Weekend Project: Classic Apple Butter

Cook, Fall, In Season, Weekend Project

Weekend Project: Classic Apple Butter

This is the classic recipe we go to every apple-picking season, rich with sweet apple flavor and warm spices. As the mixture slowly cooks down, the sugar caramelizes and the apple butter turns a deep, golden brown. Spread it on toast in the morning or serve with scones for an afternoon snack — it’s a little bite of fall.


Classic Apple Butter


4 lb. (2 kg.) sweet apples such as Fuji, Gala, Empire or Pink Lady

1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml.) sweet apple cider

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cups (1 lb./500 g.) sugar

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground cloves


Have ready hot, sterilized jars and their lids.


Peel, quarter and core the apples. In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the apples, cider and lemon juice. Add 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft, about 30 minutes.


Working in batches if necessary, transfer the apple mixture to a food processor and puree just until smooth. Return to the saucepan and stir in the sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Place over medium-low heat and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides of the pan, until the butter is thick and mounds on a spoon, about 1 hour.


Ladle the hot butter into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch (6 mm.) of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.


Process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. If a seal has failed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.


Williams-Sonoma Art of Preserving CookbookFind more ways to put up the season’s bounty in our book Art of Preserving, by Rick Field, Lisa Atwood and Rebecca Courchesne.

3 comments about “Weekend Project: Classic Apple Butter

  1. Z Maleki

    Would using 1 cup of dates pureed in with the hot apple sause work instead of the sugar batch?

    1. Williams-Sonoma Post author

      Hi Z, we haven’t tested the recipe that way, but feel free to give it a shot and let us know how it turns out! Dates make great natural sweeteners, but the consistency of the finished product may differ — sugar will help the apple butter thicken.

  2. Carol4B

    I am going to try this recipe; it sounds great & relatively simple. My apple trees are loaded, unfortunately the apples are an Arkansas Black – which is sometimes described as the “wood Apple” not sweet but a good keeper. This recipe may make my apples more palatable !


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