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Slow Cooked Crabapple Butter

crab apple butter

When I was a kid I loved apple butter. We always had some on had in place of jam. I always thought it was a special treat because I believed it was made with real butter (and our butter intake was kept to a minimum).

While the reality is that apple butter has no butter in it at all (in fact it is vegan!) to me it still seems like a luxurious treat: possibly because it is so hard to find now days (especially without corn syrup!)

This recipe is a twist on the classic apple butter. It is made with sweet crabapples (which are more tart than other apples). The tartness of the crabs makes for a very unique flavored apple butter. It is amazing with both sweet and savory dishes.

So far I have had it on a raw cheddar grilled cheese (SO amazing!), multigrain toast, peanut butter sandwich, ice cream, and just straight from the jar. It also works very well with pork, rosemary, sage, and chicken, and it was excellent simply served with a cheese and cracker platter. It even tastes good alongside olives or pickles. Let me know the creative ways you come up with for serving it!


A peck of larger sized crabapples (or any tart apple if you can’t find crabs) (about 13 lbs)

2 Tbs ground cinnamon

1/2 Tbs nutmeg

1 1/2 Tbs vanilla extract

1/2 cup honey (or extra sugar to make it vegan)

1/2 cup brown sugar (plus more or less depending on the sweetness of the apples)

Special Tools

Food mill (optional)

Immersion blender (optional)

Slow cooker


Core or halve and core the crabapples (because of the smaller size of crabapples, most corers will not work, so halving them may be necessary). You can leave the skins on, it helps with the flavor and color as well as saving time. If you have a food mill you can even skip the coring step and put the apples through the food mill to remove the stems and seeds once the apples have cooked.

Place the washed and cored (if not using a food mill) crabapples in large soup  pot. Fill the pot with water until it reaches the top of the apples. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the apples are softened through. If you have cooked them whole, process them by putting them through the food mill to remove the core and seeds. Return to pot.

Keeping some of the water in the pot, use an immersion blender to blend up the apples until you can no longer see chunks of skin. Alternatively you can let it cool slightly and use a traditional blender. Turn the slow cooker on low or medium (depending on the heat of your cooker, you do not want to risk burning the apple butter) Transfer this soupy apple liquid to the slow cooker.  Be sure to check it to make sure the temperature setting is correct. It will take 12 to 36 hours to cook down into apple butter. You can stir it every few hours if you like, but it really shouldn’t need it unless your slow cooker has a hot spot.

crab apple butter jar

When the apple butter is done it should be thick, paste-like, and have turned a dark red-brown color. About an hour or two before it is finished cooking you should add the other ingredients. The differences in apple varieties used will make it necessary to adjust the amount of spices, particularly sugar, to fit your taste preferences. I like mine fairly tart so I have not used a lot of sugar, but if you use sweet apples the amount may be too much. By adding it near the end (but not at the end) you will get a more accurate feel for how much to use and still allow for the spices to cook into the apple butter.

At this point you can process in a hot water canner using the chart below for your times. Alternatively you can freeze it, or eat it without storing (although this recipe makes a huge batch, about 4-5 pints!)

Recommended process time for Apple Butter in a boiling-water canner.

Jar Size

Process Time at Altitudes of

0 – 1,000 ft

1,001 – 6,000 ft

Above 6,000 ft

Half-pints or Pints

5 min







This was my first attempt at using crabapples to make apple butter. I was extremely pleased with the results. I will be showing this gem off at parties this holiday season, so if you are family, you are in for a treat!

Crab Apples


4 replies »

  1. I used this to make smoothies with, sweet bread (in place of bananas from my banana bread recipe), and oatmeal bars. My batch of crab apples turned out quite sour, so I do not recommend eating it straight, but when I use it as an ingredient for other things, it is AMAZING. I love it, and I’m so glad I made it!

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