Salted Caramel Slow Cooker Apple Butter. Everyone needs a good homemade apple butter recipe when apple season rolls around. This one is mine.
Apple butter is a popular recipe during apple season and the cooler, fall months. Easy to make and makes your house smell incredible.
You can make apple butter many different ways, the most common is a slow cooker apple butter since it takes a few hours to make. Might as well let the slow cooker do the bulk of the work.
A sort of set it and forget it recipe. One that smells absolutely incredible while cooking.
I make my slow cooker apple butter with a twist. I add the spices before cooking and then I stir in a quick homemade salted caramel sauce towards the end. I also blend half the recipe for a super smooth apple butter and keep the other half a little chunkier. Both textures are amazing.
There is no actual butter in apple butter, it just has a thicker consistency to it so it spreads with a nice thick layer rather than a thin sauce.
What kind of apples are used for apple butter?
You can use any apples for apple butter, I like to use a variety. Here I used Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady and Gala. I weight them out before peeling and coring then weigh again to see if I need to peel one or two more. Sometimes 5-6 pounds of apples can end up around 4 pounds depending on how you cut the cores out as well as peeling.
This recipe calls for 5 pounds of apples ( pre-peeling/coring) to make 6 cups of apple butter. Depending on the size of your apples you can get 2-3 apples per pound.
You also don’t have to peel or remove the core of the apples if you don’t want to and are planning on making the entire batch of apple butter super smooth. You can process it through a food mill, chinois or high powered blender. Leaving the peels on can give a more “appley” flavor and add more color. Up to you entirely.
What ingredients are in slow cooker apple butter?
- Apples – any kind you like to use
- Lemon Juice – to keep the apples from browning and adds some acidity
- Brown Sugar – you can use white or brown or both. I like the molasses notes from the brown sugar
- Spices – apple pie spice or you can make your own apple pie spice blend with cinnamon, ginger, all spice, nutmeg, cardamom and clove. See notes for amounts.
- Apple Cider – I use unfiltered apple cider. Some recipes call for water but to me water doesn’t enhance the flavor at all.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – just a little but to add a tanginess and help break down the apples.
Once all the apples are prepared I add them to my slow cooker and sprinkle in the sugar and seasonings and stir well then add the apple cider and apple cider vinegar. Then I set in on high to get it bubbling then on low and check on it every few hours, give it a stir, check for consistency.
I leave the lid of the slow cooker slightly ajar to let steam escape to help the apple butter concentrate and thicken.
I like to start slow cooker apple butter in the evening so the next morning it is ready to be finished with the salted caramel sauce.
This is after about 8 hours of slow cooking on low after the initial few hours on high. Apples are broken down and have a turned a nice amber color, but still some thinner liquid is left. The difference between apple sauce and apple butter is that apple butter is cooked longer to become much thicker.
You can have apple butter at any consistency you like, but it should be thicker than applesauce. This is why when it looks like this here, I keep cooking a few more hours. Once it is a lot closer to the consistency that I like. I make the salted caramel sauce.
Since I am making a small amount of salted caramel sauce for the apple butter, I don’t worry about using a candy thermometer. I just time it. I melt the butter with brown sugar and some maple syrup, and once the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved I bring to a boil for 4 minutes until very foamy and bubbly.
Then I remove the pan from the heat, transfer to a cool burner or trivet, I add in the heavy cream and salt and stir then add back to the heat until bubbling again, only one more minute. Next, I pour the salted caramel sauce straight from the saucepan into the apple butter in the slow cooker.
The slow cooker apple butter is now at a nice, thick consistency and after the caramel sauce is stirred in it is ready to be pureed via a food-mill or blender and transferred to jars. Or just transferred into jars if not blending smooth.
If you are using whole apples, puree or pass through the food mill before adding the caramel sauce to remove stems, seeds and peel.
The slow cooker apple butter is made, but now what?
What do I do with apple butter? What is apple butter used for?
Besides just eating apple butter by the spoonful there are many uses for it:
- Spread apple butter on toast
- Use in place of apple sauce in any recipe
- Spoon some over ice cream or make apple butter milkshakes
- Swirl into oatmeal, overnight oats, or any hot cereal
- It can be used as a topping for pancakes, waffles or French toast
- Great as a cake or cupcake filling
- Up the apple goodness and use as a filling for apple cinnamon rolls
- Make a cozy fall cocktail with it
- It can be used in savory recipes as well as sweet such as served with pork chops, roast turkey or ham, use as a spread for flatbread or even on burgers.
- Apple butter pulled pork or pulled chicken would be amazing too, oooh so would apple butter chicken wings.
- And now I need to make all of these apple butter recipes!
Other recipes to use apples in:
For the apple butter:
- 5 pounds of apples ( any kind you like - use a variety), peeled and cored (will be around 4 1/2 pounds after peeling and removing cores)
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup apple cider (unfiltered, unsweetened) (250 ml)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (125 ml)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (104 grams)
- 2 tablespoons apple pie spice (see notes)
For the caramel sauce:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
Peel and cut out the cores of the apples then dice into one inch pieces. Place diced apples in a bowl as you work on each apple and add the lemon juice to the diced apple pieces to keep from browning. Once all the apples are diced add to slow cooker with the lemon juice.
Add in the apple cider and apple cider vinegar on top of the apples then add the brown sugar and apple pie spice, or your own spice blend (see notes). Stir well then set the slow cooker to high. Cook for 2-3 hours until bubbling. Stir again then set the slow cooker to low and prop the lid slightly ajar with a spatula or wooden spoon to allow steam to escape.
Cook for 6-8 hours until the apple butter has greatly reduced, deepened in color and is easy to mash with a spoon. Check for taste and consistency, if you want thicker bring back to high and get bubbling for another hour or so and stir once an hour, keeping the lid ajar.
Once the apple butter is a thick consistency, make the caramel sauce.
Heat the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in a saucepan and stir until butter is melted and sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil for 4 minutes, without stirring. At 4 minutes remove from heat ( take completely off the burner) and stir in the salt and heavy cream, whisking until completely mixed in. Return to heat and cook for one more minute. Pour the caramel sauce into the apple butter and stir.
If you want a completely smooth apple butter transfer to a blender to blend smooth or pass through a food mill or chinois. You can do this before adding the caramel sauce if you are blending the entire batch or after if only making half the batch smooth.
At this point the caramel sauce is ready to be transferred to jars. You can can this according to canning instructions with sealing lids to jars, or keep in your refrigerator in jars or even the freezer.
If using individual spices vs apple pie spice combine the following for this apple butter recipe:
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon all spice
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Mix together and add to the apple butter in place of the apple pie spice.