Making homemade paleo apple butter is going to become one of your favorite fall traditions! This apple butter is naturally sweetened and is so simple; with only 4 main ingredients and about 1 hour of cooking time!
Homemade apple butter is perfect on toast, yogurt, oatmeal, or straight out of the jar, once you try it you will be hooked!
Why you will love this recipe
- Apple butter is one of the best fall recipes! As it cooks on the stove, your entire house will smell like fall! Once you make it at home, the process will quickly become one of your favorite fall traditions!
- This healthy apple butter recipe is made without any added sugar – instead it’s sweetened with medjool dates and is incredibly flavorful!
- Use this healthy apple butter like you would any typical fruit jam or jelly – great on toast, yogurt, pancakes or you can use it in baking to impart a ton of apple flavor into baked goods!
- You can even make it from store bought applesauce if you are short on time! Check on the tips below on how to do that!
- This recipe is naturally gluten free, dairy free, vegan and paleo friendly! It’s technically Whole30 friendly as well but it is likely considered a SWYPO.
- Apples – I love to use sweet apples, but sometimes mixing things up and adding some less sweet Granny Smith apples is fun too!
- Water – so things don’t burn
- Medjool dates – these add a caramel flavor to the background. I highly recommend you don’t skip adding these!
- Ground cinnamon – this adds that warm, over the top flavor that you are looking for.
- Ground cloves – intensifies the sweetness from the cinnamon and the dates. Highly recommend you add this if you have it in your pantry.
How to make healthy apple butter on the stove
Step 1: Peel the apples and chop them into small cubes or thin slices. The smaller the apples, the faster they will break down when cooking.
Step 2 & 3: Add apples, water, pitted dates, cinnamon and cloves to a high sided pan (this will allow the apple butter to simmer later without splattering your stove). Cover and cook over medium heat 15 minutes.
Step 4 & 5: After 15 minutes, remove the lid and stir the apple mixture. Put lid on and continue to cook 15-20 minutes.
Step 6: After 15-20 minutes, remove the lid and blend up the apple mixture with an immersion blender in the pot or with a high speed blender (be careful, this mixture is extremely hot). Blend until smooth.
Step 7: Once smooth, the mixture will cook over low heat, uncovered until all the excess water is evaporated. You will want to stay close by during this process as the apple butter can burn easily if not stirred occasionally.
Note: during this time, the apple butter should be lightly simmering (bubbles forming/popping) but not boiling. This allows the excess water to evaporate off, creating that thick consistency.
Step 8: Once you can run a spoon along the bottom of the pot and the apple butter stays separated at least 2 seconds in the bottom of the pot, it is done cooking (Step #8 below in photo).
Step 9: Turn off the heat and allow the apple butter to fully cool (more water will evaporate during this process).
Carefully transfer to an air tight container and store in the fridge up to 1 week.
How to make healthy apple butter in the slow cooker
Step 1: Chop the apples into small cubes or thin slices (no need to peel as the skins will break down in the slow cooker). The smaller the apples, the faster they will break down when cooking.
Step 2: Add apples, water, pitted dates, cinnamon and cloves to the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours with the lid on.
Step 3: Remove the lid, blend with an immersion blender or a high speed blender.
Step 4: Turn the slow cooker to low and cook the apple mixture without the lid.
Step 5: After 1 hour, turn off the slow cooker and allow it to cool down completely.
Step 6: Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
IN THIS FREE EBOOK
How to make with applesauce
Using store bought applesauce takes away the first 30-40 minutes of breaking down the apples from the original recipe.
This is great if you are short on time or don’t want to go through the process or peeling and chopping your apples. This can also save you money if apples are out of season.
Follow the steps below:
Step 1: Pour apple sauce in a very large, high rimmed pot and add pitted dates, cinnamon and ground cloves. Turn on medium low heat and allow to come up to a simmer.
Step 2: Simmer for 10 minutes over medium low heat (stirring occasionally)
Step 3: After 10 minutes, turn heat down to low and let the apple mixture cook 5 minutes without stirring.
Step 4: Blend up apple and date mixture until smooth with an immersion blender (in the pot) or carefully using a high speed blender (return to pot after blending).
Step 5: Let cook last 5 minutes over low heat allowing last bit of water to simmer out of the apple butter.
Step 6: You will know when it’s done when you can run a spoon through the apple butter and it separates at the bottom of the pan and stays separated (see #8 in process photos above).
Apple butter is just like jelly or jam but made with apples! There is no butter in it. It’s a much thicker version of applesauce, and is packed with flavor and will make your house smell amazing while it’s cooking.
