White mug full of homemade apple cider.
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Homemade Apple Cider

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This homemade apple cider is one of my favorite drinks to make around the holidays. It is slightly sweet, has a hint of orange flavor, and is downright comforting. If you love apple cider, you have got to give this family-friendly drink a try.

Do you own an apple tree? Did you recently buy too many apples that you don’t plan to eat and don’t know what to do with them? Well, I have got you covered. Make this delicious homemade apple cider! It is incredibly easy to make if I can do it, you can do it.

Let’s get started!

Ingredients

In order to make apple cider from scratch you will need a handful of ingredients. You won’t believe how easy it is to make this delicious hot drink. And you have complete control over the ingredients, so even those who are on a special diet can partake, depending on how you make it.

You will need:

  • Apples – Imagine that, haha. I like to use a variety of different apples from Granny Smith to Fuji, to Gala, and Red Delicious. So many others you can try. Or just use all of one kind.
  • Oranges – The oranges give this homemade apple cider a nice hint of citrus flavor that I absolutely love. Brings back memories of my mom making a big pot of cider with whole oranges with cloves stuck in them floating around in the pot of cider. You can certainly leave out the oranges if desired.
  • Water – I use filtered water because my tap water tastes gross.
  • Cinnamon Sticks – Cinnamon is one of those classic ingredients that gives cider its flavor.
  • Nutmeg – Just a hint of nutmeg to amp up the flavor.
  • Cloves – One of those popular spices always found in apple cider.
  • Red hots – The red hots add a bit of flavor and also add a hint of red color to the finished cider. These are optional, but I love adding them.
  • Brown sugar – This will be the main sweetness but you can use another sweetener if desired, like maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, stevia, monk fruit, etc.
Glass off homemade apple cider on a white plate.
(Apple cider can be served hot or chilled)

Tools/Equipment:

  • Large Dutch Oven, Stock Pot, Slow cooker, or Instant Pot
  • Knife
  • Apple corer, optional
  • Long spoon
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Cheesecloth, optional but works great
  • Ladle

How to make apple cider from scratch at home

Several apples, oranges, and spices on a white counter.

First I want to point out there are several types of cider some that involve adding water and others that result from juicing just the apples without adding extra water. But that method takes a heap ton of apples to make. I prefer this method.

Also, there are fermented and unfermented cider, alcoholic as a result of the fermentation (Hard Cider), and non-alcoholic. This cider is non-alcoholic and perfect for the whole family.

Time to make this homemade apple cider.

Rinse both the apples and the oranges. You can use whatever variety of apples that you want or a combination of several of them. I like to use Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Fuji, and Gala apples.

The oranges I use are Navel, but you can use whatever oranges you want, or just leave out the oranges, if you don’t want a hint of citrus taste to your from-scratch cider.

Large red dutch oven filled with sliced apples and oranges

Slice all the apples and oranges and place them into your Dutch oven or Stock Pot. The fruit shouldn’t be any higher than an inch from the top of the pot.

NOTE: I will give directions on how to make apple cider in a slow cooker or Instant pot further down below.

Pouring water into a dutch oven will with apple and orange slices.

Now add enough water so it reaches the top of the fruit. I always use filtered water because my tap water is gross.

Adding Apple Cider Spices and Sweetener

Large red dutch oven filled with apples, oranges, water, and spices.

Now add all the spices, the brown sugar, and the cinnamon sticks. I like adding the red hots because it helps with the flavor and color of the resulting cider, but those are optional.

If you don’t have whole cinnamon sticks, just use a half teaspoon to a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Don’t have whole cloves? Use 1/4 tsp of ground gloves.

NOTEI add brown sugar at this stage. But you can wait and add the sweetener later when the cider is almost done. Especially if you want to use something other than sugar, like honey, stevia, monk fruit, agave nectar, etc.

Cooking the fruit to make the homemade apple cider

Bowl of fruit ready to make apple cider on a stovetop burner.

Set the burner to high heat and cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Once you have it boiling turn the heat to medium and let it cook for 45 minutes.

Hand mashing the fruit and apple cider with a potato masher.

After 45 minutes remove the lid and then use a potato masher and mash the fruit really well. Then turn the heat to between low and medium-low heat, replace the lid, and cook for 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Raw homemade apple cider in a large red dutch oven ready to be strained

Remove the lid and give it one more mash with the potato masher. Allow the cider to cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

There you go, it is ready to be strained.

