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Mulled Hot Apple Cider

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Feeling hot, hot, hot.

Let’s make this your coziest, sweetest apple season yet. This hot mulled apple cider recipe takes minutes to make, and comes with just the right amount of sweetness and mulled spice. 

hot apple cider in mugs

Meet This Hot Apple Cider Recipe

There is something perfectly autumnal about a mug of mulled hot apple cider. Mulled apple cider recipes like this combines just the right combination of mulling spices for a delicious and quintessential seasonal drink. Best of all, this cider is an easy “dump and stir” recipe that practically cooks itself, with only about 15 minutes of total time. 

This an easy hot apple cider recipe. Just pour your apple cider in a pot, add the spices and orange peel or slices, and simmer. You can cook the cider on the stovetop or in a slow cooker or crock pot. Either way, you’ll have a pot of wonderfully fragrant, sweet cider spiced just right for autumn, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in no time.

Hot Apple Cider With Mulling Spices in pot
Simmer the apple cider with orange and mulling spices before serving

Can you just heat up apple cider?

Yes, you can just heat up fresh apple cider and serve it in mugs for a cozy seasonal drink. Real apple cider has a wonderfully earthy and sweet apple cider, with more complexity than apple juice. (Read this Southern Living article for a close look at the difference between apple cider and apple juice.)

But adding a few simple spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg — plus orange peel — adds a little more oomph and flavor. Considering how little effort it is to turn the hot apple cider into a special mulled beverage, I say go for it!

The best mulling spices to mix in hot apple cider

Combinations my vary. But this spiced apple cider recipe calls for the following apple cider mulling ingredients:

  • Bright orange peel or orange slices
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger
  • A little pinch of cloves or a couple of whole cloves, which you’ll have to fish out
  • Cinnamon (either ground or as sticks)
  • Brown sugar

I also like to add a bay leaf for good measure. Some people add allspice berries or star anise, but I think that the above ingredients are enough. Note that if you use cinnamon sticks or whole cloves instead of powdered, you will have to fish them out or strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer.

pot of hot apple cider with mulling ingredients

What’s the Difference: Mulled Apple Cider vs. Apple Cider vs. Apple Juice

Apple cider is made from whole apples that have been ground into a mash, then pressed through a cloth. That’s it. No filtering, no boiling, no preserving. Just raw, pressed apples strained into a juice. Apple cider’s perishability means that it’s hard to find year round. This is why cider is primarily found during apple season.

Apple juice, on the other hand, is a more refined product. Apple juice is fully filtered until clear, and then pasteurized. This, along with vacuum-packaging, gives it a long, shelf-stable life. 

Apple cider’s flavor tends to be more complex and round, with tart and earthy notes. Apple juice tends to taste more simple and sweet. 

Mulled apple cider is apple cider that has been cooked, or “mulled” with the addition of various spices and herbs.

glass mugs of hot cider

Kitchen Notes: This Hot Mulled Apple Cider Recipe

  • Mulled cider needs about 10 to 15 minutes simmering on the stove to marry the flavors together. Longer is even better. 
  • Before serving, strain your cider to remove any larger particles of ginger or spice 
  • To garnish, try cinnamon sticks or very thin slices of apple. Topping with whipped cream and a dash of powdered cinnamon never hurt, either.

How to Make Spiked Apple Cider: Which Liquor Is Best

If you want to turn your hot mulled cider into a warming cocktail, make this into a spiked apple cider recipe. The best alcohols to add to cider are generally dark spirits. Think rum, whisky, and bourbon. 

You can also find apple cider cocktails like cider mimosas made with sparkling wine and cider, shandies (beer), and even margaritas. Point is: Enjoy cider season however you like. 

How long will hot apple cider keep in the refrigerator?

Once made and strained, mulled apple cider will keep for several days in the refrigerator. Just warm it up again before serving.

glass mugs of mulled hot apple cider recipe

Love this mulled, hot apple cider recipe? You’ll also like these other apple recipes:

Hot Apple Cider recipe With Mulling Spices

Mulled Hot Apple Cider

Cozy up to a mug of perfectly spiced, mulled hot apple cider. This recipe is wonderfully sweet and fragrant from just the right mulling spices, and takes very time to make.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Course: beverage
Cuisine: American
Keywords:: apple cider recipe, apples, autumn recipes, cider, drinks, fall recipes, hot apple cider, mulled cider recipe
Servings: 2 quarts cider (1 half gallon)


  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1/2 orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, or 1/4 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger, or 1 rounded teaspoon of fresh-grated ginger
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, optional


  • Pour the cider into a pot. Squeeze the juice from half an orange into the cider, and add the juiced rind to the pot as well.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, except the brown sugar, if using.
  • Bring the cider to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer on low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste to see if you would like it a bit sweeter and if so, add the brown sugar.
  • Strain and serve the hot apple cider, garnished with orange zest, thin apple slices, or cinnamon sticks.


Fresh apple cider with a lovely combination of mulling spices makes this the best, coziest fall drink around. This hot mulled cider recipe will keep for several days in the fridge. Just be sure to strain it first so the mulling spices do not over-steep in the apple cider.


  • 5 stars
    A perfect go-to recipe! Thank you for this and all of your other recipes, which I look forward to each week.

  • 5 stars
    🙂 Loved it!

  • Francesca P.

    5 stars
    This is a great recipe. Very much apple cider, but enhanced with the right combination of other flavors like spice. I did not need the brown sugar; it tasted perfectly sweet as-is.

  • 5 stars
    Delicious. I loved it! Felt like fall.

4.43 from 7 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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