Close-up of a canned jar of apple jelly next to a fresh apple.

Let me introduce you to one of the more versatile jams or jellies you could make at home—apple jelly! Apple jelly doesn’t get much love in the supermarket aisle, but that’s okay, because it’s stupendously easy to make at home (four ingredients easy).

Once you have a pantry stocked with apple jelly, you’ll be blown away by all the creative and interesting ways you can use it. Sure, this mild-flavored jelly is delicious slathered on toast, but apple jelly also makes wonderful glazes, sauces, fillings, and toppings! Let us show you how to make it!

Overhead of a spoon in a jar of finished jelly.

What is apple jelly?

Apple jelly is a soft fruit spread made from apple juice. It is sweetened with sugar and gels to the texture of store-bought jelly when cool.

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Is apple jelly the same as apple butter?

Nope! Apple butter is more like a smooth apple jam made from apple puree. Apple jelly is made from apple juice only. It has a clear, glassy appearance, whereas apple butter is thick and creamy (like butter!).
A spoon dripping apple jelly rests across the top of a jar of finished jelly.

How do you make apple jelly?

Apple jelly—actually, any jelly—is made from fruit juice, instead of whole fruits like we use when making jam. Minus that change, the process is pretty similar to other jam recipes—easy peasy!

Wholefully Protip

This apple jelly recipe is thickened using Ball® RealFruit Classic Pectin. You need to cook the jelly to thicken it using Classic Pectin.

Collage showing how to make preserves in eight steps.

  1. Whisk together apple juice and pectin until mostly combined (it won’t dissolve, but you want it to be evenly distributed).
  2. Pour the mixture into a saucepan or Dutch oven.
  3. Add in a touch of butter or margarine—this helps keep the mixture from foaming when it boils.
  4. Heat over medium-high heat until it comes to a rolling boil.
  5. Add in the sugar in one addition.
  6. Stirring constantly, bring to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, and boil hard for one minute.
  7. Skim off any foam and remove from heat.
  8. Test for gel by placing a small spoonful of jelly on a saucer that has been placed in the freezer. Let the jelly cool, then run your finger through the puddle—if it is the texture of jelly, you are ready to can! If it is still too thin, continue to boil hard, testing every minute until it’s the right consistency.

Wholefully Protip

If you want to make the jelly making process even simpler, you can use the Ball® freshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker! It automates everything so you get perfect jelly every time.

How do you can jelly?

To preserve apple jelly for the long-term, we follow the same waterbath canning process we do for any other jam or jelly. The first step is to prepare your canner, jars, and lids like we explain to do in our canning guide. Then, once your jelly is ready:

A collage showing four steps to canning.

  1. Fill clean and hot jars with the hot jelly.
  2. Check the headspace—you’re looking for 1/4” with jelly—adjusting if necessary.
  3. Wipe the rim of the jar with a wet cloth, then fit on the lid and ring until it’s just fingertip tight. Do not overtighten.
  4. Place jars in the hot water bath canner. Bring to a rolling boil, and process the jars for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and let the jars cool for five minutes in the canner before removing and placing somewhere to cool for 24 hours.

Wholefully Protip

It is important to wipe the upper rim of the jar before placing the lid on, because any jelly residue between the jar rim and the lid can cause it not to seal properly.

A hand holding a jar of canned apple jelly.
After the jars are finished cooling, check for a seal by pressing down on the lid—if it doesn’t flex, you have a good seal and you can label and store your jars in a cool, dark spot. If it flexes, the jar hasn’t sealed, and you can place the jar in the fridge and eat it within 6-8 weeks.

Can I use homemade apple juice or apple cider for apple jelly?

For the utmost safety, we recommend using store-bought apple juice for this apple jelly recipe, because it has a consistent acidity level that has been tested as safe for waterbath canning. Different apple varieties have different acidity levels, and it’s hard to guarantee a safe product with homemade apple juice or cider.
Pouring apple juice into a four-cup, glass measuring cup.

Why is my apple jelly not setting?

Thankfully, apple jelly is one of the easiest fruit jellies to get to set because apples are naturally high in pectin, so that plus adding Ball® RealFruit Classic Pectin makes it nearly foolproof. But if you are having issues with getting it to set, here are some reasons why your jelly might be liquid-y still:

  • You are trying to make too much jelly at once. Pectin-thickened recipes can be multiplied up to a certain point. When using Ball® RealFruit Classic Pectin, it is recommended to not exceed 10 half-pint jars per batch of jelly (that would be three times the recipe below). If you do want to make larger batches, do it in two separate pots.
  • Your pectin is out-of-date. While pectin does have a long shelf life, it does eventually expire because the gelling quality decreases substantially.
  • You didn’t bring the jelly to a full rolling boil. After you add the sugar while cooking your jelly, it needs to come to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. This can take awhile sometimes!
  • You didn’t boil the jelly long enough to activate the pectin. We recommend doing the gel stage test we describe above to make sure your jelly is done cooking.

Three Ball pint-sized jars filled with finished apple jelly.

What are the best jars for canning apple jelly?

