Mulled Cider is the absolute perfect fall beverage! Made with fresh oranges, cranberries, and spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, this recipe for Homemade Mulled Cider is better than any packaged blend of mulling spices and just as easy to make! Directions for the slow cooker, instant pot, and stove-top.
Apple Cider alone is delicious, but when spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and served warm, apple cider turns into something spectacular. And while it is easy to purchase packaged mulling spices, it is so easy to make mulled cider at home and tastes A MILLION times better. It is perfect to serve alone or to pair with Apple Crisp, Pumpkin Roll, or Instant Pot Pumpkin Cheesecake, for a perfect fall dessert.
Why Homemade is BEST
- Less Expensive. A package of mulling spices is typically between $4-10, depending on where you purchase. And it is often nothing more than sugar and spices you have on hand. The cost of making it yourself–even if you add in fresh cranberries and oranges is less expensive than purchasing the mulling spices.
- Naturally Sweetened. Instead of added sugars found in packaged mulling spices, this cider is naturally sweetened with the addition of pineapple juice. The pineapple juice not only adds natural sweetness but flavor as well.
- Better Tasting. Instead of dried orange peels, this mulled apple cider recipe uses fresh oranges, which the flavor is so much better. Instead of dried spices, fresh spices are used to add the richest flavor to the mulled apple cider.
- Apple Cider: I love fresh apple cider right from a local orchard, but of course store-bought cider works as well. Want to know a budget-friendly tip for making homemade apple cider? Use apple juice! The apple juice is cooked low and slow with so many other flavors that no one will know it is not cider. Apple Juice can also be found year-round, while cider can be harder to locate past apple season. Just be sure to use good quality apple juice. I personally prefer unfiltered apple juice.
- Homemade Mulling Spices: Instead of dried spices, I use whole spices for the most distinct flavor. The only exception to this is that I use freshly grated nutmeg instead of a whole nutmeg berry. Of course, you can use dried ground spices, but they do not incorporate as well into the apple cider.
- Pineapple Juice: Pineapple juice adds just the right sweetness to this cider. You can certainly omit, your mulled cider will not have as much dimension though. Be sure to use 100% pineapple juice for the best flavor. NOT a blend or sweetened juice.
- Cranberries: As the apple cider mulls, the cranberries soak up the delicious beverage and add a burst of freshness and a bit of tartness to cider. They can easily be omitted. Frozen cranberries can be used in place of fresh cranberries as well. Dried Cranberries will NOT work as a substitute.
Prepare Homemade Mulling Spice Sachet
Instead of just placing whole spices right into the apple cider, I like to create a little sachet of the spices, so that once the cider has been infused, it is easy to fish out the sachet and discard–instead of trying to fish out individual spices before serving.
To prepare a sachet of mulling spices, place the whole spices into an unbleached coffee filter or piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine–it is as simple as that!
Cooking the Cider
You can prepare your mulled cider on the stove, instant pot, or in the slow cooker. I personally prefer the slow cooker as this method is completely hands-off, and no monitoring is needed. Plus your whole house will smell wonderful as the cider cooks. However, the advantage of preparing in the Instant Pot, is that it will be ready in a fraction of the time.
Slow Cooker Mulled Cider
To prepare Mulled Apple Cider in the crock-pot, simply pour in the cider, juice, cranberries, and orange slices into the slow cooker. Nestle in the mulling spice sachet and add in the grated nutmeg. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours. Remove and discard mulling spices and then turn slow cooker to keep warm while serving.
Stove Top Mulled Cider
To prepare Mulled cider on the stove, place apple cider, pineapple juice, cranberries, orange slices, freshly grated nutmeg, and spice sachet into a heavy-bottomed stock pan. Bring to a boil and then turning to low and simmer on the stove for 1-2 hours. Be sure to simmer on low to keep the liquid from evaporating.
Instant Pot Mulled Cider
The Instant Pot is the FASTEST way to prepare Mulled Apple Cider, but you will not have the luxury of smelling the cider as it cooks–I also have found that a coffee filter does not stand up well to the heat of the instant pot. Therefore, I suggest using cheesecloth or place the spices in whole into the inner pot and then strain before serving.
- If you do not have whole spices, you can use 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and mix right into your juice or cider in the slow cooker.
- Refrigerate leftover Mulled Cider for up to 5 days. Reheat by the glass or over low heat in the slow cooker or on the stove in a heavy-duty stock pan.
- Feel free to cut this recipe in half if you only have half a gallon of cider.
More Holiday Beverages
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 inch fresh ginger peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 whole allspice berries
- 4 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg grated
- 1 gallon apple cider
- 2 cups pineapple juice
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 orange thinly sliced
Prepare Mulling Spices
- Using an unfiltered coffee filter or piece of cheesecloth, place cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves, and ginger. Tie off with butcher twine. Be sure to use cheesecloth if preparing in Instant Pot.
Slow Cooker Mulled Apple Cider
- Place juice/cider, pineapple juice, orange slices, cranberries, grated nutmeg, and mulling spices in the slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours. Remove the bundle of spices and serve.
Instant Pot Mulled Apple Cider
- Place juice/cider, pineapple juice, orange slices, cranberries, grated nutmeg, and mulling spices in the instant pot. Be sure to either place spices directly in the inner pot or use a cheesecloth bundle if preparing in Instant Pot.
- Cook on HIGH pressure for 15 minutes. Once cook time has elapsed, let the pressure release naturally. Once pressure has been released, strain and serve.
Stove-Top Mulled Apple Cider
- Place juice/cider, pineapple juice, orange slices, cranberries, grated nutmeg, and mulling spices in heavy-bottomed stock pan.
- Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1-2 hours, watching closely. Remove spices and serve.
- Apple Cider is best, but for a more economical mulled cider recipe, use apple juice. Unfiltered is best.
- Feel free to omit the cranberries. Fresh or frozen work, but dried cranberries do not.
- The pineapple juice is optional but does all dimension and sweetness to the cider. Be sure to use 100% pineapple juice for the best flavor. NOT a blend or sweetened juice.
- Leftover cider can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and reheated by the mug in the microwave or in a stock pan over low heat.
- The nutmeg is grated directly into the cider instead of adding the whole nutmeg into the spice bundle.