Hot Apple Cider

The epitome of cozy winter and fall drinks, hot apple cider is seriously easy to make at home! Here’s how to make spiced cider on the stove.

Hot apple cider

If there’s any winter or fall drink that makes the cold better, it’s hot apple cider. It makes your kitchen smell amazing. It has the power to gather people, cupping their hands around the warm mugs. The aroma can lift you out of the winter blues, and it makes any holiday party (Thanksgiving or Christmas) that much cozier. Hold it around a fire, and you’ll feel like you can move mountains. Here’s an easy recipe for how to make hot apple cider on the stovetop! It only takes 1 hour and it’s totally hands off.

Got a slow cooker or Instant Pot? Try our Slow Cooker Apple Cider.

Hot apple cider

Secrets to the best hot apple cider

Is hot apple cider as easy as warming apple cider on the stove? Yes and no. The secret to this recipe is in the spices. You’ll simmer the cider with whole spices to get an incredible warm flavor. Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Toast whole spices before simmering. Use our blend of whole mulling spices (below) and toast them for a few minutes before adding the apple cider. Toasting the spices helps to release even more of their flavor (plus the kitchen will smell amazing).
  • Warm for 1 hour: don’t simmer or boil! Then you’ll add the apple cider and warm on very low heat. You can have very small bubbles, but don’t simmer and certainly don’t boil! Simmering or boiling reduces the liquid, so you’d have less overall at the end. The point here is to infuse the apple cider with spices: not to reduce it.
  • Strain off particulate, or stir to re-incorporate. Through the cook time, you’ll notice that particulate starts to gather on top of the cider. This is normal: in most jugs of apple cider you’ll buy at the store you’ll see particulate floating in the bottom. You can skim this part off after cooking: or just stir it to re-incorporate it into the cider.
Mulled cider spices

What whole spices do I need?

This hot apple cider recipe is made with whole spices that infuse a cozy flavor. The flavor of cider before cooking is crisp and apple-y. But when you taste afterwards, it’s warm and nuanced. The mulling spices give big flavor. Use the whole versions of these spices, not ground. Here are the spices you need:

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Nutmeg
  • Allspice berries
  • Cloves
  • Star anise

Star anise is the most unique of all these spices: you may not have cooked with it before. It’s star-shaped and should be available at most grocery stores. You can also buy star anise online.

Hot apple cider

To garnish or not? Stepping up this hot apple cider

Alex and I have tested making this hot apple cider by simmering it with fruit. Not only does the fruit not add a ton of flavor, but the color fades and it floats to the bottom. For this reason, garnish the cider at the end so that it keeps it’s color and floats on top! We used sliced orange, which also adds a subtle citrus note. Whole cranberries add no flavor at all, but just look pretty. Some other ideas for a garnish: rosemary sprigs, diced apple, or sliced lemon.

You absolutely don’t need to garnish this apple cider at all! Once you’re done warming the cider and spices for 1 hour, you can drink it immediately. However, adding the garnish takes it over the top and makes it look vibrant and beautiful!

Hot apple cider

Make it spiked hot apple cider!

Adding a hint of rum to this hot apple cider is seriously good! Alex and I recommend it because it adds a nice subtle warmth and round flavor to the drink. The quantity we’ve specified below is very modest, so you’ll only have a warming hint of it in each sip. Of if you’d like a stronger rum taste, go to Spiked Apple Cider.

Entertaining tip: If you’re serving a crowd of people, let guests to add their own rum! The quantity below equates to only 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) rum per glass: so all you need is a small swig!

This hot cider recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, plant-based, vegan, and dairy-free.

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Mulled cider

Hot Apple Cider


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x

Description

The epitome of cozy winter and fall drinks, hot apple cider is seriously easy to make at home! Here’s how to make spiced cider on the stove.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 10 allspice berries
  • 10 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 gallon apple cider*
  • 1/4 cup rum, optional
  • 1 small orange, for garnish
  • Whole cranberries, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Add the nutmeg, allspice, cloves, star anise and cinnamon to the bottom of a pot. Toast over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.
  2. Turn the heat to low. Pour in the apple cider and bring to below a simmer, just barely bubbling. Warm for 1 hour on low heat (don’t let it simmer). Skim off any particulate if desired, or stir to re-incorporate it.
  3. If using, stir in the rum. Garnish with orange slices and cranberries, then serve.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Hot Apple Cider

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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