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There is nothing like a mug of warm, perfectly spiced Homemade Apple Cider made in the slow cooker during the colder months of the year. It’s perfect for sipping when the air gets chilly and apples are in season!

An image of homemade apple cider in a slow cooker  

Picture this, you sitting on your couch curled up in your favorite sweater and holding a cup of fresh homemade apple cider. Sounds ideal, right?

Making your own apple cider is an easy autumn/winter past-time that not only warms your soul but also doubles as a great way to make your home smell unbelievably good! This easy apple cider recipe brings you the combined freshness of apples, oranges, and spices. Even better is that your slow cooker does most of the work and your family will think you are amazing.

Homemade apple cider is a delicious, festive drink that can easily be made in the slow cooker and enjoyed all through the fall and winter. It makes your house smell incredible as it cooks all day in the slow cooker and is always a hit during the holiday season! I’m always hard-pressed to choose between whether homemade apple cider or hot chocolate is my favorite fall beverage.

This set and forget apple cider recipe is made with apples (obviously), oranges, cranberries, cinnamon, and spices. If you’ve ever made those DIY potpourri mixes that you boil on your stove to make your home smell fragrant during the winter months, it won’t be hard to imagine how amazing your home will smell with your hot cider in the slow cooker. And it tastes every bit as wonderful as it smells.

If you love apples like we do, you might also want to try making my homemade applesauceapple oatmeal muffins, or my glazed apple fritter yeast bread!

I meant to include this recipe as part of my collection of Connecticut-inspired recipes for my American Eats series because Connecticut has a long tradition of cider drinking. Granted, much of it was hard cider. But still, they definitely love their apple-centric beverages!

American Eats is an ongoing series here where I’m visiting the most iconic recipes and flavors of each state, one state at a time. Look below the recipe to see if I’ve covered your homestate yet and let me know what you would like to see!

An image of hands holding a mug of apple cider with an apple slice and cinnamon stick in it for garnish.

How to make apple cider

  1. Wash and quarter the apples and oranges. There’s no need to remove the stems or the seeds since they will all be strained out later.
  2. Place the cut fruit into a large slow cooker along with the whole spices and cranberries, then cover with enough water that it’s about an inch from the top. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW for 8 hours.
  3. When there is about an hour left in the cooking process, remove the lid and use a potato masher or a large spoon to crush and mash the apples. Then put the lid back on and let the apple cider finish cooking.
  4. Once the apples have cooked completely, strain the cider to remove all of the fruit solids. I double strained mine by running it through my pasta colander first and then through some cheesecloth to make sure that there were no chunks. A fine mesh sieve works well too.
  5. Give the slow cooker bowl a quick rinse to remove any extra pieces of fruit or spices that may be stuck, then return the strained cider to the bowl. Stir in a little brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup to sweeten to taste. Some apples are more or less sweet than others so you might find you need more brown sugar, while other times you might use less than is called for in the recipe. I like a mix of both brown sugar and maple syrup to sweeten our cider.
  6. Serve the apple cider warm with additional apple or orange slices and cinnamon sticks as a garnish. Or cool completely in and chill in the fridge and serve cold. Both ways are delicious!

An image of a crock pot filled with quartered apples and oranges. An image of a potato mashed mashing apples in a slow cooker. 

Can you heat up cold apple cider to make hot cider?

After making this recipe, store any leftover apple cider in a pitcher in your fridge for later. If you want to warm it up again before enjoying it, I recommend doing this in a small pot on the stovetop for more than a couple servings or in a mug in the microwave if you are just reheating enough for one person. Just be sure to stir to remove any hot spots and drink at a safe temperature.

Is apple cider better hot or cold?

Honestly, this is a judgement call that is totally based on personal preference. I personally love a warm glass, but many people enjoy their apple cider chilled. You could even mix chilled cider with club soda for a homemade sparkling cider if you are feeling fancy.

Leftover cider can be used in any recipe that calls for apple cider, like my creamy apple cider skillet chicken (SO good – promise you will make it once this fall!), German apple pancakes with cider syrup, or apple cider donuts

An image of crock pot apple cider in glass mugs with apples and cinnamon sticks around them.

What goes good with hot apple cider?

While many people may simply think of warm cider as a nice treat on its own, it can still pair well with many different foods or meals. 

For instance, it would pair wonderfully with all sorts of cheeses, cookies, and even savory main dishes like pork chops.

An image of three glass mugs of apple cider with cinnamon sticks in them.

More Festive Non-Alcoholic Drink Recipes

Homemade Apple Cider
Yield: 12 servings

Homemade Apple Cider

There is nothing like a mug of warm, perfectly spiced Homemade Apple Cider made in the slow cooker during the colder months of the year. It's perfect for sipping when the air gets chilly and apples are in season!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10-12 mediuum apples, assorted varieties (I like a mix of red, yellow, and green apples), quartered
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 2/3 cup fresh cranberries
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 16 cups water (more or less to fill the slow cooker about 1 inch from the top)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Wash the apples and orage and roughly cut them into quarters, no need to remove seeds or stems. Place the cut fruit and spices in the bowl of your slow cooker. Add water until it’s about an inch from the top of the bowl. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  2. When you have about an hour left in the cooking process, use a potato masher or a large spoon to crush and mash the apples and then let them continue to cook until completely soft.
  3. Strain the cider to remove all of the fruit solids, reserving the liquid and returning it to the slow cooker. I first strain the cider through a regular colander, then strain again through cheesecloth to make sure to remove all chunks of fruit and whole spices.
  4. Give the slow cooker bowl a quick rinse to remove any extra pieces of fruit or spices and then return the strained cider to the bowl. Stir in the brown sugar or maple syrup (or a combination of both). Serve warm with additional apple or orange slices and cinnamon sticks as a garnish.

Notes

Recipe adapted from All Recipes.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 148 Total Fat: 1g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 21mg Carbohydrates: 39g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 6g Sugar: 30g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 1g

Curious about foods from other states in my American Eats series? Check them out below!

Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Iowa • Louisiana • Puerto Rico • South Carolina • Texas