Slow cooker mulled apple cider is the perfect hot beverage for your next holiday gathering. Apple cider is warmed in the slow cooker with orange slices and a variety of spices - guests of all ages will enjoy it.
Making your mulled cider in the slow cooker is a great way to free up space on the stove top, and will keep warm for hours. It's perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings.
Apple cider (or unfiltered apple juice) is heated with spices and citrus to make this warm, comforting beverage. Kids and adults alike will enjoy it - this recipe is non-alcoholic!
Plus, it's easy to spike with your favorite alcohol for the adults. Or, try my recipe for Slow Cooker Mulled Wine.
Apple cider vs. mulled apple cider
What is the difference between apple cider and mulled apple cider?
Apple cider is simply unfiltered apple juice that is (usually) served cold, with nothing additional added in.
Mulled apple cider is served warm and has additional spices and fruits added in, like cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, apple slices, orange slices, and sometimes alcohol.
Ingredients and substitutions
Apple cider or unfiltered apple juice is needed for this recipe.
Brown sugar can be substituted with granulated sugar, maple syrup, or honey. If using maple syrup or honey, add half the amount. If you'd prefer, you can omit the sugar entirely for a less sweet apple cider.
I add cinnamon sticks, whole star anise, and whole cloves to my mulled cider. Star anise can be omitted if you can't find it (I buy mine online: Rani Star Anise Seeds, Whole Pods).
Other great additions? A slice or two of ginger root, whole allspice, or lemon peel.
What size slow cooker do I need?
For this recipe, you're mulling 64 ounces of apple cider, which is 2 quarts. I'd recommend a 3 quart slow cooker, which is what I used in the images below.
If doubling this recipe, I'd recommend a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker. Use a slow cooker with slightly more space than the amount of liquid you're adding. This will account for spillage as well as the extra ingredients you're adding, like orange slices.
Can I make mulled cider on the stove top?
Yes! If you don't have a slow cooker, this recipe can be made on the stove top.
Simply add your ingredients to a stock pot on the stove over medium to medium-low heat. Warm your cider for 30 minutes, or until heated through and fragrant.
If preparing on the stove top, do not allow your cider to simmer or boil. If your cider begins to simmer, lower the heat slightly.
Make ahead and leftovers
Want to make your spiced cider ahead of time, or think you'll have leftovers? Here's a tip - keep the container your apple cider came in.
Leftover mulled apple cider will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Leftovers can be funneled back into the original apple cider container, a pitcher, or any sealed container.
Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave in single serve mugs, or warmed over the stovetop over medium heat until hot.
Can I add alcohol?
Yes, alcohol can be added to your mulled cider. I recommend adding a shot of your favorite liquor to your glass, like bourbon or rum, then topping with mulled cider.
Slow Cooker Mulled Apple Cider
- 64 ounces apple cider, or unfiltered apple juice
- ¼ cup brown sugar, optional
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 orange, sliced
- Add all ingredients to a 3-quart slow cooker and stir to combine. Set to low and warm for 2 hours.
- Discard spices before serving. Ladle cider into mugs and serve warm. Optionally, top each mug with an orange slice.
- Brown sugar is optional to make a less sweet apple cider.
- Optionally, place spices in a cheesecloth, tea bag, or coffee filter for easy removal later.
- Leftover mulled cider? Remove spices and orange slices, then funnel back into original apple cider container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Mulled cider can be stored and reheated in the microwave in individual mugs, or over medium heat on the stove top until hot. Cider can also be served cold.
- Stove top method: Add ingredients to a stock pot on the stove over medium to medium-low heat. Warm your cider for 30 minutes, or until heated through and fragrant.