As Fall brings cozier weather, there’s no sweeter way to welcome the season than with Homemade Apple Cider. Enjoy it warm or chilled over ice, the flavors of fresh apples and a cozy blend of spices are delicious and smell amazing too.

You can use any variety of apples and you’ll love the warm blend of spices and natural sweetness from the apples and brown sugar.

Two glass mugs of apple cider topped with apples, oranges, and cinnamon sticks

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Apple Cider Recipe

Whether you’re looking for an alternative to Hot Chocolate to warm you up on a chilly day, or you’re trying to use up all of the apples that you picked at a local farm without having to eat your weight in Apple Pie, Caramel Apples, or Apple Turnovers, you are going to love this spiced cider recipe.

Hot Apple Cider is so soothing during the cooler months, it warms your entire body with every sip. The irresistible aroma while it simmers on the stove is better than any fancy candle you can buy- the scent will greet and comfort your guests as soon as they step into your home. This recipe is simple to make, you don’t even need to peel your apples. Just chop, simmer, strain, and serve.

We often serve special drinks like our Cranberry Punch, or Sherbet Punch when we host parties, and this Cider is the perfect addition to your Fall holiday celebrations.

Apple cider with cinnamon stick and apple and orange slices in a mug

Ingredients for Apple Cider

This recipe makes an authentic apple cider from scratch, but if time is an issue or you need a quick shortcut, you can use store-bought apple cider (see substitutions below).

  • Apples – 8-10 medium (or 4 lbs.), any variety or combination
  • Orange – adds citrus flavor notes to the sweet cider, peel for a less tart cider
  • Cinnamon – 3 medium or 4 small cinnamon sticks
  • Whole cloves – use 2 tsp whole or 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • Nutmeg – 1 whole nutmeg, or just a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Brown Sugar – adds comforting sweetness
  • Water – add enough water to cover your apples and watch it turn to amber brown as the flavors infuse into the water
Ingredients for homemade cider


Instead of brown sugar, you can add sweetness with honey, maple syrup, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, or any sweetener you prefer.

You can replace the water with store-bought cider. Reduce the apples down to one or two. Since store-bought cider typically already has sugar added, be sure to only add sugar to taste if needed.

The Best Apples to Use for Cider

We love using a variety of apples for homemade cider, they can even be imperfect- they’re going to be simmered and mashed to a pulp, so this is not an apple beauty contest. If you have a local apple farm, many will give a discount for the apples that have already fallen off of the trees, which are perfect for cider making- just be sure to give them a good rinse.

For the best apple cider, we like to use a mixture of sweet and tart apples. Use a combination of the varieties below:

Sweet apple varieties

  • Pink Lady
  • Honeycrisp
  • Fuji
  • Golden Delicious
  • Gala

Tart apple varieties

  • Granny Smith
  • MacIntosh
  • Cortland
Apple cider ingredients in a pot ready to simmer on the stove. Colorful apples, cinnamon, oranges, cloves, sugar

Pro Tip:

Apple cider is not just for drinking. You can use your cider to add extra flavor when baking. Incorporate apple cider into your recipes for pancakes, muffins, donuts, waffles, and more. Just substitute apple cider for some of the liquid the recipe calls for. You can also spritz apple cider onto meat when grilling or smoking chicken, pork, or beef.

How to Make Apple Cider

  • Chop – Core and roughly chop your fruit, no need to peel. We used this apple slicer to make the coring and cutting job even easier.
  • Fill Your Pot – Add fruit, spices, sugar, and water to your pot. Be sure the water covers the fruit.
  • Boil – Bring the pot to a boil then reduce heat and lightly boil uncovered for 1 hour. Reduce heat to medium/low heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.
  • Strain – Strain your cider through a fine mesh strainer or through a cheesecloth placed over a regular colander, into a punch bowl, pot, or slow cooker. Be sure to catch all of the solid ingredients. Squeeze to extract as much juice as possible.
  • Serve – Garnish with fresh fruit and serve. Cheers! (See more serving variations below)
Step by step photos of how to make apple cider. Chop, simmer, strain, serve.

Pro Tip:

Use a ladle to scoop the solids into your strainer first and press on the fruits with the back of your ladle or spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids, and then pour the rest of the pot into your strainer. This makes the pot less heavy to lift and pour.

Common Questions

What is the difference between apple cider and apple juice?

Both are made by pressing apples to extract the juice, but homemade apple cider is usually unfiltered, still containing some pulp and sediment while apple juice is filtered and more clear than cider. Apple juice is usually heated before bottling to extend its shelf life, which changes its color, flavor, and texture.

