Caramel Apples in a Crock Pot
I love caramel apples. However, I do not love the mess they make when 1) making them, 2) eating them and 3) cleaning up after eating them. I should say that the apple is my favorite part, but I’m not going to lie…the caramel is. Yep, I love me some caramel. I am one of those gals that will eat all of the chocolate covered caramels in a box of assorted chocolates first. Thank goodness they’ve come up with an option for caramel only 🙂
I’ve seen tons of recipes out there for apple butter in a slow cooker as well as caramel in one. So why not combine the two for a fantastic, seasonal spread to adorn my morning toast? Cooking apple butter in a crockpot is easy. You seriously just put all the ingredients in the pot, turn it on and wait a few hours; the waiting is the hard part.
Best Apples for Cooking
Not all apples are suited for cooking. The key is texture. Cooking apples have a balance of sweet and tart flavor and hold up without turning into complete mush when baking. As far as apple butter goes, you are aiming to turn the apples into “mush” but the apple still needs to retain some texture. I used Rome apples in my recipe.
Some good types of cooking apples include:
- Golden Delicious
- Granny Smith
- Honey Gold
- Mutsu (Crispin)
- Northern Spy
- Pink Lady (Cripps Pink)
- Rhode Island Greening
You’ll need enough apples to fill your crockpot to the brim. As the apples soften and cook down, the volume will decrease as they settle. It took about 14 medium to large apples to fill my 6-quart crock pot. The beauty of making apple butter is that is it very forgiving. You add more or fewer spices and sugar to taste without affecting the outcome very much. You just let the apples continue to cook until it reaches your desired consistency.
I do recommend investing in an apple peeler corer slicer, especially if you are like me and buy apples by the bushel! It’s worth it. As far as using a fresh vanilla bean pod and adding the spiced rum, those are optional. It does add a depth of flavor that really helps bring out the rich caramel flavor, but again if add it if you want.
If you plan to process your apple butter for storage, follow the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s recommendation of sterilizing your canning jars. I leave the apple in the crockpot to stay hot while I sterilize the canning jars and heat up my canning pot.
The caramel flavor really comes through in this recipe. Slather the butter on toast, muffins, biscuits. Dollop a bit on top of vanilla ice cream for a special treat. Heck, I often eat it by the spoonful right out of the jar! Make a few extras: they make a perfect fall gift!
Crock Pot Caramel Apple Butter
12-14 cooking apples, sliced and cored (enough to fill your crockpot to the brim)
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
1/4 cup spiced rum (optional)
1 fresh vanilla bean pod, split open and scrapped (you can substitute a tablespoon of good vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
Water bath canning pot (and standard canning supplies)
Half Pint Jars
Add all of the ingredients into a 6-quart slow cooker (including the scraped out vanilla bean pod).
Cook on low for 10-12 hours. Once the apples start to break down (after an hour or two) give it a good mix.
Halfway through the cooking time, vent by placing the lid on askew cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture has reduced and thickened.
Once the apple butter is thickened, you can use an immersion blender to make it smooth.
If you plan to can the apple butter, keep it hot in the crockpot until your water bath canner and jars are ready.
Fill your jars leaving a 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims clean, remove any air bubbles and place your lids.
Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes with a 1/4 headspace (below 6,000 feet elevation process 10 minutes, above 6,000 feet process 15 minutes).