Appalachian Food Preserving/Canning

How to Make Apple Butter

pot full of apple butter with ladle

Several weeks back a reader asked if I could share my apple butter recipe. The recipe I use came from Granny. She got the recipe from a neighbor lady, Mary Mason.

The longer you cook apple butter the thicker and richer it gets. Sometimes Granny would let hers cook for several hours, but most of the time she was too busy for that so she followed Mary’s recipe which doesn’t allow for the apple butter to cook very long at all.

hand written recipe for apple butter

Mary Mason’s Apple Butter


  • 2 quarts of applesauce
  • 1 quart of sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves

If I’m already making applesauce I save out two quarts to make apple butter with. Granny likes to make her applesauce and then when the mood strikes her she uses two jars to make apple butter.

Mix all ingredients together in a large pot and cook for 15 minutes or longer if you’re going for the extra rich thick apple butter. Either way you’ll need to watch the pot closely to make sure the mixture doesn’t scorch. The amount of sugar can be reduced if you’re watching your sugar intake.

Using a crock pot to cook down apple butter works great and allows you to go about your day while the mixture cooks down.

Fill sterilized jars with cooked apple butter and seal at once. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

I love apple butter on biscuits, I like it with peanut-butter on a sandwich, and it makes a dandy fried pie filling as well.

To read more about Mary and her husband Clate go here.


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  • Reply
    September 23, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Thank you Tipper for another great childhood memory!My friend Mary Ann’s mother Anna made the best yeast bread and apple butter,that was such a treat when I visited their home. Us girls admired each others Mothers. My mom used make up and Anna didn’t, Mary Ann does and me not often.Were 100’s of miles apart but call each other on our birthdays and these memories always come up. Thanks again! God Bless.Belva-Jean

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 23, 2019 at 11:28 am

    I make my own apple butter too. I do it differently though. I cook it a lot longer at a low heat. I don’t add a sweetener until almost all the water is cooked out then add it to taste. Sometimes I don’t have to add extra sugar at all. I do the same with the spices. Different kinds of apples taste different so I can’t follow a recipe. I just keep sampling it until it is just to my liking. I know it is ready to put in jars when a spoon will stay when stood up in the middle of the pot.

    PS: I don’t know what “apple sauce” is. Apples that are cooked and canned are called “fruit” where I live.

    • Reply
      Dona Silver DiBernardo
      March 2, 2021 at 8:04 am

      Ummmmm yum. Now here is an example of what a picky eater I am. Even though we were city folk (according to country folk ) growing up in Brooklyn NY my mom did a lot of canning. My dad was the super of the apartment building which meant he took care of cleaning hallways and making sure the tenants had heat. But he also had full rights to the massive cellar (basement). Mom had shelves down there filled with canned goods and apple butter was one of them. She loved the stuff smeared on hot sliced bread just out of the oven.
      On the other hand I would not touch go near it If I smelled it I would not eat for half the week. I was terrible.
      Now middle aged, reading this recipe this apple butter thing is looking snd sounding delicious. To me.
      Wow. How taste do change.
      I’m going to cook up a batch of this as soon as I can and see if my mature taste buds have changed.
      Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    September 23, 2019 at 11:24 am

    I have eaten all the apple butter jars that you and Matt brought over on you all’s trip to visit Matt’s folks. I still have some jars of tomatoes, that you canned, and that made some fine chili. I’m saving the rest for Homeade Vegetable Soup when it gets cooler. I had the flu at least 3 times, seems that I would just be getting over it, when someone else came and give it to me again. They didn’t know they had it. I’ve been over it for a long time and my Family Doctor said for me to come in late October and get a Flu shot, that it would help. I told him I hadn’t had the flu in 9 years without the shot. …Ken

  • Reply
    September 23, 2019 at 10:40 am

    This makes me realize I ought to drive over to the orchard and see if they have apples available yet – last year I waited til cider time as usual, and they didn’t have a single apple left to sell, which was unheard of! They had such a low crop year they even bought in some apples to add to their own for cider making.
    If I was to make apple butter think I’d go the crockpot route because I’m likely to step from a simmering kettle for “just a minute” and the next thing I know there’s a big scorched mess. Would you leave the crockpot lid on, or put a toothpick under the edge to let some of the moisture out as it simmers?

    • Reply
      September 29, 2019 at 10:07 am

      Quinn-I just leave the lid on. I do check on the mixture every once in a while and give it a stir 🙂

  • Reply
    Ken r in SW. Missouri
    September 23, 2019 at 9:58 am

    I never had a receipt for Apple butter that I sold at farmer markets I used sugar cinnamon cloves and
    alspice till it tasted right made about ten quarts at a time cooked
    it in the oven or sometimes on the grill till it was dark and thick

  • Reply
    September 23, 2019 at 9:16 am

    My parents used to buy apple butter in half gallon jars when we ran out of mom’s homemade batch. My ex mother-in-law used to take orders for her stack cakes she made with homemade apple butter. The layers were paper thin and took hours to make. She sold the cakes for an outrageous price in her hometown and at the church she attended. They must have been worth the price as the same buyers kept coming back year after year.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 23, 2019 at 8:17 am

    Apples and Appalachia just go together, especially on the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains where the lowlands are just too hot for apples to do well.

    I have fond memories of the apples at my Grandma’s place. I just wish I had known their names. The only names we had were ‘horse apple’ and ‘June apple’.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 23, 2019 at 7:24 am

    Apple butter is really quite simple to make, after you get the apples pealed and cut of course. I like apple butter too, the cinnamon really dresses up the apples. To tell the truth, I don’t think I ever had a recipe for apple butter, I just made it.

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