Homemade Apple Cider

Homemade apple cider is a quintessential fall drink and we’re teaching you how to make a simple version using a slow cooker.

homemade apple cider in glass mugs

There’s something very special about homemade apple cider. You’ll savor its aroma as the mixture cooks, the delicious ways you can serve it all season long, and the fact that it’s made with real ingredients. We have a feeling you’ll make this recipe an annual fall tradition and you can even use it in apple cider sangria.

Tell Me About this Homemade Apple Cider

  • Consistency: The cider is smooth once you strain out the fruit.
  • Flavor: This is non-alcoholic apple cider made with just apples, citrus, cinnamon, cloves, and sugar (plus water). We usually make it so it’s more focused on the spices and not the sweetness, but you can sweeten the mixture as much as you like.
  • Ease: This is a very simple drink recipe requiring just 5 ingredients.
  • Time: Set aside 30 minutes to prep plus 8 hours for slow cooking.

homemade apple cider in a glass mug

No Slow Cooker? No Problem.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, use a large stock pot instead. Place all ingredients into your pot and bring everything to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours. Continue with mashing the fruit, cooking for an additional hour, and straining as instructed below.

Best Apples to Use in Homemade Apple Cider

For the best flavor, we strongly encourage using a variety of apples – some sweet, some tart.

  • Sweet apples we love: Jazz, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Gala, Fuji, and Cortland
  • Tart apples we love: Granny Smith, Braeburn, Jonathan, and Pacific Rose.

Why the orange? A little citrus balances out the apple flavor and pairs wonderfully with the spices.

fruit and cinnamon sticks for apple cider in slow cooker

You Control the Sugar

Sweeten to your taste. What we love most about homemade apple cider is that you can control the amount of sugar and spices. We all have different preferences, so make sure that you add enough sugar to suit your tastes. We usually only add 3-4 Tablespoons. For apple cider similar to what you purchase at the store, we recommend using 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

Overview: How to Make Homemade Apple Cider

This is a set it and forget it crockpot recipe. The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through it so you understand each step before you get started.

  1. Place everything in the slow cooker.
  2. Add water. Use enough to cover the fruit.
  3. Cook. 6-7 hours on low heat or 3 hours on high heat.
  4. Mash the fruits. Take a giant spoon and begin mashing up all those warm apples and oranges. (At this point, they’ll be super soft.)
  5. Simmer. Allow this liquid mash to cook for another hour.
  6. Strain. Use a fine mesh sieve to strain the cider.
  7. Serve warm.

slow cooker apple cider

homemade apple cider in mugs with cinnamon sticks

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homemade apple cider in glass mugs

Homemade Apple Cider

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: about 1 and 1/2 quarts
  • Category: Beverage
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American


Apple cider is a quintessential fall drink and we’re teaching you how to make a simple homemade version. For the best flavor, we strongly encourage using a variety of apples such as some sweet and some tart. See post above. For directions to make on the stove, see recipe notes below.


  • 1 orange
  • 10 medium apples (use a variety– I use Honeycrisp and Granny Smith)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (or 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • granulated sugar*


  1. Peel the orange and place the segments in a 4 quart or larger slow cooker. (Pictures show unpeeled- we prefer peeling it for a less bitter flavor.) Wash the apples, cut into quarters, and place in the slow cooker. Add the cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, and sugar. Add enough water to cover the fruit.
  2. Cook on low heat for 6-7 hours. (Or high heat for 3.)
  3. After 6-7 hours, the fruit will be very soft. Use a large spoon to mash the fruit and release its liquids. Allow the cider to cook on low for 1 more hour.
  4. Very slowly strain the chunky liquid though a fine mesh sieve into a large pot or pitcher. You can discard the solids. Strain the cider one more time to rid any other solids. Serve the cider warm.
  5. Leftover cider keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. Warm up on the stove before serving or enjoy it cold.


