Big-Batch Mulled Cider

You can even make it three days before your festive gathering.

Big-Batch Mulled Cider
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Christine Keely
Cook Time:
30 mins
Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
40 mins

We're all about festive, seasonal drinks. Every occasion warrants a signature cocktail (or mocktail), from the Kentucky Derby's Mint Julep to eggnog at Christmastime. When the leaves start changing, it's the perfect time to make some warm mulled cider. Serve this fall-favorite with alcohol or keep it spirit-free for a drink that the whole family can enjoy. This year, we're bringing you a recipe for Big Batch Mulled Cider that's made for entertaining.

This mulled cider is slightly sweetened and lightly infused with fruit and spices, still retaining that crisp apple flavor. A garnish of fresh cranberries brings a pop of bright color and tartness to this hot mulled cider. Be sure to purchase fresh cider that is made from 100% apple juice (labeled unfiltered) and doesn't contain any mulling spices.

For parties, hold the strained cider on warm in a slow cooker so guests can serve themselves. When it comes to garnishes, let your guests have some fun. We like to set up a whole spread of little add-ons to really make this drink customizable. We're talking fresh cranberries, thin orange slices, cinnamon sticks, apple slices, and apple chips. Grownups can even add a splash of applejack brandy, or top off the glass with ginger beer.

Want to make it ahead? You can prepare this cider up to three days in advance. Store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container and warm before serving.


  • 1 (½-gal.) bottle unfiltered apple cider

  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar

  • 2 large navel oranges, unpeeled, ends removed, and oranges sliced into rounds

  • 1 medium Honeycrisp apple, unpeeled and chopped

  • 3 whole star anise

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • Optional garnishes: fresh cranberries, thin orange slices, cinnamon sticks, thin apple slices, whole star anise


  1. Stir together cider, brown sugar, orange rounds, chopped apples, star anise, and cinnamon sticks in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over high, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until fruits soften and mixture becomes aromatic, about 30 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large heatproof bowl or drink dispenser; discard solids. Ladle cider into 8 heatproof mugs; garnish as desired.

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