If you want the perfect winter beverage, there are few things better than mulled cider. Nothing keeps you warm and toasty on a chilly winter evening quite like a steaming mug of spicy, rich cider. The smell of the spices will fill your home with a cosy ambience that will truly make it feel like Christmas every day!
The best mulled cider isn’t so tricky to make. The best way is to find a cider you enjoy, a recipe with the kick to suit you, and off you go… A refreshing change from mulled wine (and less expensive too), mulled cider is the way to go.
What is Mulled Cider?
Mulled cider dates back hundreds of years, to the Wassail Night celebrations held all over England on January 5th.
Mulled wine is a drink that has been around since the Ancient Romans, but the British decided they had to have their own version. Apples are grown in abundance in England, so apple cider has always been much cheaper and more available than wine.
Just like mulled wine, mulled cider is basically hot apple cider that has been simmered with a variety of spices and herbs, giving it a rich, spicy flavour that combines perfectly with the warmth of the drink. It makes for an amazing party drink, as well as an ideal beverage to enjoy on a cold winter’s night.
Best Cider to use for Mulled Cider
If you want to know how to make mulled cider, you have to realise that it starts with the base ingredient: the cider itself. The best mulled cider recipe will include a cider you enjoy drinking in the first place. Which cider you choose is very much a personal choice… the dried the cider, the drier the mulled cider and the fuller-flavoured the cider, the more oomph your mulled version with have.
What Cider to use for Mulled Cider
One that is cloudy and has a good body.
The cloudy appearance means there is still some fibre and antioxidants in the cider, instead of just being plain apple juice. Cider that has a good body will have plenty of taste, but it will thin out nicely once you heat it.
One that has a rich, sweet flavour.
A strong apple flavour is a must, and the sweeter the apple, the better! With more sugar, the cider will be better-balanced and richer once you add the spices. Organic ciders are not made with apple concentrate or additives and therefore the flavours are intense and balanced. If a sweeter flavour is desired, you can always add a little sugar or even honey.
One with a hint of acidity.
Too much sugar, and the mulled cider comes out so sweet that it’s almost cloying. You need just a touch of acidity to balance out the sugar and give it a well-balanced flavour.
Note: You can use tart ciders, but just make sure to add more sugar.
Delicious Organic Ciders to make the Best Mulled Cider
If you like a touch of sweetness to your cider and fancy a mulled version with plenty of flavour, look no further than the Sheppy’s Organic Cider. Perfect!
Even though Mulled Cider is a very English drink, there’s no reason at all why it can’t be made with a cider from our friends in Normandy. Wonderfully flavoursome, it’ll marry well with the spices.
Maybe you’re planning a full-bodied mulled cider with a spicy, rum kick. If that’s the case then you’ll need a boldly flavoured and rich cider. Our choice would be Dunkertons Black Fox Cider.
A strong, dry organic cider made by Herefordshire legends Dunkertons that is the most scrumptious drink with a chunk of Montgomery cheddar…
Just for fun… if you’ve friends who think they’re a bit posh for mulled cider, you can maybe tempt them in with a single-variety cider like the Dunkertons Browns – a variety that originated in Devon.
How to make Mulled Cider
Be gentle and be patient! As we explain later on, time taken to toast your spices first is well-worth the effort; it makes for a much richer, tastier drinking experience.
Choose your ‘kick’ with care… some folk like whisky, for others it’s a splash of port, brandy or rum.
Be careful not to boil your mulled cider. Once it’s reached a near-boil, a simmer is best otherwise you risk diminishing the flavours.
Best Mulled Cider Recipes
Here are a few recipes to try out for a brilliant mulled cider:
A recipe from Nigella
The Cooking Goddess that is Nigella Lawson gives a brilliant recipe for a hot mulled cider in her book, Nigella Christmas. You can also find it online.
Including rum (look no further!), apple and ginger tea and a glorious array of spices it tastes every bit as good as it smells!
A traditional English Wassail
When researching this blog I was reminded of the wonderful word that is wassail. Wassailing is the tradition of singing to your apple trees to ensure a successful apple harvest in the coming year. Nicely described in this Guardian article, mulled cider plays a pivotal role in this very English ritual and, as you’d expect, there are some lovely wassail mulled cider recipes to choose from.
A fruity, quick-to-make, Mulled Cider
The recipe given in Delicious Magazine is good because there aren’t too many ingredients. Cider, of course, with apples, cloves, allspice, brandy, sugar and orange… Serving eight people, you’ll have a warming mulled cider in less than 15 minutes.
Last but definitely not least… The Dunkertons Delicious Mulled Cider
Susie Dunkerton keeps things refreshingly simple in her 5-ingredient mulled cider that uses Dunkertons Cider (naturally!). The recipe online suggests medium-sweet cider but we have have made it with the refreshingly lower-alcohol Dunkertons Craft Cider and think the final result is delicious.
Susie uses mulling spices in a sachet that you a find in all sorts of shops. Handy if the jars give you more spices than you can readily use.
Hot Mulled Cider Spices
The best mulled cider spices to choose are those that complement the flavours of apples. Here are some of our favourites:
- Star anise
Make your own blend of spices every time, preferably organic!
Toast the spices first
Don’t throw the spices into the mulled cider raw but take the time to toast them first. That will not only fill your home with the wonderful fragrance but will bring out the natural flavours of the essential oils.
If you want rich, extra-tasty mulled cider with nuances and subtler flavours, definitely toast the spices instead of grinding them!
How to Make Mulled Cider in Slow Cooker
If you want to make mulled cider but don’t have the time to stand over the stove, why not use the slow cooker? The cider will only simmer, never boil, so you won’t have to worry about over-heating the liquid or burning the cider!
For those who want to make mulled cider in a slow cooker, here’s a simple recipe to try:
- 4 litres apple cider
- 375 ml whisky
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
- Pour the cider and the whisky into the slow cooker, add in the spices, and stir well to ensure the spices are mixed.
- Set the slow cooker on the “High” setting, cover it, and cook for 90 minutes. Stir well, strain out the spices, and serve!
Follow the advice and recipes above, and you’ll make a top notch mulled cider every time. For those cold winter nights, there’s nothing like a mug of steaming apple cider to keep out the chill.
A non-alcoholic Mulled Cider
Easy-peasy. Simply replace the cider of your chosen recipe with apple juice and freshly-squeezed lemon juice and you are all set.