A Mug Of Comfort On Chilly Nights: Hot Apple Cider

Chilly Fall evenings are a nice break after the long, hot summer days behind us and there’s one thing that makes them even better: sipping on a delicious mug of hot apple cider.

This old-fashioned favorite is made by slow cooking apples (alternatively a ready made juice/cider) steeped with a peppering of comforting spices that compliment the natural sweetness of the fruit. It’s not hard to make your own and as with most things, it’s so SO much better when it’s homemade.

This week’s Recipe Hit List is a nice mix of hot apple cider goodies that I’ve handpicked from around the ‘net, plenty of flavor variations and tweaks to try. Some are made with fresh apples (to be served immediately), while others are for mulling ready-made cider with various spices.

I’ve listed the recipes first (including a sample of ingredients or summary quotes from the websites) then a few resources at the bottom that give instructions for brewing it from scratch.

If you enjoy sipping this on chilly Fall and Winter evenings, this is one list you’ll want to bookmark. Enjoy!


  1. Vanilla Lemon: (Yield: 6 to 8) The smell of this will make your head spin. It is Christmas in a cup and it’s absolutely delicious. I wish someone would capture this scent and make a perfume. Hmmm, maybe I’m on to something. Enjoy! Dragon’s Kitchen.
  2. Vanilla (spiked): (Yield: 6) When I saw this recipe in the latest Martha Stewart Living, I knew I would love it and I did. Warm, deep flavor and a great Fall feel. Loves To Eat.
  3. Mulled: (For 4 to 6) Cinnamon sticks; allspice berries; orange zest. Quote from the site: I looked up a few recipes and they were all basically the same. But the first one I made, from Ina Garten, was too sweet and not spicy enough. The next time, I eliminated all of the juice and just added the peel. Dave and I agreed that it was still too orangey, so I cut down the amount of peel even more. I also increased all of the spices, plus added one that wasn’t in the original – allspice, which was perfect. The Way The Cookie Crumbles.
  4. Cranberry: (8 to 12 mugs) Whole nutmeg; sugar; whole cardamom pods; lemon zest (optional); vanilla bean (optional). Cranberry juice adds a seasonal touch to this drink. Serve in half-pint Mason jars, topped with a slice of dried apple or a thin slice of clementine, and furnish a cinnamon stick for stirring and added flavor. Spices can be brewed loose (then strained) in the pot; or gather them crushed into an extra-large tea ball and immerse it in the warming brew, removing it before serving. The Washington Post.
  5. Spiced: (Approx. 8 cups) Orange; cloves; fresh ginger; brown sugar; optional Rum. This one’s so simple to make yet so good to drink. And for a grown up version, pour a shot of rum for a delightful warm Fall type cocktail. Savory Sweet Life.
  6. Caramel: (About 8 cups) Includes orange; cloves; jarred caramel sauce (optional: caramel flavored syrup); sweetened whipped cream. This is a relatively small batch with measurements that are easily doubled. From Our Best Bites.
  7. Cran: (6 to 8 mugs) Whole cloves; navel orange; lemon; cranberry; brown sugar; cinnamon sticks. This fills the house with warm Christmas aromas as it simmers. Taste of Home.
  8. Pomegranate: (6 Servings) Cinnamon sticks; whole allspice; fresh gingerroot; 100% pomegranate; liquid honey. This drink is not only a delicious starter but also a boost of nutrition. Pomegranates are loaded with vitamins B and C, potassium, folic acid and iron and are high in antioxidants, which may play a role in the prevention of cancer and heart disease. Canadian Living.
  9. Tea & Wassail: (22 servings) Freshly brewed tea; cranberry, orange juice; sugar; lemon. Optional slowcooker instructions available too. Better Homes And Gardens.
  10. Mulled: (5 cups) Look at the fragrant ingredients that make this so aromatic: cinnamon, cloves, star anise, bay leaves, ginger and lemongrass. Mmm, it’s practically a cure for a cold in itself. Feel free to spike it if you like! Under The High Chair.
  11. Buttered Bourbon: (4 Servings) Water; brown sugar; whole cloves; unsalted butter; bourbon; fresh lemon juice; ground nutmeg. Garnish this warming drink with lemon slices. From Epicurious.
  12. Wine: (Yield: 8) Dry white wine; honey; quince; rosemary sprig; lemon zest. From Food & Wine.
  13. Spiced: (20 Servings) Includes orange juice; maple syrup; orange extract; lemon extract. Next time you’re entertaining, stir up a batch of this nice drink. Taste of Home.
  14. Pie Spices: (Yield: 6) Brown sugar; cinnamon sticks; ginger; ground cloves; grated nutmeg; salt; Calvados, or other brandy (optional). Season using the same spices you would use in a pie then heat it up. If you’d like, pour in brandy for adults. From Martha Stewart.
  15. Sweet: (Yields 1 liter) Known in the U.S. and Canada as “sweet cider” because it’s not fermented like its “hard” cousin, this quintessential cool-weather sipper differs from standard grocery-store juice; the fresh crushed pulp and skins give it a unique tartness and an added texture. Relatively easy to whip up at home. Imbibe Magazine.
  16. Old Fashioned: (approx. 8 servings) Small orange; brown sugar; cinnamon sticks; nutmeg; whole cloves; water. It is incredibly easy and almost no prep work: just simmer fruit with your favorite spices, then strain and serve hot and steaming. From Chaos In The Kitchen.

Brewing From Scratch

  • Step-by-Step: Brewing from nonalcoholic, or “sweet” cider is a simple process, and the inebriating end product is as delicious as it is discombobulating. Here are the steps you’ll follow. Mother Earth News.
  • Home Brew from Scratch: This Instructable will explain the process for producing all natural, organic, 100% hand made hard cider, an alcoholic beverage made through fermentation. From Instructables.

Bonus: Cranberry: This looks like a good one to try. Made with Cranberries, Oranges, Lemons, Cloves and more. From Cut Out & Keep.

Also check out this page for a nice assortment of holiday beverages.

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