Canning apple butter is surprisingly simple and so incredibly yummy. In this post I will give you my recipe and show you exactly how to make it step by step.

How To Can Apple Butter (With Recipe!)

You’re about to learn a delicious way to use up the extra apples from your tree, the orchard, or the grocery store. Below I’ll show you how simple canning apple butter is.

Canned apple butter the perfect accompaniment to a meal, especially in the fall or during the holidays, and it also makes a great gift for special occasions.

It’s easier to make than you might think, and will last for a few years. All you’ll need are a couple of common ingredients and some basic equipment, and you’re ready to go.

What Kinds Of Apples Are Best For This Recipe?

Soft fruits are the best kind to use for this apple butter recipe, because they cook fast and break down easily for canning.

Some good varieties include Braeburn, Gayla, Cortland, Fuji, Cameo, McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Grimes Golden, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Gravenstein.

Preparing to can homemade apple butter
Preparing to can homemade apple butter

Apple Butter Recipe For Canning

This canned apple butter recipe is sweet with a hint of a warm spice from the cinnamon. To me it tastes like the essence of fall.

But it’s also great to have on hand all year round, and there are many wonderful ways to use it.

Spread it on toast, crackers, or pancakes, stir it into your oatmeal or any other foods you want, and you could even use it for baking.

Ingredients For Canning Apple Butter

This apple butter recipe is simple, and I created it specifically for canning. You only need 5 ingredients, which you probably already have on hand.

  • Apples – A softer variety will work best because it creates a smoother texture and sweeter flavor that will slowly caramelize as you cook it, due to the natural sugars.
Coring apples before making the butter
Coring apples before making the butter
  • Water – Cooks down the apples, which aids in creating the smooth butter consistency that we’re looking for.
  • Sugar – The brown and cane sugars enhance the flavor, thicken the texture, and help the fruits break down and caramelize. You can substitute with an alternative such as stevia or honey, or completely omit it from this recipe.
  • CinnamonCinnamon compliments the sweetness and increases the flavor by giving it a slightly spicier profile. You could substitute for cardamom, allspice, or cloves, or completely omit it if you prefer.

Canning Apple Butter Without Sugar

While sugar does help stabilize this apple butter recipe for canning, the fruits themselves contain a lot of it already. This means that if you don’t want to add any extra, you don’t have to.

Most people like to add it for the taste, so you could use substitutes like an artificial sweetener or honey instead.

Stevia in particular is good for this because it’s very stable at much higher temperatures.

If you choose not to use sugar, be prepared for yours to taste a bit tangier rather than sweet. The texture may be slightly different as well.

Related Post: How To Can Apples

Boiling apple pieces to soften them
Boiling apple pieces to soften them

Tips For Canning Apple Butter

While this is pretty simple and straightforward, there are a few additional tips I wanted to give you so that you’re sure to have the best success making it.

  • It will naturally thicken as you cook it. If yours is too soupy or thin, cook it longer to allow more of the water to evaporate.
  • If it’s too thick for your liking, you can thin it out with a bit of apple sauce or a tiny amount of water. Add a small amount at a time until it’s the consistency you want.
  • While omitting the sugars is an option, they do help to thicken the puree. Alternatively, you could use a small amount of tapioca starch if yours is too watery.
Canning jars filled with apple butter
Canning jars filled with apple butter

Processing Canned Apple Butter

Water bath canning is safe to use for this apple butter recipe because the fruits are naturally acidic, so there’s no need for a pressure canner.

The standard processing time is 15 minutes, although you may need to adjust this if you live at a higher altitude.

How To Store Canned Apple Butter

You should store your canned apple butter in a cool, dry place away from direct light, such as a kitchen cabinet, basement, or cellar.

But first, check each of your jars to ensure the lid has a tight seal. If any of them are loose, then put those into your fridge and use them up first.

How Long Does Canned Apple Butter Last?

As long as you follow my recipe and instructions and store it properly, your canned apple butter will last for up to 2 years. If you omit the sugar, it will be shelf stable for about 12 months.

