How to Thicken Apple Butter

If you’re anything like me, you’re a big fan of apple butter. The mouthwatering flavor is ideal for topping toast, slathering on chicken, or eating by the spoonful. But if your homemade apple butter appears runny and thin, you won’t be able to indulge in all your fave uses for this quintessential fall ingredient. Is all hope lost?

There are a couple of ways to thicken apple butter. The easiest solution is to keep it cooking without a lid for another hour or so. You can also add thickening agents such as cornstarch or flour. If your apple butter is only slightly runny, it may just need to cool thoroughly.

Hey, everyone! I’m Michelle, and fall is one of my favorite seasons. Naturally, I make plenty of apple butter in my household, and everyone (including my kiddos) raves about the flavor. Yet, I have dealt with my fair share of thin apple butter. I found out the best way to fix it.

Keep reading to find out how to thicken apple butter successfully.

4 Ways to Thicken Apple Butter 

A thin apple butter is sub-par apple butter. After all, who wants to try and dip fruits and crackers into a runny apple butter on the charcuterie board? Not me.

The good news is that there are four simple ways to turn your runny apple butter into the ooey-gooey and desirably thick ingredient you’ve been dreaming of. (And the best part is that they are all simple fixes – gotta love that!)

Method 1: Cook A Little Longer Without the Lid On

Most apple butter recipes say to keep the lid on while cooking. Even if the recipe doesn’t say this, most bakers will keep the lid on to lock in the flavor.

This is fine and dandy – until you run into the trouble of runny apple butter.

If you take the lid off of your pot or slow cooker and notice thin apple butter, don’t panic. Simply leave the lid off and continue to simmer the apple butter for about an hour (sometimes two hours). Don’t forget to mix regularly!

Essentially, you want all the moisture to evaporate from your apple butter, leaving you with a thick concoction that is easily spreadable atop all your favorite food items. 

Method 2: Use a Thickening Agent

If you’ve been waiting and waiting for your apple butter to thicken, but it just won’t budge, you may have to resort to using a thickening agent.

All you need to do is mix a few tablespoons of cornstarch or flour with a bit of water until it creates a smooth “slurry.” Then, pour the slurry into your apple butter and mix it generously. Allow the apple butter to cook with the thickening agent for about 15 to 30 minutes.

Method 3: Let it Cool Entirely

If your apple butter is only a tad bit runny, you might not have a problem at all.

You see, apple butter thickens as it cools. So, you may just need to be a little more patient and wait for your apple butter to “do its thing.”

Method 4: Don’t Rush It

If you look at an apple butter recipe, you’ll notice one thing – it requires a lot of cooking time. We’re talking hours and hours, sometimes up to 12 hours or more. 

For some people, this seems like overkill, which leads them to try to rush the process. But, like any other recipe, trying to cut corners will leave you with mediocre results.

With that in mind, one of my biggest tips for thickening apple butter is to follow the recipe entirely and not try to rush things

Trust me, I’m a bit impatient myself – but when it comes to cooking something like apple butter, you’ll have to dig deep and find your patient side. It will be worth it when you dive into luxuriously thick apple butter!

How Thick Should Apple Butter Be?

If this is your first time making apple butter, you might not even know if your apple butter isn’t “thick” enough. So, how thick should apple butter actually be?

Apple butter should not be the consistency of applesauce or jam. Instead, it should have a relatively paste-like texture that does not fall off of the spoon.

That said, to test whether or not your apple butter is thick enough, grab a spoonful of it. Turn the spoon slightly to the side. If your apple butter slides off immediately, keep cooking. If it’s molded to the spoon and hardly budges, it’s ready for consumption!


Now you don’t have to worry about ending up with yucky, too-thin apple butter! Pretty great, right? But before you run off to munch on your thick, gooey, and downright scrumptious apple butter, check out these frequently asked questions.

Does apple butter thicken after cooling?

Apple butter thickens while it cools. That’s why I say that if your apple butter is only slightly runny, you might not have an issue. Go ahead and let your apple butter cool entirely, and it should reach the desired consistency.

How can I thicken butter without flour?

If you don’t want to use flour to thicken your apple butter, you can also opt for cornstarch. Lots of bakers have also had success using arrowroot and tapioca, too. So, if you have these on hand, create a slurry and combine it with your apple butter to thicken it.

Can botulism grow in apple butter?

Unfortunately, yes, botulism can grow in apple butter. That is why proper canning is so imperative. Check for signs of spoilage before consuming the apple butter. Such signs include a change in color, a noticeable foul odor, or colorful mold spots.

Thickening Apple Butter is a Cinch

The most straightforward remedy for thin apple butter is to simply cook it without the lid for another hour or so. If that doesn’t do the trick, consider making a slurry with cornstarch or flour and water, then add to the apple butter and cook.  

How do you like to thicken your apple butter?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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