Enjoy hot, spiced cider without slaving away at your cutting board! This hot apple cider recipe begins with cold-pressed (store-bought or fresh-pressed) apple juice, and ends with a spiced whipped cream. Read on for my recommendation when it comes to buying apple juice for cider, and how to easily simmer up a rich, apple cider.
Beware of apple cider imposters
I cringe when I walk through the grocery store in the fall, and see the countless seasonal displays of bottled apple cider. It's not that I don't dig apple cider. It's that like regular apple juice, many brands of cider lack the traditional spices, and are more sugar than juice. To spot added sugar in any juice, look for "from concentrate" in the ingredient list.
Keep the sugar out of your cider
One of the main reasons I like especially like cooking certain recipes at home is to eliminate the added sugar. Juice, included. And in order to do that with apple cider - without a gaggle of tools, a slow cooker and endless chopping - simply start with pure juice. And no, you don't need a juicer and bushels of apples.
The best apple juice for easy homemade cider
The way I see it, we've got two choices. Pay big money for a great bottled apple cider, chop away at pounds and pounds of apples, or split the difference - which is what this apple cider recipe does.
Evolution (not a sponsored link) is one brand, but many chains like Kroger now carry their own. Nowadays, you can find pure, cold-pressed juices in most grocery stores.
And while more expensive than processed apple juice from concentrate, you'll spend a lot more on the pounds of apples needed to craft cider from scratch.
Ingredients for easy apple cider
- Cold-pressed apple juice (no sugar added, and not from concentrate)
- Orange peel
- Whole and/or ground spices: cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg
Homemade apple cider method
No slow cooker or Instant Pot needed! Because we're starting with high-quality apple juice, this cider simmers up in the time it takes to cook and eat dinner. An hour or two, tops. The longer you simmer the more intense the spice, but it's delicious after just an hour on the stove.
Combine juice and spices in a pot. Using both whole and ground spices gives this cider layers of wonderful fall flavor, but either/or works here.
Bring to a strong simmer. Not so much a rolling boil, but a good simmer over medium heat for a few minutes helps the whole spices and orange peel release their flavor compounds.
Simmer on low for an hour or two. Turning the heat down preserves the subtleties of the juice, and allows all the flavors to develop. Plus, it makes your entire house smell awesome.
For a special treat, whip up some fresh heavy cream and add a pinch of your pie or cider spice blend. For me, this is the best apple cider, since it brings all the flavor without all the work or a lofty price tag. You won't miss the pre-packaged, sugar-laden apple cider, and will certainly enjoy the season with a little less guilt.
From scratch apple cider can prove a lot of prep work. But if you start with a high-quality, store-bought apple juice, you'll be sipping a spiced, steaming cuppa in no time!
For Apple Cider
- 1 quart/32 fl oz fresh-squeezed apple juice
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon allspice berries
- Peel of one orange
For Spiced Whipped Cream
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon sugar or raw honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cider spice mix (below), or pumpkin or apple pie spice
Homemade Cider Spice Mix
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Simmer apple juice + whole spices
- Combine all ingredients for cider in a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, then cover and turn heat to low.
- Simmer cider over low heat for one to two hours. Strain, and serve warm garnished with a cinnamon stick. Store chilled for one or two weeks.
- Whip heavy cream and sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Add vanilla extract and spices and serve immediately.
If you want a sweeter cider, by all means add a few tablespoons of sugar or better yet, raw honey to the pot. You'll still end up with a much less processed, less sweet version of bottled cider.
Keywords: apple cider recipe, homemade apple cider, hot apple cider, apple cider ingredients
If you do want to brew up your own apple cider from scratch, this recipe from Chaos In The Kitchen takes several hours, but looks delightful!