1-Pot Apple Butter (Date-Sweetened!)

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Jar of apple butter next to sliced apples

If you’ve never tried apple butter, you’re in for a serious treat! All of the sweetness and flavor of apples becomes concentrated and on full display. Swoon!

We’re going to show you how easy it is to make this simple, date-sweetened fall and winter treat, plus share our favorite ways to use it. Just 1 pot and 5 simple ingredients required!

Apples, lemon, ginger, cinnamon, and dates

What is Apple Butter?

Apple butter is like applesauce but on a whole new level. Imagine apples cooked down into sauce, then slowly simmered with cinnamon and ginger until thickened and caramelized. The result is a dreamy, versatile, candy-like spread.

Pot of chopped apples, dates, cinnamon, and ginger

How to Make Apple Butter

Making homemade apple butter is almost as easy as making applesauce.

This naturally sweetened version begins with cooking chopped apples with dates and cinnamon for sweetness, ginger for a little kick, water to prevent sticking to the pan, and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to help it keep longer. Once the apples are tender, they’re mashed into a sauce.

Then to make the transition from sauce to butter, it’s simmered for 1½ to 2 hours to allow it to thicken and caramelize. The result is rich, golden brown, pure deliciousness!

Using an immersion blender to purée apples

We hope you LOVE this apple butter! It’s:

Naturally sweet
Caramelized
Cinnamon-infused
Intensely flavorful
& So delicious!

It makes a delicious spread on toast or pumpkin bread, topper for waffles, pancakes, and oats, or mix-in for fall-themed baked goods (think apple-spiked pumpkin bread or cinnamon rolls!).

Wooden spoon in a pot of caramelized apple butter

More Easy Apple Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Slices of toast topped with vegan cream cheese and apple butter

1-Pot Apple Butter (Date-Sweetened!)

Incredibly delicious apple butter made in 1 pot with 5 wholesome ingredients! Apples turn to sauce then caramelize and thicken into a spread that’s perfect for toast, oats, baked goods, and more!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Jar of homemade apple butter
4.91 from 10 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings 8 (1/4-cup servings)
Course Spread
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 6 Months
Does it keep? 1-2 months

Ingredients

  • 6 medium honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into bite-size pieces (sweet apples are best // for tart apple butter, use Granny Smith // organic when possible // for more texture and fiber, leave the skin on — we peeled half)
  • 2-3 pitted medjool dates
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger (or sub 1 tsp fresh ginger)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (for preserving / keeping fresh longer / tartness)

Instructions

  • To a large pot or Dutch oven, add chopped apples (peeling optional), pitted dates, cinnamon, ginger, water, and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Stir.
  • Cover and cook over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes, or until the apples and dates become so tender that they’re easy to mash. Once the mixture reaches this point, turn off the heat so you can mash or blend.
  • If you peeled your apples, you should be able to use the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to mash into a loose sauce. If your apples were unpeeled, you’ll need to use an immersion blender, food processor, or high-speed blender to pulverize the skins and turn the mixture into applesauce.
  • Once you have applesauce, it’s time to turn it into apple butter by cooking in the same pot over medium-low heat for ~1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours, stirring every 8-10 minutes, until it thickens and caramelizes. NOTE: At the beginning of simmering, you’ll need to cover your pot partially with a tilted lid to avoid splattering while still allowing moisture to escape. As the liquid evaporates, you can uncover to allow steam to fully escape, which helps the mixture caramelize and thicken.
  • You’ll know your apple butter is done when it’s rich and golden brown in color, is sweet to the taste, and is reduced by ~1/3 to 1/2 of its original volume. It will also start sticking to the bottom of the pan near the end, which is a good sign. The longer it cooks, the more intensely caramelized and concentrated it will become (a.k.a., thicker and more flavorful).
  • Enjoy fresh, or store cooled leftovers in the refrigerator up to 1-2 months, or in the freezer up to 6 months. Can be enjoyed cold or reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat until hot (add more water as needed if dry). Apple butter is delicious on toast, pumpkin bread, oatmeal, pancakes, and waffles and in baked goods, smoothies, and more.

