I grew up drinking apple cider and homemade wassail (a spiced cider/tea with citrus) around the holidays, so when I had kids of my own I wanted to come up with my own apple cider recipe to keep the tradition going. Plus, given the cost of a gallon of organic apple cider, I thought I could save some money making it at home for my brood.
Most recipes online called for huge amounts of apples (even too much for us) and required canning and special equipment. I wanted to find a way to make a batch without canning since we would probably want to drink it that same day.
I immediately thought of making cider in the Crock-Pot. I loved the idea of the smell of baking apples filling the house all day while it cooked. They say smells trigger emotions and memories in the brain, and I believe it! Hot apple cider does that for me.
It’s easy to make too!
5-Minute Apple Cider Recipe (from Scratch)
We usually also make fresh applesauce when apples are in season in the Fall, so the first time I tried making this we had a mixture of different organic apples in the house. I used Fiji, Honeycrisp, and Gala, but any apples would work. I didn’t have to add any sweetener because those varieties were naturally sweet. (Note: If you use more sour apples, add a little honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar to the final product.)
I was pleased with the hands-on time for this recipe. It took about 5 minutes to wash, peel, and cut 10 apples. (My kids are pretty good with knives in the kitchen thanks to this class so that helps!)
After prep it’s really just a matter of waiting and taking in the heavenly smell of baking apples and spices as they cook down. All that’s left is to strain and serve!
We like cider best served warm, but we refrigerate the leftovers (when there are any) in a stainless steel pitcher and it’s wonderful cold as well.
Make This Apple Cider Recipe Even Better … with Butter!
Every heard of butter in your coffee? On special occasions (and when it’s cold enough outside) we’ve also made this into grown-up cider with this Hot Buttered Rum recipe from Mommypotamus. (It does seem to be true that butter makes everything better!)
If you haven’t ever had cider this way, I seriously urge you to try it … it’s amazing! Cider, maple syrup, a touch of butter, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and a dash of rum!
Now it’s a tradition we happily keep and serve for company during any holiday gathering.
How to Serve Apple Cider … the Wellness Mama Way
In typical healthy mom fashion, I serve this in smaller cups. I’ve even been known to stir in a few tablespoons of gelatin or collagen for an extra boost of protein to help my kids ride out the sugar rush. (They’ll never know as long as you serve it hot … let it get cold and they might notice!)
Put this apple cider recipe in the slow-cooker in the morning and have it ready for a cozy night around the fireplace with the family. Or, keep it warm in the slow-cooker for guests at a Fall party.
On the flip side, make this at night before bed and cook on low in the slow-cooker so it is ready for breakfast (on Christmas perhaps!). Bonus: your house will smell amazing all day!
Hot Apple Cider Recipe
Yield 1 gallon
Made from fresh apples in a slow-cooker or Instant Pot. Add citrus and cinnamon for a naturally sweet and spicy treat for a winter night!
- Wash apples and peel if they aren't organic.
- Cut into slices and place in slow cooker.
- Wash orange, cut into 8 slices, and add to slow-cooker.
- Add spices.
- Pour water into the slow-cooker and turn on low for about 6-8 hours. Or, see notes for 1-hour Instant Pot option! I use my Instant Pot on the slow-cooker option since I prefer to make this before bed and have it ready (and the house smelling incredible) for breakfast.
- Strain out apples, orange, and spices using cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer.
Serve hot or cold. Keep refrigerated for up to one week (if there's any left!)
1-Hour Instant Pot Option:
- Add all ingredients to pot.
- Fill with water to just below max fill line.
- Set to 1 hour on high pressure.
- Allow natural release and strain.
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Carbohydrates 15 g
Sugars 15 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Which drinks are a family tradition at your house?