Not only is this Hot Apple Cider recipe seriously easy, it’s also quintessentially autumn and winter. It looks cozy. It tastes cozy.
This hot apple cider, with all its wonderful spices, makes the entire house smell like a palace of coziness. (That can be a thing, right?)
This hot apple cider warms you up after an hour or two of kicking around in the fall leaves or picking out that perfect pumpkin or trick-or-treating on a perfectly frosty night when you can see your breath.
And then, basically all of December is spiced apple cider season.
I make mine one of two ways: Crock Pot hot apple cider, or stovetop. I have to say I prefer the slow cooker method over stovetop just because it’s so easy to just pour everything in, walk away, and come back in four hours to mulled cider goodness. Plus, you can just switch it over to the “warm” setting and have hot apple cider on the ready all glorious evening long. Perfect for when you have company over, when you’re busy decorating the Christmas tree, or you just want a steady stream of goodness at the ready.
Table of Contents
- Hot Apple Cider Ingredients
- How to Make Hot Apple Cider in the Crock Pot
- How to Make Hot Apple Cider on the Stovetop
- Frequently Asked Questions about this Recipe
- More Cozy Fall & Winter Drinks
- FULL, PRINTABLE RECIPE
- Reviews & comments
Hot Apple Cider Ingredients
This mulled cider is special because it takes only four whole ingredients – no special mulling spices required. We’ve got:
- Apple cider – can’t have spiced apple cider without that!
- Cinnamon sticks – because apple cider and cinnamon are BFFs.
- An orange – yep, it’s true! Trust me.
- Whole cloves – you stick them in the orange and float it in the cider.
My favorite part about this spiced apple cider recipe is, in fact, the clove-studded orange. It just looks so festive, and the tiny amount of orange juice that comes out, the oils from the peel, and the cloves impart the most wonderful, heady flavors – both into your cider and wafting about your home.
(Oh, and for the adults, you can add a perfect extra little warming factor for spiked apple cider: RUM.)
How To Make Hot Apple Cider in the Crock Pot
- Grab an orange.
- Stick some cloves in it.
- Throw it in your slow cooker along with a few cinnamon sticks and a bottle of apple cider.
- Turn it on.
- Wait four hours.
You have Hot Apple Cider! The mulled cider of your dreams. A wassail wonderland. (And your house smells wonderful, too.)
How To Make Hot Apple Cider on the Stovetop
- Grab an orange.
- Stick some cloves in it.
- Add it to a large pot set over low heat, along with a few cinnamon sticks and a bottle of apple cider.
- Cover and keep the cider just below a simmer for about 30 minutes
Hot Apple Cider Frequently Asked Questions
Is this the same thing as mulled cider or wassail?
Yes! Hot Apple Cider is so delicious, it goes by many, many names. 🙂
Why don’t you slice the orange in your recipe?
Because the pith of the orange makes for a very bitter mulled cider, I’ve found. Using a whole orange poked with cloves helps release the oils in the peel for that amazing orange flavor – without cooking the pith and making your cider bitter. If you must have sliced orange (and I agree, it does look pretty!) just use it as a garnish!
Do I peel the orange before poking in the cloves?
No, leave the peel intact. It’s those glorious oils in the peel that give it the wonderful mulled cider flavor. Slicing the orange exposes the pitch and can make the batch bitter.
If I double or triple the recipe, do I need to add more than one orange?
Nah, one orange should do it! I would add a few more cloves to the orange for oomph though.
Can I make hot apple cider beforehand then reheat when I want to serve it?
Yes, absolutely. When we do this, we either just cover the cooled Slow Cooker crock with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge or we will even pour the cooled cider back into the cider bottle to store it.
If I want to make this a spiked apple cider recipe, can I add rum or brandy before I heat it up instead of after?
Rum or brandy are delicious in this spiced cider! But please wait until AFTER you heat your cider before adding or most of your spirits will evaporate. I like to add any alcohol to the mugs when serving.
