Breakfast,  Jams and Condiments,  Recipes,  Technique,  Techniques & Ingredients

Apple Butter, Pressure-Cooker Fast

I’m declaring October “Cinnamonth,” and kicking it off with harvest-fresh apple butter.

Smooth, cinnamon-spiked apple butter on soft challah was my equivalent of a jelly doughnut when I was growing up. So this year, besides our usual tart Cortlands for pie, we also picked Macouns and McIntoshes (which get mushy when cooked) to whip into apple butter. I’d never made it before, but applesauce is a cinch, so how difficult could it be?

Turns out it’s easy, but shockingly time-consuming. Besides the cinnamon and other spices, complex flavors bloom from that mysterious process called caramelization. While applesauce cooks up in less than a half-hour, apple butter takes a whopping 3½ hours.

This is a job for my superhero, The Pressure Cooker. It can turn a slab of corned beef fork-tender in an hour. It can convert dried, out-of-the-bag navy beans into Southie-worthy Boston Baked Beans in just 45 minutes. And in less time than it takes me to check email, veggies cook up vibrantly colorful, bursting with concentrated flavor and at the top of their nutrient game.

How does The Pressure Cooker do it? Don’t let that low-tech look fool you. I suspect there are some serious quantum mechanics at work. Lock the lid, set the heat, and the contents travel to some cosmic dimension where they cook to perfection in a fraction of earth time. We can’t see inside the pot—much like the box with Schrödinger’s cat—so who knows what kind of spacetime hijinks goes on?

With this recipephany, you’ll get apple butter that will make your fanciest jam jealous. While relatively quick, it is still the longest I’ve ever cooked anything in The Pressure Cooker: 1 hour 10 minutes. But it’s worth every second. It’s out of this world.

Enjoy, and Happy Cinnamonth!

Pressure Cooker Apple Butter

Makes about a pint of dark, deeply flavored apple butter. Doubles well with no change in cooking time.

  • 4 large apples (I used Macoun, McIntosh and/or Cortland)
  • ¼ cup apple cider or water  (Note: Cider freezes well into ice cubes so you can have it on hand any time.)
  • 1 teaspoon of white or cider vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of ground cloves and nutmeg to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Peel, core and roughly chunk apples. Place in pressure cooker with cider, vinegar, sugar and molasses. Bring up to pressure and cook 1 hour.
  2. Release steam to reduce pressure. Puree the cooked mixture using a food processor or blender.
  3. Return mixture to pressure cooker, add spices, bring up to pressure and cook 10 minutes.
  4. Release steam to reduce pressure and stir in the vanilla.
  5. Let cool a bit, and then pour into a glass pint jar to finish cooling. Store in refrigerator. It also freezes well, so you can enjoy it throughout the year.
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    • Diane Brody

      Hey Mark,

      Thanks for your comment. Sorry you find it unacceptable. I would recommend just cooking it down more with the lid off. Perhaps I prefer apple butter that’s a little thin.

      Let me know if you try it another way and I’ll add that information into the recipe.


    • Diane Brody

      Today when I made this I realized you may have interpreted the 1/4 cup “cider” as “cider vinegar.” There is only 1 teaspoon of vinegar, which is not a lot. So I have rewritten the recipe to make it clear that it is apple cider, not vinegar. I also have realized that if you don’t have cider you can use water. I also cooked the apple butter down on the stove with the lid off for a few minutes at the end, and it thickened up nicely. Hope you try it again and perhaps cut back on the water if you think it too soupy. Thanks.

  • Robin

    Do you have to use cider or can you use juice and cider vinegar? I am having trouble finding cider locally. It seems to be a seasonal product around here.

    • Diane Brody

      Hey Robin,
      Juice should work fine, although I’ve never tried. I freeze cider I got while apple picking in ice cube trays so I can have it whenever I want. But there is so much thick apple taste in this that I bet you could even use water and it wouldn’t matter!

  • Diane Brody

    Thank you so much, Lisa! I’m glad you’ve found the pressure cooker. Happy this works out for you and thanks for writing. If you’ve got some good pressure cooker recipes, please share, and maybe I’ll find some more to put up. Best, Diane

    • Beverly Jones

      This is my go to recipe now for apple butter. I lost it for awhile after moving and went down the dark rabbit hole of the internet. There are some BAD recipes out there. Whew! Thank you for posting.

      I noticed a previous person asked if they could use juice. I would say no, I tried a recipe that used juice and it made it to sweet. I would say to try before putting all the sugar in. 🤷‍♀️

      • Diane Brody

        Dear Beverly,
        Thanks so much! I’m so happy you like it. I can’t get enough of it. And now with apple-picking season, it’s the time to make a lot. It stays in the fridge for a really long time and freezes well.
        As for using juice, I don’t think it would matter that much. Especially if, like you say, you adjust the sugar. I often just use an extra apple and water. Fresh apple cider, though, adds the wow factor.
        Thanks again, and I am so happy you found Recipephany!

  • Lisa

    Yum! I am new to pressure cooking and finding that the right recipe makes the difference between delicious and disgusting! Of course, that’s always true on some level but I think it is more true with pressure cooking. This recipe falls into the delicious category and highlights the seeming magic of pressure cooking. I followed the recipe and the resulting apple butter was intense and perfect. Thank you for sharing!

      • Diane Brody

        Thanks, Nidia, glad it came out well! I just made some too with the last of the Cortlands we got apple picking. Maybe next time I’ll leave the skin on. Does doing that make it thicker? It must also yield more. Thanks, Diane

  • Diane Brody

    Desiree, I don’t know how thick Tamara likes her apple butter, so I can’t answer for how long you need to cook it down further. It may depend upon how juicy your apples are. As for the peel, I would think you wouldn’t want any peel left on because you need to get a smooth consistency in the blender. So no, I haven’t tried it that way. And of course you can mess around with the proportions—whatever works for you. Thanks.

  • Tamara

    I made this recipe as written and it was delicious. I did find it a bit runny for apple butter so I ended up cooking it down a bit more. But the flavor could not be beat!

    • Desiree

      How much longer did you cook it to get a thicker consistency? Also I have read that there is no need to peel. Have you ever tried this?

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