Mulled cider is the perfect winter drink and we're big fans of hot, spicy, cider made with proper West Country cider! It has been getting more and more popular in recent years and is a great alternative to mulled wine. It's is perfect for sipping by the fire or wandering around a festive Christmas market.
In this blog post we'll teach you everything you need to know about making hot mulled cider at home, from the ingredients you'll need to the steps involved in preparation. We'll also tell you where to buy mulled cider online if you don't want to make it (but it's really easy!). So pull up a chair, get cozy and let's get started!
What is mulled cider?
Mulled cider is simply hot cider infused with some spices to produce a lovely warm, festive drink. It's traditionally served on cold winter nights in the run up to Christmas and it warms you up from the inside. It used to be made by putting a hot poker from the fire into cider which sounds very romantic but you can just warm it up in a pan!
How do you make mulled cider?
There are lots of recipes for how to make mulled cider, but we think the simplest are often the best. In theory you could use any spices but after making hundreds of batches these are our ingredients for mulled cider.
Mulled cider recipe (serves 12)
- 3 litres Rich's Medium Farmhouse Cider
- 1 litre Cloudy Apple Juice
- 1 Orange (quartered)
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 12 Cloves (stuck into the orange peel)
- 1 star anise (optional)
- Grated nutmeg (optional)
- Sugar (to taste)
Steps to make hot mulled cider
To make mulled cider, follow these simple steps:
- Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan
- Gently warm until you see a little steam (do NOT boil - see below)
- Put a lid on the pan and turn down to the lowest heat
- Leave to 'mull' for 15-20 minutes
- Taste it for flavour (watch out it will be hot!)
- If it needs more spice or more sugar, add these to taste
- Pour into mugs or coffee glasses (don't use normal glasses as they might crack)
- Sip and enjoy!
How to heat mulled cider
To make a lovely warm cider you need to heat it up but it's very important not to boil it. If you boil the cider, the alcohol will all evaporate so we recommend warming it gently. The easiest way to do this is to put the ingredients in a pan and warm it over a low heat or another option is to put it in a soup cauldron or slow cooker set to Low.
What temperature is mulled cider
The boiling point of alcohol is lower than the boiling point of water (78 degrees to be precise) so if you boil the cider you boil off the alcohol! If you have a temperature control, we'd recommend setting it to 65 degrees. This has the added advantage of pasteurising it so if you don't finish it all you can keep it for the next day - although we don't often have that problem!
What kind of cider do you use for mulling
Mulled cider is very easy to make but, as with most recipes, getting good results is all down to using quality ingredients. Don't worry, you don't need any hard to find ingredients but you do need to start with some decent cider!
We always used to recommend using a dry cider for mulling so you could control how sweet you want it (you can always add more sweetness but you can't take it out!). But after mulling a LOT of cider the conclusion we've come to is that you should use a cider that you like to drink. By doing that you're much more likely to enjoy the finished product and that way if there's left you can drink it!
What's the best cider for mulled cider?
We always use Rich's Farmhouse Cider. This is because it was the most popular draught cider in the shop so most people like it. It also has the right qualities for a mulled cider. It is very appley and this gives the mulled cider a very fruity flavour which is what you want. It's full-bodied and full-flavoured so the taste of the cider doesn't get lost in all of the other flavours you're adding. It's not too tannic as this can produce a bitter flavour. It's quite strong (6%) so it will produce a nice strong mulled cider even if you if you lose a bit of alcohol when heating (see below).
How much spice to use in mulled cider
We'd recommend starting with a small amount of spice first as you can always add more but you can't take it out if you add too much! You don't want to over-mull it as this can be quite over-powering and you want to be able to taste the flavour of the cider (assuming you're using decent cider!) If it needs more spice you can always add more and return it to the pot until it's ready.
How to sweeten mulled cider
When drinking craft cider, we prefer dry cider but when it comes to mulled cider, you definitely want it a bit sweeter. You can use anything you like to sweeten cider - it is entirely personal preference - but these are the most common methods.
1. Sugar. The easiest way to sweeten your cider is to add sugar. We use natural cane sugar and add to taste. If you prefer not to use sugar, here are some alternatives.
2. Apple juice. Even when using sugar, we add a little apple juice as this gives the cider a lovely fruity flavour. You could skip the sugar entirely and add more apple juice but you'd have to add quite a lot of juice to get the right level of sweetness. This would dilute the alcohol but this might be nice for a lower strength mulled cider.
3. Honey. Another natural sweetener is honey and people traditionally used this to sweeten their cider. It's adds a lovely richness to the cider but it does have quite a distinctive flavour and it can be a bit overpowering if you use too much. Also it's not vegan friendly if you're making it for a crowd.
4. Other natural sweeteners. You could also try maple syrup, agave nectar, stevia or any other natural sweetener of your choice but we would avoid artificial sweeteners.
Is mulled cider alcoholic?
Yes mulled cider is alcoholic and it is as strong as the cider it is made with (as long as you don't boil all the alcohol off). You can also make a lovely non-alcoholic version but this would be hot, spiced, apple juice not mulled cider. (NB In America the word cider is used to describe cloudy apple juice (alcoholic cider is called 'hard cider') so mulled cider in USA isn't alcoholic but in the UK it is!)
Where to buy mulled cider
If you really don't want to make it yourself, or if you're buying it as a gift, you can buy mulled cider online. A lot of craft cider producers make their own mulled cider and we'd recommend buying it from one of them rather than from a supermarket.
Our favourite mulled ciders are Rich's Mulled Cider, Sheppy's Winter Spiced Cider and Perry's Fox. They're usually available from late October or early November and are available on our website as soon as they are available.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about mulled cider! We hope you manage to try some this winter. It's a perfect drink for festive gatherings or Christmas parties and is sure to put a rosy glow on people's faces!