Homemade Apple Cider (Slow Cooker)
Easy slow cooker apple cider recipe from scratch, homemade with simple ingredients. Packed with warm spices and a hint of citrus. It can be served hot or cold. Great for Winter and Thanksgiving. Also known as “Mulled Cider.”
There is no better time than Fall to enjoy this drink. Make it for a special treat for your family, or serve it to guests at Thanksgiving dinner. Also, since you use a slow cooker, the process is very easy just like my Crockpot Apple Butter. Please note that this is not a vinegar recipe. This is a beverage/ drink. It can be enjoyed as is or be used in baking and cooking. Try it in cookies, pies cakes, cupcakes, frostings. My family loves them in these Baked Apple Cider Donuts.
Table of contents
- Apples– These should be washed, cored, cut into quarters. Use a variety of apples for best flavor.
- Orange– They should be cut into big chunks and don’t remove the peel.
- Spices- I like to use the following: cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, star anise.
- Water– Filtered water is best.
- Apple juice– This should be unsweetened.
- Brown sugar– If you don’t have this on hand, make Homemade Brown Sugar quickly.
- Spiked alcoholic version– Mix in bourbon, cinnamon whiskey, brandy, dark rum, sparkling wines, or red wine. Some people even like to mix in some beer.
- Add chai tea bag– If you don’t have all the whole spices on hand, chai tea will help provide those flavors. Add 1-2 bags along with all the other fruits.
- Change up the fruits– Try adding pears, cranberries, persimmons, or pomegranates.
- Add other herbs and spices– Such as cardamom, ginger, or a pumpkin spice blend.
- Use other sweeteners- Such as honey, maple syrup or agave for a different flavor profile.
- Add caramel – Mix in some Homemade Caramel Sauce prior to serving.
- Try adding vanilla- You can use vanilla extract, vanilla bean, or even a vanilla flavored liqueur.
- Hot buttered cider- Add 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter at the end.
- Add pumpkin- Mixed in some mashed pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie seasoning.
How to make best easy apple cider from scratch in crockpot? On stovetop?
- Add ingredients in crockpot– This includes apples, orange, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, star anise, water, apple juice. Mix.
- Cook- On High heat for 3-4 hours.
- Mash and sweeten– Use a potato masher to mash the apples and oranges. Then, add brown sugar.
- Cook again– On Low heat for 1 hour.
- Strain -Through a cheesecloth into a large pot or pitcher.
- Enjoy– Pour in cups and garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks. Serve hot or cold!
- Add ingredients in large nonstick pot– his includes apples, orange, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, star anise, water, apple juice and mix everything together.
- Cover and cook– Until fruits become soft and tender.
- Mash and sweeten– Use a potato masher to mash the fruits. Then, mix in brown sugar.
- Strain -Through a cheesecloth into a large pot or pitcher.
- Enjoy– Pour in cups, garnish and dig in!
Why is my mulled cider bitter?
It may become bitter when it is boiled instead of cooked over a low heat. This is why a slow cooker works so well for making this drink. It keeps a consistent low cooking temperature to develop the perfect flavor.
Tips and Techniques
- Adjust quantities of ingredients– It’s a very forgiving versatile recipe. So, feel free to adjust spices and sweeteners to your liking.
- What liquids can be used in this recipe? You can use only water, all apple juice, or a combination of both, juice and water.
- Beware of the cooking duration– The longer it simmers, the stronger the spice flavors will become. Taste test with a spoon to determine your liking.
- Garnish options– Sliced oranges, mint leaves, fresh cranberries, or pomegranate seeds.
- Adding spices in spice bag– If you have one, feel free to use it, but it’s not necessary. A cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer works very well too.
- Toast your spices– This is not necessary, but it does add another layer of flavor. Toast your whole spices on the stovetop until they become fragrant. Make sure to stir frequently so they don’t burn.
- Don’t boil this drink– Because that will cause it to taste bitter, and can cause it to separate too.
- Add orange zest- If you really like the citrusy flavor, you can zest the skin of the orange.
- Make ahead instructions- It can be made 1-2 days in advance and stored in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
- Refrigerate- For up to 1 week.
- Freeze- For up to 1 month. Make sure to leave 1-2 inches in the top of your container because it will expand upon freezing. Thaw in the fridge overnight to serve cold, or reheat over low heat on stovetop.
Use a few or all of these: Cinnamon, Allspice, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cloves, Cardamom, Star anise. In case you have never used anise, it has a licorice flavor and adds a wonderfully unique flavor.
Fresh cider does not contain alcohol. However, it’s possible for unpasteurized cider to ferment over time (depending on storage conditions) and become alcoholic, creating hard cider.
Choose apples based on your taste preference. If you like this drink sweet, use sweet apples such as bright red apples, Fuji, Gala, or Golden Delicious. If you like this drink to be tart, use tart apples like green Granny Smith apples McIntosh, or Jonathan apples. Also, try mixing the two kinds of apples to create a more balanced flavor profile.
The difference is that apple juice has been filtered thoroughly to remove all the pulp. Then it is pasteurized in order to remain fresh longer. There are also no spices or citrus flavors added to juice. Cider, on the other hand, is the opposite.
More Apple Desserts
- Apple Fritters
- Easy Apple Crumble Pie
- Easy Apple Turnover (With Puff Pastry)
- Apple Pie Cake
- Easy Homemade Apple Pie
- Homemade Apple Pie Filling
- Easy Apple Cake (With Cake Mix)
- Easy Caramel Apple Pie
- Mini Apple Strudel
- Chocolate Caramel Apples
- Old Fashioned Applesauce Cake
Slow Cooker Homemade Apple Cider
- 8 Apples, Washed, Cored, Cut into quarters, Use combination of red and green
- 1 Orange, Washed, Cut into big chunks
- 4 Cinnamon sticks
- 1.5 tsp Cloves, Use whole and not powder form
- 1 tsp Allspice, Use whole and not powder form
- 2 Star anise, Optional
- 4 cups Water
- 5 cups Apple juice, Unsweetened
- 1/4-1/3 cup Brown sugar, Adjust according to your taste
- In a crockpot, add apples, orange, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, star anise, water, apple juice and mix everything together.
- Cover and cook on High for 3-4 hours.
- Then, use a potato masher to roughly mash the apples and oranges.
- Add brown sugar.
- Cover and cook on Low heat for another 1 hour.
- Strain the juice through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer into a large pot or pitcher. You can press it down with a spoon to really squeeze out all the juices through the mesh.
- Pour in cups and garnish with some apple slices and cinnamon sticks.
- Serve hot or cold. Enjoy!
- Add spices in spice bag which will make cleanup easier.
- Don’t boil this drink because that can cause it to taste bitter.
- If you don’t have all the whole spices on hand, use 1-2 chai tea bags, which will help provide those flavors.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container or pitcher in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Read additional tips and variations above.