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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 or as a crucial ingredient in apple cider donuts.

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

More Fall Recipes

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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 1x
  • 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)
  • 1 teaspoon 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.) Rinse the apples, cut into quarters, and place in the slow cooker. Add the cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, and sugar. Add just 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 1/4 cup (50g) 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. 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!

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

  3. 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. 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!

  4. Hi, I’m Sil from Brazil.
    My daughter lived in Idaho, for a while and brought this recipe. We love it. We are now in winter. I will prepare again

  5. Can you replace the orange with orange juice? I don’t have any oranges on hand

    1. Hi Jennifer, You could! Orange juice will be a bit sweeter so you may want to use a bit less sugar. Let us know if you give it a try!

      1. I added too much water. What can I do to boost flavor if this happens again (besides not adding too much water.)

  6. Mine turned out a bit bitter. Some people recommend removing the cores, seeds, & stems to reduce bitterness. Similarly: how long before this starts to ferment & turn?

  7. Hello!
    Is it possible to use honey or maple syrup to sweeten the apple cider instead of granulated sugar? Thank you!!

    1. Hi Fran, We haven’t tested it but we don’t see why not! Just add enough at the end until you reach your desired sweetness. Enjoy!

  8. I love this recipe! It tastes much better than store bought and it’s easy to make. The first time I made this, it was a bit bitter for my taste. I followed the recipe using only 3 tablespoons of sugar. So the next time I made it, I reduced the cloves to 1 tsp instead of 2 and I added 1/2 cup of sugar, also suggested in the recipe. It was so good!! Thanks, Sally!

  9. Could this cider be made and then canned for longer preservation?

    1. Hi Amanda, we don’t have much experience with canning, but let us know if you try it!

  10. Instead of cooking on top of the stove, you can put your vessel in a 250 degree oven. This slow cooking method works well with stews, sauces, and braising meats.
    Your recipes have yet to disappoint.

  11. Hi! Mine turned out watery. Any fix-it tips? The flavor is great, just not very strong

    1. Hi Courtney, try reducing it on the stove– simmer over medium heat in a large pot for 10-20 minutes or until slightly reduced. If you ever try the recipe again, you can add another apple or use slightly less water.

    1. HI Kit, yes, the cider keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days.

  12. I just wasted 10 apples. Way too much cloves, way too little sugar. It just taste like hot clove tea, it’s awful

  13. How many apples would you use if using small apples? Making this next weekend for a family get together and thought about getting the 3 or 5 pound bags of apples.

    1. Hi Haley, The 3 pound bag should work well. Enjoy!

  14. Hello! I just wanted to add a note here, be sure you core the apples before you use them. Apple seeds, and seeds from several other fruits, contain arsenic. True it would take a cup full of ground up seeds to poison a person, but I still will not add them to foods I am cooking, making, creating for human consumption..

  15. Hi there, can you give me the approximate amount of water you use? I’ll be using my instant pot so I thibk the amount may be different from what you’ve used. Thank you!

    1. Hi Jessica, We’ve never made this in the insta pot but you can certainly try it. You should still need just enough water to cover the apples. Let us know if you give it a try!

  16. This was my first time making apple cider, and it came out AMAZING! I did a smaller portion, 3 Honeycrisp apples, 1 small orange and used allspice instead of cloves and it was perfect. Will definitely share this recipe.

  17. I’m excited to try this recipe! Has anyone tried this with an Instant Pot?

  18. I want to try this recipe but my son really loves cold apple cider. Can I make this as a cold and hot cider?

    1. Hi Kathy, absolutely, you can enjoy the cider hot or cold once finished. Hope your son enjoys it!

  19. Good and tender, one warning, do not turn your back when reducing cider…it turns into sticky taffy really quickly.