Home » Real Food » The Unappreciated Apple: Making Crab Apple Butter

The Unappreciated Apple: Making Crab Apple Butter

Apple butter is an amazing thing. It is like a thick, sweet apple sauce that is used as a condiment. Apple butter can be used in a sandwich or on toast, warmed and dolloped on top of ice cream, or swirled into yogurt. The possibilities are endless.

Crab apples on the tree with the blue sky in the background.

Crab apples are often overlooked when it comes to preserving and cooking. Who could blame you? A crab apple is both sour and bitter at the same time. They often look funky. It takes some real creative genius for making them taste just right, but fear not… I’ve done the work for you.

Homemade Crab Apple Butter


  • 12 c. Crab Apple Pulp
  • 5 c. Sugar
  • 2 med. Oranges (grated zest & juice)
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 3/8 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 3/8 tsp. Allspice
Crab apple butter is an amazing thing. It is like a thick, sweet apple sauce that is used as a condiment. It can be used in a sandwich or on toast.


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker and turn to high.
  2. Cook with the lid off and stirring every hour or so for 8-10 hours (or until the mixture thickens and cooks down by half).
  3. The butter is done when it mounds a bit in a spoon. When you place a spoonful of it on a plate, no liquid should leak from it.

Preserving Your Butter

You can water bath can the butter for 15 minutes in half-pint or pint jars.

Here are some more great fruit butters to try: traditional farmhouse pear, fresh peach, nectarine maple vanilla, and stone-fruit butter. You’ll also love this new book from my friend Kathie of Homespun Seasonal Living. It’s called The Fiercely DIY Guide to Jams, Jellies & Fruit Butters. Kathie creates fruit pairings and combinations that blow the mind.

How do you enjoy your apple butter? What apples have you used when making it? Talk to me in the comments below!

Crab apple butter is an amazing thing. It is like a thick, sweet apple sauce that is used as a condiment. It can be used in a sandwich or on toast.

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  1. How many 8oz jars does this recipe make? Thanks!

  2. Chris Webster says:

    How do I get the bitter taste out of my crabapple butter. I followed your recipe. Maybe I picked them too soon.

    1. Did you cut the blossoms and stem from the crab before you cooked them? APPARENTLY THEY MAKE THE SAUCE BITTER. HOPE THIS HE LPS.

  3. Looks delicious! I never would have thought of using crab apples like this. 🙂

  4. What is the easiest way to make crab apple pulp?

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      Unless you have a fancy pulp machine and/or juicer, you can simply chop the apple into small chunks. They will break down as they cook.

      1. If not using a pulp machine, I’m guessing we will strain the mixture after cooking in crockpot. Correct?

        1. Jessica Lane says:

          If you don’t have a pulp machine, you can peel, cut, and core the apples and mash them with a potato masher as they soften in the slow cooker. I’m afraid straining would turn it into a loose jelly instead of a fruit butter. You can also run it through a Cuisinart or blender after it’s softened.

  5. Thank you so much for the recipe for crabapple butter. I have been playing with crabapples for 4 or 5 years now and everyone thinks I am crazy. When you say pulp that is your “precooked” apples correct? I am in the process right now of making some crabapple cinnamon jelly and was thinking since you only use juice for jelly I could use the leftovers for butter?

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      Great question Bridget! I think it might work, but here are my thoughts. First, I’d cut back the amount of sugar a bit since there will be less fluid in the mix and you don’t want it too thick with the full amount of sugar. Second, you may want to play around with the amount of spices you add. I don’t know how much change to the flavor there would be with less juice.

      Be sure to report back with how it goes. 2-for-1 would be awesome!

  6. dawn mcgowan says:

    what quantity of crab apples did you use to make the pulp please ?as I have several pounds off my tree this year

    1. It took about 4 pounds of apples to get my 12 cups of pulp.

  7. Once Upon a Time in a Bed of Wildflowers says:

    This sounds delicious, Jess! I really must find someone with a crab apple tree!
    I shared this post on My Week on Wednesday. 🙂
    ~ Christine

    1. Steve Garrett says:

      In the crockpot as I type! Preliminary tasting is exquisite! Thank you for giving me something great to make with my millions of crabapples. I finally feel like they’re not going to waste. 🙂

      1. And it’s really so easy. Let me know what you think when you try it.

  8. Settlers-Homestead says:

    oh wow! This sounds sooooo good! Thanks, I have to try that 🙂