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Easy Instant Pot Apple Butter Recipe {Low Sugar}

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This velvety and sweet Instant Pot Apple Butter recipe is perfect with all the fall flavors and warm spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice – it’s low sugar too.

Using an instant pot, your cooking process is finished in a fraction of the time, making it a great gift!

Apple butter made in the instant pot spooned into a cute jar with apple slices.

Plus, it’s prime time for apple picking! So, make a whole day of it—spend the morning with your family picking pounds of apples straight from the tree and come home to easily make this Instant Pot recipe, a fantastic smooth, not to sweet, smooth apple butter.

For instance, this creamy and festive White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake is made in the Instant Pot! You can cook a Whole Chicken,  Ground Beef Stroganoff, and even Scalloped Potatoes with Ham!

Why You Will Love this Recipe

  • The Best Method for Making Apple Butter at Home | When you use a pressure cooker or make apple butter with the traditional stovetop method, the process takes over 12 hours! This Instant Pot apple butter recipe requires about two hours cooking time. That’s a massive difference compared to an all-day process!
  • It’s Healthier Than Other Recipes | It may be challenging to find an apple butter recipe quite as healthy as mine. I significantly reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe. However, it still comes out plenty sweet!
  • Makes a great GIFT | Apple butter is a simple food gift! Packaging ideas at the end of the post!

Like these other Instant Pot recipes, making this delicious slow cooker apple butter recipe is much quicker and easier than ever.

Apple butter in jars with labels and instant pot in background.

Healthy Twist

  • Most apple butter recipes call for a ton more sugar! I cut down the added sugar significantly to make the recipe a little healthier. But don’t worry—it’s still plenty sweet!
  • Keeping most of the skin on the apples not only adds some texture to the apple butter, but the apple peels actually give it loads more nutrients. Apple skin contains loads of vitamins and minerals, but let’s be honest, I’m really just a lazy peeler! 🙂

Key Ingredients

Ingredients, directions and nutritional information in the printable recipe card at the end of the post.

Labeled Ingredients for apple butter L-R Sliced apples, vanilla, water, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.
  • Apples | For this simple recipe, you can use whichever apples you prefer. I like to use organic and sweet Honeycrisp and Fuji apples. Choosing organic varieties is a wise choice when you prefer to keep some or all the skin on the apple slices.
  • Brown sugar | Aside from the natural sugars in the apples, brown sugar will lend the majority of the sweetness in this Instant Pot apple butter recipe. You can use light or dark brown sugar or a combination of the two for the most maple syrup flavor.
  • Kosher salt | A pinch of salt enhances the sweet and sugary flavors of the recipe.
  • Spices | Spice up your apple butter with all the essential warm flavors, like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Consider freshly grating the nutmeg—it makes a big difference in the final taste.
  • Vanilla extract | The warm and creamy notes of vanilla extract compliment the bundle of spices in this homemade apple butter. I actually used my homemade bourbon vanilla extract – nom-nom!
  • Filtered water | Water will keep the ingredients from burning in the Instant Pot and help the sugar and spices to coat the apples.

How to Make Apple Butter in Instant Pot

Step 1 | Prepare the Apples

Begin by gathering the simple ingredients. Then prep the mix of apples for your instant pot apple butter. Core, peel, and slice each apple into 8ths. Here you can squirt a little lemon juice over the bowl of apples to keep them from browning, but it will all be brown in the end, so not necessary!

I like the texture and nutrients of some of the skins, which is why I use organic apples. But, it’s up to your preference— peel the apples, no peeling or be like me and be a lazy peeler with a little peel left behind.

Place the sliced apples in a six or eight-quart instant pot or pressure cooker. 

Step 2 | Mix the Spices

Next, combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix the ingredients well and pour them over the apples.

Then, add the water and mix thoroughly so the sugar and spices coat the sliced apples completely.

Step 3 | Pressure Cooking

Place the lid on the IP, seal the venting valve, then turn the Instant Pot to “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” on high pressure for 90 minutes.

Next, allow the steam to release naturally for about 10-15 minutes. Then, perform a quick release of the remaining pressure from the pot with caution due to the steam and high heat.

Apples post cooking cycle, soft and reduced.

Step 4 | Blend Until Smooth

Now I am going to show you how to make apple butter in instant pot! Using an immersion blender, puree apple butter until smooth. Don’t have an immersion blender? No problem! Place the spiced apples in a blender* in batches. 

