Warm up with a mug of hot apple cider! Mulled with citrus & spices, and warmed in the crockpot. Try spiking it with brandy for a cozy cold-weather cocktail!

Two glass mugs of hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks.

Hey, happy Friday! This week went so fast I can’t believe it.

So I’m sharing my favorite hot apple cider recipe today. But honestly, I made this last weekend and everyone loved it so much I was sure that I would be posting it at the beginning of this week, not the end! Where did the week go?

Regardless here we are, on the cusp of a beautiful fall weekend. Tonight we’re hitting a fabulous fall fest, where there will be chili and caramel apples and hayrides and a bonfire and slingshotting mini-pumpkins at targets, and The Great Pumpkin will be playing on the side of a barn.

So. much. fun.

I hope you can find something similar in your neck of the woods. And when you go, think about toting along some of this delicious and soul-warming hot apple cider in a thermal mug. It will make a really fun night even more memorable!

Hot apple cider recipe in a glass mug with cinnamon and star anise, with apples, oranges, and a crock pot in the background.

WHAT IS APPLE CIDER?

Apple cider is such a common occurrence here in PA, that I often forget that it’s not so abundant everywhere else in the world.

I have a lot of recipes here on Baking a Moment that utilize apple cider (like these apple dumplings, this apple butter, and these cider donuts) but a lot of times I get comments on those recipes asking what exactly apple cider is.

Sometimes people are thinking of hard cider, sometimes people are thinking of apple cider vinegar, but it’s neither of those things.

Apple cider is basically just apples that have been squooshed into a liquid.

They take the apples, whole, with the skins and stems and cores, press them, and collect the juice that comes out. It’s a lot like apple juice, but different because apple juice is usually filtered and clear. Whereas apple cider can be much darker and more cloudy.

The apple flavor comes through like whoa. It’s truly a fall tradition where I live; as soon as the kiddos go back to school you start to see it everywhere. I usually buy it at my regular grocery store, in the produce section. You can often find it at an apple orchard too, so if you like to take your family apple picking every year, look for it in their shop.

WHAT DOES HOT APPLE CIDER TASTE LIKE?

For this recipe, you take that yummy, seasonal apple cider and bump it up a few notches.

So you have the sweet apple flavor, along with a hint of orange, a little ginger, and some warm fall spice.

You can also add a little alcohol for a boozy kick, but that’s totally optional. There’s more on that below.

Heat everything together gently, in the crockpot or on the stovetop, and you have a drink that tastes like pure fall. It’s sweet & apple-y, with tons of cinnamon and a hint of citrus. It will warm you right down to your toes!

Overhead image of hot apple cider cocktail made in a slow cooker, with fruit and spices.

DOES HOT APPLE CIDER HAVE ALCOHOL?

I like my hot apple cider spiked with a little somethin’, but that is totally optional.

You can put in the booze, or leave it out.

If you’re serving it to kids, obviously leave it out. But if there are adults too, set the bottles up nearby and they can add a little in as they serve themselves.

HOW TO MAKE HOT APPLE CIDER

This is really easy to make. It will only take you about 5 minutes to put the whole thing together.

Pour the apple cider into your crockpot, or if you have a big pot you can keep warm on the stove that will work really well too.

Add in the booze, if you’re going that route.

Slice up an orange and throw that in, along with a nub of fresh ginger, some cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, and a couple of star anise.

If you don’t have all of these ingredients on hand, or maybe there’s one that you don’t really like, you can totally leave it out or swap it for something else. Maybe you want to use nutmeg instead of allspice, or maybe you don’t like ginger. That’s totally fine!

Now just heat everything up really slowly and gently. If you’re making this in the crockpot, set it to “keep warm” and pop the lid on. If you’re doing it on the stovetop, keep it on the lowest possible heat.

Once it’s hot and steamy, it’s ready to serve!

HOW TO SERVE HOT APPLE CIDER

When I made this for friends last weekend, it was a cold, wet day. They were coming in from a day spent at kids’ sports activities, so they were chilled to the bone. This warmed everyone right up and put us all in a great mood.

I set it up on our buffet table, in the slow cooker. It had been going all day, so the flavors of the spices had really steeped and infused into the cider.

Right nearby, have a tray of mugs or disposable coffee cups (I like this kind). Then put a ladle on a small plate, so your guests can ladle the hot toddy out for themselves.

You could even set this up like a hot apple cider bar, with garnishes for your guests to pick from. Here are some suggestions:

  • Sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • Fresh cranberries
  • Slices of fresh apple
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Honey butter
  • Different kinds of flavored liqueurs, such as Fireball, butterscotch schnapps, etc.

WHEN TO MAKE THIS

This recipe is perfect for fall, or anytime you’re feeling chilled. Drink it on a cold, drizzly night when you really need to warm up.

And it’s perfect for holidays- think about making a batch for Halloween night, or for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve.

It’s great for when you’re feeling under the weather too. The citrus will help to alkalinize the body, and the warm sweetness can really soothe a sore throat. Next time you get a cold, remember this recipe!

As long as you leave out the booze, it’s fine for kids to drink. There’s no caffeine and it’s perfectly safe to have hot apple cider while pregnant too.

HOW LONG DOES HOT APPLE CIDER LAST

You can make this in the morning and it will last well into the night. The longer it sits, the better it gets!

If you have any leftovers, just transfer them to a pitcher and keep refrigerated. They should keep for at least a week.

Spiked hot apple cider in glass mugs with apples, oranges, and cinnamon sticks in the background.

Here are a few more of my favorite hot drinks for fall and winter:


Hot Apple Cider
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 

Warm up with a mug of hot apple cider! Mulled with citrus & spices, and warmed in the crockpot. Try spiking it with brandy for a cozy cold-weather cocktail!

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: hot apple cider, hot apple cider cocktail, hot apple cider recipe, mulled cider, spiked hot apple cider
Servings: 10
Calories: 186.4 kcal
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large pot or slow cooker.

  2. Heat on the lowest possible heat (covered) until steamy, ladle into mugs, and serve.

Nutrition Facts
Hot Apple Cider
Amount Per Serving
Calories 186.4 Calories from Fat 3
% Daily Value*
Fat 0.36g1%
Saturated Fat 0.07g0%
Sodium 9.41mg0%
Potassium 211.09mg6%
Carbohydrates 27.19g9%
Fiber 1.19g5%
Sugar 22.66g25%
Protein 0.37g1%
Vitamin A 14.74IU0%
Vitamin C 5.19mg6%
Calcium 29.57mg3%
Iron 0.39mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Mulled cider in a glass mug with cinnamon, citrus, and spices, with a text overlay above reading "Hot Apple Cider."

Mulled cider in a glass mug with cinnamon, citrus, and spices, with a text overlay above reading "Hot Apple Cider."

Mulled cider in a glass mug with cinnamon, citrus, and spices, with a text overlay above reading "Hot Apple Cider."