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Hot Mulled Apple Cider Recipe

October 19, 2016

Mug of hot apple cider

Enhance the flavor of traditional apple cider by cooking it on the stove with all the flavors of fall and  then enjoy a mug of the warm beverage as the temperatures cool down this autumn.

COOK + BAKE   |   Updated July 11, 2023

Closeup of mug of cider

As the fall days grow cooler, it is time to prepare a warm beverage.

No drink says autumn more than apple cider. While it is good straight from the press, nothing can compare to the flavor of cider that has been mulled for a time on the stovetop with spices and slices of orange.

In addition to it being a cozy fall treat to drink, the cider simmering over the heat acts as a natural fall air freshener filling your home with the scents of the season.

Let me walk you through exactly how to prepare this quintessential fall beverage so that you can enjoy flavors and scents as well.

Mug of cider and apples
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Difference Between Apple Cider and Apple Juice

You many be wondering what makes apple cider more special that ordinary apple juice. While they are made from pressing the same ripe fruit, it is the processing that happens afterward that makes them different.

  • APPLE JUICE: Made of fresh apples that have been pressed, filtered, and sweetened. It has also been pasteurized and and container preservatives for a longer shelf life. It doesn't need refrigeration.

  • APPLE CIDER: Hasn't been filtered so it may contain particles and pulp leftover from the juicing process. You'll often notice this residue at the bottom of the bottle. It doesn't have preservatives and hasn't been pasteurized giving it a shorter shelf life. It has a stronger flavor and tends to be a darker, more opaque color than apple juice.

  • MULLED APPLE CIDER: Cider that has been put over heat and simmered with spices and citrus fruit for an enhanced flavor.

What You'll Need

There are only a few ingredients you'll need to brew your own mulled apple cider. Here is what you'll need to add to your shopping list:

  • apple cider - You want 100% apple cider that hasn't been watered down or filtered. This recipe uses a gallon, but feel free to cut it in half if you don't want to make that much.

  • cinnamon sticks - You can substitute 1 1/4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon if you don't have any sticks.

  • whole cloves - Adds lots of spice and heat to the drink, so you can add less if it is too much spice for your preferences.

  • orange peel - Orange compliments the sweetness of the apple. You'll want to remove the peel from one orange and cut it into about 5 strips so that it is easy to remove.

How to Make Mulled Apple Cider

  • Making mulled apple cider couldn't be any easier. You simply dump all of the ingredients into a large pan or Dutch oven and let the heat from the stove do all the work. You can also do it in the crock pot for a longer amount of time.

  • Cooking low and slow allows the fruit and spices to infuse the cider and create a super flavorful beverage.

  • You can leave the pan on to simmer uncovered longer than the time recommended in the recipe allowing it to scent your home, but know that you'll lose some of the cider to evaporation the longer it is heated.

  • When the cider is done, you'll need to pour it over a fine mesh strainer that has been set overtop a large bowl or another pan to remove the cloves, cinnamon sticks, and orange peel. Or you could try dipping the strainer down into the drink to skim the ingredients off the top. It is important that these things are removed, though, because they will continue to spice the beverage when it sits.

Tips + Suggestions


You can pour your beverage into an ordinary mug, or make it more festive by serving it with a cinnamon stick, apple or orange slices, or even star anise. Add a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle of cinnamon, if you'd like.

I love the fall drink served in these small Mason jar mugs. They seem like just the thing for drinking something fresh from the farm!


While you can certainly enjoy this drink whenever you'd like at home, it is also fun to make for a Fall or Halloween party or even after Thanksgiving dinner. People of all ages enjoy the warm beverage. And you can double the recipe for a large crowd.

You can even prepare it in advance, and then pour the apple cider into a crockpot to stay warm and so that everyone can help themselves.

If you do a lot of fall entertaining where you may want to look into getting a coffee urn for really easy serving. It holds a lot, has a convienent spout for dispensing the drink, and keeps the beverage warm. Just keep an eye on the temperature of the drink because it can get too hot when it has been on for a long time.

Set the crock pot or urn out with some dried orange slices and cinnamon sticks for garnish.


If you are lucky enough to visit a farm with fresh pressed cider (or you would like to be able to enjoy this beverage past cider season) know that you can safely freeze the cider right in the gallon jug for up to three months.

You can also freeze the finished mulled cider for the same time if you find that it makes more than you'll be able to drink before it goes bad.


While you can technically use ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and dried orange zest if that is all you have, it is best if If you use them whole.

Not only does it make it easier to remove after the drink has simmered and you won't have specks of the spices in your drink, you'll get the full depth of flavor from the whole variety.

Recipe Variations

There are a lot of additional things that you can add to this drink for even more flavor and sweetness. Here are a few ideas:

  • BROWN SUGAR OR MAPLE SYRUP - add 1/4 cup of either for extra sweetness

  • ADDITIONAL SPICES - A pinch of nutmeg, 1 1/2 teaspoons of allspice, salt to bring out more of the cider flavor....You may want to decrease the number of cinnamon sticks to so that the mixture isn't too spicy.

  • APPLE OR ORANGE SLICES - Let them float in the cider as it heats

  • CRANBERRIES - Give the fall drink a Christmas twist by tossing in a couple handfuls of fresh cranberries while it simmers.

  • USE A CROCK POT - If you'd prefer, this recipe can be made in a slow cooker on low for about 3 hours.

Mug of hot mulled apple cider


Enhance the flavor of traditional apple cider by cooking it on the stove with all the flavors of fall.

Makes 1 gallon of cider



  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 whole cloves
  • Peel from one orange, cut into about 5 strips


STEP 1: In a large pot, add all the ingredients. Bring the cider to a boil over medium heat.

STEP 2: Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 25 to 35 minutes.

STEP 3: Pour into a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl or another pan to remove the spices and orange peel.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about preparing this recipe.


You can prepare this mix in advance and keep it on hand for when the mood strikes. In an airtight jar, combine the cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and the zest off of one orange that has been dehydrated in the oven.

This can make a really thoughtful handmade gift. Consider mixing up a few bottles to pass out to friends or to give as a quick hostess gift during a fall get-together. Tie it up with a tag that explains how to use it.

The mix will keep for up to three months.


Unless you are serving a crowd, you'll likely have cider remaining that you can't drink after it has been mulled. You can store it sealed in the refrigerator for up to five days. Be sure that you've removed cloves, cinnamon sticks, and orange peel so that it doesn't get too spicy while sitting.

Reheat on the stovetop over low without boiling it or place a mug full into the microwave to warm.

Leftovers can also be frozen for up to three months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge before heating.


You should be able to find apple cider at your local farmer's markets, straight from the farm, or in the produce section of your grocery store. It typically comes in gallon and half-gallon size bottles.

I hope you will take the time to make this simple, but flavorful fall beverage and fill your home with the scents of the season!

Other Fall Recipes You Might Want to Try


OLIVE PECAN CHEESE BALL - Great for serving at your fall parties

PUMPKIN SPICE CRANBERRY MUFFINS - Perfect breakfast for the fall and Christmas seasons.


SOFT PUMPKIN COOKIES WITH BROWN BUTTER GLAZE - My all-time favorite fall cookie recipe.

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