Enjoying my canned apple butter
Enjoying my canned apple butter


Have more questions before you’re ready to get started? Here are some of the most common ones that others have asked.

Does canned apple butter need to be refrigerated?

Canned apple butter does not need to be refrigerated as long as the lids have a tight seal. However, you will need to put it into the fridge after you open the jars (that is if you don’t eat it all right away!).

How do I thicken apple butter for canning?

In order to thicken apple butter for canning, you need to cook it long enough for the liquids evaporate. Adding sugar will help it thicken faster.

Do you need to add lemon juice when canning apple butter?

No, you do not need to add lemon juice when canning apple butter because the apples are naturally acidic.

I hope that this tutorial inspired you to try canning your own apple butter. This is one of the simplest and most delicious recipes, so I’m sure you will enjoy it.

If you want to learn how to grow as much of your own food as possible, then my Vertical Vegetables book is perfect. It will teach you all you need to know, and includes 23 DIY projects you can build for your own garden. Order your copy today!

Learn more about my Vertical Vegetables book here.

More Food Canning Posts

More About Apples

Share your tips for how to can apple butter in the comments section below.

How To Can Apple Butter Recipe & Instructions

Step By Step Instructions

Yield: 6 cups

How To Can Apple Butter

How To Can Apple Butter (With Recipe!)

This simple homemade apple butter is a delicious treat that you will enjoy canning and eating year round.

Prep Time
20 minutes

Active Time
1 hour 45 minutes

Additional Time
15 minutes

Total Time
2 hours 20 minutes



  1. Prepare the canner – Add enough water to the canner so that you can completely submerge the jars, and there’s still at least one inch over the top, then heat it to 180°F.
  2. Prepare your apples – Peel and core them, then chop them up into slices or cubes. I like to use my slicer/corer tool to make this super easy.
  3. Cook them – Combine the apple pieces and 2 cups of water in a large saucepan. Cook them at a simmer until soft.Cutting up the apples into wedges
  4. Process the apple butter – Puree the mixture using an immersion or high-speed blender, then return it to a saucepan. Add both white and brown sugar and cinnamon, stirring until the granules dissolve and the mixture is slightly caramelized.Blending the apple butter puree
  5. Cook it down – Bring the apple butter to a gentle boil over medium heat and cook it until it’s thick enough to mound on a spoon, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove from heat.Cooking apple butter for canning
  6. Pack the jars – Fill the jars with the hot puree using a ladle and canning funnel, leaving ¼ inch of headspace on top.Filling canning jars with apple butter
  7. Remove air bubbles – Use a bubble popping tool to remove any large air bubbles from the mixture.Popping air bubbles in a jar of apple butter
  8. Place the lids and rings on – Wipe the rims, then place a new lid and a ring on top. Secure them so they are only fingertip tight.
  9. Put the jars into the canner – Using your lifting tool, carefully add the jars into the water bath.Putting a jar of apple butter into the canner
  10. Bring the water to a boil– Turn up the heat, and bring the water to a full rolling boil, then put the lid on.
  11. Process the jars – Leave the jars in the boiling water for 15 minutes. After the processing time is up, turn off the heat, and let them settle for 5 minutes.Jars of apple butter in the water bath canner
  12. Remove the jars – Once complete, turn off the burner and remove the jars from the water.
  13. Cool and label them – Let them cool to room temperature before removing the bands. Then use a permanent marker to write the date on top, or try dissolvable labels.


  • It’s important to keep the jars hot at all times. So plan ahead and boil the processing water before filling them, then place them in there as soon as they are packed.
  • Also, be sure to work fairly quickly to pack your jars so they do not cool down before processing them.
  • Don’t be alarmed if you hear the random pinging sounds as the jars cool, it just means the lids are sealing.
  • If you live at an altitude higher than 1,000 feet above sea level, then you’ll need to adjust your pressure pounds and processing time. Please see this chart for the proper conversions.

Amy Andrychowicz

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