Becca’s Super Secret Top Notch Holiday Apple Cider

Happy holidays! The temperature is dropping, the weather outside is... well, weather, and it’s prime time for warm cozy drinks like hot cocoa and tea. However, if you’re looking to shake things up a little, here’s my super secret (but not really) recipe for mulled apple cider that will warm you up from the inside out! As a bonus, it also makes your whole house smell really amazing all day.

I like to buy one or two gallons of cider depending on how many people I’m planning to share it with and just leave it on the stove all day so the whole house smells like Christmas. Since I mostly use these spices just for this recipe, I often buy the little half ounce packets of Badia spices, so those will be the main unit of measurement.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional cook and I do not subscribe to such pedestrian accommodations as measurements (especially since they don’t really matter in this particular recipe anyway). I am a firm believer in seasoning to taste, which usually means pouring spices into my palm until it looks about right, shrugging, and tossing it in. Good luck.


Here’s what you’ll need (all spices should be whole, not powdered, because otherwise you’ll get gritty cider and that is not Good Eats):

  • Apple cider, 1-2 gallons

  • Cinnamon sticks

  • Cloves

  • Star anise

  • Allspice

  • Orange, optional

  • Apple whiskey or cinnamon whiskey if you want to get real fancy

Here’s what you do:

Pour your cider into a large pot. Make sure you save the containers so you can store leftovers! Turn the stove to medium heat to start warming the cider. You can customize the amounts of each spice to your individual tastes, but I like to go hard around the holidays so I usually add 2-3 cinnamon sticks, and then a whole packet (about half an ounce) each of cloves, star anise, and allspice if I’m making two gallons. Optionally, you can slice an orange into quarters and throw that in as well.

I like letting the spices really mingle with the cider, but if you want to save yourself some hassle alter, you can wrap the spices in a piece of cheesecloth to make a sort of giant tea bag and let that steep in the pot so you can remove all the spices really easily when you’re ready to pack up the leftovers.

Let this simmer for about 20 minutes. I like to leave the lid on for the first half so that it can heat up nicely, but then I’ll take it off so that you really get the full effect of the beautiful holiday smells. If you’re of legal drinking age and want an extra little boost of warmth, I like to add apple or cinnamon whiskey to taste in the pot so it can warm up, but you could just as easily leave this out and add it to individual cups when you serve. After those 20 minutes, turn the heat down to the lowest setting to just keep it warm while you ladle it out into mugs as needed.

When your holiday celebration is wrapping up and it’s time to put the leftovers away, make sure you turn the heat off and let the cider cool. Then you can just pull out the cheesecloth-wrapped spices and throw those away, or just pour it through a strainer if you left the spices loose. Return the cider to its original container and store in the fridge.

Have a wonderful winter season, remember to give your loved ones a hug, and maybe give your partner an extra splash of whiskey in their cider. They probably need it.