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The 9 Best Apple Butter Substitutes

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If you think that apple butter is a combination of apple and butter, it isn’t. It is cooked down applesauce to a thick spreadable consistency that is rich in, of course, apples, cinnamon, and other aromatic spices.

It is called apple “butter” because it has the consistency of butter and is a great ingredient for baking or simply being used as a sandwich spread. It gives recipes a rich depth of flavor and makes your home smell like fall.

You can use apple butter in several ways. Other than spreading on toast and using in desserts, it can also be used as a sweet and savory addition to sauces and burger flavorings.

You can use store-bought apple butter or simply make your own at home. But what about when apple butter is scarce at the grocery store and there’s no time to whip some up at home?

Can apple butter be substituted with other ingredients? Yes, absolutely. There are several ingredients that make great substitutes for apple butter for when you are running low on the sweet and delicious condiment. Some of the most common ones include applesauce, pumpkin puree, buttermilk, and olive oil, to name a few.

Read on to find out the 9 best apple butter substitutes, and much more.


Applesauce is a great substitute for apple butter for two main reasons – apple butter is generally made using the same ingredients as applesauce.

This makes it very easy to make apple butter using applesauce since the former is essentially an intensified version of the latter.

Many people assume them to be the same, but that is not the case.

Applesauce has a more liquid consistency whereas apple butter gets rid of the excess water through evaporation, leaving behind a more concentrated spread that is caramelized to add a deeper hue and more flavor.

You can use applesauce as it is or turn it into apple butter by adding spices to it and simmering it on low heat until it reduces to the right consistency.

If you wish to use applesauce, you won’t notice much of a difference since it is one of the best substitutes for apple butter and essentially the same when it comes to the ingredients and main flavors.

To replace 1 cup of apple butter in a recipe, simply use 1 ½ cup of applesauce.

Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkins aren’t just used for carving Jack-o’-lanterns during Halloween, for pumpkin spiced lattes in the fall, or to make pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving dinners. 

They are a versatile ingredient that can be used all year round in several sweet and savory recipes such as soups, stews, bread, cookies, cake, pasta, and smoothies.

Pumpkin puree is cooked pumpkin that has been blended or mashed in a food processor or food mill until you have a smooth pulp.

It not only tastes great but is also rich in nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C, protein, fiber, and lots of antioxidants.

Other than being a power-packed comfort food, pumpkin puree is an excellent substitute for apple butter for several baked foods.

It provides extra moisture to the dish and, although you might miss the apple-ness of apple butter, the pumpkin adds a decadent flavor to the recipe.

To replace 1 cup of apple butter in a recipe, simply use 1 cup of pumpkin puree with a dash of cinnamon powder.


By the sound of it, the name buttermilk suggests a buttery dairy product that is high in fat and tastes even richer than regular cow milk. But the truth is far from it.

Buttermilk is actually lower in fat than regular milk and contains no butter. It gets its name from the original process of extracting it through churning butter.

It is easily available in all grocery stores and, just like apple butter, can also be made at home using two simple ingredients – milk and lemon juice (or white vinegar).

Buttermilk has a slightly sour flavor and can be used in a variety of recipes such as pancakes, biscuits, and cakes for its remarkable properties.

It is a perfect ingredient for many baked goods since it adds a fluffier texture coupled with extra moisture, and can easily be substituted for apple butter.

To replace 1 cup of apple butter in a recipe, simply use ½ cup of buttermilk.


We all know how milk is considered a staple in almost all baking recipes. But what about yogurt? Yogurt adds a nice, tangy flavor and keeps everything in balance. 

It is thought to be a magical ingredient when it comes to baking and can also be used in savory dips and soups to add an extra bit of creaminess and tang.

Yogurt can be used in place of heavier and more calorie-dense ingredients such as butter, oil, and buttermilk. Just make sure to use regular Greek yogurt and not the sweetened or flavored one mixed with fruit.

Adding yogurt is like adding butter to your recipes, with the added advantage of extra moisture that it provides, especially when baking any type of cake.

To replace 1 cup of apple butter in a recipe, simply use 2 cups of yogurt.


Avocados are not just incredibly delicious but also highly nutritious. They are loaded with some of the healthiest fats and fiber and are extremely beneficial in reducing cholesterol levels.

They are highly versatile and the perfect ingredient for many recipes due to their soft texture and mild taste.

You can eat stuffed avocados, have them on toast, deep fry them, in guacamole, in salads, and in soups, or simply enjoy them with basic seasonings such as salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice.

Avocados are a creamy and healthy substitute for butter, oil, and cream for many recipes thanks to their high-fat content. 

You can easily swap out apple butter with mashed avocados, which is quite the same as using pumpkin puree for baking.

If you use perfectly ripe avocados, you won’t even need to puree them in a food processor since they are soft enough and can easily be made into a paste.

Don’t worry about turning the dish green since the avocado’s pale green color won’t have much effect on the outcome.

To replace 1 cup of apple butter in a recipe, simply use 1 cup of mashed avocado.

Vegetable Oil

There are several different types of vegetable oils with almost every kitchen having some sort in their pantry. The most common edible oils found in US households include soybean oil, canola oil, and palm oil.

