Herbal Wassail Recipe

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Ever since the first Christmas I can remember, I woke up to the warm smell of cinnamon, apple, cranberry, and orange simmering in the crock pot. It was a tradition that came from my grandparents (and perhaps their parents) of making the holiday drink called wassail.

What is Wassail?

The traditional wassail recipe is an ancient Anglo-Saxon drink made with apple cider, citrus of some form, and winter herbs. Historically it also contained hard alcohol. It’s delicious, and will warm you up on a cold winter day! Several years ago I found a way to incorporate herbs into the recipe for some added health benefits.

Some recipes call for brown sugar, but I find that the natural fruit is sweet enough on its own. There are several different versions with ingredients like orange juice, lemon juice, or apple juice. This blend opts for a blend of pineapple, cranberry, and apple cider instead.

You could add in some apple slices, allspice, or star anise if desired. Personally, I love this warm drink recipe just how it is!

The History of Wassail

The word wassail wasn’t known as just a delicious beverage though. It was used as a tiding or toast to good health. Its first known use as a salute in literature is in the 8th-century poem Beowulf. The old-time tradition of “wassailing” also evolved and was a gathering of friends. Over time wassailing came to involve caroling and Christmas parties too.

What is the Difference Between Mulled Wine and Wassail?

The recipes are fairly similar, but my wassail recipe doesn’t have wine in it. Some people will add brandy or hard cider to their wassail after it’s done simmering. Mulled wine has a lot of the same spices, but it doesn’t usually have the added juice that you’ll find in Wassail.

Making wassail has now become a family tradition with my own family (as well as making glühwein, a spiced wine punch). They say smell is closely tied to memory and the scent of this homemade wassail definitely brings back good memories for me, just as I hope it will for my children.

Herbal Wassail

My recipe is a little different than some of the more traditional ones because it has a hearty dose of herbal tea. I use a blend of nutritive herbs, including raspberry leaf, dandelion, alfalfa, and nettle. These herbs are high in minerals and nutrients that are widely considered safe for both children and adults. Even during pregnancy and breastfeeding. I generally avoid all herbs in medicinal amounts during the first trimester of pregnancy though.

Herbal wassail is a delicious warming drink and it will make your house smell amazing too!

wassail recipe

Herbal Wassail Recipe

A delicious warm spiced cider mixed with herbal tea, cranberry, and orange.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Calories 105kcal
Author Katie Wells


16 cups



For the Herbal Tea

For the Wassail


Brew the Herbal Tea

  • In a medium-sized saucepan or a tea kettle, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
  • Remove the water from the heat and add the red raspberry leaf, alfalfa, nettle, and dandelion leaf.
  • Allow the herbs to steep for 10-20 minutes.
  • Strain the tea and add it to a slow cooker, discarding the herbs.

Make the Wassail

  • Peel the oranges and divide them into sections.
  • Poke the cloves into the orange sections.
  • Add the clove-studded orange sections to the slow cooker with the herbal tea.
  • Add the cider, juices, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and ginger to the slow cooker.
  • Stir and heat for at least one hour.
  • Serve warm with a fresh orange slice and cinnamon stick.


Nutrition Facts
Herbal Wassail Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 105 Calories from Fat 5
% Daily Value*
Fat 0.5g1%
Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
Trans Fat 0.003g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.05g
Sodium 13mg1%
Potassium 255mg7%
Carbohydrates 26g9%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 21g23%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 192IU4%
Vitamin C 20mg24%
Calcium 59mg6%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Stovetop instructions: Combine everything in a large pot on the stove and heat over medium heat until warm.
You can also simmer the wassail on low in your slow cooker overnight to wake up to the lovely scent of cinnamon and oranges in the morning.

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How to Store and Reheat the Wassail Recipe

If you find yourself with some leftover herbal wassail, it can be stored in the fridge for several days. It also reheats well on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.

More Warming Drinks

Check out some of my other favorite hot drink recipes here. These are perfect for the winter season, Christmas, or to ring in the New Year!

Have you ever made wassail before? What’s your favorite way to make it? Leave a comment and let me know!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


6 responses to “Herbal Wassail Recipe”

  1. Adam Avatar

    Greetings Katie, I am living in Germany and gluvine is actually spelled Glühwein with a capital G. Also I have done a lot of research on Celtic traditions and I found that Wassail was a drink commonly drunk at the time of Yule or Winter Solstice and it is an old English drink.

  2. Michael-ann Hancox Avatar
    Michael-ann Hancox

    Thank you very much for this fun and interesting holiday drink. I love that you used cleansing herbs with it. I can always count on you to keep it delicious and super healthy!!

    Thanks again!

  3. Joann Schermerhorn Avatar
    Joann Schermerhorn

    I grew up on Wassail! My sweet mama always made it. When she passed, I took over the Wassail tradition. I found your recipe a few years ago and my family loved it! It felt like mom was there with us. It’s been a few years now and my family has requested I make this delicious version of Wassail again for the holidays. Thank you so much!

  4. Blair Avatar

    Thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe. It was a joy to make it and a joy to incorporate the wassail tradition into our new years eve spectacular family night. What a gift. Thanks for sharing your wisdom on this and the many other tidbits I have learned from you and haven’t taken the time to thank you for (til now). Peace, prosperity, and happiness be yours this year! Wassail!

  5. Faye Avatar

    Borax is just now known to cause cancer, is a hormone disrupter, and is toxic. Now only good to kill ants. Now not for sale in Sweden, or Europe.
    Never use ammonia, just by opening one arm length away from my face to pour on husbands work, sweat armpit stains,a small amount,the smell was toxic, I closed the lid, ran out of laundry room. It burnt the inside of my nose, and throat. Headache and dizzy with nasal drip. Go natural with baking soda products forget borax,ammonia, and also forget bleach as well. I never mixed anything with the ammonia, did not add laundry soap, nothing. Very dangerous, get it out of all homes. Being hurt is no fun!

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