Here’s how to make mulled cider in your Crock Pot or Instant Pot! This slow cooker apple cider simmers mulling spices to make the world’s most cozy drink.

Slow cooker apple cider

Is there anything better than the aroma of cinnamon and cloves wafting through your kitchen? When we made this slow cooker apple cider, I asked Alex that exact question. (Then I went down a rabbit hole: is it a cultural or universal feeling? Do all humans feel the cozy I feel when they smell this?) Whatever the case, this mulled cider is the way to cultivate warmth and community in the bitter cold months. This recipe is easy to make and you can use either a slow cooker or an Instant Pot (pressure cooker)!

Tip: Make leftovers into an Apple Cider Slushie!

Mulled cider spices

Use whole spices: for flavor and look!

This slow cooker apple cider recipe is made with real, whole spices that infuse a cozy flavor throughout the entire drink. Tasting the cider before the cooking process, it’s crisp and apple-y. Tasting afterwards, it’s warm and nuanced. These dry mulling spices give big flavor. You’ll use the whole versions of these spices, not ground. Here are the spices you need:

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Whole cloves
  • Whole allspice berries
  • Whole nutmeg
  • Whole star anise

The star anise is the most unique of all these spices: and the most beautiful! It’s star-shaped and should be available at most grocery stores. You can also buy star anise online.

Slow cooker apple cider

Slow cooker apple cider works in the Instant Pot?

Did you know that an Instant Pot has a slow cooker setting? I actually had no idea, but of course Alex already knew that! The two of us actually got rid of our slow cooker and rice cooker in favor of an Instant Pot. So we were glad to know that we could use our Instant Pot to make this recipe, too!

For this slow cooker apple cider, you’ll simply cook the spices and cider on Low for 3 hours. The Low setting on a Crock Pot / slow cooker corresponds to the Normal “Slow Cooker” setting on the Instant Pot / pressure cooker. So, you’ll follow the recipe using this setting!

Slow cooker apple cider

Should I toast the spices beforehand?

The first step in this slow cooker apple cider recipe is optional, but we highly recommend it! Toasting the spices prior to adding them to the cider helps to bring out the flavor even more. Because there’s no Saute function on a slow cooker, we suggest doing this in a skillet for 2 to 3 minutes, then popping the spices into the slow cooker. (Of course, you could use the Instant Pot Saute feature if you’d like if you’re using a pressure cooker…up to you!)

How to make it spiked slow cooker apple cider!

Um, yes! If you drink alcohol, adding a hint of rum to this slow cooker apple cider is 100% recommended. It adds an even warmer roundness to the recipe. The quantity we’ve specified below is very modest, so you’ll only have a warming hint of it in each sip.

If you’re serving a crowd of people, you might want to allow guests to add their own rum! The quantity below equates to only ½ tablespoon (1 ½ teaspoons) rum per glass: so basically a small swig!

Slow cooker apple cider

The last step: a beautiful garnish

While Alex and I were testing this recipe, we tried a version where you cook the apple cider with fruit. After the cook time, the fruit had all sunk to the bottom and was no longer a beautiful vibrant color. It also didn’t add a lot to the flavor. So we decided to use it as a garnish. Here we’ve used sliced oranges and whole cranberries to make it look lovely for serving. This is great for entertaining! If you don’t want to use a garnish, you absolutely don’t have to: it tastes great either way!

What kind of Instant Pot do you use?

All pressure cooker brands vary! Here’s the brand we use: an Instant Pot 6 Qt Programmable Pressure Cooker. It’s perfect for this apple cider recipe: and fits a doubled recipe if you’re serving a crowd! (A doubled recipe also fits in a slow cooker.)

OK, ready to taste it? Let’s get slow cooking! This one’s great for Thanksgiving or Christmas!

This slow cooker apple cider recipe is…

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

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Mulled cider

Slow Cooker Apple Cider

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


Here’s how to make mulled cider in your Crock Pot or Instant Pot! This slow cooker apple cider simmers mulling spices to make the world’s most cozy drink.


  • ½ gallon apple cider*
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 10 allspice berries
  • 10 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ cup rum, optional
  • 1 small orange, for garnish
  • Whole cranberries, for garnish


  1. Optional: Add the nutmeg, allspice, cloves, star anise and cinnamon to a small skillet. Toast over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.
  2. Place the apple cider in the slow cooker or Instant Pot (pressure cooker) with the spices. Cook on low for 3 hours OR Normal using the Instant Pot “Slow Cooker” setting.
  3. If using, stir in the rum. Garnish with orange slices and cranberries, then serve.


*Doubles easily, and fits into a standard slow cooker or Instant Pot.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Slow Cooker Apple Cider, Instant Pot Apple Cider

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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