Thursday, December 17, 2020

Wassail Recipe (Hot Apple Cider Drink)

Our Wassail recipe is a tasty drink made with apple cider, fruit juice, and mulling spices. Make this hot cider recipe in the crockpot or on the stove!

Title text (shown in clear mugs): Wassail Hot Apple Cider Drink
A warm mug of something sweet and spiced is the perfect touch to any winter evening. This recipe makes enough for guests or to enjoy by yourself all week long.

Get a little boozy at your holiday party with a Nutty Apple Cocktail! It’s got plenty of caramel undertones to complement the rich apple and hazelnut flavors.

My Cranberry Crave Cocktail recipe adds sophistication to any event, and is sure to impress your guests. Smooth cognac and sweet liqueurs combine perfectly with tart cranberry juice.

And don’t forget the kids! This Disney Frozen Snowball Punch is made with just four ingredients and has scoops of ice cream floating on top for a frosty touch.

Our friend Allen brought Wassail to our Christmas party a few years ago and we have been hooked ever since.

I played with the recipe a little, but either way it is amazing and a beloved new tradition in our house. Everyone always asks for the recipe, so you know it's good.

Wassail ingredients on a wood board

What is wassail?

Originally, the term was used as a greeting shared by neighbors and carolers, or as part of a toast made with a mug of cider at winter gatherings.

Over time, the term became more associated with the drink itself rather than for the wish of good cheer.

There isn’t much difference between wassail and hot mulled cider. Both are made with a sweet apple cider and infused with warm spices.

wassaikl recipe liquids combined in a pot

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
  • Apple Cider - It’s important to use cider and not juice because it has a richer and more complex flavor. I like to use Musselman’s but feel free to use your favorite brand.
  • Brown Sugar - Replace with 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup if you prefer.
  • Pineapple Juice - This has a nice balance of tart and sweet, but cranberry juice is another popular choice.
  • Cinnamon Sticks - Ground cinnamon has a tendency to float on the surface, so sticks are best for simmering. However, about 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon can be used if needed.
  • Whole Cloves - Use 1 teaspoon of ground cloves if whole ones aren’t available.

adding apple to the pot

Making the Easy Wassail Recipe

Add everything to a stockpot on the stove and simmer for an hour or two until warm and fragrant. If you want a less fussy version you can skip the fruit.

Then, scoop out the fruit and whole spices with a slotted spoon or drain the liquid through a sieve. It is SO simple!

I like to store it in jugs in the fridge and warm up a cup at a time in the microwave. For a party I like to keep it hot in an airpot.

Crockpot Apple Cider Instructions
Simply combine everything in your slow cooker and cook on Low for 6-8 hours or High for 3-4 hours.

Because of the amount this makes, you will need to split the ingredients between two crock pots, or reduce the recipe so it fits into one.

lemon juice poured into the pot

What You Will Need For This Hot Cider Recipe
  • Use one large Slow Cooker or two smaller 4-quart ones. For the stovetop, you’ll just need a Large Pot
  • Citrus Juicer - This gets every last drop out, which makes juicing lemons so much easier.
  • Sieve - Great for straining liquid or sifting dry ingredients to prevent clumps. You can even use it to dust powdered sugar over desserts! Or, scoop solids out with a slotted spoon instead.
  • Funnel - We keep apple cider jugs to store our wassail in, so this is a must! It makes transferring liquids to separate containers quick and easy.
  • Airpot - With pump action pouring, it is a party must have. It is perfect for keeping hot drinks hot, and cold drinks cold. And makes serving so easy!

pot full of wassail recipe

FAQ - Common Recipe Questions

How long does crockpot apple cider last in the refrigerator?
The drink will stay fresh for 7-10 if you keep it in a sealed container. To combine any sediment that may settle at the bottom, be sure to give it a good stir or shake first.

strain out the fruit and spices

Can I add alcohol to this wassail recipe?

Absolutely! Bourbon, brandy, and dark rum are the most popular choices, but flavored liqueurs or sweet red wine would also taste great!

Either add it in addition to the other ingredients or substitute it for some of the cider instead. Or, add a shot of your preferred alcohol to the bottom of a mug before pouring in the mulled cider.

hot cider recipe in a pot

What other spices can I use?
Experiment with different combinations to find your favorite blend, but use whole spices for better flavor. You could even add a piece of fresh ginger when simmering as well!
  • Allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • Star anise
  • White peppercorns
  • Cardamom

wassail recipe


With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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crockpot apple cider

Yield: 24-36 servings (depends on your cup)
Author: Donna Elick
Wassail Hot Apple Cider Drink

Wassail (Hot Apple Cider Drink)

Wassail is a tasty drink made with apple cider, fruit juice, and mulling spices. Make this hot cider recipe in the crockpot or on the stove!
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 2 HourTotal time: 2 H & 5 M


  • 1 gallon apple cider (I use Musselman’s)
  • 4 cups no pulp orange juice
  • 46 ounces 100% pineapple juice
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 10 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Granny Smith apple (washed, cored and quartered)
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple (washed, cored and quartered)
  • 1 navel orange, (washed and quartered)
  • Garnish: extra orange or apple slices, and cinnamon sticks (optional)


  1. Combine liquid ingredients in a large stock pot. Stir in brown sugar, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks.
  2. Top with cut fruit, keeping the rinds and peels facing up towards the surface of the liquid.
  3. Heat on medium until boiling, and then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 1-2 hours.
  4. Remove fruit, cinnamon sticks and cloves. You can strain the wassail through a sieve if you prefer.
  5. Ladle into heat-safe mugs, top with garnish and enjoy.
  1. Keeps for 7-10 days in the refrigerator. We keep the apple cider jugs and store it in them.
  2. Wassail can also be served cold.
  3. You can cook this in a slow cooker. The whole recipe won’t quite fit in a 6 quart slow cooker so you can split it into 2 or cut the recipe down. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  4. This can also be made in an instant pot on the slow cooker setting.(using it as a crock pot)
  5. To reduce tartness, you can add extra orange, pineapple, or apple cider juice.

Title text (pictured in clear mugs): Wassail Hot Apple Cider Drink

Originally published December 2020

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