You can’t beat a good jelly jar for jelly! In these photos we’re using Ball® Half-Pint Regular Mouth Smooth Sided Jars because they let the light shine through the clear jelly so beautifully!

These smooth-sided jars are the perfect jars for gifting beautiful jams—especially if you want to create your own labels for sticking on the side of the jar. I’ve also used Ball® 4 Ounce Quilted Crystal Jelly Jars in the past for jelly and jam samplers for gifting. They are the perfect size to slather jam on a few pieces of toast, and they look adorable packaged with a few different flavors together!

Wholefully Protip

Smooth-sided jelly jars are the perfect choice if you want to adhere your own labels to the jars.

Three pint-sized jars of apple jelly stacked next to a fresh apple.

What is apple jelly used for?

With its mild flavor, apple jelly is one of the more versatile jams or jellies you can have stashed in your kitchen! Here are some of our favorite ways to use it:

  • On toast, biscuits, and English muffins. Of course!
  • Spread onto pancakes or waffles.
  • Swirled into a bowl of yogurt or oatmeal.
  • As a condiment for cooked ham.
  • In the best ever PB&J using our sandwich bread recipe!
  • As a glaze for pork chops or chicken.
  • On a cheese board—it’s especially good with some really sharp cheddar!
  • As a filling in cakes or cupcakes.
  • Mixed into a cocktail to add flavor and sweetness.
  • As a filling in jam cookies.
  • And so, so much more!

You’ll be amazed at how many ways you find to use up your apple jelly once you have some on hand. Happy jelly making!

Close-up of a canned jar of apple jelly next to a fresh apple.

4-Ingredient Apple Jelly Recipe

Yield: 4 (8 oz) half pint jars
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

With just four ingredients, this Apple Jelly recipe is a breeze to make! You can waterbath can it to preserve it for many months of delicious use.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 4 tablespoons Ball® RealFruit™ Classic Pectin
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • 3 1/3 cups granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Prepare canner, jars, and lids.
  2. In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, place apple juice. Whisk in pectin until dissolved. Stir in the butter.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.
  4. Quickly pour hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4" (0.5cm) headspace. Wipe rims. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
  5. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.
YouTube video
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 64 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 46Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 12gProtein: 0g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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19 Comments

  1. I found this amount of pectin made my jelly way too thick.
    I am wondering if this is because I used home made juice from the apples I harvested?
    I am making a second batch and will reduce the pectin down to 1/3.
    Here is hoping that works out better,

    1. Hi renate! Please keep in mind that for the utmost safety, we recommend using store-bought apple juice for this apple jelly recipe, because it has a consistent acidity level that has been tested as safe for waterbath canning. Since you used a homemade apple juice, you’ll want to stash your jelly in the fridge or freezer to ensure safety!

  2. Hi Cassie, would you be able to use cranberry juice in place of apple juice in this canning recipe? Thanks

    1. Hi Steve! This recipe is only tested with these ingredients. You’ll need to find a recipe that’s specifically tested for cranberry juice if that’s what you’d like to make.

  3. looks amazing. just wondering why you cannot use store bought apple cider. its says 100% from concentrate and I do not see any sugar listed in the ingredients. I thought I had picked up juice, but it was spiced cider..thx

    1. Hi Marie! It has to do with the acidity level and canning safety. Store-bought juice has a consistent acidity level that’s been tested as safe for waterbath canning. We don’t recommend other products because they haven’t been tested in this recipe. If you’d like to make apple jelly using apple cider, we recommend finding a recipe specifically developed and tested for waterbath canning with apple cider.

    1. Hi Elizabeth! You can find this answer in the post under the section “Can I use homemade apple juice or apple cider to make apple jelly?” Here’s what it says to save you from searching:

      “For the utmost safety, we recommend using store-bought apple juice for this apple jelly recipe, because it has a consistent acidity level that has been tested as safe for waterbath canning. Different apple varieties have different acidity levels, and it’s hard to guarantee a safe product with homemade apple juice or cider.”

  4. I can’t find powdered pectin, only the liquid. Can I substitute the same amounts and make it work? Thx

    1. Hi Julie! We can’t recommend making ingredient adjustments on any of our recipes from the makers of Ball Home Canning Products. Sorry!

  5. My jelly didn’t set – Do you know what might have happened? I followed all the directions… I’m sad that I put in all this work and it failed.

    1. Hi, Allan! We’re so sorry to hear that your jelly didn’t set! There’s a section in the post above entitled, “Why is my apple jelly not setting?” that you should give a read to see if any of those things might be your issue. It’s hard for us to say for sure without more info, but that’s a good place to go to start figuring out what happened. I’ll summarize the points below, but definitely check out the post for the full info:

      -You may have been trying to make too much jelly at once;
      -Your pectin might be out of date;
      -You may not have boiled the jelly long enough to activate the pectin.

      I hope this helps!

  6. Could you please give me the name of a good apple juice to use in making the jelly? thank you so much.
    Mary\

    1. Hi, Mary! Any store-bought apple juice will work in this recipe as long as it’s unsweetened and not apple cider. So whatever brand of unsweetened apple juice your store carries should be great. Happy jelly-making!

    2. I would get an apple juice that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup. I can’t find an apple jelly without it.