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Hot Mulled Apple Cider Recipe

This hot mulled apple cider is the ultimate comfort drink for dark and cold evenings. It has the perfect flavor balance of apples and mulling spices and is slightly sweetened with raisins.

This spiced hot drink makes a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving and Christmas parties and is sure to impress your guests.

It’s also a fun DIY project for a cold-weather weekend.

Hot apple cider in a pot. Garnished with orange and apple slices and cinnamon sticks.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Here are four reasons why this recipe is a keeper:

  • Perfect for using up extra apples. If you happen to have lots of apples from an apple tree or have an abundance of inexpensive local apples from a grocery store or farmer’s market – this mulled cider recipe is here to help. 
  • Delicious and comforting.  On a chilly evening, cozy up on the couch with a cup of this hot mulled cider. 
  • Much better than the store-bought kind. Try this homemade hot apple cider once, and you will never reach for those hot apple cider packets.
  • Perfect for meal prep. You can make a big batch on the weekend and enjoy it for a few days.

Hot apple cider in glasses. Garnished with cinnamon sticks.

Ingredient Notes

Here is an overview of the ingredients you will need to make mulled apple cider from scratch:

  • Apples – You can use any apples to make hot apple cider. You can use apples of the same variety or mix different types of apples. The best part about this recipe is that you don’t need perfect apples to make it. Apples that are bruised or starting to dry out are perfectly fine.
  • Raisins – Traditionally, hot apple cider is made with white or brown sugar. Maple syrup is also used very often to make the drink a little healthier. Inspired by Scandinavian Christmas drinks, I decided to sweeten this hot apple cider with raisins. They add a subtle fruity flavor and are a healthy way to sweeten this drink.
  • Orange – Orange is another main ingredient in hot mulled apple cider. It adds a wonderful aroma to the drink, which makes it quite festive.
  • Spices – Spices used for homemade hot apple cider are called mulling spices and include the popular fall and winter warming spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, and anise. The best part is that you can totally adjust the amount of mulling spices you add to the drink to make sure it tastes just the way you like it.
  • My secret ingredients – My secret ingredients (which are not so secret anymore!) are apple cider vinegar and molasses. Apple cider vinegar adds just a touch of acidity to balance out the sweetness of the drink. And molasses makes the flavor deeper and richer.
  • Garnish – The most popular garnishes for hot apple cider are sliced apple, orange, lime, and/or lemon. You can also add more spices, such as cinnamon sticks, anise stars, or whole cloves. Garnish not only makes the drink look very pretty but also adds another dimension to the flavor of this drink.

How to Make Hot Mulled Apple Cider

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make hot apple cider from fresh apples:

Step 1. Prep the Apples.

Fill up a large pot with 12 cups of water. Put the pot on the stove and turn on the heat.

To prepare the apples for cooking, thoroughly wash them under hot running water. Apples from grocery stores are often covered with wax. We don’t really want any wax in the hot apple cider so it’s better to remove it as much as possible before starting to cook them.

Once the apples are washed, cut them into quarters or, if your apples are very large, cut each apple into 5 or 6 pieces.

Make sure to remove the core as the apples are going to be cooked for a long time and the apple seeds might add some bitterness to the drink.

Sliced apples on a wooden cutting board.

Step 2. Add the Apples, Raisins, and Spices to the Pot.

Place the cut and cored apple pieces into the pot.

Add the raisins, whole cloves, anise star, cinnamon stick, allspice, and ground nutmeg. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for one hour at a low boil.

Also, make sure to keep the lid on at all times; otherwise, a lot of liquid will evaporate.

Sliced apples, raisins, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and water in a pot. Top view.

Step 3. Prep the Orange.

Prepare the orange by thoroughly washing it under hot running water. If you bought a non-organic orange, it’s most likely also covered in wax. Since you are going to use the skin of the orange, you have to wash it very well and possibly scrab it to remove as much wax as possible.

Zest the orange using a microplane zester. Make sure to avoid any of the white pith because it can make your hot apple cider bitter.

Once you are done zesting the orange, press out the orange juice.

Zested orange on a wooden cutting board.

Step 4. Mash the Apples and Add the Orange Juice and Zest.

After one hour of cooking, open the lid and slightly mash the apples with a potato masher. No need to make apple puree. Just make sure that the apples are slightly broken apart.

Add the orange juice and orange zest. Bring the apple cider to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and continue simmering for one more hour.

Cooked apples and cinnamon sticks in a pot.

Step 5. Turn off the Heat.

After two hours of cooking the cider, turn off the heat and let it cool.

You can leave it either until it’s cool enough to handle or until it’s completely cold. You can even leave it overnight.

Cooked hot apple cider in a pot.

Step 6. Strain the Cider.

Although it takes about 2 hours to cook the hot apple cider from scratch, it’s mostly hands-off. The cider will slowly simmer in the background while you are doing other things. Straining the cider, on the other hand, might become a bit messy and time-consuming.

However, if you follow these 4 easy steps, it will take you only about 5 minutes to strain it:

What You’ll Need to Strain the Hot Apple Cider:

  • a slotted spoon;
  • 2 mesh strainers (you can also do it with one strainer, but it will take longer). One of the strainers should be medium or large in diameter;
  • 2 bowls or pots;
  • cheesecloth.

How to Quickly Strain the Cider:

  1. Prepare the mesh strainers by placing them over bowls or pots.
  2. Cover the bigger strainer with cheesecloth. With a slotted spoon, remove the apples, raisins, and spices from the pot and place them into the strainer. Remove as much as you can and leave it to drain a bit.
  3. Then press the cheesecloth to squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible.
  4. Cover the second strainer with cheesecloth. Pour the apple cider through the strainer to filter out the little bits. Press the cheesecloth to squeeze out the liquid. Combine the liquid from both bowls.

