I had no clue what apple butter was until I visited my Husband’s family in Pittsburgh. They always have a jar of apple butter on hand and I was smitten once I tried it. I wanted to try my hand at a batch, but it takes so long to make!! That’s when I had the bright idea to make instant pot apple butter.
It allows you to make apple butter with the same silky smooth texture and intense apple flavor in a fraction of the time! While the process can take up to 12 hours in a slow cooker, it only takes about an hour in an instant pot.
What Is Apple Butter?
If you’ve never had apple butter before the name might lead you astray. Don’t worry, it’s not apple-flavored butter!!
Apple butter gets its name from its silky smooth texture rather than actually using any butter.
It’s made by cooking down apples with a bit of sugar and spice to create a thick, spreadable mixture that can be used in baking recipes, as a spread or as a topping.
In my mind it’s essentially apple jam! Apples naturally have pectin in them, which helps give apple butter its unique texture.
What’s the Difference Between Applesauce and Apple Butter?
Apple butter and apple sauce are very similar! They’re both made by cooking down apples.
The defining difference is that apple butter is cooked longer than applesauce. This gives it a smoth, spreadable texture and a much more intense apple flavor. It also is much deeper in color and has a longer shelf life.
What Apples Are Best for Apple Butter?
The short answer? A variety of apples make the best apple butter!
You can make apple butter with just about any type of apple, but softer apple varieties make the process easier and quicker.
I like to use a mixture of apples to give my apple butter a more complex and balanced flavor. Mcintosh, Fuji, Braeburn and/or Granny Smith are usually my go to apple varieties for apple butter.
Other soft apple varieties include Cortland, Gravenstein, Grimes Golden, Jonamac, Liberty and Ida Red. If you can’t find these varieties at your grocery store, don’t worry! Use whatever apples are in season in your area.
I like throw in a Granny Smith apple to help balance out the sweetness, but you can just use sweet varieties if you enjoy your apple butter on the sweeter side.
You can also adjust the amount of sugar you use based on the sweetness of your apple and your taste preferences.
Do I Need to Use Organic Apples to Make Apple Butter?
This really comes down to your preference, but I recommend using organic apples.
While the apples will be thoroughly washed before being cooked down, the peels will not be removed in this recipe. I repeat, this is a no peel apple butter recipe!
While that might come across as a little crazy, the peel of the apple is packed with nutrients and actually helps thicken the apple butter. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to use organic apples.
How Do You Make Smooth Apple Butter?
After the apple butter has been cooked down in your instant pot it will likely still be quite chunky. This texture isn’t what most people have in mind when they think of apple butter.
How Do You Store Instant Pot Apple Butter?
When I make a batch of apple butter I usually freeze most of the jars and place one in the fridge for my family to enjoy immediately.
Because most of the apple butter will be frozen for the future, it’s important that you store it in an airtight container. Small mason jars or freezer containers work great for this and keep the apple butter fresh for months.
Does Apple Butter Need to be Refrigerated After Opening?
This apple butter does need to be refrigerated after its made! Sadly it will spoil if it’s left out at room temperature (unless it’s canned).
How Long Does Apple Butter Stay Good?
One of my favorite things about apple butter is that it has a great shelf life. It allows you to capture all those yummy Fall flavors when apples are in season and enjoy them year round.
A jar of apple butter that’s been opened can stay good for up to a month in the fridge.
An unopened jar of apple butter will stay good in the freezer for up to a year.
How Much Apple Butter Does This Recipe Make?
This instant pot apple butter recipe makes about 4-5 cups. The final volume can vary a bit based on how much you cook it down.
Apple Butter Substitutions & Swaps
This recipe is pretty straight forward and only uses 5 ingredients! Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this apple butter recipe.
- Apples – Use a mixture of your favorite soft apple varieties. I love using Mcintosh, Fuji, Braeburn and Granny Smith apples but most apple varieties will work great in this recipe.
- Brown Sugar – I prefer using dark brown sugar in my apple butter. It adds a hint of sweetness along with delicious notes of molasses. However, you can use light brown or granulated sugar in its place or completely omit the sugar. If you do omit adding sugar, the apple butter will take a bit longer to cook down and thicken up. I recommend sauteeing for 10-15 additional minutes.
