Slow Cooker Apple Butter

January 10, 2013   |   5 Comments
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Apple butter is a pantry staple for us – a quick smear adds moisture and sweetness to pancakes, toast, a raw apple slice…   It’s January, but the apples coming from the store are still very good – thanks to cold storage, controlled atmosphere (low oxygen, high carbon dioxide) and things I prefer not to think about: fungicide and the relatively new gaseous compound, 1-methylcyclopropene.  The ultimate kid fruit available year round… hooray!

At least that’s how I feel after discovering the apple corer-peeler-slicer.  And suddenly, the kids can make apple butter all by themselves.

Step 1, remove any stickers from the apples.

Step 2, put the apple on the pike and crank the handle.  So easy a toddler can do it…

… to his great satisfaction.

I put each apple on the mechanism and pull each core off.  “I can crank it faster,” boasts Mingus and he takes a turn.  “I want do it,” cries Beluga and they alternate turns.  In ten minutes, the apples are sliced.  Beluga noshes on the cut apple and the snake-like peel enthralls Mingus.  As he nibbles it, I try not to think of 1-methylcyclopropene.

The apple slices go into the slow cooker (before they get thrown across the room, mistaken for balls).

Beluga has picked up the big orange knife, so I hand him a lemon.  He tries to poke it into the skin as Mingus simulates a slicing motion, complete with chainsaw sound effects.

Mingus finishes the job.

Beluga, at 23 months, is still developing enough motor skills to use his wooden juicer, so I guide his hands.  A scabbed boo boo on his thumb seers with pain when it hits the acid.  This has happened before.  There are tears, he howls and I rush him to the sink.   My cooking team is down a man.  We call a time out.

An hour later, Mingus asks to resume the apple butter project.  The apples are in the pot.  All he must do is add a little water…

shake in a few seasonings…

put the lid on…

…and start the cooker.

The aroma soon spreads throughout our home.


Cooked down, a little mashing turns it into applesauce.

A little sugar and another round of cooking (more patience) turns it into apple butter.  Yum!

Slow Cooker Apple Butter
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
This recipe has been adapted from one that came with our Cuisinart slow cooker. Using an apple peeler-corer-slicer and adapting it to child-friendly measurements make it a great no-fuss recipe for kids. You can hardly go wrong.
  • 6 Apples
  • A jar of Cinnamon with a lid that has holes
  • A jar of Nutmeg with a lid that has holes
  • A jar of Allspice with a lid that has holes
  • 1 Cup of Water
  • 1 Lemon
  • ½ Cup Sugar
  1. Remove the stickers from the apples.
  2. One at a time, using an apple corer-peeler-slicer, a child can prepare the apples for cooking. Thow away the peel and place the apples into the slow cooker.
  3. A child can ream the lemon, collect the juice in a bowl and fish out the seeds.
  4. Now it is time to add all the extra ingredients to the apples. A child can fill a small cup with water and pour it into the slow cooker. Exact measurement is not important, approximately a cup will do. Then the child can count 10 shakes of the cinnamon jar, 5 shakes of Nutmeg and 5 shakes of Allspice onto the apples. Again, exact measurement is not necessary and counting shakes is easier for a small child than measuring tablespoons and teaspoons.
  5. Select “slow cook” on “low” for 4 hours.
  6. At the end of 4 hours, an adult should remove the lid, allowing hot steam to escape. A child can mash the apples with a wooden spoon. The applesauce is warm at this point, so care should be taken. Add the sugar and stir.
  7. Then, with the lid remaining off, select “slow cook” on “high” for 2 hours. If, at the end of the two hours, there is still excess liquid, continue cooking until the mixture turns from apple sauce to a nice thick, dark apple butter.
Tip: Once you’ve made apple butter once with your kid, let them use their imagination… what would happen if you used orange instead of lemon? what about adding another spice? It’s best to try a single variation at a time and kids love to see how they can transform their food:) As for uses, the pancakes in the picture are our favorite. They are made with whole wheat flour and an extra egg, which gives the kids extra protein. Then we top them with plain yogurt and the apple butter. I make the pancakes the night before and let the kids add the fixings themselves.



  • Marissa | Pinch and Swirl
    January 13, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Your boys are adorable! They don’t know what a gift you’re giving them now, but it will mean the world to them later. Confidence in the kitchen!

    AND the recipe looks wonderful. We have so many apples from our CSA – this looks like a great way to use them.

  • sally @ sallys baking addiction
    January 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Your boys are so cute! And what a big help in the kitchen. I’ve been meanign to try making my own apple butter for years now. I need to get around to it! Love your photos!

  • Valerie
    July 22, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after looking at a few of the articles I realized it’s new to
    me. Anyhow, I’m definitely pleased I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back often!

  • Linn
    March 16, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    I have had success with just slicing and coring the apples and placing in the slow cooker until done. I then just give them a turn in the food processor and the peels disappear. Your comment about the chemical gas used for storage has me concerned. I will be picking some apples in the orchard and maybe some other frozen fruit for the winter this year. I live within driving distance from a working organic farm with vegetables and fruit that is now on my list of attractions for the upcoming season. Thank you!

  • 20 Johnny Appleseed Recipes - Homeschool Hideout
    September 15, 2016 at 11:44 am

    […] Slow Cooker Apple Butter– If you are like me, anything made in the slow cooker is a hit! With so much to do, cooking healthy and delicious meals often gets pushed to the back-burner. But this yummy recipe from Pass The Knife makes apple butter so easy, even toddlers can do it! […]

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