What kind of apples should I use for homemade apple cider?

You can use any kind of apple- your favorite or whatever you have on hand. We like to use a combination of apples to create the best flavor profile. Combine sweet and tart varieties (see our suggestions above).

Does apple cider have a lot of sugar in it?

Store-bought cider can tend to have a lot of added sugar in it. When you make your own cider, you can add as much or as little as you like and you can use natural sweeteners such as honey.

Should I use whole or ground spices?

This recipe is perfect for whole spices. The time on the stove simmering allows each spice to perfectly infuse the apple cider without adding extra grit or sediment. The solid ingredients are strained out at the end. If you only have ground spices, they are fine to use.

whole spices for apple cider

How to Serve Spiced Apple Cider

We love to serve this cider warm in clear glass mugs and garnish with:

  • Fresh apple slices – cut thin, add 1 or 2 slices per mug
  • Fresh orange slices – for a pop of color and aromatic flavor
  • Cinnamon sticks – use 1 small stick per mug for extra infused flavor and a picture-perfect mug of apple cider
  • Caramel Cream – serve warm with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce on top
  • Sparking Apple Cider – serve cold with sparking water or club soda for a bubbly treat
  • Apple Cider Ice Cream Float – add one scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce on top

Pro Tip

Use the strained leftover apple pulp to make a small batch of Apple Sauce or apple butter. It will be cinnamon-infused and delicious.

Apple cider garnished with apple and orange slices and a cinnamon stick. Served in a glass mug.


Allow your cider to cool completely and then store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Store in clean, glass mason jars, or another airtight container. Reheat on the stovetop before serving.

More Apple Recipes

If you enjoy all things apple flavored, then you won’t want to miss our other apple recipes.

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Homemade Apple Cider Recipe

5 from 28 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Apple cider garnished with apple and orange slices and a cinnamon stick. Served in a glass mug.
Hot Apple Cider is so soothing in the cooler months. Use a variety of apples for this homemade Cider Recipe with the perfect balance of sweetness and warm spices.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes


Servings: 10 servings (makes 1/2 gallon)
  • 4 lbs apples, assorted variety (about 8-10 medium apples)
  • 1 medium orange, peeled and quartered
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, or 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg, or 1 whole nutmeg
  • 2 tsp whole cloves, or 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, plus more to taste (we used 3/4 cup total)*
  • 10 to 11 cups water


  • Core and roughly chop your apples (no need to peel). Place them in a large pot, at least 5 1/2 quarts. Quarter your orange and add it to the pot.
  • Add spices: cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Add sugar and then pour in enough water to cover your fruit.*
  • Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium heat and lightly boil uncovered for 1 hour. Reduce heat to medium/low heat, cover, and simmer for another 2 hours. The juice should begin to turn amber in color when it's finished. Add more sugar and hot water to taste. It should be sweet and spicy.
  • Strain your cider through a fine mesh strainer or through a cheesecloth placed over a regular colander, into a large bowl or punch bowl. Squeeze to extract as much juice as possible and discard the fruit pulp. Serve hot.


If your pot doesn’t fit 11 cups of water, add the remaining water in later. Your mixture will be more concentrated and you can dilute it down with more boiling hot water after it’s finished.
*You can use your favorite sweetener such as honey, maple syrup, vanilla, or even granulated sugar and just add it to taste. 

Nutrition Per Serving

146kcal Calories38g Carbs1g Protein0.4g Fat0.1g Saturated Fat0.1g Polyunsaturated Fat0.03g Monounsaturated Fat0.001g Trans Fat17mg Sodium239mg Potassium5g Fiber31g Sugar131IU Vitamin A15mg Vitamin C44mg Calcium0.4mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Apple Cider Recipe
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Beverage
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple cider, hot apple cider
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $
Calories: 146

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

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Recipe Rating


  • Charlie
    December 18, 2023

    This is a great recipe. I’ve made it multiple times, and will continue to do so.


    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 18, 2023

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Charlie!


  • Barbara
    November 13, 2023

    Hi, Natasha! Happy Thanksgiving season. I’ve been following you, have made several of your recipes and purchased your cookbook. Thanks! With this apple cider, how far in advance can I make it that it’ll still be delicious for Thanksgiving?


      November 13, 2023

      Hi Barbara! I’m glad you’re loving the recipes! See my note in the blog under, “storage” for instructions. Happy Thanksgiving!


      • Barbara Polixa
        November 15, 2023

        Duh (lol). I’m looking forward to making and serving this treat.
        Thanks for your guidance.


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