Homemade Apple Cider

4.60 from 5 votes

Enjoy the flavors of the season with this comforting homemade apple cider made from fresh apples, cinnamon, cloves, and citrus.

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Discover how to make homemade apple cider, a beverage that is both comforting and refreshing, in your own kitchen using a handful of simple ingredients. It’s not just for the fall season; homemade cider can be enjoyed all year round. It’s a delicious spiced drink that can be drunk hot or cold!

Two glass mugs of warm apple cider with an apple slice inside.
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In this cider recipe, fresh apples partner with lemon, ginger, and traditional mulling spices to create an apple cider that is complex but not overpowering in flavor. It is a process that rewards patience; a slow simmer allows the flavors to meld perfectly, resulting in a cider that is aromatic and balanced. Whether you prefer your apple cider hot or cold, learn to make it from scratch with this easy guide and find out just how satisfying homemade cider can be. Best part? It pairs great with Apple Butter Cookies for double apple goodness!

Why you’ll love this apple cider recipe

  • Customizable: This recipe lets you dial the spices up or down, depending on your personal taste. If you’re a spice lover, go ahead and toss in some extra ginger or maybe an extra cinnamon stick. But if you’re more about that mellow vibe, just stick to the basics. 
  • Kid-Friendly: This apple cider recipe is totally kid-approved. Not too spicy, not too sweet—just right for them. Plus, it’s an awesome way to get them excited about fruit!
  • Easy Prep: We’re all busy, right? Well, this recipe’s got your back. Once you get those apples and spices in the pot, it’s mostly hands-off. Just let it simmer away while you go about your day. A couple of stirs here and there, and you’re good to go!
  • Great for Parties: If you’re hosting a get-together, make a big pot, and let guests serve themselves.

Ingredients to make Fresh apple cider

  • Apples: Any variety works. I like Honeycrisp. You can also play around with a mix of tart, and sweet apples.
  • Lemon: It adds a nice zesty touch to the cider. If you’re out, orange is a good stand-in.
  • Fresh Ginger: Ginger is a classic ingredient in apple ciders. If you don’t have fresh ginger, a pinch of ground ginger can work.
  • Whole Cloves: Adds warmth without overwhelming. No cloves? A small pinch of nutmeg might do.
  • Cinnamon Sticks: For me, this spice captures the essence of autumn. Ground cinnamon works, too, but use it sparingly.
  • Star Anise Pod: Optional, but it adds a “sweet” and fragrant taste to this apple cider recipe. If you’re not a fan, just skip it.
  • Light Brown Sugar: It gives that sweet, caramel-y depth. You can swap for honey or maple syrup if you want to keep things more natural.
Ingredients for recipe: bowl of apples, lemon, anise seed, clove, cinnamon sticks, thumb of ginger, and light brown sugar.

How to make this old-fashioned apple cider recipe

Making this old-fashioned apple cider recipe is so easy. Whether you’re brewing a big batch or a smaller one, the amount of effort is the same. No need for a slow cooker (although you can also use it), an apple press, or a juicer. Just grab a large pot, and your ingredients, and you’re good to go!

How to Make apple cider on the stove

  1. In a large pot, combine the cleaned, cored, and quartered apples, the lemon, and the ginger coins. 
  2. Add in the cloves, cinnamon sticks, brown sugar, and optional star anise. 
  3. Cover everything with water, put the pot on the stove, and bring the water to a boil. Then, lower the heat to a simmer. After some time, use a potato masher to break down the apples until they’re soft.
  4. Keep the pot on low heat for a while. The color and aroma should intensify. Then, turn off the heat and let it cool.
4 image collage making recipe in a pot: 1- chopped apples, ginger, and lemon wedges in pot, 2- cinnamon sticks, sugar, and star anise added, 3- mashing apples, 4- after apples have cooked and reduced.

Strain and store cider

  1. After the cider has cooled down, use a fine mesh strainer to separate the liquid from the solid parts.
  2. Pour the liquid into your chosen container. Ideally, a glass jar if you want to store it in the fridge for later.
2 image collage showing mashed apples being strained into a mason jar through a mesh sieve and then two mason jars full of cider.

Tips for making the best homemade apple cider

  1. Start with fresh, crisp apples. While any apple will do, the fresher and crisper they are, the richer the flavor you’ll get. Those supermarket specials on seasonal apples? Perfect timing for this recipe!
  2. Don’t rush the simmer. A gentle, steady simmer helps the flavors meld together better, making your cider taste even more amazing.
  3. Taste as you go. Halfway through simmering, give the cider a taste. This way, you can add more sugar or spices if you think it needs it. Remember, it’s easier to add than to take away!
  4. Save the excess apple for applesauce. After straining, don’t throw away those mashed apples! They’ve still got loads of flavor. With a bit of blending and perhaps more sugar, you’ve got yourself a delicious homemade applesauce.
  • Swap out the sugar. If brown sugar isn’t your thing, you can easily swap it for maple syrup or honey. You’ll still get that rich, sweet touch.
  • Mix up the citrus. If you’re out of lemons or just want to shake things up, try using an orange or even a grapefruit for a different citrusy kick.
  • Play with the spices. Cloves and cinnamon are classic, but you can totally swap them for cardamom pods or a splash of vanilla extract for a unique twist.
Pot of homemade apple cider with a ladle scooping some up.