More Cozy Fall & Winter Drinks
- For a straight-up spiked situation, you can’t go wrong with Glühwein, a festive hot spiced wine with red wine, brandy, the classic clove-studded orange, and cinnamon.
- Slow Cooker Cranberry Orange Mulled Wine is so cozy and comforting. Hygge to the max!
- I love how these Slow Cooker Gingerbread Pumpkin Lattes bridge the gap between fall and Christmastime. Perfect for a crowd!
- Rosemary lends a welcome herbal note while cranberries color this Rosemary-Cranberry Mulled Cider the most gorgeous shade of pink.
- If you like your warm winter drinks caffeinated and cocktail-esque, this Amaretto Coffee should hit the spot!
Hot Apple Cider (Crock Pot or Stove Top)
- 2 quarts apple cider (64 ounces or 8 cups)
- 6 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 1 orange (medium; I prefer naval oranges and I tend to go with organic)
- 2 tablespoons whole cloves
- Rum (optional; spiced rum is especially good in this!)
- Additional cinnamon sticks for serving (optional)
Make Your Clove-Studded Orange
- With a toothpick, poke holes all around the orange, about 1/2 inch to 1 inch apart. Carefully poke the cloves into the toothpick holes in the orange. Set aside.
Hot Apple Cider in the Crock Pot
- Pour apple cider into a 2.5-quart or larger Crock Pot or other slow cooker. Add cinnamon sticks and your clove-studded orange.
- Cook on low until hot and fragrant, about 4 hours.
Hot Apple Cider on the Stovetop
- Place a 3-quart or larger pot on the stove. Add apple cider, cinnamon sticks, and your clove-studded orange.
- Cover and cook over low heat, keeping the cider just below a simmer (boiling your cider can cause the solids to cook and separate). Heat gently until spiced through, warm, and fragrant, about 30 minutes.
- Ladle into mugs along with an ounce or so of rum if using. Place a cinnamon stick in each glass if desired and serve.
- If you and yours aren't drinking it all at once, you can keep your hot spiced cider warm by flipping your slow cooker setting to low or keeping your pot on the very lowest setting on your stovetop.
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Could I use ground cloves instead? I just bought a (tiny) expensive jar of ground cloves for a carrot cake and would love to not have to buy a different ingredient. Thanks! making it for a bonfire this weekend.
Sure, just add ground cloves a pinch at a time and taste until it’s where you’re at! I’d still recommend poking holes in an orange because the orange oils add great flavor too.
I was wondering where these wonderful mugs are from? I’ve been trying to track down the perfect cider glasses for this thanksgiving. Please let me know!
Hi Christina, I think they were just Target cheapies! These are very similar:
I also have some of these from Williams-Sonoma and love them too.
I am going to try this recipe with Fireball Whiskey instead of Rum this weekend for an outdoor punk rock show. Sounds yummy!
Would the alcohol evaporate out if you put it in the crockpot for the 4 hours? Sorry if this question has already been answered, I didn’t see it though. Thanks!
Hi Brittany, yes, I add the alcohol either directly to the mugs or after the cider has heated. 🙂
Can I make this without the cloves? how will it alter the taste? I am pregnant and really have to limit my clove intake.
It’s still good without the cloves. I still recommend the orange, though, poked so the oils come out and help flavor the cider. You could opt for a few allspice thrown in there instead.
I just made this today and it’s amazing! It’s cheap too! I was able to make this for my husbands whole shop, he’s a mechanic, and it was gone within 5 minutes!
Love it! 🙂 And doesn’t it just make the whole house smell awesome?!
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Once prepared can you leave on a low temp in the slow cooker for long periods and it will stay warm and not boil?
Hi Steven, yes, that works for me! Might depend on your own slow cooker but with all of mine (Crock Pot brand) it stays just warm enough w/o boiling.
