Spiced Apple Butter


If you've only experienced store-bought apple butter, this homemade version will blow you away. The recipe, from Kaley Laird, the executive pastry chef at Asheville, North Carolina's James Beard Award-nominated restaurant Benne on Eagle, requires just five ingredients (including apples) and requires little effort beyond occasional stirring and getting out your blender. But you'll be rewarded with a not-too-sweet, deeply flavored spread that you can enjoy on your morning biscuit or toast, swirl into a bowl of oatmeal, or use as a topping for Laird's decadent Parsnip-Buttermilk Tart. Like most apple butter recipes, this one contains apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon. But Laird's secret ingredient is ¼ cup of bourbon, which cooks down along with the apples and adds a subtle kick and depth of flavor. If you'd rather skip the alcohol, substitute 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract. Once the apples have cooked down, the mixture is processed until completely smooth in a blender. If you prefer apple butter that has a little more texture, you can leave it on the chunkier side. The recipe makes 4 cups of apple butter, and it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month—although we're pretty sure it won't last that long.

Parsnip-Buttermilk Tart with Spice Apple Butter
Photo: Peter Frank Edwards; Prop Styling: Kendra Surface; Food Styling: Anna Hampton
Active Time:
2 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 15 mins
4 cups


  • 6 medium-size (about 3 lb. total) Honeycrisp apples, unpeeled, cored, and diced (about 10 cups)

  • 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar

  • ¼ cup bourbon

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Stir together all ingredients and 1 ½ cups water in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples break down and become very soft, 1 hour, 45 minutes to 2 hours. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes.

  2. Transfer mixture to a blender. Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening. Process until smooth, 1 minute. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 month.

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