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Easy Old Fashioned Hot Apple Cider Recipe

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Slow Cooker Hot Apple Cider with warm seasonal spices is the perfect Holiday Drink! Top it off with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel, and well…it’s Christmas in a Cup!

Mug of slow cooker Spiced Apple Cider with orange slices surrounding it, topped with whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and a cinnamon stick.

Slow Cooker Spiced Caramel Apple Cider

I’m not a coffee drinker so going to “Starbucks” wasn’t something I had ever done. Until one day, several years ago, we drove through one so Mr. Nest could get a Hot Chocolate. He’d heard they had great Hot Chocolate. I noticed they had a Caramel Apple Spiced Cider! YUM!

A crock pot of Hot Spiced Cider is always brewing at this Nest during the Holiday Season. I couldn’t pass up trying their version of my favorite hot Holiday drink!

It did not disappoint! I took one sip and declared “This IS Christmas in a Cup”! From that first sip I knew I had to copy that recipe, but also create the perfectly spiced apple cider.

Getting Apple Cider Spices just right can be tricky! Too much of one thing and you’ve killed the balance of flavors! This year, I finally found the balance I was looking for, and I can’t wait to share it with y’all!

Please note you can add a little “extra spice” to your Cider if you like, this recipe however, is a Non-alcoholic version so that Santa doesn’t drive his sleigh through your roof! Plus wrapping gifts “tipsy” is never a good idea! Wink-wink

Ingredients you’ll need to make Easy Hot Apple Cider

  • ½ gallon Fresh Apple Cider or Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider – “Fresh” cider is generally found in the fresh fruit and vegetable section of your favorite market.
  • 1 Large Orange, sliced into 1/4 inch slices, 3–4 slices for cider
  • 1 large Lemon, sliced into 1/4 inch slices, 3 slices for cider
  • 3-4 Cinnamon Sticks
  • ½ Tablespoon whole allspice berries
  • ½ Tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 Can Whipped Cream
  • Caramel Ice Cream Topping for drizzle
Ingredients for Old Fashioned Spiced Apple Cider on a wooden board.

How To Make the BEST Hot Apple Cider

The beauty of this particular Spiced Cider recipe is that you can add the “Starbucks” treatment. Meaning the addition of whipped cream and caramel drizzle…if you want the “copycat” of their Caramel Spiced Apple Cider, or leave it off and enjoy Hot Traditional Spiced Cider.

In your slow cooker add ½ gallon Apple Cider.

TIP: I mention in the ingredients section “Pumpkin Spice Apple Cider”. This new product was found at Walmart before Thanksgiving. It has a much more subtle flavor than traditional Apple Cider. If you can find it, I highly recommend giving it a try. I didn’t even notice the pumpkin flavor, but I did love the subtle extra hints of spice.

Adding Cider to Slow Cooker.

Add 3–4 slices of orange and 3 slices of lemon. Sliced lemon was a new addition this year…and it’s staying in this cider recipe till they stick me in the ground! It’s a game changer to my original Hot Cider Recipe!

Add 3–4 sticks of whole cinnamon! I love cinnamon so I went with 4 sticks! It’s really about personal preference.

Adding Orange and Lemon Slices to Hot Apple Cider in the slow cooker.

What Spices To Use in Hot Apple Cider

This is the most asked question when making Hot Spiced Cider. I get it! Too much of a good thing is….well TOO much!

It’s important to balance your spices in Apple Cider.

I’ve tried so many different “Mulling Spices”. They’re okay. However, I found most are overpowering in this classic warm beverage. Especially those with Star Anise!

Let’s talk about Star Anise for a second and why I’m not a fan of it in my Hot Apple Cider.

Star Anise is a seed pod from the fruit of the Illicium plant, an evergreen shrub native to South West China. It has a very strong “licorice” flavor. Black Licorice. Let me say that again…BLACK LICORICE! (Squinching my nose right now!)

Wanna guess who isn’t a fan of Black Licorice? Yep…it’s me. So after using a lot of different pre-mixed mulling spices, it was time to create my own spice mix for my Apple Cider Recipe. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t awful, they just weren’t what I was looking for.

I recommend using a “tea ball” or “spice infuser” to keep all your spices together and out of the actual drink when serving. Last thing you want to do is have Aunt Betty choking on a clove!