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I plan on preparing this before a client party, which will be about three hours long. Should I take the orange out if it will just be kept warm for the three hours? Will leaving the orange in over “spice” it?
No, I’ve left the orange in for hours and I think it just gets better and better. 🙂
Thank you so much! Now the four hour cooking time, is that a strict cooking time or can it be on for a little less before serving?
It can absolutely be a little less (hope my reply isn’t too late!) You can even warm it on the stovetop first if you’re in a crunch – much faster – then just keep it warm in the Crock Pot.
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Can I reuse this again for 3 days?? …if it’s not all gone, that is. ???
Yes, we store it in the fridge and reheat it all the time. But I wouldn’t go longer than three days. Sometimes we freeze extra and break it out a month or two later as well. 🙂
Can you use apple juice instead of apple cider?
Yes, juice will work, though I prefer cider!
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Does it work to cook for 4 hours the evening prior, and then re-heat it when needed? Serving it at my 10:00 a.m. garage sale and do not want to get up at 6:00 a.m.! Thanks.
Sure, I have reheated successfully. You can also make it on the stovetop and it goes much faster. Hope you have an awesome garage sale! 🙂
If I double or triple the recipe, do I really need to put 3 oranges in full of cloves or do you think less will still flavor the cider?
I tend just stick with one orange when doubling or tripling. I might add a few more cloves though. 🙂
Can brandy be cooked in crockpot along with other ingredients or does it have to be added separately to each drink?
I’d add it at the end (you can add it to the whole batch) because if you cook it the whole time most of it will evaporate, and that would be a bummer! 🙂
Can I use a pot on the stove instead of a crockpot? If so how long does it need to cook? Should it boil first?
Yes for sure! Try to keep it just below a simmer so it doesn’t evaporate. At least 30 minutes I’d say. 🙂
Could i add cranberry juice to this recipe?
Yes! That sounds delicious. 🙂
Great recipe! Thanks! It was a hit with my guests. We used Tennessee Fire and Bullet Rye 50/50 mix instead of he rum. It was really good.
Is still or sparkling cider used in this recipe? Would sparking work?
Hi Jess, I use still cider. I’m not sure how sparkling cider would work. It would definitely lose its carbonation. If you try it please report back!
I have some older cinnamon sticks. Is it okay to use those. Just not sure how long spices and specifically cinnamon sticks are good for.
I’m sure they’re fine. Maybe add a couple of extra just to make sure? Some spices do lose their oomph after awhile but I’m not sure how long cinnamon sticks will last.
Do you peel the orange first?
Acc I make this up and put it in a urn will be serving 30plus people
I made this today, and it was amazing! I wanted to ask you- can I add more orange to it?
Sure, go for it! 🙂 Sounds delicious!
Hello I have a question can you use a regular pot? Instead of a crock pot? If not is there another option?
Hi there! Making this tonight and so excited to try. I will only have about two hours to let the crockpot warm.. is this enough time for the spices? Or do you recommend simmering on stovetop first and then transferring over?
If you simmer, how long should you simmer for?
Thanks in advance!
Two hours might be pushing it, depending on how hot your Crock Pot gets on high. I’ve made on the stovetop too. I like to give it at least 30 minutes on the stove top. Be sure to keep it covered so it doesn’t evaporate away!
Do I leave the cover on the crock pot while it’s cooking ? Or cover off?
Cover on. 🙂
This recipe looks great! Can I use mandarin oranges instead of naval? Would I just use one more since they are smaller?
Sure! Yes, I’d add one or two more if it were me. Little mandarins will be so cute!
How much rum do you recommend adding?? I’ll probably leave it separate so adults and kids can enjoy.
Love this recipe
I want to make hot apple cider for new years but I can’t find a recipe that doesn’t include oranges. My friend has a citrus allergy. Do you know if there’s anything I can replace it with, a different recipe you know, or if I could leave it out?
Definitly I am going to try it !
Can I simmer over night?
It left a weird aftertaste . Had to throw away