Pro Tip

  • Don’t forget to keep the vent open on the blender lid. Place a paper towel or tea towel over the top of the blender lid while blending. The hot ingredients will create pressure and could pop the cover. Continue mixing in batches until the texture is smooth.
Blending apples with immersion blender.

Step 5 | Thicken Apple Butter Mixture

Return the apples to the instant pot and hit the “Slow Cook” button twice to change it to HIGH. Then, with the lid propped open with a wooden spoon, cook on high for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally.

If you prefer apple butter on the thicker side, press the Sauté function twice to reach the low setting. Sauté on low or medium for 15-30 minutes, stirring often.

Remove the apple butter from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract

Step 6 | Finishing Touches

Next, spoon the delicious apple butter into a clean glass or plastic container. Keep in mind that this is not a canning recipe, for how to can using a water bath, see my friend Lynn’s recipe.

Allow the apple butter to cool and place the sealed containers in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or in the freezer for three months!

And there you have it—homemade apple butter prepared perfectly and oh-so-easily in an Instant Pot! The apple butter will thicken as it cools, so I suggest refrigerating it for at least a couple of hours before serving.

Apple butter spooned into jars.

Packaging for Gifts

This is a great recipe to make and give to neighbors, teachers, friends — total strangers!

  • This recipe makes about 4-5 cups, so it can easily be split between jars for sharing!
  • I love these Weck Tulip jars, but they are a bit pricey, these little Oui yogurt shaped jars are much more economical and come with a cork and a plastic seal, and twine and tags!
  • I also fell in love with these wooden tops for ball jars. I found the Ball ones at my local grocery store, but here are some similar — Ball also makes these great leakproof lids.
  • Don’t forget a cute tag! Download my FREE printable Gifts from the Kitchen gift tags or my Holiday Gift Tags.
Apple butter spooned into jars tired with twine and a cute label tied onto the jar.

Pro Tips

This sweet recipe is pretty simple and easy to follow. There are a couple of notes I’d like to add to ensure you get desired results:

  • This apple butter is not super thick because I drastically reduced the sugars in the recipe. It’s still sweet. As long as you don’t mind a looser apple butter, this is the recipe for you!
  • If freezing this Instant Pot apple butter, be sure to leave about ¾ inch at the top of the container to allow for expansion.
Jarred apple butter with label and cute spoon.
How cute is this! Wooden Heart Shaped spoons here!

Variations & Substitutions

Despite its misleading name, this pressure cooker apple butter is dairy-free– there is no actual butter! What’s more, it is also nut-free, gluten-free, and yes apple butter is vegan.

  • Rather than using water, you can use apple cider or pure apple juice. While the liquid can help the sugar and spices coat the apples, it is mainly necessary to ensure the Instant Pot won’t give you a burn warning. So, apple cider, apple juice, or water can be used.
  • If this recipe isn’t as sweet as you would like, increase the brown sugar measurement to a full cup and add half to one cup of granulated sugar. Or, you can even choose sweeter apple varieties the next time you make this recipe.
  • No Sugar | Omit all the sugar or use Monk fruit or coconut sugar in place of regular sugar.
  • Use pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice mixture instead of the variety of spices.
  • If a super smooth apple butter is the desired consistency, use a high speed blender or food processor.

Storage Tips

Refrigerate – You can store your apple butter in several separate glass containers, mason jars, or one large airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Freeze – To freeze, ensure you have left plenty of space at the top of the tightly-sealed, freezer-safe container. Otherwise, the contents will expand and burst. You’ll end up with a real mess on your hands. This apple butter recipe can be stored in the freezer for up to three months.

Small wooden spoon in apple butter jar.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are apple butter and applesauce different?

Apple butter and applesauce share several ingredients and taste similar. However, the main difference is that apple butter always includes serval warm spices, while applesauce may or may not include various spices. And the taste of apple butter is more rich and sweet than mild apple sauce.

The most significant difference between the two is how they are prepared. Apple butter is caramelized to bring out the natural sugars in the apples. Applesauce is simply made by stewing the apples and blending them into a puree.

What are the best apples to use for Instant Pot apple butter?

Typically, any kind of apples used in recipes are not those often snacked on. They are more tart and firm than sweet apples. However, this isn’t typically the case for apple butter. Sweeter and softer apple varieties are often used to make sugary apple butter. Feel free to use your favorite apples.

I like to use Fuji and Honeycrisp. Some other suitable apples for the best flavor in this Instant Pot Apple Butter recipe are Granny Smith apples, Gala, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Jonagold and Red Delicious apples.

