How to Thicken Apple Butter | The 6 Best Ways

Having been given a recipe for the quick version of apple butter made from applesauce, I recently made my first batch of apple butter and was amazed at how thick, fragrant, and flavorful the batch turned out. As a matter of fact, the apple butter was so thick that I was afraid I had let it get too thick. But what if you have the opposite problem and need a solution?

The best and easiest way to thicken apple butter is by removing or canting the lid during cooking. You can also cook it longer than called for, add a slurry, add fruit pectin, or puree the apple peels with the apples.

In the following paragraphs, I will discuss each of the suggested methods of thickening apple butter in more detail.

1. Cook Apple Butter Without a Lid

In order to cook apple butter and thicken the consistency more quickly, either leave the pot in which it is being cooked unlidded or tilt the lid in such a way so as to allow evaporation of the liquid in the apple butter.

If the apple butter is being cooked with the lid on the pot secured, little or no evaporation can take place and the resulting apple butter will be runny. 

2. Cook Apple Butter Longer Until It Has Thickened

As long as evaporation can take place, the apple butter will continue to thicken throughout the cooking process. If, however, the lid is secured on the pot, the apple butter may have to cook so long to thicken that the taste will be affected by overcooking.

3. Thicken Apple Butter With Cornstarch

Apple butter can be thickened by making a slurry of 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of cool water, mixing it well, and adding it to the pot of apple butter. Whisking the cornstarch and water together should make the slurry combine with the apple butter in the pot more easily and completely. Cook the apple butter a little longer and stir well and the cornstarch should thicken the apple butter to the desired consistency.

4. Thicken Apple Butter With Flour

Instead of making a slurry of cornstarch and water, make a slurry of flour and water. Mix 2 tablespoons of flour with ¼ cup of cold water, mix well, and add back to the pot. Whisking the flour and water together will help to make sure there are no lumps of flour in the slurry. Stir the apple butter well to incorporate the slurry and cook for at least 10-15 more minutes to thicken.

5. Thicken Apple Butter With Tapioca Starch

Tapioca starch is made from the starchy pulp of the root of the cassava plant and can be used in baking and as a thickening agent in sauces, soups, puddings, and pies. Tapioca starch, which is the same thing as tapioca flour, is now often used in gluten-free and paleo diets.

Tapioca starch or flour can replace cornstarch at the rate of 2:1 by replacing 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of tapioca starch. Tapioca starch can replace regular all-purpose flour on a 1:1 basis.

6. Thicken Apple Butter With Fruit Pectin

Apple butter can be made by using fruit pectin. This method requires a much shorter cooking time and is the same process as is used in making jam just add 4 tablespoons of pectin before or during cooking.

Here is the full recipe:

Recipe for Apple Butter Made With Fruit Pectin

Pamonas-and-Surejell-Fruit-Pectin

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups Prepared Apples (approximately 4¼ lb)
  • 1½ cups Water
  • ¼ cup fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 pkg Fruit Pectin or 4 tablespoons of bulk Pectin
  • ½ tsp Butter
  • 6 cups granulated Sugar

Directions:

  1. Wash and sterilize canning jars.
  2. Prepare jar lids.
  3. Prepare boiling water bath canner.
  4. Remove blossom and stem ends from unpeeled apples.
  5. Core apples, cut into quarters, and place in a Dutch oven or stock pot.
  6. Cover apples with water and add lemon juice.
  7. Stir well, bring to a boil over high heat.
  8. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes or until the apples are tender, stirring occasionally.
  9. Remove apple peels.
  10. Process mixture in a food processor or blender.
  11. Measure 5 cups of the prepared fruit and pour into a Dutch oven.
  12. Add cinnamon, fruit pectin, and butter.
  13. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
  14. Add sugar, bring back to a full rolling boil, and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  15. Remove from heat and skim off any foam with a metal spoon.
  16. Fill prepared jars immediately, leaving a ¼” headspace.
  17. Wipe jar rims and threads with a clean, wet cloth and add lids.
  18. Add rings and tighten snugly, but do not overtighten.
  19. Place jars on a rack in the boiling water bath, making sure water covers jar tops by 2”.
  20. Bring water back to a boil and process for 10 minutes.
  21. Remove jars from boiling water bath and place on a prepared area to cool completely.
  22. Allow to sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours.
  23. After 24 hours, make sure lids are sealed properly by pressing the center of the lids to make sure they do not spring up when pressed, wash and dry jars, label, and store until needed.

