Homemade Apple Cider

Homemade Apple Cider is so easy to make and will make your house smell amazing. It’s the perfect drink to make with autumn apples!

A cup of apple cider with cinnamon sticks and apples.

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Homemade Apple Cider Recipe

Want to know the secret to making your house smell like autumn? There’s a super simple answer, make some homemade apple cider of course!

Throw together a big batch, and your house will smell like heaven. Pure, unadulterated, homemade cider deliciousness.

If you’re having a party this fall season, this is an easy comforting beverage you can make ahead of time. Not to mention, it is so much better than anything store-bought apple cider you could buy.

Homemade hot apple cider really just requires a handful of ingredients. Fresh apples, tangy citrus, whole spices and some sweetener are all you need! This is the perfect way to use any apples that you picked at the orchard or grabbed at the farmers market. Apple season is the best!

The only thing you might need to pick up at the store is some whole spices. I like to purchase whole spices in bulk – I often find them at Mediterranean or Middle Eastern groceries, or you can even purchase them online.

If you’re looking for other ways to use the whole spices you purchase, you can use them to make homemade spiced rum or mulled wine.

More fall drink recipes: S’mores FrappuccinoWassailGingerbread LatteApple Pie Old Fashioned

A green pot filled with apples and spices.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

You’ll love this recipe, for a few reasons:

  • You only need 15 minutes to put together a pot of sweet apples, fruit and spices that make the best apple cider ever. Then just let it simmer!
  • It is really easy to make cider from scratch, even if you’re a novice in the kitchen.
  • This beverage is a great way to use an over abundance of fresh apples during apple season.
A cup of apple cider with cinnamon sticks and apples.

Apple cider vs. apple juice

Apple cider and apple juice may look similar, but they aren’t necessarily the same thing.

Historically, apple cider has been a spiked beverage. However, it is now more commonly used as a warming beverage during the fall season.

Bottled apple cider is unfiltered and has more sediment and pulp in it. In contrast, apple juice has been filtered and pasteurized to create a smooth and thin liquid.

Since homemade apple cider is made with fresh, whole apples, it has a more rich flavor than juice. It also does not last as long as juice, but the raw-like flavor of apple cider makes it a great rich beverage.

Hot apple cider is made with warm spices and whole fruit, making it a comforting and cozy drink for a cold day.

The important thing is everyone is going to freak when they find out you made apple cider from scratch! And you don’t have to tell them how easy it is. I won’t tell.

Tools & glassware

Serve this yummy warm cider in your favorite mugs. I love serving it a clear glass mug or a heat-safe mule mug.

You’ll also need a very large pot and sharp knife to prepare the fruit used in this easy apple cider recipe. Make sure to have an immersion blender, potato masher and fine-mesh strainer on hand as well.

If you serve this hot apple cider from a bowl, use a large metal ladle to fill each glass.

Overhead view of the ingredients to make homemade apple cider on a white background.


Here is everything you need to make this delicious apple cider recipe:

Orange: The sweet citrus flavor of orange will compliment the apples and warm spices used in this tasty apple cider. You only need one large orange for this recipe.

Lemon: Similar to the orange, citrus flavors cut the syrupy sweetness of apple flavor. The citrus flavor or lemon will be a bit more tart and tangy than orange.

Water: Filtered water will produce the best results since tap water can sometimes have a funny flavor. You can even buy a gallon or two of bottled water at the store to ensure you have the best tasting cider.

Apples: Use apples of any sweet variety. I also recommend to use more than one type of apple in the recipe to create a depth of flavor.

Brown sugar: Brown sugar is the quintessential “fall” sweetener. This caramel like sweetener is a deep and warming way to sweeten this hot beverage.

Maple syrup: Using both brown sugar and maple syrup gives the best level of sweetness to apple cider.

Spices: You’ll need whole cloves, whole cinnamon sticks, and whole nutmeg pods to create a warming and cozy drink. A pinch of star anise adds lovely flavor too! Don’t forget a few extra cinnamon sticks to put in the glasses for a pretty presentation.

A pot filled with apples, cinnamon sticks, and oranges.

How to Make Homemade Apple Cider

Here’s a step by step on how to make homemade apple cider:

Fill an extra large pot with nine quartered apples, plus one quartered orange and lemon. Leave the lemon peel and orange peel on, you’ll strain solids out later. The citrus will add a tart flavor to cut the sweetness of the apples.

Next, you’re going to add spices, but make sure they are in their whole form. Add whole cloves, whole cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg pods to the pot with the fruit.

A pot full of apples in a green pot.