How do you know when the apple butter is done cooking?

You want your apple butter to thicken before you remove it from the heat and allow it to cool for storage or serving. An excellent way to know when it is thick enough is to check if the apple butter fully coats the back of your spoon.
Or place a spoonful of apple butter on a plate or cutting board, if it stays mounded keeping it shape without a lot of weeping liquid, it should be ready.
Keep in mind that the apple butter will continue to thicken as it cools, producing a sweet and velvety spread.
Apple butter will continue to thicken slightly as it cools, producing a velvety sweet spread.

Apple Butter in jar with serving knife.

Crockpot Apple Butter

Maybe you decided you’d rather not babysit this Instant pot apple butter, below are easy instructions to make in your crockpot or slow cooker apple butter.

  • Add all ingredients as detailed for IP recipe, cover and cook on low for about 10 hours, stirring occasionally. The mixture will turn a dark brown and thicken.
  • Then uncover, stirring in vanilla, continue cooking uncovered on low for about 2 hours.
  • Proceed with immersion blender, food processor or high speed blender as outlined above. Cool and store.

Apple Butter Festival

Did you know that there are apple butter festivals held annually around the country?

How to Make Apple Butter Thicker

  • The best way is simply to let is simmer, simmer, simmer away — preferably with the lid off over low heat to allow the moisture to escape. Simmering for a long time, reduces the mixture, be sure to stir occasionally scraping the bottom of the pot.
  • Sweeter apples will actually release more liquid, so go for tart if you want your apple butter really thick.
  • Use a Food Mill instead of an immersion blender, this will give you a slightly chunkier apple butter.

Thicken apple butter using cornstarch, tapioca or pectin

  • If you want it really thick, mix a tablespoon of water with a tablespoon of cornstarch, add the slurry to the simmering apple butter, if necessary add up to 2 tablespoons.
  • Thicken using pectin or tapioca starch (flour), both of these are a great way to thicken your apple butter, but will give you a consistency more like a jam than a fruit butter.
Top down shot of charcuterie board with bowl of apple butter.

8 ways to use homemade Apple Butter

  1. Make unique cocktails, like this Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail (yum!).
  2. Serve a little swirl of apple butter on top of your apple pie. Check out my irresistible Gluten-Free Apple Pie with Crumb Topping!
  3. Spoon it over a scoop of Old-Fashioned Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.
  4. Stir your apple butter into Homemade Creamy Greek Yogurt.
  5. Spread over savory pork roast or pork chops.
  6. Swirl into overnight oats or hot oatmeal.
  7. Serve as an appetizer to spread on crackers with cheese (see picture below). My Fall Charcuterie Board makes for a delicious brunch or a festive family breakfast; just add the homemade, fresh apple butter! YUM!
  8. Spread on toast, waffles, pancakes, muffins, scones, and so much more!
Bowl of apple butter with crackers and cheese board.

Don’t overthink this recipe, it is a really easy, low-sugar apple butter recipe that anyone can make, heck, get the kids involved, they will love it!

Apple butter in jars in front of an Instant Pot to pin.

I hope you enjoyed learning how to make apple butter in the instant pot, such an easy recipe — if you did, would you share your creation on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest? And be sure to comment below!

Like this recipe?
Don’t forget to give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating and comment below the recipe!

Kathleen Pope, The Fresh Cooky.

About Kathleen Pope

Recipe Innovator | Food Photographer | Food Writer

Hi, I’m Kathleen Pope. Here at The Fresh Cooky you will find easy, mostly from-scratch, trusted recipes for all occasions. From speedy dinners to tasty desserts, with easy step-by-step instructions. I am here to help teach you how to make mouthwatering recipes without spending hours in the kitchen. Read more about Kathleen here.

Kathleen Pope, The Fresh Cooky.

About Kathleen Pope

Recipe Innovator | Food Photographer | Food Writer

Hi, I’m Kathleen Pope. Here at The Fresh Cooky you will find easy, mostly from-scratch, trusted recipes for all occasions. From speedy dinners to tasty desserts, with easy step-by-step instructions. I am here to help teach you how to make mouthwatering recipes without spending hours in the kitchen. Read more about Kathleen here.

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20 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Who would have thought that you could make apple butter in the Instant Pot?? I am so glad I found this recipe, it is going to be a fall staple from now on 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    What a fantastic fall recipe! I love that this tasty apple butter has less sugar so the flavors of the apples really shine through, and thanks for suggesting Honeycrisp and Fuji apples (I never know which ones to choose)!