Made with apple cider, fruit juice, fresh cranberries, and a few spices, this Hot Cranberry Apple Cider is a warming and festive drink that you’ll want to enjoy all season long! Perfect for holiday parties and you can even add your favorite alcohol for a boozy twist.
Enjoy a cup with warm freshly baked Apple Cider Donuts. Yummy!
Easy Hot Apple Cider Recipe
This cranberry apple cider perfectly melds the flavors of fall and winter together into one warming beverage. This is an easy drink to pull together at a moment’s notice and it requires just 15 minutes or so on the stovetop.
While I’m a huge fan of apple cider Moscow mules and my easy holiday punch for holiday parties, this hot cranberry apple cider is also a great option because it’s warm AND kid-friendly. No matter what group you’re serving, it’s always a good idea to have at least one non-alcoholic option that’s not just boring soda or coffee. This hot apple cider is perfect for that. (And, of course, you can always spike it with a shot of your favorite liquor if you really want to!)
What You’ll Need
This easy holiday drink is made with just 8 ingredients.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Spiced apple cider: You can also use non-spiced apple cider if you prefer. (Don’t confuse this with apple cider vinegar!)
- Cranberry fruit juice: Whatever your preferred brand of cranberry juice is will work fine, but make sure it is fruit juice cocktail (which is a mixture of fruit juices) and not pure cranberry juice, which will be too bitter.
- Cranberries: Fresh cranberries add a delightful tart flavor to the cider.
- Brown sugar: For sweetness and a touch of molasses.
- Honey: Balances out the tart cranberry and spices.
- Cinnamon sticks
- Whole cloves: Be sure to use whole cloves, not ground.
- Vanilla extract: For flavor.
- For serving: You may want additional fresh cranberries and cinnamon sticks to serve.
How to Make Hot Cranberry Apple Cider
This easy holiday drink comes together in less than 30 minutes. All you have to do is combine the ingredients and allow them to simmer.
(Don’t miss the complete printable recipe card below with all the details.)
- Combine ingredients. Whisk together all ingredients in a large saucepan.
- Simmer. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Strain. Strain the hot cider to get rid of the cranberries, cinnamon sticks, and cloves.
- Serve. You can serve this cider warm or cold. Garnish each glass with additional fresh cranberries and cinnamon sticks, if desired.
Can I simmer this cider for longer?
You can absolutely simmer this cider for longer than 15 minutes. It will allow for more aromatic loveliness in your home, and more flavor released from the spices. However, if you decide to do so, I recommend removing the fresh cranberries after the original 10 to 15 minutes. Simmering them too long will result in them releasing too much pectin, which may ruin the consistency of the cider.
Can I make this in the slow cooker?
Yes, you can easily make your cranberry apple cider in the slow cooker. Just combine all ingredients, stir, and cook on low until hot. Once hot, you should reduce the settings to warm. I still recommend straining the cranberries and spices after an hour.
Want to make a boozy hot cider or maybe switch up the flavor a bit? Here are a few suggestions.
- Swap the apple cider for apple juice. If desired, you can switch the spiced apple cider for a non-spiced cider or apple juice instead. Note that the apple juice may result in a sweeter cider.
- Adjust the sweetness. You can easily adjust the sweetness of this cider by adding more or less honey and brown sugar. If the cranberry juice used is sweet, you may want to add less or if it’s extra tart, add a little more.
- Add in some orange juice. For a hint of citrus in your cider, you can swap out some of the cranberry juice or apple cider for up to 2 cups of orange juice.
- Swap the vanilla extract with almond. For a slightly different cherry taste, try this with almond extract instead.
- How can I make this hot cider alcoholic? Since this cider will most likely use juices full of preservatives, you won’t really be able to create your own fermentation process. Homebrews require juices without preservatives, yeast, and weeks of waiting. Instead, I recommend just livening up this cranberry apple cider with your favorite alcohol. Rye whiskey, rum, beer, bourbon, tequila, scotch, sparkling wine, cognac and mezcal are all good options.
Cranberry apple cider can be served warm or cold. To keep it warm, you can serve directly from the stove or transfer it to a crockpot on the warm setting. Be sure to strain and remove the cranberries, cinnamon, and cloves first. I like to garnish each glass with additional fresh cranberries and cinnamon sticks.
How to Store
- How to store cranberry apple cider. Allow the cider to cool completely, then transfer to a tightly sealed glass or plastic jug or bottle. You can store it for up to a week in the fridge, since all of the juices used are pasteurized.
- How to reheat. You can enjoy the cider cold but if you want to reheat it, you can do so by warming it on the stovetop or in a crockpot.
More Cozy Drink Recipes:
Hot Cranberry Apple Cider
- 5 cups spiced apple cider
- 3 cups cranberry fruit juice cocktail (see note below)
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- additional fresh cranberries and cinnamon sticks , for serving
- Pour the spiced apple cider and cranberry juice into a large saucepan.
- Add in the fresh cranberries, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
- Stir together, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. The cranberries will pop and wilt during the cooking process.
- Strain the cider with a wire mesh strainer to get rid of the cooked cranberries, cinnamon sticks, and cloves.
- Pour into glasses. Garnish with additional fresh cranberries and cinnamon sticks, if desired.
- Serve warm or cold and enjoy.