- Ground Cinnamon – Ground cinnamon packs this apple butter that Fall flavor. I add usually add 2 teaspoons, but you can add more or less based on your preferences.
- Salt – A dash of salt helps balance the sweetness of this apple butter and is a must!
- Vanilla Extract – Vanilla enhances the flavor of this apple butter and makes it taste a dessert. I usually eat my apple butter with yogurt or ice cream so I love adding a bit of vanilla at the end of the cooking process. However, you can use lemon juice in place of the vanilla extract if you prefer apple butter that’s a bit more tart.
How to Make the Best Instant Pot Apple Butter
- Use a combination of different types of apples to give you apple butter a complex flavor! I usually use a mixture of Mcintosh, Fuji, Braeburn and Granny Smith apples in this recipe.
- If possible, use organic apples because the peels are included in this recipe.
- Don’t peel your apples! The peels contain a lot of flavor and nutrients and help thicken the apple butter.
- You can reduce or omit the brown sugar in this recipe but you’ll need to cook your apple butter longer to help it thicken up.
- Puree your apple butter with an immersion blender or blender to make it super smooth.
- Saute your apple butter on the lowest setting (to avoid splattering) after it’s blended for 30-60 minutes to help thicken it up.
- This apple butter will thicken as it cools, so don’t be worried if it isn’t super thick once it’s done cooking.
Let Me Know What You Think!
If you try this instant pot apple butter recipe, I’d love to hear what you think!
Please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.
Other Recipes You Might Like:
Instant Pot Apple Butter
- 4 pounds of apples - cored and sliced (about 1800 grams)
- 1/4 cup water or apple cider (60 grams)
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (100 grams)
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon (5 grams)
- 1/4 tsp salt (2 grams)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract or lemon juice - optional (8 grams)
- Thoroughly wash apples and remove any stickers. Cut the apples into fourths and remove the core.
- Place 4 lbs of apple slices, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 brown sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/4 tsp salt into the instant pot.
- Close and secure the lid to the locked position and turn the vent to the sealing setting.
- Cook for 20 minutes at high pressure.
- Once the apples are cooked, leave the lid on and let them sit for about 15 minutes to naturally allow the pressure to release.
- Carefully turn the dial to the venting position and let any remaining steam escape.
- To make the apple butter smooth puree the mixture with an immersion blender or a standard blender.
- Saute the apple butter on low in the instant pot for 30-60 minutes, leaving it uncovered to help it thicken. Stir occasionally to avoid any big bubble ups/splattering.
- Once the apple butter has thickened up, turn off your instant pot and stir in 2 tsp of vanilla extract (for apple butter with a sweeter note) or 2 tsp of lemon juice (for a tarter apple butter).
- Pour the apple butter into mason jars or airtight containers. One batch makes 4-5 cups of apple butter, depending on how much you reduce it in step 8.
- This apple butter will keep in the fridge for up a month or in the freezer for up to a year.
Yield: 4-5 cups - this can vary based on how much you cook down your apples.
Nutritional Facts - The servings size in the nutritional facts below is a based on a 2 Tbsp serving size.
Substitutions and Swaps - Please see the section above for more details about making substitutions in this recipe.
Tips for Making the Best Instant Pot Apple Butter
- Use a combination of sweet and tart apples to give you apple butter a complex flavor!
- Adjust the amount of sugar you add based on the type of apples you use and your palette.
- Don't peel your apples! The peels contain a lot of flavor and nutrients and help thicken up the apple butter.
- Blend your apple butter to make it super smooth.
- This apple butter will thicken as it cools, so don't be worried if it isn't super thick once it's done cooking.
Using a Slow Cooker to Make this Apple Butter
If you don't have an instant pot, you can use a slow cooker to make this recipe!
- Cook the apples, water, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a slow cooker on low for about 10 hours. Stir occasionally until the mixture has thickened and deepened in color.
- Uncover, stir in the vanilla and continue cooking uncovered on low for about 2 hours.
- Use an immersion blender or blender to puree the apple butter until it's smooth.
Amount Per Serving Calories 36Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 16mgCarbohydrates 9gFiber 1gSugar 8gProtein 0g