Apple butter is one of those quintessential hallmarks of autumn. The name refers to the thickened consistency of the spread, and it can be used to add a “spoonful of fall” on most any of your favorite staples — biscuits and pancakes or mixed into yogurts and oatmeal, garnished on top of pork chops or in place of jam on sandwiches or desserts. One of our personal favorites is a generous layer of apple butter sandwiched between melting cheddar and bacon on a warm grilled cheese sandwich.

While we both grew up with the dark brown grocery store jars, apple butter is surprisingly simple to make at home using a combination of fresh apples and six completely natural ingredients. Our method can be completed in a single pot and comes together on the stovetop in less than 2 hours, filling your home with the intoxicating aromas of autumn. That’s right — no need for 9 to 10 hour cook times in a crock pot or oven.

Things You’ll Need

6 sweet and crisp apples, Gala, Fuji or honey crisp
2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Juice from 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Apple divider (optional)

Don’t have apple cider on hand? Apple juice makes for a sweet substitution. Similarly, adjust the sugar to your liking depending on the sweetness level in the apples.

Step 1
Peel and core apples, cutting into small pieces. An apple divider helps to quickly core and slice each apple in a single motion, achieving uniform slices.

Step 2
Combine the apples, cider, brown sugar and kosher salt in an enamel pot or dutch oven. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Allow to boil for 5 minutes before lowering the heat to simmer and cook the apples uncovered, stirring occasionally until the apples are soft and the liquid has reduced, about 20 minutes more.

Step 3
Add juice from the lemon and puree the apple mixture using an immersion blender (or process with a blender in batches) until smooth in texture. Some chunks are OK, and lend to the homespun nature of the spread.

Step 4
Stir in the cinnamon and allspice, returning to a simmer and stirring every 5 minutes until the apple butter is thickened and darkening in color.

Step 5
Remove from heat and allow the apple butter to cool before distributing into glass jars. Keep cool in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze in an airtight container up to 6 months.