How-To & Diy

Roasted Apple Butter

September 20, 2013

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Carey Nershi from Reclaiming Provincial makes butter from whole apples -- peels, cores, and all.

Roasted Apple Butter on Food52

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Apples are the harbingers of fall in many places, most especially here in the Northeast. As soon as the local apples begin to appear at the market along with an unmistakable chill in the air, I begin to crave crumbles, cakes, and that delectable cousin of applesauce: apple butter.

There are a variety of ways to go from whole fruit to butter; my method is a bit unconventional in that it only takes a few hours, rather than a whole day, to yield a batch of apple butter. The secret: roasting. And uncored apples.

Roasted Apple Butter on Food52

Apple cores (and peels) contain a good deal of pectin, which helps firm up the sauce and give it a more butter-like consistency. And roasting allows for complex caramelized flavors to develop, while removing a bit more water. Once the cooked fruit has been run through a food mill, I often find it requires very little (and sometimes no) stovetop time to be cooked down into butter. 

More: Need something to spread your apple butter on? Try this easy, no-knead sandwich loaf.

When deciding on apples, many people prefer a mix of sweet (Fuji, McIntosh, Jonagold) and tart (Braeburn, Granny Smith, Liberty). I like to use mostly tart varieties, so I add extra sweetness with cider. If you use a mix of sweet and tart, swap out some of the cider for water. The sugar and spices in the recipe should be treated as guidelines rather than gospel -- feel free to add more or less to suit your own tastes.

Roasted Apple Butter

Roasted Apple Butter

Makes around 2 cups

1 cup cider, divided
7 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3 lbs apples
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cloves

Roasted Apple Butter on Food52

Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut apples into large chunks. Arrange on a large metal roasting pan, add the lemon juice and 1/4 cup cider, then sprinkle with brown sugar and salt and dot with butter.

Roast your apples until they are very soft and fall apart at the touch of a fork. Remove from the oven and let rest for one minute, then pour the remaining cider over the pan to deglaze.

Roasted Apple Butter

Transfer everything to a large flat-bottomed bowl or pot. Mash until the pieces become sauce.

Run the mixture through a food mill to remove the cores, seeds, and peels. Stir in the spices, then give it a taste. Add more sweetener or spices until you have the flavor you want.

Roasted Apple Butter on Food52

At this point, assess the consistency of your butter. If you’d like it to be a bit smoother, you can blend it up with a food processor or an immersion blender. (I like mine with a little bit of texture, so I leave it as is.) If it isn’t quite as thick as you’d like it to be, transfer it a heavy bottom saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally -- just beware of cooking it down too much. I like mine at the point where it just holds its form when stirred or spread. 

Roasted Apple Butter on Food52

Once cooled, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze it to keep it for longer.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Carey Nershi.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jess
  • Alanna
  • Happy Hen
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  • Wendy Peterson
    Wendy Peterson
  • AntoniaJames
Lover of simple food and cocktails served with a single giant ice cube. Raised in the NY Schoharie Valley; currently residing in Burlington, VT. Blogger at


Jess October 26, 2016
Any idea if you can reduce our eliminate the sugar? I have always found most apple butters with sugar are cloyingly sweet. I wonder if eliminating the sugar with hurt the texture?
Alanna September 29, 2013
Oh, delicious! And the photos are exquisite, Carey! :)
Carey N. September 30, 2013
Thanks, Alanna! :D
Happy H. September 24, 2013
Any idea if this can be canned? I'd love to make lots to give and save. Thanks!
Carey N. September 25, 2013
I haven't done it myself, but someone asked about canning over on the full recipe post, and plenty of people responded to say it was totally safe to do so. :)
Wendy P. September 20, 2013
Can you give an estimate for how long the apples take to roast?
Carey N. September 20, 2013
Yes! Around 30–35 minutes. (Sorry about that — it's listed in the full recipe.)
AntoniaJames September 20, 2013
Splendid! I used a similar method to make applesauce once, but I prefer chunky applesauce (as I like to use it in quick breads and muffins), so I haven't done that since. The method perfect for apple butter! I plan to use it to make a pear and apple butter with fresh ginger, vanilla and ground cloves, this weekend. Thank you so much for the inspiration. ;o)
Carey N. September 20, 2013
Yes! I'm a smooth applesauce gal, so I make sauce pretty much the same way (just remove the cores and cover the pan). And oh my goodness, pear + apple butter with fresh ginger, vanilla, and cloves...that's going to be crazy amounts of delicious. :)
AntoniaJames September 20, 2013
Well, the workaround for those of us who prefer chunky applesauce is simply to quarter, peel and core (in that order!) a few apples and nestled them in at one end of the roasting pan, and then incorporate them into the smooth stuff pushed through the mill. Will be using a combination of tart apples from my neighbor's tree along with two varieties of pears, with a few Galas or Pink Lady apples thrown in for sweetness. ;o)
Carey N. September 20, 2013
OooOOoo, that is a great idea for preserving some chunky bits! :) I happened to snag a few baskets of organic Liberty apples from our farmers' market last weekend to use for this batch of apple butter, and was super happy with the way it turned out. I am so in love with the idea of pears and apples together, too. AND the pear + Gewurztraminer + vanilla combo + lemon peel combo. *Sigh* I want to make butter out of all the fruits.
AntoniaJames September 20, 2013
And to think I was murmuring, just last week, obviously with insufficient conviction, that the seven kinds of pickles and agrodolces, and six dozen jars of jams, chutneys and berries in light syrup, would be "it" for this year's canning season. Goodness. I have a double batch of pears + apples with chopped vanilla beans roasting right now. Used pear cider and the "spent" vanilla pods from the agrodolce project; kitchen smells heavenly. Stay tuned. ;o) P.S. Pears with Gewurtz project now calendared for next weekend.
Brette W. September 20, 2013
Going to make this for holiday gifts this year!
Carey N. September 20, 2013
Woohoo! It certainly makes for awesome gifts. :)
Kenzi W. September 20, 2013
Love this. Thank you!
Carey N. September 20, 2013
Thanks, Kenzi!
erskinechef September 20, 2013
I'd love to make this but don't have a food mill. Any ideas on what else I could use?
Carey N. September 20, 2013
Yup! If you click through to the full recipe you'll find suggestions for using a sieve instead in the notes. :)