Warm up with a comforting homemade apple cider! Learn how to make mulled apple cider on the stovetop and in the slow cooker. This easy apple cider recipe includes useful tips for choosing mulling spices and for making alcoholic spiked mulled apple cider. Tasty spiced cider is the quintessential fall drink and a great autumn beverage for a crowd.
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Homemade hot mulled apple cider recipe
If I had to pick one fall drink recipe other than pumpkin spice latte, it would be mulled apple cider. Fruity, sweet, a little tangy, spiced hot apple cider, simmered to perfection and full of rich autumn flavours. Since I’ve been sharing healthy apple recipes all week long – just see this applesauce cake or my apple pie bars – I figured it was time for an easy apple cider recipe, too.
And this mulled cider recipe couldn’t be any easier. All you need is about 5 minutes prep and few simple ingredients: apple cider, fresh oranges, cinnamon sticks and some other mulling spices. I’ll also share a few alcoholic apple cider ideas and show how to make mulled cider from apple juice. There’s one secret ingredient that’ll make your homemade apple cider irresistible. You don’t want to miss this!
What is mulled apple cider?
Homemade apple cider is wonderfully fragrant and full of your favourite fall flavours. But what does it mean to mull cider? A mulled drink is made by infusing cinnamon, cloves, and other spices into a beverage, like apple cider, wassail, or mulled wine. Slowly simmering the spices releases their rich aroma and gives this mulled cider recipe character and flavour.
And in case you’re wondering, this easy homemade mulled apple cider recipe is vegan, naturally gluten-free, paleo-friendly and made without refined sugar. In fact, the cider recipe has no sugar added at all.
Apple juice vs apple cider – What is the difference between apple cider and apple juice?
I’m a visual person, so I let me show you the difference between apple juice and apple cider in this photo:
Apple cider is an unsweetened, unfiltered, non-alcoholic apple drink that is opaque or cloudy in colour and still contains some fruit pulp. On the other hand, apple juice is an apple beverage, which has been heated and filtered, giving it a clear, darker colour and sweeter taste.
The term hard apple cider describes an alcoholic apple drink made from fermented apple juice. Anyway, let’s move on to make a batch of delicious homemade apple cider with spices.
Easy apple cider recipe ingredients
This hot mulled apple cider recipe has plenty of autumn aromas blending together, the perfect fall drink! Alright, let’s look at the ingredients list for our homemade hot apple cider:
- apple cider – While you can make apple cider from scratch by slowly cooking fresh apples for a couple of hours, it’s quicker and much simpler to use pre-made apple cider. A high-quality unsweetened, unfiltered apple cider will give you the best apple cider. Cider from apple juice is also an option, and I share a few tips below.
- citrus fruit – Fresh orange slices increase the fruitiness and round out the flavour of the other mulled cider ingredients. If your apple cider is very sweet, you can also throw a few lemon wedges into the mix. And instead of whole oranges or lemons, the easy apple cider recipe can also be made with lemon or orange peel.
- other fruit – If you want to experiment with the traditional apple cider recipe, make the apple drink with fresh cranberries, raisins or other dried fruit.
Now that we know the basic ingredients for homemade mulled apple cider, let’s talk about apple cider spices!
Mulling spices for apple cider
What spices go in mulled apple cider? To create depth and richness, use a mix of different spices. The combination of spices can vary, but usually includes cinnamon sticks, anise stars and cloves. Here are a few ideas for mulling spices for apple cider:
- cinnamon sticks
- anise stars
- allspice berries
- bay leaves
- cardamom pods
- fresh ginger slices
- vanilla bean
- ground nutmeg
Ground nutmeg provides extra warmth, while fresh ginger slices add more tang. I love cardamom in mulled apple cider as the spice pairs perfectly with the fruits and creates a complex aroma. Bay leaves and peppercorns are great additions when you plan to make an alcoholic apple cider recipe.
Mulled cider with spice mix
By the way, you don’t have to use whole spices. Ground spice mixes work just as great, for example, homemade apple pie spice or my pumpkin pie spice recipe. Alternatively, use this pre-mixed apple spice or pumpkin spice blend. Add 1 tablespoon spice mix for a light spiced apple cider or 2 tablespoons for a strongly flavoured hot apple cider.
How to make mulled apple cider?
Hot spiced apple cider can be made in different ways. You can go the classic route and cook a stovetop apple cider, or make slow cooker mulled apple cider. Both methods are really simple and take just a few minutes prep. A lovely side effect is that your home will smell amazing, too.
Stovetop apple cider recipe
This truly is an easy apple cider recipe: all you have to do is adding apple cider, mulling spices and a few slices fresh orange to a heave-bottom saucepan or a Dutch oven. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let the cider simmer 30 minutes. And there you have it, quick spiced hot apple cider.
You can find the step-by-step mulled cider recipe in the recipe box at the end of the post.
Crock pot/Slow cooker apple cider recipe
A crock pot or slow cooker mulled apple cider is great for how to serve hot apple cider at a party and to cater for a crowd. The slow cooker/crock pot keeps the cider warm and delicious all night. Put a ladle into the pot so that your guests can help themselves to this easy apple cider recipe.
Again, the instructions for how to make mulled apple cider in a slow cooker or crock pot are in the recipe box below.
How to make apple cider from apple juice
Yes, you can make apple cider with apple juice. Creating mulled cider from apple juice is an excellent option if you don’t have access to apple cider. Apple cider isn’t available everywhere and sometimes only sold as a seasonal product. Simply substitute apple cider with the same amount of apple juice. Again, it’s best to use a good-quality, unsweetened juice.
I already mentioned a secret ingredient to make apple cider from apple juice even better: applesauce! By adding applesauce, you’re giving apple juice cider the same “texture” as real apple cider. When you make apple cider from scratch, you’ll end up with a cider that is thicker than regular apple juice because homemade apple cider has still some pulp left.
1/2 cup / 125 g / 4.4 oz applesauce is enough for the recipe.
How to sweeten spiced apple cider
Apple cider can be quite sweet. So, it’s best to cook the cider first and do a taste test before adding a sweetener. Otherwise, you may think my apple cider is too sweet! 1/4 cup / 50 g / 1.8 oz maple syrup, maple sugar or coconut sugar are natural ways to sweeten apple cider. Brown sugar or regular granulated sugar are fine as well.
Maple syrup can simply be stirred into the cider. If using a granulated sweetener, let the cider simmer a little longer, until the sugar has dissolved.
How to make spiked apple cider – Alcoholic apple cider
What goes with apple cider? I don’t drink alcohol and prefer nonalcoholic apple cider, but I know many people who enjoy spiked apple cider recipes. So, here are a few suggestions on how to spike apple cider.
For a tasty alcoholic cider recipe, add brandy, apple brandy, calvados, rum, or spiced rum to this easy apple cider recipe. The fruity apple flavour would also pair well with rye whiskey, bourbon, and tequila.
To make a spiked mulled apple cider, start with 1/2 cup / 120 ml / 4 fl oz alcohol of choice. You can always add more and adjust the alcoholic mulled cider to your taste.
Do you drink spiced apple cider hot or cold?
Both! Traditionally, mulled cider is served hot, but you can enjoy cold mulled apple cider, too.
How long can you keep mulled cider?
Leftover mulled cider can be stored in an airtight bottle in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Can mulled cider be reheated?
Yes, mulled cider can be reheated. Reheat apple cider in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium-high flame until boiling. Take off the heat and wait until cool enough to drink.
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