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Hot Mulled Cider

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Learn how to make the most delicious, alcohol free Hot Mulled Cider – perfect for chilly fall and winter evenings. This classic holiday drink is spiced with cinnamon, star anise, orange and cloves for an old fashioned mulled cider recipe that will take your apple juice to the next level!

side view of two glass mugs of hot mulled cider

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It’s the season for Hot Mulled Cider! An absolutely incredibly delicious fall or holiday beverage. Easy to make… and a perfect way to warm up on chilly nights.

I have a special love for hot cider. My husband and I were married in November. It was a chilly, blustery day with late autumn color. It was spectacular. When our guests reached the reception, hot mulled cider was waiting for them. 

Come November, you can imagine I’m making this cider often!

Whether you wait until New Years, or Twelfth Night… or are like me and begin mulling cider when the apples ripen on the trees, I wish you ves heill. All season long. Curl up by the fire with this delicious, soul-warming cider.

Copper pan of hot cider ingredients

Is Hot Mulled Cider Like Wassail?

Essentially… yes.

The word ‘wassail’ comes from the Old Norse ves heill which literally means… good health or to be in good health.

The ancient tradition of wassailing was the Middle Ages practice of visiting door-to-door, singing, and being offered a drink the from wassail bowl in exchange for gifts. Although still practiced in Northern England and Scotland, the tradition has largely been replaced by caroling.

Wassailing is most often celebrated on New Years or Twelfth Night (January 5 or 6), and was a charitable exchange of sorts between feudal lords and their peasants.

“Wassail” appears in English literature as a salute as early as the eighth-century poem “Beowulf.” 

And, of course, in the lyrics to a loved English carol, composed in 1850:

Here we come a-Wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a wandering,
So fairly to be seen.
Here we come a wandering
So fairly to be seen.
Love and joy come to you
And to you a Wassail too
God bless you and send you,
A Happy New Year
God send you a Happy New Year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use lemon instead of orange?

Yes, and I also love using a mix of both. Lemon will add a little more tartness to the mulled cider, so depending on the variety of apple in your apple juice you may want to add a little more sugar to taste.

Do I need to use whole spices?

I think cinnamon sticks and cloves infuse better, but you can use a pinch of ground cloves in a pinch, and a little ground cinnamon instead if you really have to.

Should I use apples or apple juice?

Especially when they are in season you’ll get a better flavor if you juice your own apples, but if you don’t own a juicer store bought juice will be just fine here!

overhead view of cider ingredients including oranges, apples and star anise.

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side view of two glass mugs of hot mulled cider

Hot Mulled Cider

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Hot Mulled Cider is a delicious autumnal or holiday drink, incredibly quick and easy to prepare, and a perfect way to warm up chilly nights.


Units Scale
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 star anise (optional)
  • 1/2 orange, sliced
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, heat over medium heat until the cider comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Strain the spices and serve warm in mugs.
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Additional Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Beverages
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 136
  • Sugar: 28
  • Sodium: 11
  • Fat: 0
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 34
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 1
  • Cholesterol: 0


  1. A late Happy Anniversary My husband and I were also married Nov 1997 for 24 yrs now I have never made Wassail but I will give it a try now for Christmas and our anniv in 2022 Thanks Dorothy P.S. Wishing you and family Merry Christmas

    1. Thank you, Dorothy! Happy Anniversary to you too ❀️. November is such a great month to be married in. Wassail and cider and all! Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  2. Hot Mulled Cider β˜•πŸπŸ‚πŸπŸ‚πŸŒΎπŸŒΎπŸπŸ‚β˜•a Perfect Drink for Relaxing on a Chilly afternoon
    Thank you for the recipe #31 daily.com
    To Good Health all year through

    1. You made my day, Shelby! I absolutely love this recipe too — in fact, I’ve been sipping on a batch this weekend myself! Thank you so much for your kind words πŸ™‚

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