There’s nothing better on a chilly evening than getting cozy with a warm, fragrant beverage. This apple cider recipe is so simple and so fresh, you’ll wonder how you’ve gone this long without it! Making your own apple cider can save you money, let you customize the tartness or sweetness of your beverage, and have your home smelling of those sweet fall aromas for the day….and with such little work.
Homemade Apple Cider Recipe
If you have a crockpot or instant pot, the job will be easiest, but you can make it on your stovetop too. Homemade apple cider is a perfect use for all those apples you picked fresh from the orchard. Freeze a batch for fall vibes long past the season. I’ll take any chance I can get to extend those beloved, spiced, warm fall feels.
Apples- You can choose whichever varieties you want here, but I think a combination of sweet and tart gives this cider the most well-rounded flavor. For this recipe, I used gala, granny smith, and pink lady. Honeycrisp is a sure winner!
Orange- The citrus compliments the sweetness of the apples and adds a layer of complexity to the drink. You can either slice the oranges unpeeled or peeled- leaving the peel intact will lead to a slightly more tart flavor.
Mulling Spices- You can either start off with your own mulling spice mix or simply add some basic spices. I walk you through creating a mulling spice mix below, which I love making a large batch of for an array of fall-spiced drinks at my fingertips. The basic spices you’ll use for this apple cider recipe are cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and whole allspice. Optional additions are ground nutmeg and star anise.
Sweetener- There are several great options for natural sweeteners. The classic sweetener is brown sugar, but I love to use piloncillo, honey, or maple syrup in mine.
I love making my own mulling spices at the beginning of (or let’s be honest, a little before) the season. We use them for an assortment of fall-spiced beverages. I’ll double this recipe for use in our home.
Ingredients for 1 cup:
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp cardamom pods
- 3 whole nutmeg
- 3 star anise
- 2 tbsp whole cloves
- 2 tbsp whole allspice
- 3 tbsp whole peppercorns
- ¼ c dried orange peel, minced (we use our dehydrator for homemade)
- 2 tbsp crystallized ginger, minced
- Place cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, nutmeg, and star anise in a large plastic bag. Use a rolling pin or mallet to break them up. You might have to use your hands to break the cinnamon stick up further.
- Add all of your ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark location until ready to use.
You can use your mulling spices in making this delicious apple cider (maybe with a shot of whiskey) or a festive mulled wine. Use ½ cup for a gallon of apple cider or ¼ cup for 1 bottle of wine. For a non-alcoholic beverage, try warming it with pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, or pear juice. Steep the spices in hot water for a distinctive tea.
Try flavoring coffee or syrups with them or using them as potpourri in your home.
If you finely grind your spices, you can add fall spice to some of your favorite baked goods like cookies or pancakes.
This recipe really is as simple as combining the ingredients and leaving the rest to the slow cooker.
- Place prepared ingredients in your pot.
- Set slow cooker to HIGH heat.
- Wait 3 hours.
- Mash the ingredients in the pot.
- Let cook for another 2-3 hours on LOW heat.
- Taste for sweetness.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
- Enjoy warm!
No slow cooker? You can bring your pot to a gentle boil on the stovetop and then reduce to a simmer. Let the pot simmer covered for 2-4 hours, mashing the ingredients once they have softened.
My favorite thing about this recipe is of course the resulting cider, but my second favorite thing about it is the scrumptious applesauce you can make from re-purposing the apples. The only adjustments you should make to the apple cider recipe are to peel & core your apples, peel your oranges, and place all your spices in a reusable spice ball, muslin tea bag, or cheesecloth for easy removal.
When straining your cider, put the solids in a small pot. Heat them gently on the stove, use a potato masher or immersion blender to further blend everything, and add any additional spices (such as ground cinnamon) or sweeteners to your applesauce. Voilà!
This drink is best served warm, and the beauty of it is that you can leave your slow cooker on its “warm” setting until you or your guests are ready to drink!
If you’re making it to store, it will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for around a year. I love to store mine in the freezer in 32 oz mason jars (with at least a 1-inch gap above the liquid) that I can easily thaw in the refrigerator for the next evening’s drinkings for two.
For festive flair, add a cinnamon stick to your glasses or a fresh or dried orange slice to their rims.
While this drink is delightful on its own, a spike of whiskey, rum, or bourbon is sure to help ease those winter blues or perk up a holiday party.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
No, but if you plan on making applesauce out of the apple mash I would recommend it.
This is what we use for a beautifully well-rounded flavor, but you can omit those you don’t happen to have on hand or don’t enjoy. You can also buy mulling spices online or at some grocery stores.
You can choose to lessen the amount of sweetener in your cider or omit it completely. This recipe includes the amount of sweetener we enjoy in our apple cider!
More Recipes Involving Apples
Are you a huge fan of apples or apple cider vinegar? So are we.
- slow cooker or instant pot (optional)
- fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- potato masher (optional)
- 4 lbs apples assorted
- 1 orange
- ½ c sweetener brown sugar, piloncillo, honey, or maple syrup
- 9 c water
- ½ c homemade mulling spices *see blog post
- 6 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp whole cloves
- 1 tsp whole allspice
- 4 star anise optional
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg optional
- If making applesauce afterward, peel the apples and orange and core the apples. Otherwise, wash the fruits.
- Quarter the apples and orange.
- Choose whether or not you would like to use a reusable spice ball, muslin tea bag, or cheesecloth to hold your spices. Place apples, orange, spices, sweetener, and water in the slow cooker*.
- Cook on HIGH with the lid on for 3 hours.
- Use a potato masher to mash the fruit.
- Cook on LOW with the lid on for another 2-3 hours.
- Taste and add additional sweetener if desired.
- Ladle the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into another pot. Press firmly to release all the juices.
- Serve or drink immediately or return the cider to the slow cooker to keep warm until ready to drink.
- *If you don’t have a slow cooker, there are simple stovetop instructions in the blog.
- Stovetop apple cider: bring your pot to a gentle boil on the stovetop and then reduce to a simmer. Let the pot simmer covered for 2-4 hours, mashing the ingredients once they have softened.
- Store in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks in the fridge or up to a year in the freezer. Defrost in the fridge before warming back up for consumption.
- Feel free to spike it with bourbon, whiskey, or rum once it’s finished cooking.