Although vegetable oil does not have great health benefits as compared to other apple butter substitutes, they are a great option in emergency baking situations where you have no other option.

When choosing the right vegetable oil for your recipe, make sure that it fits the flavor profile of your overall recipe.

To replace 1 cup of apple butter in a recipe, simply use ¾ cup of your choice of vegetable oil.

Olive Oil

For a healthier alternative, especially when you are trying to watch your diet, you can use olive oil as an effective substitute for many baked recipes.

It works great for baking bread and making pizza and pasta doughs. It can also be used for baking cakes, cookies, and fudge, and even as a dressing for salads.

To replace 1 cup of apple butter in a recipe, simply use 1 cup of olive oil.

You can add cinnamon powder to the recipe to add the aroma and flavor that is absent from not using apple butter.


When it comes to baking, butter is the original ingredient and, no matter how many substitutes there are, nothing beats its goodness in baked goods.

We agree that it might not be the healthiest option but it is perfect for achieving the right texture, flavor, and moisture in cakes, cookies, and everything in between.

When you are out of apple butter, regular butter may be the safest choice since most baked recipes require butter by default and there are fewer chances of things going wrong.

If you wish for a healthier option, you may go for fat-free or unsalted butter.

To replace 1 cup of apple butter in a recipe, simply use 1 cup of butter.


Margarine is a processed food product made by combining water and vegetable oils. It is one of the most used butter alternatives for baking cakes, cookies, doughnuts, or just about anything.

While they may look similar, their nutritional profiles differ. Margarine is considered an inexpensive alternative to butter and might be a good option for you if you’re watching your weight.

If you are looking for a richer flavor, margarine might not be the best choice for you and it would be better for you to stick with butter.

To replace 1 cup of apple butter in a recipe, simply use 1 cup of margarine.

Related questions

Now that we’ve gone over some of our favorite substitutes for apple butter in recipes, let’s go over a few more questions that we thought you might’ve had while reading this article.

Can you freeze apple butter?

Yes, you can freeze apple butter as way to extend its usability and shelf life.

To avoid not having apple butter when the recipe calls for it and to avoid the long cooking time for preparing it at home every time you need to use it, you can simply make a big batch and freeze it for later use.

For homemade apple butter, after it is done cooking, let it cool and check if it is thick and creamy and ready to be popped into the freezer.

Once the apple butter is cool to the touch, scoop it out into freezer containers. Make sure to choose the appropriate container sizes and try to store the butter in individual batches so that you can thaw only as much as you need.

Leave ½ an inch of headspace in each container to account for expansion, seal them properly with airtight lids, label them with the date, and place them in the freezer for up to 1 year.

To thaw the apple butter, transfer the container into the fridge and leave it overnight. Do not thaw it on the countertop at room temperature since that will result in the apple butter getting spoiled.

Once it has been thawed, keep it in the refrigerator for a maximum of 3 weeks. Discard it if it hasn’t been used after a month of being thawed.

How long will store-bought apple butter last in the fridge?

Once opened, store-bought apple butter needs to be kept tightly covered and constantly refrigerated.

If kept in optimal storage conditions, store-bought apple butter will last in the fridge for about 1 year.

The expiration date on the jar is also a good indicator of how long the apple butter will be fit for consumption. Some of the common signs to tell if the apple butter has gone bad is by checking how it smells and looks.

If it develops a bad odor, flavor, or appearance, or if there are signs of mold, it should be instantly discarded since it is not safe for consumption.

How long will homemade apple butter last in the fridge?

Since homemade apple butter does not have the preservatives found in the store-bought variants, they have a much shorter shelf life.

In optimal conditions, homemade apple butter will last in your fridge for up to 3 months. If you wish to preserve it for longer, you can simply freeze it for up to 1 year.

How long can apple butter be stored at room temperature?

Apple butter is quite easy to store and can easily be kept at room temperature if it is contained in an airtight jar or bottle.

However, once it is opened, you need to keep it in the fridge or freezer to extend its life.

How to make apple butter thicker?

Apple butter works best when it has the right consistency. To tell if it is thick enough, take a spoonful and keep it away from the steam for 2 minutes.

If it is done, the apple butter will remain mounded onto the spoon, or else it will slide off.

Another way to test the right consistency is to take out a small quantity into a plate. If there is no rim of liquid around the edge of the apple butter, you have achieved the right consistency and it is ready for storage.

If your apple butter fails these tests, there are ways to make it thicker. The easiest way is to cook it uncovered on a high flame, stirring it frequently to prevent it from sticking to the pan or burning.

You must let it cool properly before performing any of these tests since the apple butter will thicken more as it cools down.

What is the difference between apple sauce, apple butter, and apple jam?

Apple sauce, apple butter, and apple jelly can easily be confused for one another, and sometimes even used interchangeably.

There are some very obvious differences in all three that, when incorporated into a recipe, alter the way the dish tastes and looks.

The main difference between the three is mostly cooking time, texture, and consistency. As mentioned above, apple sauce has a slightly runnier consistency due to the amount of water content in it.

Apple jelly is thicker and sweeter than apple sauce, and usually has pieces or chunks of fruit in it. Apple butter, on the other hand, is cooked down to a smooth and spreadable buttery texture.

Apple butter also has certain spices added to it, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, but they can be found in some apple jams as well.

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