Apple Cider Recipe

This apple cider recipe is perfect for sipping around a campfire or holiday fireplace!

Did you know apple cider is a scandalous beverage?

A clear, glass mug sits filled with this Apple Cider Recipe. It's surrounded by apples and cinnamon sticks. There are two cinnamon sticks in the jar for stirring the apple cider.

While the earliest recordings of this fabulous liquid date back as far as 55 BC, it was not introduced here in the USA until English settlers arrived, possibly as early as the 1400s.

At the time, grains were not the heartiest of crops. However, apples were in abundance everywhere the settlers looked. So it didn’t take long for them to find a method for making something called Hard Cider (so named sometime around the 1840s), which was and is still today, an alcoholic beverage.

The practice of making Hard Cider is still popular today with folks who are into creating their own unique brews. Secret formulas for different apple combinations are fiercely protected. The apples used do make a tremendous difference in the flavor of the finished product.

What’s So Scandalous About Apple Cider?

There seems to be much controversy surrounding the actual definition of today’s apple cider. There are some heated debates regarding the authenticity and the definition of the word “cider” when it comes to the way we use it now.

As with most things that food corporations touch, cider has been “boiled down” (pardon the pun) to being apple juice. The main reason is the requirement for pasteurization. Authentic apple cider is fresh from the press and only lasts about 2 weeks in the fridge before it starts to ferment. Food companies, by law, cannot sell juice without pasteurizing it first. So basically, if you purchase apple “cider” in a grocery store, just know that you are actually buying apple juice. Not authentic cider.

A side view of this hot apple cider recipe shows a full mug of cider with cinnamon sticks in the mug for stirring.

That said, most of us don’t have an apple press handy these days. I know I don’t. If you do, consider yourself very, very lucky! (And consider me very, very jealous!)

So in the interest of making this recipe a bit more authentic (without using an apple press), I decided to use my juicer to make my juice “from scratch”.

For those of you who do not have a juicer, go to the store and buy some organic apple juice. It will be different, but it will still be quite tasty.

Now, follow this recipe for Clean Eating Apple Cider!

More Hot Drink Recipes

Homemade Apple Cider Recipe

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A clear, glass mug sits filled with this Apple Cider Recipe. It's surrounded by apples and cinnamon sticks. There are two cinnamon sticks in the jar for stirring the apple cider.

Apple Cider Recipe

(a.k.a. Mulled Apple Cider)
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Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 142kcal
Author: Tiffany McCauley


  • 2 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 2 medium cinnamon sticks
  • 6 medium black pepper corns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest


  • If using fresh apples, wash, cut and juice them.
  • Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 5-20 minutes, depending on how strong you like your cider.
  • Pour juice through a fine-meshed sieve, into a mug. Allow to cool slightly.


Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.


Serving: 0.5the recipe | Calories: 142kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 1g | Sodium: 19mg | Potassium: 320mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Vitamin C: 21.8mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 0.9mg

Recipe from the Gracious Pantry® archives, originally posted 11/15/10.

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  1. You may be able to find *real* apple cider at a farm stand depending on your local regulations. They will have a sign (at least in PA it was required) that says it is not pasteurized and a warning for people who may have compromized immune systems. It is safe to drink as long as you know your source and are sure they don’t use “drops”. Be aware that fresh cider (never heated, enzymes still active) can have a dramatic laxative effect. So moderation is the key, at least until you know how sensitive your digestive system is.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jodi – Thanks! CA is so strict, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it here. But I’ll keep an eye out!

  2. The regulations became much stricter after a number of people became ill with E. coli several years ago. Of course E. coli comes from fecal material. Guess what? Neither apples nor spinach or any other salad greens or vegetables produce fecal waste. They get contaminated by improper handling. So what do the powers-that-be decide to do? Instead of insuring good sanitation in handling they make laws that require foods to have the life cooked out of them. Who does that protect? Just the careless handlers. And then food can still get contaminated *after* pasteurization!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jodi – Of course! Since when do “the powers that be” do anything that makes any real sense?? Sadly, that’s the world we live in.

  3. The closest we can get to real cider here is from a local orchard that uses UV pasteurization. Apparently it doesn’t get heated with the process and ruin the flavor but does eliminate some of the bad things. I usually purchase a pint of it each year to enjoy. I however, much prefer the hard cider because it isn’t as sweet. I haven’t had any hard cider for a while. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Melissa – I like hard cider too! I’ve only had it once, but it was tasty!! 🙂 The sweetness level will depend on the apples/juice. Some are sweeter, some are more tart, just like the apples the juice comes from. So it might just be a matter of sampling until you find some you like. Happy holidays!