Easy Crockpot Wassail

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This Easy Crockpot Wassail recipe starts with unfiltered apple cider and cranberry juice, then kicks up the flavor with sliced oranges, apples, fresh cranberries and aromatic spices!

Enjoy mulled apple cider as a warm holiday drink that's perfect for parties and family gatherings. It's easily made in a crock pot so it will stay warm as long as you like!

two mugs filled with mulled apple cider with cinnamon sticks and fruit inside.
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What is Wassail?

Wassail is English in origin and is traditionally served as a hot beverage mixed with sugar and spices. Baked apples are traditionally added to wassail and served in a decorative bowl for the holidays.

Nothing tastes as inviting as a cup of hot wassail on a cold winter day! In our family, this simple recipe is served on Christmas Eve as we enjoy appetizers and create holiday traditions.

Why You'll Love It

Making this crockpot mulled apple cider recipe is as simple as pouring the ingredients in a slow cooker and pressing the start button! In just 10 minutes, you'll be finished with all the prep.

The best part is how it will make your whole house smell like an apple orchard while it's simmering. The earthy flavors of cinnamon and cloves paired with orange peel, apple slices and pomegranate just scream holiday!

Crockpot Wassail is a fragrant beverage I like to serve for Thanksgiving, Christmas and winter parties. It's warm, comforting, and serves a big crowd!

Guests love this non-alcoholic apple cider, but you can always make it a hard cider by adding spirits like rum or whiskey to mix things up if you're hosting an adult-only party.

a black slow cooker filled with orange, cinnamon and cranberries.

Ingredients

Crock Pot Wassail is made with simple ingredients found at your local grocery store. It makes a big batch and is an easy drink to serve at parties and events.

See quantities in recipe card.

  • fresh apple cider - preferred over apple juice because it has more pulp
  • cranberry juice - purchase 100 percent cranberry juice
  • brown sugar - adds the sweetness
  • ground cinnamon - a warm winter spice
  • ground cloves - best to use ground instead of whole in this recipe
  • cinnamon sticks - for simmering and serving
  • apples, oranges, cranberries and pomegranate - fresh fruit that adds flavor & color!
ingredients needed to make crockpot apple cider.

Equipment

  • crockpot (ad), slow cooker or dutch oven (if using the stovetop)
  • ladle for serving
  • mugs (ad), glass makes a lovely presentation

How to Make Wassail in a Crockpot

1 - Add apple cider, cranberry juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, cinnamon sticks and sliced fruit to a crock pot that holds at least 6 quarts.

crockpot apple cider with pomegranate, cinnamon and apples.

2 - Set the slow cooker on low and simmer for 4 to 6 hours until fruit and spices have mulled and the cranberries have popped open. If cooking on the stovetop, bring mixture to a boil in a large pot and set on simmer for 1 hour until ready to serve.

ladle dishing up cranberries from crockpot.

3 - Ladle hot wassail and fruit into mugs. Garnish with more chopped fruit and orange slices. Add cinnamon sticks if desired. Serve and enjoy!

glass mugs loaded with chopped apples, orange and cranberries.

Recipe FAQS

What does mulled mean?

To 'mull' means to add spices to a beverage, then heat and sweeten it up to create a different flavor. When adding cinnamon, cloves and fruit to apple cider, it creates a mulled beverage.

What is the difference between mulled cider and wassail?

Mulled cider and wassail are basically the same thing. Wassail is English in origin, and mulled cider means you are adding spices and fruit to liquid and heating it until it is warm. Many folks enjoy mulled wine and often called this drink Christmas Wassail, so the terms are interchangeable.

Can you turn this non-alcoholic recipe into a cocktail?

Yes, many mulled beverages include wine, rum or whiskey. You can either add alcohol while it's simmering, or provide a bottle nearby for adults to spike their own mug. This is my preferred method of serving mulled drinks, since many folks enjoy a non alcoholic option. Plus, if you simmer alcohol, it often loses its 'kick'.