  1. Freezing Instructions: Cider can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
  2. Sugar: Adjust the sugar to your taste. We usually use 3-4 Tablespoons of granulated sugar for a spicier cider. If you prefer your apple cider on the sweeter side (like the kind you buy at the store), use 1/2 cup (100g) of granulated sugar.
  3. No Slow Cooker? No Problem! In step 1, place all of the ingredients into a large stock pot instead of a slow cooker. Turn the stove up to high heat and bring everything to a simmer while stirring occasionally. Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours. Mash the fruit as described in step 3. Then, allow the cider to cook for 1 more hour. Continue with step 4.
  4. Special Tools: Slow Cooker (4-quart or larger) & Fine Mesh Sieve

Keywords: apple cider, slow cooker apple cider


  1. Do you think I could add cranberries to it?

  2. Do you peel the apples before putting them in the slow cooker, or just the orange? This looks amazing! Can’t wait to make it! Thanks 🙂

    1. No need to peel the apples!

      1. I love the fact that it is fun to do and I can adjust the taste. 1st time making it had to tweak it a little. Not quite sure exactly what to put it in in the refrigerator -didn’t think about that only have plastic. But decided to use the crockpot itself to keep in the refrigerator for a few days.yum!

  3. I’m trying this with the sugar, but I was wondering if anyone had used brown sugar? 

    1. I use white sugar and brown towards the end of cooking. It works really well.

  4. I barely covered the apples with water and it was very weak tasting. I must say I was disappointed. I did cook it 3 hours on high, mashed it and then cooked an additional hour on low. I was so anxious to try this as we don’t get regular apple cider here in Germany. Next time I want/need apple cider I will just use the unfiltered apple juice and spice it.

    1. This may be a stupid question but I’m making this for the first time and it says to add enough water to cover the fruit but as you add water the apples float so now I’m guessing I put too much water in…should I have pressed down as I was adding water??

      1. Yes. I make pear cider and I have to hold the fruit down as I add the water. Once the water just comes over my hand I don’t add any more, and I do not cover the pot while cooking either. letting the water steam off as it cooks stops it from being diluted.

        The cider most people are used to, the cider we buy from the store, is pressed, not cooked out, hence the stronger flavor many people are accustomed to.

        If you make this time and again, and give your taste buds a chance to adjust, you will find it is very enjoyable. It’s all about what you’re used to.

  5. Do i need cloves?

  6. Oh Wow! Spent Thanksgiving away from home and normal routine this year. But I must say this recipe gave our dinner some extra excitements. The boys were so excited even just by the aroma, the taste is wonderful too. So easy to make even without the slow cooker. I am definitely going to be making this regularly. Thanks a lot for this recipe.

  7. Help! I made this recipe today and even after adding 1 cup of sugar, it is so bitter and orangey tasting! How do I counteract? More apples? More sugar???

    1. Hi Tara, you can add more sugar to fit your tastes– did you leave the orange peel on? Make sure the oranges are peeled– see step 1.

  8. Joshua J. Molloy says:

    I had a co worker make cider from scratch a few years back that was awesome. This year I decided to try making some. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember the measurements (did remember the ingredients). I wanted to share the few issues & fixes I had, along with a few tips. First issue was that all the fruite wanting to float pushing the lid off. I took a mixing bowl that fit most of the way into the pot & put a large can in the bowl as weight. The other issue was it tasted a bit watered down (this is a comment I saw on a lot of other sites also). What I did on the next batch besides using less water was letting the ingredients sit over night & straining it just before heating it back up. Last thing has to do with sugar. When my co worker made cider he didn’t use any. He used actual sugar cane he got from a specialty store in Phoenix. If you live in a small town like I do call around b4 driving around first. I ended up using a small amount of molasses and/or honey. Have a wonderful holiday season everyone.

  9. Anyone find ing useful to use the leftovers that are strained out?

    1. Applesauce!

  10. Made this recipe for a party and everyone loved it. I peeled the oranges. Add a few additional apples, and cooked it for a good 7 hours before straining. Will make again.

  11. It turned out great! I used a 5-quart slow cooker, two peeled oranges, 12-14 apples (Honey Crisp and Granny Smith) and just about doubled the spices. I didn’t use any sugar. Cooked for 7 hours. Mashed it all up and cooked for another 1 hour. Straining took longer than I thought and a little more effort than I thought it would. I felt like I had to press a lot of the apple mush into the sides of the strainer to release all of the juices. I will plan a better straining strategy for next time. Everyone loved it and I will make it again!