Video

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

Nutrition (1 of 8 servings)

Serving: 1 one-quarter-cup serving Calories: 83 Carbohydrates: 22.1 g Protein: 0.5 g Fat: 0.2 g Saturated Fat: 0 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g Monounsaturated Fat: 0 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 1 mg Potassium: 174 mg Fiber: 3 g Sugar: 17.2 g Vitamin A: 69.84 IU Vitamin C: 6.31 mg Calcium: 14.45 mg Iron: 0.23 mg

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  1. Lindsey says

    What’s the weight of your apples right before you put them into the pot? I’m making this with McIntosh apples off our tree, but they are smaller than honeycrisps and I’m having to remove some bad spots, so it’s a bit harder to get a good idea of the amount equivalent to honeycrisps. Can’t wait to make this. Thank you!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Lindsay! Unfortunately we don’t have a weight for the apples in this recipe, but it’s pretty flexible. We think ~8-10 of your smaller apples would probably work well here. Hope this helps!

  2. Cyndi Macdonald says

    Oh my gosh, apple butter sweetened with dates sounds fab! I wonder if I could put it in my instant pot…have you ever tried it?

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Cyndi, The applesauce portion can definitely be made in the Instant Pot. We tried the apple butter part in the Instant Pot and while it works with small amounts, the sauté function is not intended to be on for more than 30 minutes, so larger batches don’t work well.

  3. Marisol says

    Can this be made in the crockpot? I have seen a lot of recipes for apple butter made in the slow cooker, but they included sugar.

    Thank you!

    P.S. I have made this twice following your recipe, SO yummy!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, yay! We’re so glad you enjoy it! We haven’t tried it in a crockpot, so we’re not sure. Let us know if you try it!

  4. Kaitlyn says

    Hi! I know the dates are important to the caramelization process here, but I don’t have any on hand, so I wondered if regular sugar would achieve the same result. Maybe a couple tablespoons?

  5. Maggi says

    This is so good!!! I peeled 6 smallish Honeycrisp and 4 Large Gala apples, and 6 organic dates. Cooked with the rest of the ingredients (I used lemon juice) for about 40 minutes to get it to the stage where it was all soft enough to mash, stole some for apple crisp!, then continued cooking for another hour +40 minutes till it was done.
    I have canned apple butter before using sugar, and while it was good, this is SO much better, easier, and much healthier too!!

  6. Lucy says

    This looks brilliant, and I can’t wait to try it with the cheesecake. But for those of us who can’t easily be near a stove for that long (3 month old baby and homeschooling a 5 year old here) do you think I could do the second stage in a slow cooker and stir it less frequently? Cheers!

  7. Alex says

    Wow, yummy! Made this this morning for the afternoon snack and spent the whole morning waiting for snack time haha! Easy, simple and utterly delicious, it will be a staple for me for sure Dana. Thanks!

  8. Risha says

    …I eat cream cheese and apple butter on matzah for Passover every year. I use from the store and after Passover it is hard to find. This sounds so good and easy to make. With this recipe I can make apple butter all year around.
    Thank you so much!!!

  9. Amanda says

    Thank you for a great recipe for Apple Butter. I like how this does not have a lot of sugar. I am do use it as a topping as suggested, but I also have used for a BBQ sauce base. Do you have any other ideas where I could use apple butter?

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      That sounds lovely! It makes a delicious spread on toast or pumpkin bread, topper for waffles, pancakes, and oats, or mix-in for fall-themed baked goods (think apple-spiked pumpkin bread or cinnamon rolls!).

  10. KM says

    Hi, we bought a bunch of apples recently that are unfortunately underwhelming to eat just raw (not crispy and slightly mealy, for example). Would they work well for this recipe? Is it forgiving of such apples? Thanks!!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      The applesauce part definitely can! But for apple butter, we’d say stovetop is best for allowing it to get caramelized.

  11. Lisa says

    Can this recipe also be hot water bathed to be stored without electricity? Or would it need more sugar than the dates provide? We live in a remote location without cold food storage.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      The applesauce portion can definitely be made in an Instant Pot or Crockpot. We tried the apple butter part in an Instant Pot and while it works with small amounts, the sauté function is not intended to be on for more than 30 minutes, so larger batches don’t work well.

  12. Sara says

    I’m sorry if I missed this info, but didn’t find it when reading through – approximately how much apple butter does this recipe make?

  13. Linda Czarnecki says

    Had an apple tree in our front yard when we were first married more than 50 years ago. Made my own apple butter and used it to baste my pork roasts. Yum!

    • Joanna says

      I just made a first batch and it’s delicious and still have a ton of apples to use. Can I make big batch and and preserve them in hot bath so I don’t have to store it in a fridge or freezer? Or a lack of sugar would make it spoil?

      • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Joanna, we’re so glad you enjoy it! We haven’t tried canning it, so we’re not sure if it would work. Sorry we can’t be of more help on that!