This Holiday Cranberry Apple Butter recipe is delicious! It’s filled with the same rich apple and cinnamon goodness of traditional apple butter, while at the same time, it’s got some special touches for the holiday season. The addition of tart cranberries and a touch of apple brandy makes this cranberry apple butter perfect for serving during the holidays. Wait until you try it! Not only is this recipe delicious, but easy to make too. No apple peeling is necessary. Jar some for yourself and for others to give as gifts. It’s sure to be a huge hit this holiday season.
Find the full recipe at the end of this post.
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Love at First Bite
There is one thing you need to know about me when I love something, I really LOVE it. Recently, I created an Easy Crockpot Apple Butter recipe. Guess what? I love it! It is not only easy to make but absolutely delicious. It’s also the perfect way to welcome my favorite season, Autumn. My love for this apple butter recipe runs deep, which is why I couldn’t just stop there. I had to continue my love for making apple butter by creating a version that celebrates the holiday season.
This holiday cranberry apple butter is perfect for spreading on your favorite baked goods or to use on a charcuterie board. You can also spread it on a leftover turkey sandwich after Thanksgiving or serve it alongside a roasted chicken or pork tenderloin. There are so many wonderful ways to enjoy this delicious cranberry apple butter. What are you waiting for? It’s time to get your crockpot out!
So Many Reasons to LOVE This Recipe
- It’s incredibly EASY. The hardest part about making this delicious holiday cranberry apple butter is having to wait for it to slow cook before being able to eat it. The preparation time is only about 10-minutes and the ingredient list is short. Once the apples are chopped, everything gets thrown into a crockpot. That’s where the magic happens!
- NO PEELING necessary. Through the long cooking process and the use of an immersion blender, the apple peels virtually melt away. Every minute counts during the holiday season, there’s no need to waste time peeling apples when you can be checking other things off your holiday “to-do” list.
- Makes plenty to SHARE. I love making this recipe because not only do we get to enjoy it at the farmhouse, but I have plenty to share with family, friends, and neighbors too. They will love you! Cranberry apple butter makes the perfect host/hostess gift, especially during the holiday season. Have the recipe ready to share, because I promise that you will get asked for it!
- It’s DELICIOUS. Simple as that. The vibrant cranberry flavor and the rich flavor of apples are sweetened by sugar. Then they are enhanced by warm spices, vanilla, and a little brandy. All of this combined in a slow cooker makes this holiday cranberry apple butter irresistible. Once you try it, you’ll find yourself searching the pantry and refrigerator for anything to spread it on. It’s quite literally the definition of the holidays in a jar.
What Exactly is Cranberry Apple Butter?
Thank you for asking… Apple butter is a richer and more enhanced version of apple sauce. It’s created by slow-cooking apples, sugar, and cinnamon (among other spices) to produce a thick, caramelized, and spreadable version of a delicious fall favorite, the apple.
This comes as a surprise to many, but there is actually no butter, in apple butter or cranberry apple butter. It is dairy free. Interesting isn’t it!? I think the word ‘butter’ in apple butter or any version of it comes from the smooth, velvety (almost creamy) texture that is created through the slow cooking process of the fruits. It’s the perfect recipe to marry the delicious flavors of fall with the delicious flavors of the holiday season.
Ingredients in Holiday Cranberry Apple Butter
- Apples: For cranberry apple butter, you want to use a softer, sweeter apple like Golden Delicious, Gala, McIntosh, Honey Crisp, Ambrosia, or my favorite, Fuji. Although Granny Smith apples are great for making tarts and pies, they are a little too tart for use in cranberry apple butter. After all, that’s the cranberries’ job in this recipe.
- Sugar: Unlike my recipe for Easy Crockpot Apple Butter which combines dark brown sugar and granulated sugar, this recipe uses only light brown sugar. The light brown sugar in this recipe helps break down the cranberries and apples. It creates an incredibly sweet and caramelized flavor in cranberry apple butter. The lighter color of the brown sugar also leaves room for the deep cranberry red color to shine through once the cranberries have cooked down with the apples.
- Spices: Cinnamon, fresh ginger, and a pinch of cloves add warmth and richness to the apple butter that makes it virtually irresistible. Not to mention that these spices combined with cranberries and apples make your kitchen smell amazing during the slow cooking process.
- Vanilla Extract: Whether you use my homemade vanilla extract, store-bought, vanilla paste, or a vanilla bean, the addition of the vanilla rounds out the tartness of the cranberries and the sweetness of the apples. It also enhances the warm spices in the holiday cranberry apple butter perfectly.
- Apple Brandy: The holiday season is an extra special one. Therefore, why not make your cranberry apple butter extra special too? That’s where the addition of the apple brandy comes in. The combination of apple brandy’s fruity flavor and oaky notes makes it the perfect companion for sweet and savory dishes. However, if you prefer to leave the liquor out, you can substitute it with cranberry juice for a tarter flavor or apple juice for a sweeter flavor.
How to Make Holiday Cranberry Apple Butter
Making cranberry apple butter in the crockpot is the easiest method. Once all the ingredients are in it, all you have to do is turn it on low and forget about it for about 10 hours. There is no stirring or watching necessary and it comes out perfect every time!
I like to prep my cranberry apple butter in the evening after dinner. Then, just before bed I turn the crockpot on low and cover it. In the morning I wake up to the most wonderful holiday scent in the kitchen.
1.) Core the apples and chop the apples into 1-inch pieces. Remember: There is no peeling necessary. Place the chopped apples in the crockpot and then add the cranberries.
2.) In a bowl, whisk the sugar and spices together and sprinkle them over the top of the cranberries and apples. Pour the apple brandy and vanilla over top and then stir the cranberries and apples thoroughly to coat them all.
3.) Place the lid on the crockpot and turn it on low. Allow the cranberries and apples to cook for 10 hours.
4.) Remove the lid and purée the cranberries and apples with an immersion blender or in a blender (in small batches) until smooth.
5.) Leave the crockpot lid off and cook the cranberry apple butter for another 2-4 hours until it reaches the desired consistency.*
*Although the extra two hours of cooking in the crockpot uncovered are not necessary, I do recommend it to get a perfect consistency. The longer the apple butter cooks uncovered, the thicker it gets. Remember, it will also continue to thicken as it cools.
Storing Apple Butter
Once the cranberry apple butter has cooled, pour it into jars and store it in the refrigerator. I like to use 8-ounce glass jars. Out of one batch of holiday cranberry apple butter, I can fill about 4 jars. Here are some of my favorite 8-ounce jars:
Fruit butter lasts about a month, if not longer, in the refrigerator due to its high sugar content.
Give It As A Gift
Holiday Cranberry Apple Butter makes a great gift this holiday season. I tied a red ribbon around my jars with some gold bells to make them festive for the season. You can also tie a special spreader onto the jars. I hope you and yours love this special apple butter recipe as much as we do!
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