Add ½ Tablespoon of Allspice Berries and a ½ Tablespoon of whole cloves to a tea ball. Submerge the ball into the apple cider.

Adding Tea Ball with spices into Apple Cider.

Slow Cooking Hot Spiced Cider

Place the lid on top of your slow cooker. Set the temp to low. Allow the cider to simmer for at least One Hour before serving. I recommend allowing it to simmer for at least 2 hours to allow the spices and citrus to infuse into the cider.

Please note the longer the citrus and spices sit in the warm cider, the stronger their flavors will become. I’ve often let any unused cider sit, covered, with the heat OFF, in the slow cooker, overnight just so those that like a stronger brew can enjoy it the next morning. (Look at me using “coffee lingo” like “brew”…all those episodes of Gilmore Girls is paying off! Lol)

If you prefer a lighter spiced cider simply remove the cinnamon stick, tea ball, and citrus spices and throw them away. DO NOT PUT THEM DOWN THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL! (Your husband will not be happy with you if you toss those hard spices down your disposal. Trust me on this!)

Spiced Cider in a mug on a board with spices and orange slices surrounding it.

Turn the Cider to “warm” after you’ve reached the desired temperature. Please use caution before sipping this hot cider…it’s called “HOT” cider for a reason!

Now you’re ready to enjoy my favorite “Hot Beverage” of the Season! It soothes a sore throat, warms a winter chilled soul, and brings the scent of the Holiday season throughout your Nest!

There’s nothing better than snuggling down on the sofa with a warm mug of Hot Spiced Cider and a favorite Holiday Movie! It also pairs beautifully with my Cranberry Orange Scones!

If, like me, you love Starbucks Caramel Spiced Apple Cider, top it off with a shot of whipped cream and a drizzle of your favorite ice cream caramel topping! Don’t forget the cinnamon stick for a little extra Holiday Cheer!

Close-up shot of Spiced Caramel Apple Hot Cider in a clear mug with whipped cream and caramel drizzle.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

  • Can I use regular bottled Apple Juice rather than “Cider”? Yes you can, however you won’t get the same “tang” and “fresh apple” taste that you get from a Fresh Cider due to the amount of Pasteurization and the addition of sugars and concentrates found in bottled apple juice.
  • Can I add other spices or use a mulling spice mix? Yes, you can. However, it won’t reflect this particular recipe, which is fine, I love when followers experiment with my recipes.
  • I don’t have a “tea ball” or “spice infuser”. Can I use something else? Yes! You can place the whole spices in a square of piece of cooking gauze and tie it up with string. You can also use a coffee filter and make a bag tied off with string. Either will work just as well as the tea ball.
  • I don’t have a slow cooker. Can I make this on top of the stove? You sure can! Use a large stock pot and place all the ingredients into the pot, simmer on low heat for about 1 hour. Turn the heat off, let cool slightly, serve.

Great Holiday Treat Recipes that go with Hot Apple Cider

Cheers to a wonderful Holiday Season from my Nest to Yours!

Photo of Noring with her signature in pink.
Yield: 8

Old Fashioned Spiced Apple Cider Recipe

Glass of Old Fashioned Spiced Apple Cider on a cutting board with orange slices surrounding it. Topped with Whipped Cream and a caramel drizzle.

Slow Cooker Hot Apple Cider with warm seasonal spices is the perfect Holiday Drink! Top it off with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel, and's Christmas in a Cup!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • ½ gallon Fresh Apple Cider or Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider
  • 1 Large Orange, sliced into 1/4 inch slices, 3-4 slices for cider
  • 1 large Lemon, sliced into 1/4 inch slices, 3 slices for cider
  • 3-4 Cinnamon Sticks
  • ½ Tablespoon whole allspice berries
  • ½ Tablespoon whole cloves
  • Whipped Cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Caramel Ice Cream Topping per drink


  1. In a slow cooker, add Apple Cider, 3-4 orange slices, 3 lemon slices, and 3-4 cinnamon sticks.
  2. Place allspice and cloves in a tea ball or spice infuser, or make a bag out of cooking gauze tied off with string. Submerge spice ball into cider.
  3. Cover with lid, simmer on low for 1-2 hours before serving. Serve plain or with a squirt of whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel topping.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 235Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 28mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 7gSugar: 44gProtein: 2g

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