This winter, a mug of Mulled Cider will make you feel warm, toasty, and lucky to be an adult. This spice and brandy-spiked beverage scales up or down with ease, to suit any size crowd. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the chilly days.

Three glasses of mulled cider on a silver serving platter.

Hot Mulled Cider Day is officially September 30, but I usually enjoy it long past then and well into the winter. Not only is it a perfect warm-me-up after raking leaves or shoveling the driveway, but it also has the added benefit of making the whole house smell absolutely edible.

It’s been a grownup option at my family’s Thanksgiving dinner for years, but would also be a delicious tailgate cocktail, come to think of it…

Recipe ingredients:

Mulled cider ingredients in bowls and labeled.

Ingredient notes:

  • Spices: sachet is a fancy term for spices tied up in a piece of cheesecloth with twine. You could also use a tea ball or loose leaf tea bag to hold them. It makes it easier to pull these small ingredients out of the cider later. Or, you can just add everything straight to the pot since you strain the cider at the end. Either way, these get toasted before they’re added to the liquid to awaken their flavors.
  • Apple cider: If you’re lucky, you have access to a local orchard for the unfiltered stuff (not apple juice). Cider is also available at grocery stores (sometimes even Costco) on a seasonal basis, usually from early fall through the winter.
  • Orange zest: No need for the little threads of citrus zest; just take a vegetable peeler and make some broad peels off of the orange skin to throw into the pot.
  • Brown sugar: Takes the edge off the booze and adds richness. You might want to add more or less depending on your taste preference, as well as how sweet the cider is.
  • Brandy: I love the flavor of brandy and apple cider. You could use bourbon in a pinch, too.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. To begin, lightly toast the spices and cinnamon stick in a large, dry saucepan until fragrant, usually about 1 to 3 minutes. Stir or jostle the pan often.
    Spices in a silver stock pot.
  2. While still on the stove, pour in the cider, orange zest, and sugar. Gently simmer for 30 minutes to let the orange and spices mingle in the cider, and the sugar dissolve. Skim off any foam that may form on top of the liquid.
    Mulled cider in a silver stock pot.
  3. Carefully strain the hot liquid through a coffee filter-lined mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Throw away the leftover spices and orange peel, then return the cider to the saucepan.
    Liquid being strained into a clear bowl.
  4. Next, stir in the brandy. Once the spirits are added, the cider should still be hot enough to serve. Ladle into mugs and garnish.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • How to crack peppercorns: Keep peppercorns and coriander from flying everywhere by tucking them into a plastic bag, placing the bag on a stable surface, and firmly rocking the flat bottom of a heavy pan over them until they break apart.
  • Filter: A coffee filter provides some added protection and helps get every last bit of the cracked peppercorns, coriander, etc out of the drink. Use a square of cheesecloth, if you don’t have one.
  • Garnish: Orange wheels, a curled orange peel, thin apple slices, a cinnamon stick, or nothing at all.
  • Make ahead: Mulled cider can be refrigerated for up to a week. Just bring it to a simmer before serving.
  • Slow cooker: Make the cider on the stove and reheat in a crockpot on LOW for easy open house serving.

Three glasses and a carafe of mulled cider on a silver serving platter.

Warm up with more delicious recipes:

Three glasses of mulled cider on a silver serving platter.

Mulled Cider

This winter, a mug of Mulled Cider will make you feel warm, toasty, and lucky to be an adult. This spice and brandy-spiked beverage scales up or down with ease, to suit any size crowd. I can't think of a better way to enjoy the chilly days.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 12 servings
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Calories 166

Ingredients 

  • 1 cinnamon stick broken into pieces (see note 1)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns cracked
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds cracked
  • 7 whole cloves
  • 2 quarts apple cider (see note 2)
  • 4 (3-inch) strips orange zest (see note 3)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar plus more, to taste (see note 4)
  • 16 ounces brandy (see note 5)
  • orange slices for garnish

Instructions 

  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, toast cinnamon stick pieces, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and cloves, shaking occasionally until fragrant, about 1 to 3 minutes.
  • To the saucepan, slowly add cider, orange zest, and sugar. Simmer until flavors meld, about 30 minutes. Using a wide shallow spoon, skim any foam that may come to the surface.
  • Prepare a fine mesh strainer with a coffee filter and place over large bowl. Strain mixture through prepared strainer. Discard solids. Return cider mixture to saucepan and stir in brandy. Serve in mugs with orange slices for garnish.

Notes

  1. Spices: sachet is a fancy term for spices tied up in a piece of cheesecloth with twine. You could also use a tea ball or loose leaf tea bag to hold them. It makes it easier to pull these small ingredients out of the cider later. Or, you can just add everything straight to the pot since you strain the cider at the end. Either way, these get toasted before they're added to the liquid to awaken their flavors.
  2. Apple cider: If you're lucky, you have access to a local orchard for the unfiltered stuff (not apple juice). Cider is also available at grocery stores (sometimes even Costco) on a seasonal basis, usually from early fall through the winter.
  3. Orange zest: No need for the little threads of citrus zest; just take a vegetable peeler and make some broad peels off of the orange skin to throw into the pot.
  4. Brown sugar: Takes the edge off the booze and adds richness. You might want to add more or less depending on your taste preference, as well as how sweet the cider is.
  5. Brandy: I love the flavor of brandy and apple cider. You could use bourbon in a pinch, too.
  6. How to crack peppercorns: Keep peppercorns and coriander from flying everywhere by tucking them into a plastic bag, placing the bag on a stable surface, and firmly rocking the flat bottom of a heavy pan over them until they break apart.
  7. Filter: A coffee filter provides some added protection and helps get every last bit of the cracked peppercorns, coriander, etc out of the drink. Use a square of cheesecloth, if you don't have one.
  8. Garnish: Orange wheels, a curled orange peel, thin apple slices, a cinnamon stick, or nothing at all.
  9. Make ahead: Mulled cider can be refrigerated for up to a week. Just bring it to a simmer before serving.
  10. Slow cooker: Make the cider on the stove and reheat in a crockpot on LOW for easy open house serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cocktailCalories: 166kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 7mgPotassium: 159mgFiber: 1gSugar: 16gVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 16mgIron: 1mg
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