Spiced Cranberry Apple Butter

I made this cranberry apple butter a few weeks ago, but it’s taken me a while to get around to posting it.  I suppose that’s just as well, though, because it makes a great holiday recipe.

I stretch cranberry season out as long as I possibly can. I start cooking and baking with cranberries the moment I see them in the stores, and I freeze them so that I can use them well into the winter months.  Plus, everyone loves cranberries this time of the year, and the spices in this apple butter are perfect for the colder temperatures that are on their way.

This is one of those simple recipes that tastes much more sophisticated and difficult than it really is.  The ingredients can be thrown in the slow cooker at night and the cranberry apple butter will be ready the next morning.  When using a food mill, there’s no need to even peel the apples, which even makes the prep work fast and easy, as well.

This cranberry apple butter is delicious on toast or crackers and pairs beautifully with cheese. I think it would be the perfect addition to a holiday gift basket, don’t you? In fact, I may have to make another batch so that I have some to give to my friends and family this Christmas.

Spiced Cranberry Apple Butter
(Makes about 2 pints)

  • 3 pounds granny smith apples, cored and cut into chunks
  • 12 ounce bag of cranberries, rinsed
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Combine the apple chunks, cranberries, and cider in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the apples are soft and the cranberries have started to burst (about 15 – 20 minutes).  Set aside to cool slightly.

Ladle the mixture into a food mill and puree.  All of the apple and cranberry skins will be left behind.  Transfer the puree to a slow cooker.  Add the granulated sugar to the puree.  Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Stir in the seeds and the two halves of the vanilla bean along with the cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom.

Cook on low in the slow cooker for 8-12 hours, only partially covered.  The mixture will reduce down and thicken.  Remove the vanilla beans and allow to cool slightly.  Transfer to canning jars or airtight containers and refrigerate.

I did not can this particular recipe, but the apple butter could be transferred to half-pint or pint jars and processed in boiling water for 10 minutes, if desired.  I’d recommend this method for gift giving.

23 Responses to Spiced Cranberry Apple Butter

  1. I made apple butter for gifts this year – I will definitely put this variation on the list for next year!!!


  2. how fortuitous for me that i stumbled across your blog. i have so many fresh cranberries and i’m clueless about what to do with them. i though a jam, perhaps, but i like the idea of a cranberry butter! oh my. thanks for sharing your recipe and lovely photos.