Slow-Cooker Cran-Apple Butter

4.50 from 2 votes

Slow-Cooker Cranberry-Apple Butter

Smooth, spiced apple butter has become an integral part of autumn around here, with alternating flavorings such as vanilla bean, cinnamon, and cardamom taking turns jazzing up the fruit spread.

This year I’ve been obsessed with mixed fruit butters, like this blueberry-plum, and couldn’t get the thought of adding fresh cranberries to my apple butter out of my head. It turns out that the tangy, deep red preserve is one of the prettiest and most flavorful of them all.

Slow-Cooker Cran-Apple Butter

My natural sweetener of choice for the cranberry-apple butter is maple syrup, but you could certainly use honey and still have it unprocessed. The recipe needs a sweetener, as it helps with the preservation of the finished produce, but it doesn’t need much, because we’ve concentrated the natural sweetness of the apples by cooking the liquid out of them.

Slow-Cooker Cran-Apple Butter

Fruit butters can be reduced on the stovetop or even in the oven, but the benefit of using a slow cooker is that you don’t have to stand over it, or even keep an eye on it, really. Mine steamed and slowly splattered away while I ran errands and picked up the kids from school.

Slow-Cooker Cran-Apple Butter

If you don’t want to bother with the hot water bath, you can certainly freeze the cran-apple butter or store it for up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

As for me, we’re going apple picking on the weekend and I’ll be making another couple of batches. This fruit butter seems too festive not to give out as gifts for Christmas.

Slow-Cooker Cran-Apple Butter

4.50 from 2 votes

Slow-Cooker Cran-Apple Butter

By: Aimee Wimbush-Bourque
This delicious jarred recipe is sure to bring the fall season with it wherever you make it.
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 9 hours
Total: 9 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 8 half-pints


  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh organic cranberries, about 7 cups, well washed
  • 5 pounds organic Cortland apples, or other sauce apple such as Empire, Fuji, McIntosh, or Spartan
  • 1 cup apple cider or unsweetened cranberry juice
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • optional: 1 tablespoon cinnamon, or 2 vanilla beans, split


  • Wash apples well, then core them and cut into quarters. There's no need to peel them, we will sieve everything later, plus, the skins add color and pectin to the butter.
  • Combine apples and cranberries in a large, heavy bottom pot. Don’t worry if they don’t quite fit and fill it to near overflowing; they will cook down in a few minutes.
  • Add apple cider, then partially cover with a lid and place the pot over medium heat.
  • After about 15 minutes, use a sturdy wooden spoon to stir up the softened apples at the bottom and distribute the heat. Be careful, as the cranberries like to jump out of the pot and roll away!
  • After 15 more minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low and stir again. The contents will start looking like a bloody Halloween cauldron, but don’t worry.
  • Continue to cook on medium low for about another 45 minutes (for a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes of cooking) Stir occasionally as the fruit breaks down, scraping the bottom of the pot to avoid scorching.
  • Remove from heat and give one final big stir. Apples may still hold some of their shape, but the flesh will be soft. Place a sieve or chinoise (you can use fine-mesh if you like) over the bowl of your slow-cooker and, working in batches, press all the cooked fruit through the sieve with the back of a ladle. Discard the solids.
  • What you have now is velvety, blush-colored cranberry applesauce. (Moms may want to reserve a little aside for any babies at this point before the sweeteners are added.)
  • Now is when we will add sweeteners and flavors (if using), there is no point in sweetening the skins and materials that we will discard! Stir in the maple syrup and any spices such as cinnamon, green cardamom, or vanilla bean. Turn slow cooker onto low, cover with lid, and set for 8 hours.
  • Once the butter begins to bubble, crack the lid open slightly so the steam can evaporate. This helps the fruit butter to reduce. Over the cooking time, you can give the butter an occasional stir.
  • Once the cran-apple butter is a nice spreadable consistency (remember it will thicken more as it cools) it is ready to be preserved.
  • Ladle the hot fruit butter into clean hot jars and wipe rims with a clean cloth. Apply sterilized lids and jar rings, and process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes (starting the time when the water returns to a boil). (See Canning 101: The Basics for further instructions, if needed)
  • When the time is up, remove the jars from the water and let them cool on a towel-lined countertop. When the jars are cool to the touch, check the seals by removing the rings and lifting the jars by the edges of the lid. A good seal means that the lid will hold fast.
  • Label your jars and mark the date. Store in a cool, dark place for up to six months.


