What's Apple Butter and the Best Apples To Make it With

Filled with warm spices, apple butter is a fall favorite. It's delicious spread onto a piece of toast for breakfast or it can be added to cookies, pies, and cakes when baking. While picking up a jar at the market is convenient (and there are many tasty brands out there), making it at home is super easy. When apple picking season arrives, it's a fantastic way to use extra apples. But what is apple butter? The logical guess is it's a mixture of apples and butter. But that's not the case.

What is Apple Butter?

Apple butter dates back to the Middle Ages. Monasteries in Limburg (now known as Belgium and the Netherlands) and Germany typically had large fruit orchards. They created a spread, what we now know as apple butter, with the apples. With high sugar content and little water, apple butter had a long shelf life. Villagers began making apple butter too and the spread gained in popularity. As people emigrated to America, they continued to make apple butter in their new country.

Are Apple Butter and Applesauce Similar?

Apple butter and applesauce are similar in the fact that they're made with chopped apples and cooked. After that, the similarities end.

To make applesauce, apples are cooked just until soft and then pureed until smooth. Spices are added and, in the end, it has a semi-watery consistency.

For apple butter, though, the apples are cooked much longer. The apples break down, become caramelized and turn into a spread. When combined with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and sugar, the consistency is much smoother, and spreadable than applesauce with a more intense apple flavor.

What are the Best Types of Apples for Making Apple Butter?

Soft apples are best for making homemade apple butter because they break down easier and create a better texture in the end. Combining different types of apples - both sweet and tart - enhance the flavor of the end product. Try a combination of McIntosh, Cortland, Red Delicious, Braeburn, Cortland, Fuji, and Granny Smith when whipping up a batch at home.

What's the Best Way to Eat Apple Butter?

We can't think of only one way. That would be like saying there's only way one way to eat an Oreo. If you want suggestions, read this article on the best ways to use apple butter. But, here are a few quick and easy ideas:
  • Smeared on a piece of toast, a biscuit or bagel with a dab of butter
  • Add a dollop on top of pork chops
  • Spoon it into oatmeal
  • Create a sandwich with turkey, brie, and apple butter (extra good if grilled)
  • Substitute oil with apple butter when baking
  • Use it as a topping for buttermilk pancakes or French toast
  • Spread it on baked ham
  • Add a layer to cinnamon rolls
  • Dip sweet potato fries into it

How Can I Make Apple Butter?

Now you KNOW we have you covered with Blue Ribbon apple butter recipes.

Crock Pot Apple Butter
"This apple butter recipe makes some of the best apple butter we've ever eaten. It turns out rich and silky. While this was simmering in the Crock Pot, it made the Test Kitchen smell like apple cider." - The Test Kitchen

Homemade Apple Butter
"This is made in a Crock Pot. It takes about 12 hours so I prepare it in the evening and by morning it's done. It is well worth the wait. There is nothing like homemade!" - Gail

Mind-Blowing Apple Butter Recipe
"An almost forgotten delicious sandwich spread." - Russ

Joyce Dingus - Oct 1, 2018
I make my apple butter in my roasting pan in the oven. It makes a lot of it.
Susan Teisher - Sep 7, 2018
Love a dollop of apple butter on a scoop of cottage cheese!
Kathy Thornton - Sep 6, 2018
I have always used an old family method of making apple butter and it's so much easier. Using a large stock pot cut up your apples....no peeling or coring or removing seeds..then put enough water in to steam the apples. When the apples are soft, remove pot from the burner. Scoop out your apples, and add them to your food mill. So much easier and faster and healthier ..also not as much waste. After your apples have gone through the food mill add your sugar and spices.
Sandy Knittel - Sep 6, 2018
Per 5pounds of apples I add 1tespoone of vanilla extract or more per taste, it makes it taste like apple pie with ice cream, yummy!
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