Hot apple cider has to be one of the coziest, most nostalgic drinks. Fragrant, comforting, and delicious, here is my personal favorite recipe that I hope you’ll try out. 

For those of you who have not had an opportunity to visit New England for the “leaf season,” here is a small sample. It is a beautiful time of year! It is also the perfect time to make some hot apple cider. 

There are many different ways to spice up this wonderful seasonal drink, but this recipe is my favorite. 

Watch My Hot Apple Cider Recipe Video:

Why you’ll love this hot apple cider 

  • Comfort in a mug: This hot apple cider is like a warm, cozy hug for your taste buds. Its rich, soothing flavors are reminiscent of crisp autumn days and holiday gatherings, making it the perfect beverage to enjoy during the colder months.
  • Easy to change the flavors: This recipe offers a delightful balance of sweet and spiced flavors, but it’s highly customizable. You can adjust the cinnamon, cardamom, orange, and maple syrup to suit your taste preferences, whether you like it more citrusy, spicier, or sweeter.
  • The aroma of the season: As it simmers on the stove or in a slow cooker, the scent of apple cider infused with cinnamon, cardamom, and citrus will waft through your home. The aroma alone is enough to put you in a festive holiday mood.
  • Perfect for gatherings: This hot apple cider is a fantastic addition to gatherings with family and friends.

Ingredients and substitution notes

  • Apple cider: When making apple cider, I really recommend using high-quality apple cider. You can choose between fresh-pressed cider or store-bought varieties. If you’re using fresh apples to make your own cider, select a mix of sweet and tart apple varieties for a well-balanced flavor.
  • Cinnamon stick (Ceylon): Ceylon cinnamon is often considered the “true” cinnamon and I prefer it for its delicate and slightly sweeter flavor compared to cassia cinnamon.
  • Cardamom pods: Cardamom pods add a warm, aromatic, and slightly citrusy flavor to the apple cider. You can adjust the quantity of cardamom pods to control the intensity of the spice.
  • Orange slices: Fresh orange slices can brighten the apple cider with citrusy notes.
  • Maple syrup: Maple syrup is an excellent natural sweetener for apple cider. It adds a rich, caramelized sweetness that complements the apple and spice flavors. 

Hot Apple Cider Recipe variations and add-ins

  • Cranberry apple cider: Add 1 cup of cranberry juice to the cider. I love the added tartness this gives the drink.
  • Gingered cider: Add thin slices of fresh ginger to the cider while simmering for a spicy kick.
  • Citrus burst: Add slices of lemon along with the orange peel for a citrusy twist.

Top tips

  • Choose high-quality apple cider: Start with a good-quality apple cider. Look for options without added sugars or artificial flavors for a more authentic taste.
  • Simmer, don’t boil: Heat the cider gently over medium-low heat, but avoid boiling it. A simmer allows the spices to infuse without scorching the cider.
  • Adjust sweetness: Taste your cider before adding sweeteners like maple syrup. Different apple ciders can vary in sweetness, so adjust to your liking.
  • Spice bags or cheesecloth: If you don’t want loose spices in your cider, use a spice bag or wrap the spices in cheesecloth before adding them to the pot.
  • Don’t rush: Let the cider simmer for at least 15-20 minutes to allow the spices and flavors to meld together.
  • Strain if necessary: If you use loose spices, strain the cider before serving to remove any solids.
  • Keep it warm: Serve the cider in a slow cooker, or keep it on low heat on the stove to ensure it stays warm for guests throughout your gathering.
  • Garnish creatively: Garnish each serving with a cinnamon stick, a slice of fresh apple, or even a dollop of vegan whipped cream for added flair.
  • Prevent overcooking: Be cautious when reheating leftover cider, as it can develop an off-flavor if heated too much. Reheat it gently.

Make ahead instructions and storage

Make-ahead hot apple cider:

Prepare the hot apple cider according to your preferred recipe, but skip adding any sweeteners (like brown sugar or maple syrup) if possible. You can always adjust the sweetness when you reheat it.

Allow the cider to cool to room temperature. Once the cider has cooled, transfer it to an airtight container. If you have a large batch, you can use a pitcher and cover it.

Seal the container tightly to prevent any air from getting in, which can affect the flavor. Refrigerate the cider for up to one week. 

Reheating and serving make-ahead hot apple cider:

When ready to serve the cider, pour the desired amount into a saucepan. Heat the cider gently over low to medium-low heat. Avoid boiling it, as this can change the flavor.

Taste the cider and adjust the sweetness if necessary. You can add brown sugar, maple syrup, or agave nectar to reach your preferred level of sweetness.

Continue to heat the cider until it’s hot but not boiling. Serve the hot apple cider in mugs or cups garnished with fresh cinnamon sticks or apple slices.

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Honeycrisp Apples

Hot Apple Cider

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  • Author: Chef Ani


  • 1/2 gallon apple cider
  • 1 cinnamon stick (ceylon)
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 3 orange slices
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup


In a crock pot add all ingredients and heat.  Do not boil.


This time of year I like to keep this drink in a crock pot, on the kitchen counter, ready to go, when we are expecting guests!  There is nothing that says welcome like Hot Apple Cider.  Your guests will love it!

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