Finishing the cider

Ladle pouring apple cider mush into a cheesecloth lined strainer.

Time to strain the homemade apple cider. I like to use both a cheesecloth and a strainer for this. Sometimes I do just use the mesh strainer and not the cheesecloth, however.

Use a ladle and scoop some cider mush into the cheesecloth-lined strainer. The amount will vary depending on large your mesh strainer is. Then bring the sides of the cheesecloth together and let the cider drain into a large bowl or pitcher.

Apple cider mush in a strainer draining cider into a large glass bowl.

Use clean hands and squeeze the cider out of the cheesecloth, if it is still too hot, use the back of the ladle to press the filled cheesecloth against the strainer, which will release more cider. There are several methods for straining the cider from the pulp/mush.

Then you will be left with the yummy apple cider in the large bowl. Give it a taste and sweeten it more as desired. At this point, if you didn’t use brown sugar, most likely you will want to use some sort of sweetener.

Ladle pouring homemade apple cider into a white mug.

Time to serve the cider. Ladle some into a mug, then put a cinnamon stick in it and drink. So yummy!

White mug filled with homemade apple cider and a cinnamon stick.

You can also drink it chilled if you like. The perfect comforting holiday drink for the whole family. Enjoy!

How long does homemade apple cider last?

It will last about a week in the fridge, after that it starts to change and ferment and could become alcoholic. It never lasts that long in my house, and I live alone haha.

How to make apple cider in a slow cooker crockpot?

If you want to make the cider in your slow cooker, after putting all the slices of fruit, water, and spices in the crock pot bowl, put the lid on and set the heat to low, and cook for 8 to 12 hours until the fruit is really soft. Then mash up that fruit and strain.

Can I make apple cider from scratch in an Instant Pot?

Yes! You sure can. For that, though you will need to reduce the number of ingredients since the Instant pot isn’t as large as a stock pot or dutch oven. Place the sliced fruit into the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Add the spices and sugar. Then pour in the water. Pressure cook for 20 minutes, then let it slow release/natural release for 15 minutes. Open the Instant Pot and then smash down the fruit then strain.

Homemade apple cider pin for Pinterest
(Pin it!)

Here are other apple recipes you may like:

Homemade Apple Cider

This homemade apple cider is so delicious and super easy to make.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 30 mins
Cooling Time20 mins
Total Time3 hrs 5 mins
Course: Beverages, Drinks
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keyword: drink, easy, sweet
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 254kcal
Author: Matt Taylor

Equipment

  • Large Dutch Oven, Stock Pot, or Slow cooker
  • Knife
  • Apple corer (optional)
  • Long spoon
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Cheesecloth, optional but works great
  • Ladle

Ingredients

  • 10 to 12 apples I like to use a variety of them. But you can use all the same kinds.
  • 2 oranges
  • 8 to 10 cups of water enough to get to the same level as the fruit (1900 to 2370ml)
  • 4 to 5 fresh cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg 1g
  • 1 Tbsp of whole cloves 6g
  • 1 Tbsp of red hots 15g
  • 1 cup of brown sugar can easily be substituted with other sweeteners (200g)

Instructions

  • Rinse and then slice the apples and the oranges and place them in your dutch oven or stock pot. The top of the fruit should be about an inch from the top of the pot at the most.
  • Add enough water to get to the top of the fruit, again about an inch from the top.
  • Add the ground nutmeg, whole cloves, red hots, fresh cinnamon sticks, and brown sugar, and stir a little bit.
  • Place it on the burner with the heat set to high. Add the lid and bring it to a boil.
  • Once it boils, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and then smash the fruit with a potato masher. Replace the lid. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for 90 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Remove the lid and give it another mash. Then turn off the heat and allow the cider mush to cool for 20 minutes.
  • Strain the cider into a large bowl or pitcher using a cheesecloth and mesh strainer.
  • Serve the cider! Enjoy!

Video

How to Make Apple Cider From Scratch | Homemade Apple Cider Recipe

Notes

NOTE: The nutritional facts will vary depending on the sweetener and how large of a serving size you do. 
List of nutritional facts for homemade apple cider.

Do you like the easy shortbread cookies recipe? Please give it a rating and comment down below, I really appreciate it. Save the Pin to Pinterest! If you make it tag me on Instagram @inthekitchenwithmatt. Also, sign up for the newsletter so you won’t miss out on any of my new posts and recipes.

Check out my other website 101 Creative Dates for fun date ideas. Food and dating go hand in hand!

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