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Serve Hot Cider for the Holidays

Updated on September 13, 2015
Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

June is from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, but is currently residing in New York. She loves to cook naturally with plants from her garden.


Nothing Beats a Mug of Hot Cider on a Chilly Night

Hot cider is a beverage that will warm you from the top of your head to the tip of your toes on a chilly autumn or a downright cold wintry eve.

It is a wonderful thing for the family to come home to, after a night of shopping out in the cold or to serve to your guest at a party.

Keeping a crock pot full of hot cider is a great way to welcome trick-or-treaters home after a hard night of working the neighborhood for Halloween treats.

Your family will look forward to the tradition and the wonderful aroma wafting through the house that comes from a pot of cider brewing in the kitchen.

Your friends will also enjoy a warm up when they enter your home for any annual holiday party or an after skiing event.

Whether it be a fall leaf cleanup get-together for friends, a Halloween party, a Thanksgiving feast, Hanuka, Christmas or Après-ski.

My family and friends always look forward to sharing a mug of hot cider at our annual Thanksgiving feast while catching up on gossip before dinner is served.

Are you planning on hosting a Christmas Open House or a Christmas Tree Decorating party? Well then, I would suggest placing a warm mug of steaming hot cider in the hands of your own guests the moment they come through the door. It will take away a bit of that cold winter chill.

At our annual Christmas Open House Party, our friends now expect to have a mug of hot cider handed to them as soon as they come through the door. If it is not there they immediately head to the kitchen to find it.

I have been serving my family and friends hot cider for over 40 years from a recipe I created myself, but it wasn't until I left Hawaii and moved to the East Coast that I began adding Cranberry juice and whole berries to my hot cider recipe. Cranberries add to the nutritional value of the beverage and boy oh boy does it ever taste good! I especially love the lovely red color which I think is perfect for Christmas.

The recipe I am sharing includes alcohol, but it can always be an option as to whether or not you may want to add it. What I always do is add the alcohol to the mugs of the adults that request it prior to the cider being poured into the mug. A cinnamon stick is then added as a stir stick.

One more thing. I am guestimating at the measurements because I don't measure. I just pour in all of the apple juice and then I pour the cranberry juice until it is the color I like. I would suggest tasting and adding until your palate says, "Yes!"

Spiced Cranberry Apple Hot Cider Recipe

Cook Time

Prep Time: 15 min

Total Time: 2 - 3 hours

Serves: 6 - 10


  • 1 Gallon natural apple cider (the cloudy kind)
  • 2 cups 100% natural cranberry juice
  • 1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger
  • 4 cinnamon sticks + 8
  • 8 whole Cloves
  • 10 whole Allspice berries
  • Cheesecloth folded in double layer 10 inch square
  • 1/4 c. genuine maple syrup
  • 1 sliced fresh orange
  • 2 cups whole cranberries for garnish
  • Additional cinnamon sticks for stir sticks
  • Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum
  • Brandy or Bourbon


  1. Put all of the dried whole spices in the center of the cheesecloth square. Break cinnamon sticks in half before putting in. Gather and tie with kitchen string. Set aside.
  2. In a 3 or 4-quart Dutch oven or a crock pot, combine apple cider and cranberry juice. Add cheesecloth spice bag.
  3. With the flat, broadside of a knife, smash the fresh ginger, add to the pot.
  4. Taste, if not sweet enough, sweeten to taste with more maple syrup, honey or raw brown sugar (try to avoid white sugar). Personally, it is sweet enough for my family and I do not add any additional sweetener.
  5. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. If adding a sweetener, stir until dissolved. Add orange slices. Simmer, for about 10 minutes, in a Dutch oven or several hours on high in the crock pot. Remove spice bag and smashed ginger piece.
  6. Add 1/2 oz. brandy or bourbon, and 1/2 oz. Capt. Morgan's Spiced Rum to each mug. Ladle hot cider over the booze.
  7. To serve, garnish with a few cranberries in the mug and a cinnamon stick for a stir stick. I like to use clear glass mugs for this cider so that the beautiful red cranberries can be seen through the glass. Very festive!

Try This Recipe and Rate It Below

5 stars from 1 rating of Spiced Cranberry Apple Hot Cider Recipe

This is a very inexpensive crockpot that is ideal to heat the cider and keep it warm.

It is nothing fancy, but will work well for slow cooking food and heating hot beverages. I like the pretty red color to use for the holidays! It is also available in both black and chrome.

Crock-Pot 4-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker - SCV400B

This is a pricier slow cooker than the one feature above but it is a much larger cooking capacity which makes it ideal for me when I am serving larger groups of people.

A big plus that I like about this crock pot is the programmability. This is a do everything slow cooker (except for bathing Grandma) kind of crock pot! It is the Mother Lode of slow cookers. If you plan to do a lot of crock pot cooking, you may what to consider getting this one, or one like it.

I love the fact that with the touchscreen control panel; the programmable cooking time; and the auto keep-warm, slow cook food is really going to have better flavor and much improved cooking abilities for a true set it and forget it kitchen appliance.

I think the stainless steel design is perfect for a modern kitchen. It will make an ideal gift for a wedding, house-warming, or holiday.

6.5-Quart, Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker Crock-Pot - SCVT650-PS

I really like the idea of this 3 in one crockpot for entertaining. I saw one a week ago on TV and thought it is a really good idea. I think this is a great way to keep food hot while allowing guest to serve their selves at the buffet table. I don't have this one yet, but I would love to receive it as a gift!

Each stoneware pot is only a 2.5-quart capacity which I think would be perfect to use for hot dips, fondues, soups or stews. Each pot has individual heating controls so you can set each one at the temperature you desire.

I would set up a DIY station where my quest can refill their mugs of cider and make a bowl of hot dips with chunks of really good artisan bread.

One thing I think is important to address here is to PLEASE READ THE MANUAL BEFORE OPERATING. This will ensure you get the best results from this product.

Do You Think You Will Be Serving Hot Cider This Fall or Winter?

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