Hot Apple Cider

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Embrace the essence of fall with every warm sip of our hot apple cider (also know as mulled apple cider). This quintessential drink, brimming with the flavors of fresh apples and aromatic spices, promises to be your cozy companion during crisp autumn evenings. It’s easy to make and can be enjoyed by all!

cinnamon sticks garnishing mulled apple cider

Hot apple cider (also known as mulled apple cider) is an absolutely delicious beverage to serve during the fall. While it can also be enjoyed any time of year, there’s something about the crisp autumn air that makes me absolutely crave cider.

In fact, in my humble opinion, one of the yummiest tastes and aromas of the season is a batch of mulled apple cider warming in a slow cooker or saucepan. Made with fragrant and flavorful seasonal spices, it’s sure to warm you up from the inside out.

After you discover the joy of putting together your own homemade mulling spices, you will really enjoy making mulled apple cider. It’s easier than you think, and the result is a warm cup of the flavors of fall!

mulled apple cider with mulling spices

Apple and cinnamon are the quintessential flavors of fall. (Be sure to check out all of my favorite apple recipes for fall.) This drink is the ideal thing to serve at parties or when you want to curl up in a blanket and read a good book (or watch a Hallmark special—I won’t judge).

I also love to brew this mulled apple cider when I have guests over because it fills my kitchen with the most amazing aromas.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Making this hot apple cider is a breeze. With just a few ingredients and minimal steps, you can create a warm and comforting drink that’ll impress your guests and delight your family.
  • Whether you’re curled up with a book on a chilly evening, hosting a festive fall gathering, or simply want to warm up after a brisk walk, this mulled apple cider is perfect for every moment.
  • Every sip captures the essence of fall with a perfect balance of spices and sweetness. Let the aroma transport you to an orchard brimming with ripe apples, and the taste remind you of golden autumn days.
  • This recipe is a great base that you can easily adapt. Want it sweeter? Add some honey. Looking for a zesty kick? Throw in a slice of orange or lemon.
how to make apple cider in a slow cooker

Ingredients

There are only a handful of simple ingredients in this classic homemade hot drink. Here’s what you need to have when you make it:

  • Apple Cider: In the fall, you can usually find gallons of it in the produce section, but I like to buy it from the local farmer’s market.
  • Mulling Spices: Either make your own (highly recommended) with this homemade mulling spices recipe or buy some pre-made mulling spices.
  • Garnishes: Dried apple slices, cinnamon sticks, star anise,
  • or dried orange peel are beautiful as garnishes.
mulled apple cider pinterest image

How to Make

I’ll walk you through the steps for making this mulled hot apple cider below. I’ve also provided a full ingredient list and detailed instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.

  1. Pour fresh apple cider in a heavy-bottom saucepan (or slow cooker) and set on medium-high heat.
  2. Place your mulling spices in a fabric bag and toss it into your pot. Stir occasionally, squeezing the bag of spices with a spoon like you would a tea bag.
ladling hot apple cider into a mug
  1. Heat the cider until it is hot and flavorful; then set the temperature on warm.
  2. Optional: Garnish the pot with apple and orange slices. Serve in a mug, garnished with a cinnamon stick.
crockpot of hot apple cider

About Mulling Spices

Mulling Spices are a blend of seasonal ingredients, such as cinnamon, clove, allspice, and orange zest. Once you have a batch of mulling spices put together, you can use it to add flavor to things like apple cider, mulled wine, and even seasonal baked dishes.

When it comes to hot apple cider, many people like to add spices for seasonal flavor and flair. That’s where mulling spices come in handy. I wrote all about mulling spices here and shared my recipe so you can make them at home.

To make mulled apple cider, you simply place the spices in the cider while it is warming up. This will give the cider a wonderful depth of flavor.

small dish of mulling spices

It’s important to note that while we want the flavor of these spices, we don’t want to actually drink them, similar to how you don’t want bits of coffee grinds in your morning brew.

There are a few different ways you can filter out the spices. First, you can add them to the cider in a fine mesh bag (how I usually do it). Or secondly, you could use a sieve over the mug when you are serving to filter out any bits of spice.

Don’t have any spices on hand? If you don’t have any at all, you can still make your hot apple cider a bit more special by just adding apple and orange slices, plus a few cinnamon sticks.

spiced cider drink for fall

How to Serve

Hot apple cider is versatile and pairs beautifully with a variety of accompaniments and presentation ideas. Here are some serving suggestions to elevate your hot apple cider experience:

  • Garnish Galore:
    • Apple Slices: Float thinly sliced apple rounds on top for a decorative touch.
    • Cinnamon Sticks: Not only does this add flavor, but it also acts as a natural stirrer.
    • Orange Slices: Add a slice or two of orange for a citrusy twist and pop of color.
    • Star Anise: This beautiful spice adds depth to the cider and looks lovely floating on top.
    • Fresh Cranberries: These add a festive touch, especially during the holidays.
  • Whipped Topping: Top off your cider with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg for a dessert-like treat.
  • Serve with Sweets: Pair your hot apple cider with sweet treats like doughnuts, apple pie, or cinnamon rolls. The combination is heavenly!
  • Cheese Pairing: It might sound unconventional, but apple cider pairs wonderfully with certain cheeses. Try serving it with slices of sharp cheddar or creamy brie.
  • Mug Choices: Use clear mugs or glass mason jars to show off the beautiful color of the cider. It not only tastes good but looks delightful too.
  • Serving Station: Set up a hot apple cider station with various toppings and add-ins. Allow guests to customize their drinks. This can be a fun interactive element for parties.

