DIY Apple Butter for Your Holiday Gift List

Got a lot of people on your list? You can make a huge batch of caramel apple butter in your slow cooker. Just divide it into jars, add colorful tags, and give them out to your recipients. The recipe uses fresh apples, brown sugar, caramel, and spices for a sweet treat your friends are sure to love.


You can use any kind of apples you like for this recipe, but different apples will yield slightly different results. The first time I made this recipe I used mostly Jazz apples, which are tart-sweet, and the end result was an extremely flavorful apple butter. The second time I made it I tried using Red Delicious apples, since they’re so inexpensive, and I tossed in a couple of Granny Smiths for good measure. That batch had a slightly mellow-er flavor, still very delicious, but I have to say I prefer the first batch. (If you do use Red Delicious apples, you can probably decrease the sugar amount from what’s listed in the recipe.) But both batches were fantastic and something I’d be proud to give as a gift (and I’m pretty picky about that). If you do use Red Delicious apples, you can make an entire batch for under $10.

My batch yielded about 7 cups of apple butter. I split that up into 12 4-oz jars and 2 8-oz jars, so that makes a lot of gifts!

Be aware that your yield may vary a little depending on how long you cook the apple butter for. If you stop when it’s a medium caramel color, like you see here, it will be plenty thick to spread nicely. This is what you get if you cook the apple butter for 1 hour after blending (as directed in the recipe).

But if you want it a deeper brown and even thicker (so that when you tip the jar upside down it won’t move from the bottom) you can cook it longer, which will reduce it further and give you a smaller yield. This would probably take 2+ hours of cooking time after blending. If you do decide to cook it longer, be sure to give it a stir every once in a while to make sure it doesn’t burn.

What You Need:

15-16 medium sized apples (about 7-8 lbs, yielding 16 cups of peeled, diced apples)

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ginger

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons vanilla

30 unwrapped caramels (most of an 11 oz bag) 

Glass jars with air seal tops

TIPS: If you have glass jars around the house use those! Reduce and reuse when possible! If you can find cartels at your local bulk store try that instead of having lots of extra waste! Don’t forget to compost your apple peels! 


Peel and dice the apples ( there is no such thing as a “core” so just remove the seeds and use the WHOLE apple!)

Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves them place in slow cooker and cover with lid. 

Cook on high for 6 hours (or low for overnight).

Blend apples until smooth.

Return apple mixture to slow cooker. 

Stir in vanilla.

Met caramels by microwaving in 30 sec intervals until they are soft enough to stir.

Pour in melted caramels into the apple mixture and stir to combine. 

Replace slow cooker lid with small vent (place it on a bit crooked so air can escape) and cook on high for 1-2 more hours or until mixture starts to thicken and golden (it will thicken more once cool)

Transfer apple butter to airtight containers! 

These will keep in the fridge for 2 months or free for up to 6 months! 


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