Slow Cooker Apple-Pear Butter

This apple-pear butter is tangy, spicy and sweet. It’s great on toast, in oatmeal, on pancakes or French toast. A nice change of pace from the usual breakfast spreads and so easy to make! Applesauce is a great substitute for vegetable oil in muffin recipes or pancake mixes (substitute one for one), which is another great reason to have this on hand.
We’ve made a similar apple butter on the stovetop in the past, but this slow cooker version, adapted from a recipe from Thomas Keller’s “Ad Hoc at Home”, is a nice twist. You can chuck everything into the slow cooker and let it go overnight, with just minimal hands-on time. No peeling or coring required. We tweaked things — adding pears to the mix as well as fresh ginger and adjusting the sugar and spices a bit to suit my son’s tastes. If your little ones are just so-so on spices, just add a little cinnamon or no spices at all. Here’s our version (this made about 2 pints):
  • 3 Pounds Mixed Apples and Pears (a mix of sweeter and more tart varieties is nice)
  • Fresh Ginger (a couple of inch-long pieces)
  • 1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1.5 cups Brown Sugar (or to taste) — I’m sure you could substitute apple cider, agave syrup, maple syrup or other sweeteners you like.
  • 3/4 Tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 Tsp Allspice
  • Zest & Juice from 1 Lemon
  1. Cut the fruit into big chunks (including  skins, cores and seeds).
  2. Toss the fruit into a slow cooker with the water, ginger and apple cider vinegar.
  3. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours stirring occasionally.
  4. Pass the fruit through a food mill to remove the skins, seeds and stems and return to the slow cooker.
  5. Add sugar, spices, lemon juice and zest. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your taste.
  6. Cook on low for 8 hours (or overnight). Taste and adjust again if you need to. If it’s not thick enough for your liking at this point, continue cooking uncovered.
  7. Whatever you aren’t going to use in the next couple of weeks, you can freeze or can.

We happened upon “Ad Hoc at Home” at the library. Thomas Keller’s idea of simple, home cooking might be more involved than the way most us cook in real life, but there are a lot of great techniques well explained throughout that you really can incorporate into everyday cooking like how to cut up a chicken (8 and 10 piece versions), stocking your pantry and a whole section on “Becoming a Better Cook”. Check it out, you’re sure to find some inspiration in this one.

23 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Apple-Pear Butter

  1. Given that we just picked a half-bushel of apples, this is a timely recipe! It looks wonderful and I like that it’s made in a slow cooker. My crockpot gets a weekly workout because I make yogurt in it, but hey, another crockpot recipe is always welcome.

  2. The Keller book is on my ‘to get at the library list’, thanks for the mini-review.

    I love the idea of doing a fruit butter in the slow cookier! I love these butters, but just don’t have the time to stand over the stove stirring.

    A question: How big is your slow-cooker and how much did this fill it up? I’m just wondering if it is possible to double it, so that it would be worthwhile to can the result.

    Thank you! We just went apple-picking yesterday.

    • We have a standard cheap-o slow cooker. It holds a least 3-4 quarts, I think. I’m a fan of making a big batch since it’s not much harder than doing a small one — and you an freeze this or give it as gifts to friends.

  3. Our slow cooker is pretty standard in terms of size — I think it was maybe 1/4 to 1/3 full with 3 pounds of fruit. Plenty of room to double it. BTW — I happened to browse another cookbook this morning and they used apple cider as the sweetener which is an interesting idea. I’m going to try it next time.

    • It keeps fairly well in the refrigerator so I saved about a quart. Then froze the rest in small portions. I’ve been using this in liue of oil in pancakes and muffins and using it for our oatmeal. I think you could use it to pump up apple pie (or dessert fillings) since it’s quite zingy. With apple season here – sky’s the limit.

  4. I was hoping to make this today – how much water did you use? Its not listed in your ingredients, but implied in your method. I’m hoping about a cup and a half, cause looking at some other online recipes, I think that’s what I’m going to try 🙂

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