Cover the fruit and spices with about a gallon of water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Then, reduce the heat and let it all cook for a few hours on the stove top. This is the best part, since the lovely aroma of cider will fill your home as it cooks.

A pot of cooked apples in liquid on a wooden table.

Once the fruit is soft, use an immersion blender, potato masher or wooden spoon to mash each piece. Allow the cider to simmer for another hour.

Using a fine mesh strainer, separate the liquid from the fruit over a large bowl or pitcher. Mash the fruit to get out the rest of the juice and then discard the leftovers.

Stir in brown sugar and maple syrup and then your homemade apple cider is ready to go!

Serve warm and enjoy.

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:

  • Star anise is quite potent! So you can add just a small piece of a star anise pod to give this fresh apple cider a cozy touch without an overpowering flavor.
  • If you want to make this easy hot apple cider recipe ahead of time, cover and refrigerate it until it’s party time, then reheat before serving.
  • To get the best flavor, I like to use a variety of apples instead of all one type. Chose your favorite variety or whatever you can find that is the most fresh and sweet!
A cup of apple cider with cinnamon sticks and apples.

Uses for apple cider

While hot cider is the most perfect beverage for the holiday season, it can be used in so many other creative ways.

Add some rum or bourbon to a warm mug of cider as a simple cocktail — whiskey apple cider is a favorite. You can also use it in apple cider mules, apple cider margaritas or apple cider sangria too.

Aside from drinks, apple cider can be used in a variety of food recipes. If you’ve never spiced up taco night with apple cider pulled pork tacos, you’re missing out! Mix cider with some savory ingredients to make a delicious salad dressing as well.

You can even bake things like biscuits and donuts from leftover apple cider!

A cup of apple cider with cinnamon sticks and apples.

What to serve with apple cider

A comforting mug of warm cider goes lovely alongside a freshly baked Baileys chocolate chip cookie.

And if you’re serving it at a holiday party, these snowflake sugar cookies and cranberry oatmeal cookies would be a festive pairing!

If you’re looking for a savory snack to serve with cider, a charcuterie board is never a bad idea. These bacon, fig and goat cheese crostini would be a delicious pairing too!

Or serve it at a fall breakfast or brunch with some mini pancakes and chai muffins.


What are the best type of apple for cider?

It is best a sweet variety of apples for a homemade apple cider. Granny smith apples, red delicious, pink lady, and honeycrisp are some of the most popular. However, any of the sweet apples you can find will do the trick!

Do apples need to be ripe for cider?

Yes, it is important that apples are ripe and sweet before using them in this recipe. Do not use over-ripe apples either, or apples that have begun to go bad. A batch of firm and ripe apples will produce the best results.

A cup of apple cider with cinnamon sticks and apples.

More hot drinks

— Did you make this recipe? —

Please leave a ★★★★★ review or comment below.

A cup of apple cider with cinnamon sticks and apples.

Homemade Apple Cider

Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Homemade Apple Cider is so easy to make and will make your house smell amazing. It’s the perfect drink to make with autumn apples! Makes 1 gallon.
5 from 64 votes
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  • 9 apples of several varieties (I used 3 each of red, yellow and green apples)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • ¼ whole star anise
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup brown sugar to taste
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup to taste
  • 2 cups bourbon or rum, optional


  • Quarter the apples, lemon and orange. Don't worry about cutting out the stem and seeds.
  • Layer the fruit in a large stock pot with the spices. Cover with water. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 hours.
  • Use a spoon or potato masher to mash the apples, orange and lemon. Cook for another 1 hour.
  • Strain the cider into a large pitcher or bowl to remove the fruit and pulp. Mash the juices out of the remaining fruit.
  • Stir in the sugar and maple syrup (or whatever sweetener you desire) until dissolved.
  • Stir in alcohol if using.
  • Ladle into mugs and serve warm.

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nutrition information

Yield: 16 servings

amount per serving:

Serving: 1cup Calories: 198kcal Carbohydrates: 34g Protein: 0.5g Fat: 0.3g Saturated Fat: 0.1g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g Trans Fat: 0.001g Sodium: 18mg Potassium: 170mg Fiber: 3g Sugar: 28g Vitamin A: 78IU Vitamin C: 13mg Calcium: 45mg Iron: 0.4mg
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    • susannah says

      If stored in the fridge in an airtight container you should be able to enjoy for a couple of weeks – if you aren’t making it for a crowd, I’ve included some other recipes that are good ways to use it up. You’ll have to see if you enjoy it cold, it comes down to personal preference however it can be reheated.

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