Cinnamon? Check. Warm, sweet apple flavor? Check. Apple butter is a bit like condensed apple pie–or possibly a smooth, spreadable version of sweet mulled cider. You can spread it on just about anything, from buttered toast to biscuits to waffles. It’s an Appalachian staple. And although it might not be the king of comfort foods (hellooo, cinnamon rolls!), it occupies a permanent and necessary place on the down-home Smoky Mountain comfort food menu.
Traditionally, apple butter is made by slow-cooking apples past the point of being apple sauce; it is denser, smoother, and sweeter than its saucy counterpart. It usually features cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and sometimes other spices, along with a bit of brown sugar. Here’s where to go to find the best apple butter Asheville has to offer. Your taste buds will thank you.
Stop by the Moose Cafe at the Asheville Farmer’s Market for an array of jams, preserves, and dishes prepared with locally-grown fruits and veggies from the Asheville area. Expect Southern-style comfort foods, large portion sizes, and a casual café vibe complete with its own little storefront. More to the point: you’ll find excellent house-made apple butter here, both on the menu and on the storefront shelves. The chicken and waffles here are not to be missed, and service is consistently excellent. You might come for the apple butter and then keep coming back to try out more of their breakfast, lunch, or dinner entrées.
Early Girl Eatery
Early Girl Eatery is a true farm-to-table restaurant with three different locations in Asheville. A local favorite for a reason, here you’ll find seasonally appropriate dishes featuring locally sourced, organic, fresh ingredients whenever possible. Try an Irish Apple Pie drink if you stop in for dinner; this unique cocktail features Jameson Whiskey, local apple butter, and apple juice, served shaken on the rocks. The atmosphere here is a slightly elevated casual–an ideal stop for thoughtful, local cuisine.
Looking for another farm-to-table eatery in Asheville that happens to serve up mouthwatering apple butter? Look no further. HomeGrown is a hole-in-the-wall cafe with a laid-back, artsy vibe, outdoor patio seating, and a menu that varies by the season. They live up to their claims to offer “slow food right quick!” and are a popular favorite among locals and visitors alike. HomeGrown has two different locations in Asheville: one on Merrimon Avenue, and one in North Asheville. Both offer fresh, local favorites that’ll keep you coming back for more. This is one spot where you’ll need to ask if they have apple butter when you visit; if they do, it will be fresh, house-made, and absolutely incredible.
Have a hankering for a clean, grass-fed burger? Farm Burger is your place. Located on Patton Avenue in downtown Asheville, this is a great stop after an afternoon of shopping or wandering in the city center. Expect upscale burgers here, where the chefs manage to put together unique flavor combinations that manage to win every time. Everything is locally sourced whenever possible, right down to the aged white cheddar on their original cheeseburger. Build your own favorite burger, or opt for a vegan or chicken burger instead; everything is fresh, hot, and delicious. No matter what burger you order, definitely try the sweet potato hushpuppies with apple butter on the side.
Biscuit Head is a Southern chain with locations in West Asheville and the Biltmore area. BiscuitHead prides itself on biscuits with every topping and accouterment imaginable. They offer to “put some south in your mouth,” and they do their job well. Stop by for biscuits and gravy, fried chicken and biscuits, biscuit sandwiches, and an array of gravy options from espresso red eye gravy to sweet potato and coconut gravy. BiscuitHead often has house-made apple butter available. If you have room on your plate, definitely ask if they have any in stock when you stop by.
Want a more from scratch-in-your-own-kitchen experience? If you’re heading to Asheville in the autumn, you could always check out local orchards to pick your own apples and cook down your own apple butter once you get home. Apple butter isn’t tough to make; it just takes time. Or just stop by one of Asheville’s many boutique shops to grab a jar of apple butter to take home. It’s not hard to find excellent apple butter in this neck of the woods, though recipes do vary widely. You might have to taste a few to find your favorite–a worthy task for an Asheville vacation.