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

Description

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.


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 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.

Notes

  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

50 Comments

  1. I made this apple cider for my husband and he loves it.. Plus I have been trying to figure out a way to get rid of a 40 gallon tote of apples I got… Plus I love the fact you can freeze it up to 3 months… So good bye apples hello happy husband who loves cider on cold mornings..

  2. I made this last night and got barely any liquid from the apples…instead I put in through a larger strainer to end up with applesauce. I let I cook overnight…so close to 9 hours. Did I let the fruit cook down too much? (Wrong apple product but it tasted good at least!)

    1. Lindsay, I’m afraid 9 hours is too long. You want the apples soft enough to mash, but not completely falling apart. If you want to try again, cook for 6 hours, mash, then the final hour.

  3. Thanks so much! I intended to get up earlier to pull them but that didn’t obviously happen 🙂  I look forward to trying again (the right way this time)!

  4. I made this yesterday and loved it!  And the house smelled fantastic all day!  I hate to be wasteful so I made apple butter out of the remaining solids, which also turned out great.  The only tedious part was removing the bits of peel from the solids.  Do you think the cider would taste the same if I peel the apples first?

  5. Ok. So I thought I totally screwed this up today! I strained everything out and had almost NO juice! I was so confused! Then I read back through the recipe and saw that I FORGOT TO ADD THE WATER! Good grief.  So I added water to my half gallon jug to make it come to about 1.5 quarts, poured some out and hoped for the best.  Success!! Next time, I will be sure to add the water! Sally, this is yet another wonderful recipe from you! Oh! And I also made pumpkin spice toffee from your cookbook today!! SO good!! Thanks for all you do! 

  6. Hi Sally,

    Is it okay to leave the cider in the crockpot on low if I bring it to my office, to keep it warm throughout the day? So excited to make this! 

    1. Yes, definitely! Lucky coworkers!

  7. Beth Marcelle says:

    I am dying to make this but I only have a 2.5 qt slow cooker….can the recipe be cut in half to compensate??

    1. You can halve this recipe, yes.

  8. Gonna try your honey crisp sangria for thanksgiving then saw your cider recipe.  Made the cider today & it is delicious!  Could not believe how easy it was to make the cider & looking forward to the sangria on turkey day, Thanks!

  9. I made this the other night and it was delicious…so much better than store bought.  Thanks for sharing. 

  10. Omg…the best apple cider ever!!! I made yesterday for Thanksgiving, everyone loved…adults, kids…a real crowd pleaser! I didn’t add any sugar, apples are sweet, no need for sugar. I recommend 100% this recipe. Easy, healthy,  cheap and delicious!! =)

  11. I made this today it is the best Apple Cider I have ever had!!! I made apple butter out of the apple solids after I strained the cider! The apple butter is gosh darn yummy as well!!! Thank you Sally for another awesome recipe!!! 

  12. Do I take the cinnamon sick out before smashing or smash it with the apple’s?

    1. Remove it first.

  13. Kristin Pollett says:

    I own a 7 quart slow cooker. The recipe says to fill with water until the fruit is covered but I’m afraid I put too much in. Do you know exactly how much water you use? I still have a few more hours of cooking to go. I hope it turns out ok! I’m making the honeycrisp Sangria tomorrow! 

    1. Hi Kristin! As long as the fruit is covered by a little water, you wouldn’t have put too much in. I’ll measure exactly how much next time. How did it taste? And the sangria too?

      1. Kristin Pollett says:

        I do think the apple cider was a tad bit watered down. My fiancé and I like our cider really sweet. And I may have cooked it for too long or smashed the apples to hard while straining because there were some teeny apple pieces in the cider. At least I know what to fix next time! Which will be soon because that was fun! The sangria turned out wonderful! Super yummy especially with the cinnamon sugar rim! Thanks so much Sally!

  14. Mallory Brisson says:

    This recipe is really lovely and so easy. I prepared the ingredients in no time and let them slow cook over night. In the AM my house smelled divine and it was very easy to strain the apples. I strained the liquid a second time through cheese cloth, and then restrained the apple chunks using the cloth as well, which yielded quite a bit more liquid! Thanks so much. This will definitely be a staple in our home for unwanted apples 😀

  15. I made this today and it is amazing! I did add more sugar because I like it sweeter. I also didn’t have ground cloves, so I used whole. Thank you for the recipe!:)

  16. Amber Ridenour says:

    This looks so good! Can I make it a day ahead and refrigerate it then warm it back up in the crockpot the next day? I didn’t know if that would cook it too much.

    1. That wouldn’t be too much cooking at all– will be perfect.

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

  25. Can you use whole cloves instead of ground?

    1. Absolutely

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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?
    Thanks!!

    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!

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