How to store & reheat this fresh apple cider

Once you’ve made your fresh apple cider, let it cool down to room temperature. Then, pour it into a clean, airtight container (like a glass jar) or jug. Make sure the lid’s on tight, and pop it in the fridge.

When you’re ready for another round of that warm, comforting cider, pour what you need into a pot and gently reheat on the stove over low to medium heat. Stir occasionally until it’s warm enough for you. If you’re in a hurry, the microwave works, too—just reheat it in a microwave-safe mug for a minute or so.

How long will apple cider recipe last in the fridge?

This apple cider recipe should last nicely for about 5-7 days in the fridge. So, you’ve got a week of apple goodness to enjoy!

Can i freeze apple cider?

Got more apple cider than you can drink in a week? No problem, you can freeze it. Pour the cooled cider into freezer-safe bags or containers, leaving a little space at the top for expansion. Whenever you’re craving some cider, just thaw it in the fridge overnight or reheat it straight from the freezer.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use a slow cooker for this apple cider recipe?

Absolutely! Just toss all your ingredients into the slow cooker, set it on low, and let it cook for 3-6 hours. Strain and enjoy!

What’s the difference between apple cider and apple juice?

Apple cider is made by cooking down apples with spices and is generally less filtered, giving it a richer, more robust flavor. Apple juice, on the other hand, is usually filtered and pasteurized, making it clearer and lighter in taste.

Can I use apple juice instead of fresh apples?

If you’re short on time or fresh apples, you can use apple juice as a shortcut. Just grab a jug of your favorite unsweetened apple juice and add the spices, lemon, and ginger as per the recipe. Simmer it all together to let the flavors meld. It won’t be quite the same as starting from scratch with fresh apples, but it’ll get you close.

Homemade apple cider in a glass mug with a cinnamon stick and apple slice.

You’re going to love sipping on this old-fashioned apple cider recipe! It’s the perfect cozy drink for chilly nights, and it fills your home with the best fall smells ever. Plus, it’s an awesome way to use up those extra apples you have in your kitchen after baking too many apple pies (guilty!). So, grab your trusty stock pot, gather all the ingredients, and brew this comforting treat!

More apple recipes:

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Homemade Apple Cider

Enjoy the flavors of the season with this comforting homemade apple cider made from fresh apples, cinnamon, cloves, and citrus.
4.6 from 5 votes
Servings 6 servings
Course Beverages
Calories 267
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
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  • 12 apples cleaned, cored and quartered
  • 1 lemon cleaned and quartered
  • 2 to 3 coins fresh ginger ¼ inch slices
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise pod optional
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar


  • Place apples, lemon, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks and star anise (if using) and brown sugar in a large stock pot. Cover with 12 cups of filtered water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 1 hour at a gentle simmer, then use a potato masher to break the apples down until they are soft.
  • Cook for another hour, then remove from heat and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, carefully pass through a fine mesh strainer into a container of choice.
  • You may cool the cider slightly and enjoy it warm, or let it cool completely and chill it in the fridge to enjoy it cold.


Recipe makes about 12 cups.


Calories: 267kcal, Carbohydrates: 71g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 0.1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Trans Fat: 0.002g, Sodium: 11mg, Potassium: 449mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 56g, Vitamin A: 203IU, Vitamin C: 26mg, Calcium: 49mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American
Course: Beverages
4.60 from 5 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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  1. Deb says:

    This is a simple recipe to make. But I was a little confused by all the ingredients! Store cider ingredients say cider, or apples, or apple juice.
    My son bought honey crisp cider- amazing! So those were the apples I chose. Expensive! I also had to purchase an apple peeler, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. So not including the apples or brown sugar , I spent around $50! So unless you can borrow these I don’t recommend this so-so cider

  2. Deirdre M Gaffney says:

    So looking forward to making this. As I don’t have the ‘whole’ versions of the spices and lemon can I use ground spices and lemon juice and peel?
    I see you use Mason Jars, how long will the cider store in these (sterilised)? I’m used to making my own (pasteurised) apple juice which stores for years in sterilised bottles.

    Many thanks.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Hi Deirde, great question! Yes, you can use ground spices, just make sure to strain well. I am not sure on how to preserve the cider. It’s not something I do and I don’t want to give you the wrong information. I hope you enjoy it and you’ll have to let me know what you think when you make it!

      1. Deirdre M Gaffney says:

        Thank you for your reply. I might experiment with a small quantity using a Water Bath Canner, besides keeping some in the fridge.