Apple Butter Is Beyond Stress-Free With A Slow Cooker

Thicker and sweeter than your average applesauce and packing a more caramelized punch than a scoop of jam, homemade apple butter is one of those decadent condiments that makes even a slice of toast taste luxurious. Still, it can be quite the labor-intensive job to make your own when you look at the hours required to cook down pounds and pounds of apples into a delectable spread. After all, spending nearly two hours manning the stovetop can be a tedious hassle that most cooks can't afford to fit into their busy schedules.

But that's where the slow cooker comes in to save the day. Instead of creating your apple butter on the stovetop, you'll let the slow cooker do all the work for a completely hands-off cooking method. It's still going to take a while — the slow cooker will need 12 hours to work its magic — but you can spend those hours working, shopping, and altogether living your life as otherwise scheduled in the meantime. While you'll still need to put in some effort to get everything ready for cooking, the slow cooker method might be just the alternative you need if you want more homemade apple butter in your life. 

The low and slow way to cook

Most apple butter recipes begin with a little bit of prep in the form of peeling, coring, and slicing roughly 6 1/2 pounds of apples. Once you've done this, though, the hard parts are over if you're going the slow cooker route. (Pro tip: save those apple cores and peels to make a batch of apple jelly.) You'll place your apple slices in the slow cooker with a cup each of light brown sugar and granulated sugar. At this point, you can also add in a blend of spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice; a pinch of salt would be welcome as well. 

After a quick stir of these ingredients, you'll set your slow cooker to low and let it cook for an initial 10 hours. Then you'll remove the lid, add in vanilla extract or lemon zest if desired, and allow the mixture to cook, uncovered, for a final 2 hours or until it has properly thickened. Once it has finished cooking, you can puree the apple butter using a food processor or immersion blender, or you can leave the mixture chunky and skip the blending — it's up to your own texture preference. With only a little active effort on your part, you'll have a lovely batch of homemade apple butter ready for canning.