If you don't want to bother with the hot water bath (steps 12-14), you can certainly freeze the cran-apple butter or store it for up to three weeks in the refrigerator.


Calories: 308kcal, Carbohydrates: 79g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 9mg, Potassium: 495mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 59g, Vitamin A: 205IU, Vitamin C: 24.6mg, Calcium: 70mg, Iron: 0.6mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About the Author

Aimée Wimbush-Bourque is a food writer, editor, main writer, and mom of three kids living in Montréal.  She draws from her rural, real food upbringing as well as her professional training as a chef to prepare simple, unprocessed home cooking on a daily basis for her family.

She chronicles her kitchen experiences with stories, cooking tips and recipes on her award-winning food blog, Simple Bites. For more whole food inspiration and everyday delicious chit-chat, follow Aimée on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.


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October 8, 2012 5:46 pm

What a delicious (and gorgeous) apple butter! I love the idea of adding cranberries into the mix. This would be such a welcome gift. Hint, hint. 😉

October 8, 2012 3:06 pm

Looks so delicious – I think I might try that with pears… since we have so many of them from our tree right now!

October 8, 2012 1:49 pm

Wow, this looks amazing. I’ve been thinking about applesauce lately, so this is absolutely perfect timing! As usual- I LOVE Simple Bites and I know this recipe will be just perfect!

October 8, 2012 1:11 pm

What about frozen cranberries? Will the recipe still turn out the same with those?

October 8, 2012 8:50 am

Perfect timing! I saw this recipe just as I”m on the way out the door to pick up my rented cider mill to process 250 pounds of apples. I’m wondering if I can use some of the pomace to make this preserve…the juice will be essentially gone from it, so maybe I’ll have to keep an eye on it and add more cider, but do you think it would work?

Sarah C.
Reply to  Jayne
October 12, 2012 3:46 pm

This might be a little late, but I’ve been making apple peel jelly both from the peels and cores from canned apple pie filling AND from the leavings from running cooked apples through my Victorio food mill for apple sauce. I think the pomace would work wonderfully for jelly, Jayne! I just followed the guidelines in guide 7 of the USDA canning manual ( I also added cinnamon to the leavings (I don’t know what else to call them) when I added water to cover and let them simmer to get the pectin and juices out, and then strained through a strainer and then a jelly bag (truly, a nylon paint straining bag from Home Depot). I’m not a huge jelly fan, but this has been so fun to get another use from my apples before the chickens get to go through the leftovers. Cheers!

October 8, 2012 8:48 am

I am definitley making this, it looks fabulous! Love it even more for the fact it has no sugar, great recipe!

October 8, 2012 8:21 am

5 stars
A beautiful recipe that can’t wait for Christmas – love this.

October 8, 2012 7:09 am

4 stars
This sound beautiful and simple – thanks for sharing! Apples and cranberries is one of my favorite combinations.

October 8, 2012 7:02 am

Aimee, this looks wonderful. I love cranberries! I can’t wait to try it!! And, thanks for the link to Canning 101. I’ve never canned anything, but would love to learn how.

October 8, 2012 6:39 am

I love the tartness & eat Fresh cranberries raw as a snack. I also add them to my Greek yogurt either diced up for a crunch or cooked for a smooth addition.
I made a basic, chunky cran-apple sauce last year, just cut up apples & whole cranberries in a saucepan, heated til soft & berries popped using honey to sweeten. I served it with my Turkey & Sweet potato meal. Yum.
I was so excited to see cranberries back at Costco couple weeks ago. Love em.
When I try this spread, I think I’ll purée the peels & keep them in it. Like the extra fiber 🙂