. Make sure you fish out that star anise before you use or can the apple butter.

apple sauce before…
…apple butter when it’s cooked down!

I usually can my apple butter in eight-ounce jam jars so that I have it available throughout the year in my pantry. Jam jars of warm apple butter can be processed in a hot water bath for ten minutes then stored for a year or more.


Jars of Phillips Farm Apple Butter ready for sale.


Apple Butter in a Crock Pot
7.5 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
4 tablespoons lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
4 cups water 1 whole star anise
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/2 cup honey
1. Add peeled, cored and sliced apples to a large pot with lemon juice and water Cover and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples soften significantly – about a half hour.
2. Use an immersion blender to puree the apples.
3. Mix in cinnamon, cloves, allspice, star anise, and honey (if needed – Taste your applesauce before you add any sweetener. If your apples are naturally very sweet, you might not need it.)
4. Transfer to a large crockpot. Turn it on low and leave it, uncovered, to cook down. Stir every few hours.
5. Fish out the star anise before you use or can the apple butter.
6. Jam jars of apple butter can be processed for ten minutes in a water bath canner or stored in the fridge or freezer.
Yield: nine 8-ounce jars

Ok, so you’ve made your apple butter – now what else can you do with it?

Apple Butter Uses

Apple Butter Uses

  • Apple butter can be added to just about any sauce where you’d like a little natural sweetness.
  • You could mix some in with a tomato sauce to give it an earthy sweetness and a little spice.
  • It could be used in place of a tomato sauce on a homemade pizza featuring chicken sausage, mushrooms, onions, figs and goat cheese.
  • A little apple butter could be added to a tomato ketchup recipe to replace the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice.
  • Brush your favorite cut of pork with a layer of apple butter before you bake it.
  • Make a breakfast smoothie with yogurt or kefir, milk, a large scoop of apple butter, and a banana.

Smoky Apple Butter BBQ Sauce

Recently, I discovered one of my new favorite apple butter uses: a homemade Smoky Apple Butter BBQ Sauce. It’s easy to make once you have your jars of pre-made apple butter.

I started with about two cups of apple butter, which is about one and a third of the eight-ounce jars I made. I poured it into a large mixing bowl then added one cup of ketchup, one teaspoon each of dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, kosher salt and minced garlic. I also added a half teaspoon each of black pepper and paprika, two tablespoons of vinegar, and a quarter cup each of brown sugar and honey. Finally, I chopped a white onion and threw that in the bowl. Using my immersion blender, I thoroughly mixed the sauce and ground up the onion. Taste yours and adjust the spices if needed to fit your desired taste.

Finished Apple Butter BBQ sauce.

You will end up with about four cups of Apple Butter BBQ sauce.

Then the possibilities are endless of what to make next: crockpot pulled chicken with Apple Butter BBQ sauce, grilled ribs with Apple Butter BBQ sauce, pulled pork sandwiches with Apple Butter BBQ sauce, Apple Butter BBQ chicken pizza…

Smoky Apple Butter BBQ Sauce Recipe
2 cups apple butter 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 tablespoons vinegar
1 cup ketchup 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1/2 teaspoon paprika 1 white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne
1.Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
2. Using an immersion blender, thoroughly mix the sauce and grind up the onion.
3. Taste and adjust the spices as needed to fit your desired taste.
Yield: 4 cups

What is your favorite apple butter use?

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