Collage showing how to strain hot apple cider.

Step 7. Add the Apple Cider Vinegar and Molasses.

Once you have strained the cider, add the apple cider vinegar. This is my secret ingredient that adds just the right amount of acidity to the drink.

Taste the cider and add the molasses if desired.

Hot apple cider in a pot. Garnished with orange and apple slices, cinnamon sticks, and star anise.

Recipe Tips

Here are a few easy tips to help you make the best mulled apple cider:

  • Use apples that are not covered with wax because you really don’t want to have any wax in your drink. If your apples are covered in wax, make sure to wash them thoroughly under hot running water and scrub them with a vegetable brush.
  • Don’t just cut up an orange and add it to the pot. It might work out just fine when you are making hot apple cider from apple juice or unfiltered apple cider. However, when you cook an orange with skin on for a long time, it can totally ruin your hot apple cider batch because it might become bitter. That’s why I prefer to zest the orange and then juice it to make sure I fully avoid the white pith.
  • Add apple cider vinegar and molasses at the very end after the hot apple cider has been strained. I add the apple cider vinegar first, and then taste the cider and add molasses if needed. If you watch out for sugar, keep in mind that molasses adds more sugar to the drink.

Hot apple cider in glasses. Garnished with star anise, apple slices, and cinnamon sticks. Top view.

Storing and Serving

When you are ready to serve the hot spiced apple cider, reheat it on the stove and serve. If desired, add your favorite garnishes such as sliced apple, lime, orange, lemon, whole cloves, cinnamon, sticks, or star anise.

If you need to store the cider, you can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any other ways to make hot apple cider at home?

There are a couple of other ways you can make hot mulled apple cider yourself:

  • Buy fresh unfiltered apple cider or even apple juice at a grocery store and simmer it with some mulling spices. Although, I prefer unsweetened apple cider because regular apple juice might contain added sugar and is also more processed.
  • Juice apples yourself and then use the juice to prepare homemade hot spiced cider.

I think these are all great options that produce delicious hot apple drinks. Making homemade hot apple cider from fresh apples is just one way of preparing this popular fall and winter beverage.

Is making hot apple cider from scratch cheaper than preparing it from store-bought apple cider?

The answer to this question is – it depends. If you have an apple tree in your garden, then it’s definitely cheaper to make your own.

Also, you can use apples that are not in a super great condition, so making hot apple cider from scratch is a great way of using them up and reducing food waste.

I can often buy bruised or slightly damaged apples at my grocery store at very low prices. These apples are great for making hot apple cider from scratch on a budget.

Is making hot mulled apple cider from scratch time-consuming?

In my opinion, it’s not very time-consuming. The apples simmer for 2 hours, but most of this time is pretty much hands-off. You only have to check on it a few times to make sure everything looks good.

Can I Make it in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can make this recipe in a slow cooker or a Crock Pot.

Hot apple cider in a pot. Garnished with orange and apple slices, star anise, and cinnamon sticks. Top view.

Other Healthy Drinks for Cold Weather

Here are a few other hot drink recipes to try during fall and winter:

Hot Mulled Apple Cider Recipe

Hot Mulled Apple Cider Recipe

Yield: 6 portions
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Make hot spiced apple cider from scratch!  This cozy drink is perfect for the holiday season. It's a fun DIY project for a cold-weather weekend. Cooked on the stove, and you can also make it in a slow cooker. It will make your home smell amazing! This non-alcoholic apple cider can be enjoyed by the whole family.


  • 12 cups water
  • 2 pounds of apples
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 anise star
  • 6 cinnamon sticks (about 3 or 4 inches long)
  • 4 cardamom pods (or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom)
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 orange
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 - 1 Tbsp molasses (optional)

Garnish (optional):

  • 1 or 2 apples, sliced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 anise stars
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced


  1. Pour water into a large pot. Put it on the stove and turn on the heat. Wash the apples and cut each apple into 4 to 6 pieces.
  2. Place the apples, raisins, cloves, anise star, cinnamon sticks, allspice, and nutmeg into the pot with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 1 hour keeping the liquid at a very low boil.
  3. In the meantime prepare the orange by scraping off a thin layer of the orange peel (a microplane grater works best but you can use a regular grater too) and then pressing out the juice from the orange.
  4. After about one hour, open the lid and slightly mash the apples using a potato masher. No need to create apple puree, just make sure the apples are slightly broken apart. Add the orange zest and orange juice.
  5. Close the lid and continue cooking the hot apple cider for another hour. Once it finished cooking, turn off the heat and let it cool.
  6. Strain the hot apple cider. Please refer to the blog post for the step-by-step instructions on how to quickly strain it.
  7. Add the apple cider vinegar. Taste and add molasses if desired. When ready to serve, heat it up and add garnishes.


1. The drink keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days.

2. If you keep it in the fridge, you can add a cinnamon stick to further infuse it with spices.

3. This recipe makes about 10 to 11 cups of hot spiced apple cider. Make sure to keep a lid on the pot at all times when cooking to ensure the liquid doesn't evaporate too much. Also, a lot of the liquid will be in the cooked apples so make sure to squeeze them well once you remove them from the pot.

4. Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 of 6 portions.

Nutrition Information
Yield 6 portions Serving Size 1.5 cup
Amount Per Serving Calories 161.5Total Fat 5gSaturated Fat 0.1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0.4gCholesterol 0mgSodium 18.1mgCarbohydrates 39.4gFiber 1.5gSugar 32.6gProtein 0.8g

Nutrition facts provided on this website are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a qualified health care provider for personalized diet advice and make sure that each of the ingredients is allowed in your diet.

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