  12. Natalie Whiten says:

    I made this over the weekend and it was amazing! I bought big apples so it overflowed a bit. Next time, I will pick out the smaller ones. Straining it did take longer than I thought but in the end it was so delicious! Adding to thanksgiving this year!

  13. The apple mash is actually applesauce, so in answer to the above question, yes, it can be used as such. Or sweeten and spice it up with plenty of cinnamon and use as apple butter. Yum!

  14. Allyson Rogers says:

    Mine turned out better, even though I peeled the orange. I thought maybe from the apple seeds? I continued to cook the solids and I’m going to drain some liquid off and make apple butter.

  15. Just tried this today and it was SO good! I cooked it initially with just a dollop of honey and then added a little more at the end to cut the tartness of the apples. It’s so flavorful and delicious!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!

  16. Can you use whole cloves instead of ground?

    1. Absolutely

  17. Do you drain out the excess water in the crock pot? After it’s cooked. Or do you mash the apples and add it back to the water in the crock pot?

    1. The fruit and spice soaked water is the apple cider base, so add the mashed apples back into it. 🙂 Enjoy!

  18. This is such a nice idea for a healthy and delicious fall drink! (:

  19. Could I use an instant pot?

    1. Hi Rachel! I’m sure you could, but I actually don’t own one and haven’t tested it yet. Let me know if you try it!

      1. I’m trying it in my instant pot on slow cooker “more” setting (aka high), just because my instant pot was already on the counter!

  20. What I can use other than oranges? My husband is allergic therefore I wouldn’t be able to make this unless I substitute it. Thank you!

    1. Hi Minerva! You can leave out the oranges and replace with an extra apple and replace with 1/2 of a lemon.

    2. I made this recipe for the first time this weekend and it was amazing! So amazing, in fact, that I went back to the store the next day, bought more ingredients, and made it again! It was a hit with my family, such a fall drink essential!

  21. How much does this recipe make?

    1. This recipe yields about 1 and 1/2 quarts

  22. This was very easy to make and had great flavor, even if apples aren’t in their peak right now. I love it all year long.

  23. Valérie ILoveCakes says:

    Apple cider without cider, don’t you think there’s a bit of a problem here ? You should definitely change the name of your recipe, that’s ridiculous.

    1. That is a very rude comment. Why did you feel the need to say that? By the way, apple cider does not necessarily need to have alcohol in it. In the United States apple cider does not have alcohol, while hard apple cider is the term for when there is alcohol. Since Sally is an American baker, as are many of her blog followers, I would assume she named her recipe this so that us Americans would know what it was.

      It is one thing to be confused why something is named the way it is (when it may not be called that where you are from) – it is another to come onto a blog where someone posts FREE recipes for us all to enjoy, and be rude about it.

  24. Do I remove the seeds?

  25. If I want to double this recipe and I just double the ingredients does all the timing stay the same for cooking it?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rb, As long as your slow cooker or stock pot is large enough you should be able to double this with no problems. Your cook time may be longer with more ingredients.

  26. Kayleigh Reynolds says:

    Made this recipe and as per usual with all of your recipes, it was DELICIOUS!
    I’m just wondering if there is a way to make this a hard apple cider? Would you just put your booze of choice into the finished product? Or do you have to incorporate it into the recipe?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kayleigh, I recommend adding it after the cider is cooked (assuming you are not trying cook off the alcohol). 🙂 You may also enjoy this recipe for Apple Cider Sangria!

  27. My husband initially told me that for the number of apples, the recipe wasn’t worth it…and then he tasted it. He drank his words! This is, hands down, the BEST cider we’ve ever had. Simple to make, with a maximum flavor punch. We took it next level with your Cinnamon Sugar donuts to go along with it, and whoa…so delish!

  28. The photos are so pretty but mine turned out browny-green. What went wrong?

  29. Hi!
    This recipe is per-fect! And works out perfectly for all the rainy cold weather Minnesota’s been having!How much does this recipe yield? And do you think that Fugi or Pinklady apples would work?
    Thanks Sally, my family is alway on your site. The kitchen is always busy!!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Brooklyn, this recipe yields about 1 1/2 quarts. For the best tasting cider, we recommend using a variety of apples, tart and sweet — choose your favorites!

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