Since the apple butter cooks longer than applesauce, it starts to caramelize as the liquid cooks off. You will notice that it has a much darker hue than applesauce and it’s much thicker and has an even more intense apple flavor.
You want an apple that will not get mealy when cooked down, as you want the end product to be thick, smooth and silky. The best apples I have found are:
– Gala (typically inexpensive and easy to find)
– Red delicious
– Granny Smith (will produce a slightly tart apple butter, I would recommend using another apple from above to offset that slightly tart flavor).
Yes! You will notice that as it cools (especially if you leave it in the pot it cooked in to cool down), the apple butter will continue to thicken as the rest of the moisture is able to evaporate off. Once cooled to room temperature, you can store it in the fridge where it still may thicken some.
Most apple butter recipes you see include ½- 1 cup of sugar (or more), which I find to be overly sweet and unnecessary! Instead, I use 2 medjool dates to sweeten naturally.
The medjool dates add sweetness as well as an almost caramel flavor that actually elevates apple butter to a new level of deliciousness.
Uses for apple butter
Apple butter can be used like any jelly or jam that you love. It can also be used to impart a very rich flavor into your baking (as a replacement for apple sauce).
Some of my favorite ways include:
- On pancakes and waffles
- On yogurt (with homemade granola)
- On sandwiches with almond butter or peanut butter
- Spread on top of pumpkin bread or banana bread
- Baked in cakes or muffins
Other fun adaptations for butter apple
- Use pears: Use ½ apples and ½ pears for a flavorful apple pear butter. You will want to peel the pears and cut them similar size to the apples. Cook according to directions above.
- Add different spices: Deepen the spice profile with the use of cardamom (about ½ teaspoon) or ground or fresh ginger (1/4 tsp ground ginger or 1 tsp fresh grated ginger).
- Make it gingerbread: Add 1-2 tablespoons of molasses and 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of dried ground ginger.
How to store apple butter
Refrigerator: Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Freezer: You can also freeze the leftovers into cubes and then store those cubes in a freezer safe bag or container. Freeze for up to 5 months. I love souper cubes as a way to freeze this into 1/2 cup portions.
Defrost in the fridge overnight or defrost in the microwave 30 seconds at a time.
Can you can for long term storage
There are recipes made specifically for canning, this is not one of them. I would recommend you find one that was written specifically for preserving with canning, as I believe you have to add some acid to the apples to allow them to be canned properly.
Apples: You can also use all pears for this recipe with similar results.
Medjool dates: If you cannot find medjool dates, you can also use maple syrup (2-4 tablespoons). If you have very sweet apples you may also be able to omit the dates completely.
Cloves: if you don’t have cloves you can omit them, however they really add a lot of depth of flavor to this recipe.
Tip: did you know that most natural grocery stores have a bulk spices section where you can buy as much or as little of a spice as you want? If you don’t want a huge jar of cloves, this could be the perfect solution!
If you love this recipe, you should try
4 Ingredient Paleo Apple Butter
- Peel the apples and dice into small, cubes
- Add the apples, dates, cinnamon, cloves and water to a medium pot over medium heat. Cover
- Cook covered for 20 minutes.
- Stir and continue to cook covered for additional 20 minutes turning the heat to medium low.
- Blend with immersion blender (off the heat) or in a high speed blender (carefully, remember this is hot).
- Return to the stove and allow to cook, uncovered over medium low heat, 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Let cool completely on stove if possible. Store covered in glass mason jar in fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Gala (typically inexpensive and easy to find)
- Red delicious
- Granny Smith (will produce a slightly tart apple butter, I would recommend using another apple from above to offset that slightly tart flavor).
- Chop the apples into small cubes or thin slices (no need to peel as the skins will break down in the slow cooker). The smaller the apples, the faster they will break down when cooking.
- Add apples, water, pitted dates, cinnamon and cloves to the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours with the lid on.
- Remove the lid, blend with an immersion blender or a high speed blender.
- Turn the slow cooker to low and cook the apple mixture without the lid.
- After 1 hour, turn off the slow cooker and allow it to cool down completely.
- Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Pour applesauce in a very large, high rimmed pot and add pitted dates, cinnamon and ground cloves. Turn on medium low heat and allow to come up to a simmer.
- Simmer for 10 minutes over medium low heat (stirring occasionally)
- After 10 minutes, turn heat down to low and let the apple mixture cook 5 minutes without stirring.
- Blend up apple and date mixture until smooth with an immersion blender or carefully using a high speed blender.
- Let cook last 5 minutes over low heat allowing last bit of water to simmer out of the apple butter.
- You will know when it’s done when you can run a spoon through the apple butter and it separates at the bottom of the pan and stays separated.