Warm and cozy Slow Cooker Apple Cider is fruity, full of spices, and slow cooked to perfection in the crockpot. Grab a blanket or your favorite sweater and snuggle up with a cup!
Apple season is fast approaching and I’m looking forward to all the apple desserts.
A warm mug of apple cider pairs beautifully with many of them.
Have you ever made cider from scratch? It’s an easy blend of water, apples, citrus fruits, and plenty of spices.
You get so much flavor because the ingredients are perfectly simmered all day long, but the recipe is almost entirely hands off until the end when you need to strain the cider, but that’s super easy, too.
As an added bonus, you will make your whole house smell amazing while it is cooking.
If you have a bunch of apples, this homemade apple cider recipe is a great way to use them up on a cold day!
Why you’ll love this Slow Cooker Apple Cider Recipe
Made from scratch – Cook down your favorite apples and water with other fruit and spices to make this entirely from scratch with just minutes of prep time.
Great for a group – This makes a large batch that can easily serve a crowd at holiday parties.
Perfect for the holiday season – Serve it at your next family gathering, potluck, or at a school or work function.
Cold weather activities – Hot cider is the perfect drink to enjoy after sledding, skiing, ice skating, or even shoveling lol to warm up your bones.
Equipment you’ll need
- Slow Cooker – This 6 quart slow cooker is my model of choice. You can read my full review here.
- Strainer – You’ll need a fine-mesh strainer to strain the cider from all the fruit pulp and bits.
- Ladle – To serve all the goodness.
Below is a list of ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.
- WATER – The base of cider is just plain water.
- CLOVES – Cloves are a super fragrant spice made from the flower buds of a clove tree. It is subtly sweet and adds warmth to the cider. It pairs really well with cinnamon and nutmeg.
- ALLSPICE – A cousin to the clove, allspice is a dried brown berry which looks something like a big peppercorn. You need whole allspice, not ground.
- NUTMEG – Ground nutmeg has a warm, nutty flavor.
- STAR ANISE – Star anise is a seed pod that has a slightly licorice flavor.
- HONEY – A local, raw honey is always best but use what you have.
- ORANGE – One medium to large sized orange.
- CRANBERRIES – Fresh cranberries can be tricky to find outside of when they’re in season but luckily frozen cranberries will work just as well. Save some for cranberry sauce.
- APPLES – Use your favorite apples here. I like to use galas but granny smith is a good choice if you like your cider a bit tarter. Galas are a bit sweeter. You can mix and match to use a combination of apples. Other options include: pink lady, braeburn, gold delicious, fuji, etc.
- CINNAMON STICKS – Try to opt for ceylon cinnamon sticks over cassia.
How to make mulled apple cider in the slow cooker
- STEP ONE: First, prep the apples and oranges by washing and slicing vertically and removing any seeds and the stems.
- STEP TWO: Next, pour the water in the slow cooker and add the honey, spices, and cinnamon sticks. Stir to combine and then add the sliced apples, oranges, and cranberries. Stir then cover and cook on HIGH for 8 hours.
- STEP THREE: Then, once the cook time is up, scoop out the large pieces of fruit, hold the strainer over the crockpot and use a spoon or potato masher to press out any remaining liquid. You’ll likely need to do this process a few times to get all the pieces, depending on the size of your strainer.
- STEP FOUR: Finally, ladle the strained cider into a mug and garnish with cinnamon sticks, cranberries, orange and apple slices.
What is the difference between mulled apple cider and apple cider?
Apple cider is typically served cold (have you ever had an apple cider slushie?? I look forward to one every year). Mulled apple cider is typically served warm with spices and fruit…and sometimes alcohol.
How to serve it
Switch the slow cooker to WARM and serve the cider right out of the slow cooker, once it has been strained.
Garnish with additional orange slices and cinnamon sticks.
Stovetop Instructions 🍎
Don’t have time for the slow cooker? This recipe will work on the stove top as well.
Follow the recipe as indicated but use a large pot and simmer on medium-high heat for 4-6 hours. It is important to not let it boil – you want a slow, even level of heat, like the slow cooker.
How long will cider last in the fridge?
Cooled cider can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. It is best to strain the cider before storing or freeze it.
Can I freeze it?
Yes, you can freeze cider for 4-6 months.
Which apples should I use?
I generally always have gala and granny smith apples on hand for snacking so tested both. They turn out similarly with the gala batch being slightly sweeter.
Is it necessary to strain the fruit & spices out?
Yes, if you skip straining and pressing the fruit, you will have much less apple flavor.
Can I use something other than honey as a sweetener?
Yes, you can use brown sugar. I have not tested any other sweeteners but agave or maple syrup may work as well.
As written, the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of honey. If you prefer sweeter, you can bump it up to 1/2 cup.
Can I cook this for a shorter amount of time?
Yes, but the flavor will be less intense. I don’t recommend less than 6 hours.
If you do decide to cook for less time, consider heating the water before adding it to the slow cooker to speed up the cooking process.
Can I use all ground spices?
No, I don’t recommend it. This will change the flavor of the cider drastically.
I only have 8 apples, will it turn out ok?
Yes, but reduce the water by 1-2 cups to concentrate the flavor.