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apple butter recipe in the instant pot and canned
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Farmers market apple butter

Pressure cooking the apples caramelizes the sugars better than other cooking methods. Keep the peels in for added flavor (you can strain them out later if desired).
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Slow cooking time6 hrs
Total Time6 hrs 55 mins
Servings: 8 half-cup jars
Calories: 55kcal
Author: Vee


  • Pressure cooker or Instant Pot
  • Slow cooker or Instant Pot


  • 6 pounds apples, cut into 2" chunks, leave peels on McIntosh preferred
  • ½ cup apple cider (do not reduce when scaling down)
  • cup brown sugar see substitution notes
  • 1 teaspoon combination of cinnamon & nutmeg optional, add at end to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice optional, even for canning (see notes for source)


  • Cut the apples into large pieces (2" in great), keep peels on, but discard cores.

Pressure cook

  • Add apples, ⅓ cup sugar and ½ cup of apple cider to the Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Bring to pressure and cook for 45 minutes. (Apples will soften with just 10 minutes of pressure cooking, but a longer duration caramelizes the sugars to create an excellent flavor).
  • Quick release the steam. (Slow release allows the water vapor to condense, which would then need to be cooked for evaporation. We want this steam gone to speed up the slow cooking process).
  • Puree the apples with an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender and return to the Instant Pot). Continue to leave the peels in at this point.

Slow cook

  • After pressure cooking with quick-release steam, slow cooking will take anywhere from 3-8 hours to fully thicken.
  • Set the Instant Pot to slow cook for 8 hours and crack the lid to let steam escape. (Do not remove the lid completely as the temperature will drop and make this process take longer). Apple butter will take 3-8 hours depending on the batch size and other variables.
  • Check the apple butter after 2 hours for consistency, and continue to check until it is done. Scrape the bottom of the pot to see how quickly the apple butter fills in the trench you created. When the apple butter doesn't fill in the area for 1-2 seconds, it is time to add the spices (if necessary)
  • Add optional spices + extra sugar if needed: Taste the apple butter when it is almost done. Add spices, a little at a time, continuing to taste. (If added earlier in the process, it can cook down too strongly).
  • Test for doneness: Scrap a spatula along the bottom of the pot. Once the apple butter no longer fills in the space for 5+ seconds, it is done.


  • Bring water to boil in a deep stock pot with a metal rack on the bottom to prevent the jars from touching the bottom of the pot. Make sure the water will cover the jars by 1-2 inches.
  • Fill sterilized canning jars with the warm apple butter. Leave ¼" headspace and run a skewer along the inside to remove air bubbles. Secure lids and bands to finger-tight.
  • Process jars in the hot water bath for 15 minutes (adjusting up for altitude). Remove and let cool. Leave jars undisturbed for 12 hours, then check for proper seals.


Lemon juice optional: apples are acidic enough that no extra acid (like lemon juice) is necessary. Ball's own apple butter recipe for canning doesn't even include lemon juice.
The following sugars are approved by Ball and PennState Extension on safe canning:
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Agave nectar
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Stevia
Safe liquid substitutions according to Ball:
  • Water
  • Apple juice
  • Apple cide
  • Cranberry juice
  • Orange juice
  • Pineapple juice


Serving: 2tablespoon | Calories: 55kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 98mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 43IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 9mg