Here is a video of me making crockpot apple butter:

Thicken Apple Butter by Adding Pureed Peels

One of the easiest ways to help thicken the apple butter and reduce the cooking time is to run the cooked apples through a food processor or blender to include the apple peels rather than removing them from the apple butter. Not only will the pectin which is naturally occurring in the apples located in and just below the peels, but the peels themselves will help to thicken the apple butter.

Can You Re-Process Apple Butter?

If the apple butter doesn’t seal properly after the boiling water bath process, the jars can be re-processed by removing the lids and rings, cleaning the jar rims and threads, and adding new rings that have been washed and dropped into boiling water. The jars can be placed back into the boiling water bath and re-processed for an additional 10 minutes.

How to Fix Apple Butter if It Is Too Thick?

If the apple butter happens to be too thick, it can be thinned by adding some additional applesauce, a small amount at a time, until the right consistency is achieved.

For more on this issue, please check out my article called How to Fix Apple Butter That Is Too Thick.

What Exactly Is Apple Butter?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, apple butter is “a thick brown spread made by cooking apples with sugar and spices usually in cider.” It has the consistency of applesauce which has been cooked until it is thicker and has turned a dark brown.

Three Canned Jars on Homemade Apple Butter
My homemade apple butter cooling on the counter.

What’s the Difference Between Apple Butter and Applesauce?

Apple butter is applesauce that has been cooked down low to reduce the amount of liquid and to caramelize the sugars that are naturally occurring in the apples so that it becomes a rich, brown spread that is a much thicker version of applesauce.

What Apple Varieties Make the Best Apple Butter?

The best apple butter is made by choosing a softer and sweeter apple like the ones listed here. Mix 2 to 3 varieties together to make the most flavorful apple butter.

  • Braeburn
  • Fuji
  • Gala
  • Golden delicious
  • Honeycrisp
  • Red delicious

How Do You Serve Apple Butter?

While apple butter is primarily served as a spread on biscuits, rolls, toast, and muffins, it makes a tasty dip for the meats, cheeses, fruits, and other treats found on a charcuterie board. Many people like to spread it on pancakes and waffles, and combined with a few other ingredients, it makes a fantastic marinade for poultry, beef, pork, and seafood.

What Is the Best Way to Store Apple Butter?

The best way to store unopened canned apple butter so that it remains good for the maximum amount of time is under the following conditions:

  • In a cool area away from any heat source with no major fluctuations in temperature.
  • In a dry area not subject to excessive humidity.
  • In a dark cabinet or pantry with little or no exposure to natural or artificial light.
  • After opening, apple butter is better and lasts longer when stored in the refrigerator.

Final Thoughts

While apple butter is better and more flavorful made from scratch using fresh apples, the quick version made from canned applesauce is extremely good, especially for those of us who don’t have access to a large supply of fresh apples. 

Whatever version of apple butter you decide to make, keep in mind that it makes a great gift, that is, if you can keep your family from eating the entire batch before you can gift it!

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss 8 Ways to Thicken Gravy Like A Pro.

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page.

5 thoughts on “How to Thicken Apple Butter | The 6 Best Ways

  1. Thank you so much for your wonderful recipes. I made the apple butter but added cardamom. Love this stuff. It turned out great.

  2. Hi!

    So, I didn’t measure my apples exactly and probably had more than the recipe called for. It looked beautiful when I put it in the jars, but did not firm up over night. Can I put it back in the pot and add more SureJell and cook it again?

    Thanks!
    Marla

    1. @Marla, Hey! My last batch wasn’t quite as firm as I like it either, but it was close enough so I just let it go. You can absolutely put it back into the pot and cook it some more. I don’t use SureJell in mine, I just cook it down low until it is as thick as I want it to be.

      If you are canning yours, it will need new lids and another water bath for 15 minutes.

      Thanks for the question, and good luck!

      Anne

  3. Thank you for the awesome recipes! I will use the tips on this page to thicken my runny apple butter properly before eating it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts