Mulled apple cider is a warm fall drink, perfect for removing the chill from your bones! It’s an easy drink to make and yet, special enough to serve to company. This post was sponsored by North Coast Organic and Kitchen PLAY, but all opinions are my own.

With holiday parties on the horizon, it’s time to plan for some terrific food and drinks, and Hot Apple Cider is clearly a winning choice.

Hot apple cider in a white mug a slice of orange to garnish

Why You Must Make

Our winters are chilly around here, and I sip on hot tea day in and day out to keep warm. Miss Izzy, our lab puppy, loves to sit on my feet and that, too, helps keep me toasty. When I had a group of nearly 50 of my volunteer friends over for a coffee, we had the requisite pot of coffee brewing, a teapot filled with piping hot water, and a pot of fragrant and delicious mulled apple cider. It was a hit!

  • It only takes minutes to prepare and fills the house with a lovely autumnal aroma.
  • Mulled cider is super easy to prepare.
  • Later, when I had some girlfriends over for a chilly October driveway visit mid-pandemic, they also gave this cider recipe rave reviews!

Ingredient Notes:

  • Kitchen Staples – sugar
  • Apple Cider – I used Northcoast Organic’s Apple Cider which has no sugar added
  • Cloves
  • Star Anise – I love the look of these floating in the cider. I found them locally at Fresh Market.
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Allspice
  • Vanilla Bean Pod
  • Navel Orange
Mulled Apple Cider in a stock pot with orange slices and spices.

How to Make

This mulled apple cider recipe is totally customizable to your tastes. But no matter what you add to your cider, the process of making mulled cider is very easy. There are seasoning packets you can buy, but it’s so darn easy to make, that once you give it ago, it will become a cold-weather tradition!

  1. Add cider, spices, vanilla, and orange slices to a large pot. 
  2. Bring to a simmer and gently cook for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Taste and add sugar if needed.
  4. Serve hot with a cinnamon stick or orange slice in each mug.
  5. You can move the mulled cider to a slow cooker to keep warm for your guests if desired.

Expert Tips

  • First, make sure you have all the ingredients. A good brand of apple cider is key. You may not have whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, vanilla pod, and especially any star anise in your kitchen. You can definitely customize your apple cider mulling spices, but I love this combination.
  • You can always use a pinch or two of ground cloves and a little vanilla extract to substitute for the whole spices. But try to pick up some cinnamon sticks and star anise as they look beautiful floating in the serving vessel.
  • Of course, you can always leave out the cloves or star anise if that’s your preference.
  • A couple of lemon slices (or peel) can be added in addition to the oranges, but make sure to taste the mulled cider for sweetness if you add lemon.
  • If you’d rather add honey to sweeten instead of sugar, go for it.
  • You can move the mulled cider to a slow cooker to keep warm for your guests if desired.
  • And for an adult gathering, feel free to pour in some rum!
  • Serve it up with some shortbread cookies or scones for a special treat.

I hope you enjoy this hot toddy as much as my friends and I did. Whip up some mulled apple cider for your next fall or winter gathering!

Mulled Apple Cider topped with an orange slice in a round mug.

 Frequently Asked Questions

What is Mulled Cider?

The word mulled is a British term for wine heated with sugar and spices, which was most often served around Christmas. It has expanded to mean more than just alcoholic beverages, including hot drinks like this cider enhanced with citrus fruit and spices.

Where Did Mulled Cider Originate?

Its roots are British and it may be descended from Wassail, a drink made with ale or wine, sweetened with sugar, and flavored with spices.

Can You Add Alcohol to Mulled Cider Recipe?

Yes, it will maximize the “warming” power when indulging after sledding or skiing. Consider adding rum, spiced rum, brandy, or bourbon to spike your warm cider

What Are Some of the Mulling Spices Used in Warm Cider?

Besides adding slices of citrus fruits, spices like cinnamon, cloves, and allspice or nutmeg are used to flavor mulled cider. I also like adding star anise since the beautiful, unusual 8-segmented stars look lovely floating in the cider. A vanilla bean pod is another tasty addition.

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Mulled Apple Cider collage with a photo and a text box

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Hot apple cider in a white mug a slice of orange to garnish

Mulled Apple Cider Recipe

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Yield 16

This jazzed up apple cider makes for a terrific autumn or winter drink.


  • 1 gallon apple cider, North Coast Organic is recommended
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • A pinch of allspice
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, split
  • 1 navel orange, sliced
  • ¼ cup sugar, optional


  1. Pour apple cider into a large pot. Add spices, vanilla bean, and orange slices.
  2. Heat to just a simmer and let cook on low to allow the flavors to meld for about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Taste and add sugar if desired.
  4. Serve hot.


The sugar is optional. Taste and see if you'd like a sweeter drink before adding.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 mug

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 132Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 11mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 1gSugar: 28gProtein: 0g


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