Slow Cooker Squash Butter with Apples and Maple

Squash Butter for all your Pumpkin Spice Needs!

Oh yes, It’s full on squash season. I’m teaching squash cookery classes, gawking at the gorgeous displays of squash at the market, and of course, cooking with squash. Like you, though, I am pressed for time. That’s why I made this spiced squash butter. I just threw it in the slow cooker, ignored it while I did my other recipe testing, and pureed it. Then I cooked it some more to get spreadable and thick.

Forget pumpkin spice everything. You need some squash butter, with all the spices you love suspended in a thick, sweet spread of real, unadulterated squash, with a little apple thrown in for depth.

If you don’t know your kabocha from your sweet dumpling, it’s high time you learned. First off, canned pumpkin IS NOT PUMPKIN.

Mind blown? Be glad. Pumpkin is just another kind of squash, in my book. The next time you open a can of pumpkin, take a little taste. It’s not sweet, in fact, it’s a little bitter. It’s thick, from long cooking, and that has its advantages. But it’s not the tastiest of the edible gourds.

That’s why when I teach a squash class, I like to roast little slices of several varieties of winter squash, so that all the participants can compare them, like fine cheeses or sips of wine. One of the great joys of teaching is seeing the faces of people who are discovering a food they thought they knew, as if it were brand new.

Winter Squash for Squash Butter

Winter Squash and a Pumpkin for Squash Butter

Your most common winter squashes will be Butternut, Acorn, and Buttercup. Butternut and Acorn are mild, very moist squashes, really best suited to eating with brown sugar and butter, or soup. Buttercup is a little denser and meatier. Little squashes, like Sweet Dumpling and Delicata are also mild and moist, and make great stuffers. (Try my Nut Curry Stuffed Squash recipe here, or my Squash Hummus Stuffed Squash recipe here.)

But my personal faves are the dense, meaty, almost dry textured Kabocha, Red Kuri, and Hubbard. Peeled and cubed, they have body, heft, and flavor to use in a pasta (try this tasty Roasted Squash and Whole Wheat Pasta recipe here.) They keep it together in soups, curries, and other dishes, too.

But the best thing is that they are so thick and intense when you puree them. Remember that can of pumpkin? Try your recipe with pureed Kabocha or Red Kuri, and everyone will think you are a genius.

Squash and Apple Butter with Spice

Spread Thick, Maple Spice Squash Butter on Everything!

I don’t can, and because it’s low-acid, this is not a good candidate for pressure or water bath canning. This is more of a refrigerator spread. It won’t last long, so you don’t have to worry that it will go bad. If you spread it on toast, bagels, apple slices, and oatmeal for the next month, you might have to make more to get through Thanksgiving.

Try making this, and you’ll have the side benefit of making your house smell fantastic. It’s alike an edible pot pourri.

Who needs a pumpkin spice sugar bomb, when we have this luscious spread?

Squash and Apple Butter

The crock pot is the perfect tool for making this slow-simmered squash butter. You can savor all those pumpkin spice flavors in a concentrated, real food spread. Makes about 2 1/2 cups, depending on how thick it gets.
Course Breakfast
Servings 10
Author Robin Asbell


  • 2.75 pounds red kuri squash peeled and cubed
  • 2 large apples peeled and cored
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespons fresh ginger minced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker and set it to high, and clamp the lid on tightly.
  • Cook for four hours, then transfer the mixture to the Vitamix and puree. Return to the crock and simmer on high, uncovered, for an hour or until the desired thickness is achieved. You can speed this up by putting the puree in a pot on the stove and boiling it to reduce to a thick paste.