The Foolproof Way to Make Homemade Apple Cider

Try it with a variety of spices—or a hefty pour of bourbon.

August 26, 2020
Photo by James Ransom

Get ready to welcome the cozy sweater weather with this no-fail, soul-warming apple cider recipe you’ll be making all season long. Fill your home with the intoxicating aromas of sweet apples, warm spices, and refreshing citrus of this signature fall drink that outrivals any store-bought candle scent.

Now, before you head to the orchard, there are a few things to keep in mind to help ensure you make the perfect batch of apple cider: The type of apples you choose, the aromatics you add, and the method you use to make it. Here are some helpful pointers to guarantee that your apple cider tastes as great as it is assured to smell.

1. Choose the right type of apple for your cider

The most important decision you’ll make when cooking this recipe is picking the perfect blend of apple varieties. Depending on personal preference, you can choose to make your cider more sweet or acidic. For a sweeter cider, stick to apples like Golden Delicious, Gala, or Fuji. By contrast, if you’re looking to make your cider tarter, go with apples like Gavenstein, Jonagold, Jonathan, Pink Lady, or Granny Smith. And if you can’t decide between the two types, make your own blend using both sweet and tart apples for a well-balanced combination!

2. Don’t forget your flavoring agents

Aside from making your house smell fantastic, adding aromatic spices like cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice and nutmeg gives warmth and dimension to your homemade cider. If you’re feeling up to it, you can even throw in some fresh ginger to give your drink a pleasant spicy kick. Additionally, incorporating citrus like orange will help complement the sweetness from the apples and brighten the flavors of your delicious concoction. If you’re looking for a subtler citric flavor, peel your oranges before adding them to the pot to reduce its potency.

3. Pick your cooking method

Depending on the amount of time you have on hand to make your cider, you can either make it using your pressure cooker, slow cooker or simply on the stovetop. If you choose the pressure cooker method, cook the ingredients on high pressure for 15 minutes, then allow the pressure to naturally release before opening. The slow cooker method can take upwards of five hours to make, meanwhile the stovetop method will take about two hours to fully infuse the flavors before you can enjoy it.

Homemade Apple Cider Recipe


  • 12 medium apples (variety of your choice), quartered
  • 2 oranges, peeled and quartered
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 cups water (plus more as needed)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar (plus more to taste)


  1. Place the apples, oranges, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in a large stockpot. Add enough water to cover the fruit by at least 2” above. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 2 hours.
  1. Using a potato masher or a wooden spoon, mash the softened fruit to release its juices. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

  2. Using a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth, strain the mixture to remove the solids.

  3. Return the strained liquid to a pot and add brown sugar to taste. To serve, ladle into mugs and garnish with fresh apple slices or dices and a cinnamon stick. If you’re looking to really warm up your soul, add a splash of bourbon or rum for a spiked cider.

What's your favorite way to drink apple cider? Let us know in the comments.
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Karl W Saur
    Karl W Saur
  • FrugalCat
Maki Yazawa

Written by: Maki Yazawa

Food Writer & Recipe Developer


Karl W. August 26, 2020
That's mulled apple juice, not apple cider. Apple cider is not a cooked product, though the FDA unfortunately only allows Americans to get real apple cider at orchards. It's pressed juice that, ideally, is allowed to ferment (cooking it prevents that). Next time you're at an apple orchard, look for their unpasteurized/non-irradiated cider. Let it sit in your fridge for 3+ weeks. It will be delicious when it's fermented. (Not materially alcoholic - making proper hard cider is a bit more work.)
FrugalCat October 6, 2020
From what I've seen in the past few years, the cider at orchards and farmstands is pasteurized. When I was a kid back in the 80's, the cider was not pasteurized. I figured out how to ferment it as a teenager (drink one cup directly out of the bottle, cap it with a small balloon, stick the jug in the basement, when the balloon inflates, it's ready)