Serving Ideas

  • Hot Mulled Cider is a beautiful beverage with a variety of colors from the fruits and spices! I love serving it in clear glass mugs so guests can see the lovely layers of fruit inside.
  • Always serve the first glass packed with fruit, then add a spoon for getting every last drop.
  • Since our family gatherings include children, I don't add alcohol to this traditional mulled cider recipe. That way, the entire family can enjoy a special drink for the holidays.
  • If hosting an adult only party, you can provide a bottle of rum or whiskey for anyone who wants to add a little 'sass' to their glass by turning it into an alcoholic beverage.
black slow cooker filled with pomagranate, oranges and apples to make wassail.

Variations

The fun part of making this hot spiced wassail is creating your own delicious recipe. I've been making this nonalcoholic drink for years, so it's a tried and true version. But, if you want to create a variation, try these fun ideas...

  • wrap whole cloves, fresh ginger, star anise, cardamom pods, peppercorns or allspice in a cheesecloth and place in the slow cooker
  • add grated orange or lemon peel for stronger flavor
  • substitute fruits such as pear, cherry, pineapple and peach for a completely different taste
  • create a mixed berry cider with blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
  • use another sweetener like maple syrup, honey or monk fruit instead of brown sugar
mugs filled with cranberry apple cider.

Top Tips

  • Apple cider is preferred over apple juice in this recipe because it's unfiltered and has more fresh pulp.
  • Use ground cloves instead of the whole type unless you're using a cheesecloth to strain the spices. This prevents guests from accidentally swallowing a whole clove which is very unpleasant.
  • Start by adding a small amount of brown sugar, then taste before adding more.
  • Fresh cranberries can make this beverage taste more tart. If you prefer it to be sweeter, use less cranberries.
  • Purchase a variety of fresh apples to mix up colors and flavors.

Storage

You can freeze this beverage and serve it at a later date. Freeze leftovers in an airtight container (with the fruit) and it thaws out beautifully.

Thaw wassail in the refrigerator for two days, then transfer to a crockpot or dutch oven. Set on high heat, then simmer until ready to serve.

What to Serve with Crockpot Wassail

Hot apple cider tastes great with appetizers...especially at the holidays. Try these favorite recipes at your next party or family gathering!

 

Recipe Card

two clear glasses filled with mulled apple cider and oranges, apples and cranberries.

Easy Crockpot Wassail

Crockpot Wassail starts with unfiltered apple cider and cranberry juice, then kicks up the flavor with sliced oranges, apples, fresh cranberries and warm spices!
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Beverages
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 72kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Equipment

  • crockpot
  • ladle
  • mugs

Ingredients

  • 2 apples any type
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 bottle 52 ounces fresh unfiltered apple cider
  • 1 bottle 64 ounces 100% cranberry juice
  • teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks extra for serving if desired

Instructions

  • Slice oranges, apples and pomegranate. 
  • Chop up a few slices of fruit to use when serving and place in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Sprinkle lemon juice over the apples to prevent browning.
  • Add fruit slices, cranberries, apple cider, cranberry juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, and cinnamon sticks to a crock pot that holds at least 6 quarts. Stir well.
  • You may not need all of the juices if your crockpot is small. Use an equal part of each and be sure to leave room at the top for fruit and spices. 
  • Set the slow cooker on low and cover. Simmer for 4 to 6 hours until fruit and spices have mulled and the cranberries pop open.
  • Ladle hot apple cider and fruit into mugs. Garnish with chopped fruit and orange slices. Add cinnamon sticks if desired. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • Use ground cloves instead of the whole type. This prevents people from accidentally swallowing a whole clove which is very unpleasant.
  • Start by adding a small amount of sugar, then taste before adding more if needed.
  • Fresh cranberries can make it taste more tart. If you prefer it to be sweeter, use less cranberries.
  • You can freeze this beverage and serve it at a later date. Freeze leftovers in an airtight container (with the fruit) and it thaws out beautifully in the refrigerator in about 2 days. 
  • This is a non-alcoholic recipe. If adding alcohol, do so for legal adults only. 
  • View the Google Web Story for Crockpot Wassail! 

Nutrition

Calories: 72kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 128mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Your pictures are beautiful! Makes me want to drink this cider right off the page. I've been looking for a mulled cider recipe, so this looks perfect.

    1. That's my favorite part too Adam! The fruit gets all spiced up with flavor the longer it sits in the punch.

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