You can also turned mulled apple cider into a cocktail!

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mulled apple cider cocktails on a tray

Make it a Cocktail

When it comes time to serve the mulled cider, have bottles of a few complementary alcohols nearby such as bourbon or brandy. Then you or your guests can add whatever they’d like to turn that hot apple cider into an easy fall cocktail. This adds an exciting twist for adult gatherings. Here are some quick and delectable cocktail ideas:

  • Apple Cider Bourbon Delight: Combine 1 cup of hot apple cider with 1.5 oz. of bourbon. Add a hint of warmth and sweetness by adding a tablespoon of maple syrup, and garnish with a lemon slice.
  • Cider & Dark Rum Warm-up: For a classic pairing, mix 1 cup of hot apple cider with 1.5 oz. of dark rum. An orange slice and a sprinkle of nutmeg elevate the drink.
  • Cinnamon Apple Cocktail: Spice things up with 1 cup hot apple cider, 1 oz. cinnamon schnapps or cinnamon liqueur, and 1 oz. vodka. The spiciness of cinnamon contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the cider.
  • Apple Cider & Brandy Elixir: Deepen the apple flavor by blending 1 cup of hot apple cider with 1.5 oz. of apple brandy or Calvados. A star anise on top adds an aromatic touch.
  • Spiced Apple Cider Gin: Craft a botanical blend with 1 cup hot apple cider, 1.5 oz. gin, and a squeeze of lemon juice. A rosemary sprig garnish offers a fragrant finish.
  • Caramel Apple Toddy: Indulge your sweet tooth by mixing 1 cup hot apple cider with 1 oz. caramel vodka. A dollop of whipped cream with a caramel sauce drizzle makes it dessert in a mug.

Always adjust the alcohol content to your preference and remember to drink responsibly! These cocktail ideas can easily be the star of your next autumn or winter gathering

filling a glass mug with hot apple cider
alcohol being poured into cup of mulled cider

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions people often ask when it comes to making the best hot apple cider. If you don’t see your question in this list, please leave it in the comments.

Is hot apple cider alcoholic?

Yes and no – you can serve hot apple cider with or without alcohol. I recommend warming your fresh apple cider without adding any alcohol to it. (Warming hard cider or cider mixed with alcohol is likely to burn off some of the alcohol, which sort of defeats the purpose of it.)

What kind of alcohol goes in hot apple cider?

You can use whatever liquor you prefer. However, the most common ones for hot apple cider seem to be bourbon, brandy, spiced rum, and tequila. Personally, I like bourbon – Four Roses has become my go-to recently.

If none of those strike your fancy, I think a caramel vodka would be delightful, too!

How do you warm up apple cider?

I recommend using a heavy saucepan on the stove or a slow cooker.

If you’re looking to make plain hot apple cider, just pour the apple cider into the vessel you’ve chosen. If you’d like, you can toss in sliced apples to dress it up.

What’s in mulling spice?

These spices are a blend of seasonal ingredients, such as cinnamon, clove, allspice, and orange zest. Once you have a batch of mulling spices put together, you can use it to add flavor to things like apple cider, mulled wine, and even seasonal baked dishes.

You can grab my easy recipe for homemade mulling spices right here.

hot cider bar set up

Wrap Up

With all of that information, I think you’re ready to serve up this delicious fall beverage in whatever way YOU like it! And if you are looking for the ideal hot drink to serve at fall parties, this should be your go-to. It’s simple and tasty and makes your entire house smell like fall.

So whether you have plain hot apple cider or get spicy with mulled apple cider, enjoy a cup as we toast the beauty of autumn!

mulled cider in mugs that say forever fall
a. big pot of apple cider with orange and apple slices floating on top

More Fall Drinks You’ll Love

Whether you call it mulled apple cider or hot apple cider, I hope you give this recipe a try. If you do, please leave a comment and a 5-star rating below. 

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The BEST Hot Apple Cider / Mulled Apple Cider #mulled #hot #applecider #fall #cocktail #recipe

Hot Apple Cider

Hot Apple Cider (also known as Mulled Apple Cider) is a delicious beverage to serve during the fall. Often made with fragrant and flavorful seasonal spices, it’s sure to warm you up from the inside out.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cider, hot apple cider, mulled apple cider, mulled cider
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 145kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon fresh apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons mulling spices
  • apple slices, orange slices, and cinnamon sticks for garnish

Instructions

  • Pour fresh apple cider in a heavy-bottom saucepan (or slow cooker) and set on medium-high heat.
  • Place your mulling spices in a fabric bag and toss it into your pot. Stir occasionally, squeezing the bag of spices with a spoon like you would a tea bag.
  • Heat the cider until it is hot and flavorful; then set the temperature on warm.
  • Optional: Garnish the pot with apple and orange slices. Serve in a mug, garnished with a cinnamon stick.

Nutrition

Calories: 145kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 0.4g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 319mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 0.4mg

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11 Comments

  1. So…you must have tons of props for your photos and all of them exquisite. Would you be able to do a post on how you store and organize them? I’m thinking that in your spacious new house you must have a great place for that. Inquiring minds want to know. Thanks!

    1. That would be a great idea! However, right now things aren’t stored exactly the way they should be. Lol. I’m making progress, but stuff is still a bit scattered. I’ll definitely keep this in mind though. Thank you!!

      xo Michael