Homemade Apple Cider

Homemade apple cider is a quintessential fall drink, so I’m teaching you how easy it is. We’re using a slow cooker, fresh fruit, and fall spices to make this simple and flavorful cider– your house will smell like fall all day long! Cheers.

homemade apple cider in glass mugs

There’s something very special about homemade apple cider. I love how the house smells as it simmers, the delicious ways to serve it all season long, and that it’s made with 100% real ingredients– no preservatives or crazy additives. It’s actually really easy to make and I have a feeling you’ll revisit this recipe every year!

Apple Cider Ingredients

You only need 5 ingredients to make slow cooker apple cider. Because there are so few ingredients, the flavors truly shine and you can actually taste the homemade goodness.

  • Apples: Use a variety of apples for best tasting cider.
  • Orange: One orange balances out the apple flavor and pairs wonderfully with the spices.
  • Cinnamon Sticks + Cloves: These spices go hand-in-hand with anything apple.
  • Sugar: Adds sweetness.

homemade apple cider in a glass mug

Best Apples to Use in Homemade Apple Cider

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

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

fruit and cinnamon sticks for apple cider in slow cooker

How to Make Homemade Apple Cider

This is a set it and forget it crockpot recipe.

  1. Place everything in the slow cooker.
  2. Add water. Use enough to cover the fruit.
  3. Cook. 6-7 hours on low heat, 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 simmer for another hour.
  6. Strain. Use a fine mesh sieve to strain the cider.

That’s it!

No 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.

slow cooker apple cider

You Control the Sugar & Spices

What I love most about homemade cider is that you can control the amount of sugar and spices. I find apples to be super sweet on their own, so I add very little sugar to my homemade apple cider. We all have different preferences, so make sure that you add enough sugar to suite your tastes. For apple cider similar to what you purchase at the store, I recommend using 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.

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

Description

For the best flavor, I strongly encourage using a variety of apples– some sweet, some tart. See recipe notes for how to make this apple cider on the stove.


Ingredients

  • 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*

Instructions

  1. Peel the orange and place the segments in the slow cooker. (Pictures show unpeeled- I prefer peeling it. Less bitter.) 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. Leftover cider keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. Warm up on the stove before serving– or drink it cold!

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Cider can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
  2. Sugar: Adjust the sugar to your taste. I only use a couple Tablespoons of granulated sugar because I prefer spicy cider as opposed to sweet. 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 higher), Fine Mesh Sieve, Ground Cloves, and Glass Mugs
  5. Adapted from All Recipes.

Keywords: apple cider, slow cooker apple cider

Homemade apple cider in the slow cooker! It's so, so easy! Learn how on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Homemade apple cider in the slow cooker! It's so, so easy! Learn how on sallysbakingaddiction.com

130 Comments

  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!

  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??

  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.

  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?

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