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Homemade Apple Cider

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One of the greatest things about fall is homemade apple cider. Not only is it super easy to make, it’s also the perfect way to use up all those extra apples you planned to bake into apple pie after going apple picking. Warm, full of spice, and just sweet enough, it’s the perfect drink to have on the back burner when you’re hosting guests– it will make your home smell like fall! 

A few tips to get started: use the largest pot you have or split the ingredients between two pots so your cider doesn't boil over. And though it might feel weird to smash the apples after they’ve been cooking 2 hours, this step is very important because it helps you extract maximum apple flavor. Use a potato masher if you have one, or do the best you can with a large wooden spoon.

Read on for more tips on this easy fall drink. And if you’re looking for ways to use your homemade apple cider, check out these fall cider cocktails.

What apples do I use to make apple cider?

You can use whatever apples you want to make this apple cider: your favorite variety, or whatever you happen to have one hand. Pro tip, though: the stronger flavored apples (such as Granny Smith and Honeycrisp) will give your cider a stronger flavor.

Do I need to peel my apples?

Absolutely not. And honestly, your cider will have a lot more flavor if you leave the peels on. There’s tons of great apple flavor hiding in the skins. Don’t worry– you’ll strain everything through a fine mesh strainer at the end, which will catch all the solids. Be sure to have a ladle on hand to help with this; there will be a lot of liquid! 

Should I use whole or ground spices?

Whole spices for sure! We’re just looking for their flavor to be infused into the cider while it simmers. If you’re concerned about someone choking on an allspice berry or a clove, don’t worry: they’ll get strained out at the end, when we run everything through a mesh strainer.

How long does homemade apple cider keep?

Apple cider will stay good in your refrigerator for 2 weeks. Be sure to let it cool down completely before storing in an airtight container and popping it in the refrigerator.

Made this? Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

Editor's Note: The introduction to this recipe was updated on July 15, 2022  to include more information about the dish. 

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Yields: 2 quarts
Prep Time: 0 hours 10 mins
Total Time: 3 hours 15 mins

large apples, quartered


orange, halved


cinnamon sticks

1 tsp.

whole cloves

1 tsp.

whole allspice


whole nutmeg

1/2 c.

packed brown sugar

  1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, add apples, oranges, spices, and brown sugar. Cover with water by at least 2”. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 2 hours. 
  2. Remove orange halves, then use a potato masher or wooden spoon to mash apples. Return to a simmer and let simmer uncovered for 1 hour more.
  3. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on solids with a wooden spoon to squeeze all juices out. Discard solids. 
  4. Serve apple cider warm.
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Emily Hlavac Green
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