Slow Cooker Mulled Cider (with a Caramel Pecan Rim)

This Slow Cooker Mulled Cider will be a hit at your holiday parties all fall and winter! It’s made with sweet spices, lime and orange slices, fresh cranberries, and has no added sugar. Serve spiked and decorated with a caramel pecan rim!

Slow Cooker Mulled Hot Cider

Is there anything better than a mug of apple cider? Yes, actually. There is. It’s a cozy, steaming mug of hot mulled cider with a caramel pecan rim. Seriously. 

This crockpot mulled cider recipe turns plain apple cider into a warm, cozy, perfectly spiced holiday drink. The slow cook time gives the spices and fruit so much time to infuse into the cider for a drink that’s absolutely bursting with flavor (and easy for you to make). I put this drink out at holiday parties and let everyone add in their favorite alcohol: vodka, brandy, bourbon, or wine!

It’s perfectly sweet with warm spices, tart and tangy from the citrus and cranberries, and served decorated with homemade caramel and crunchy pecans. 

Now, can you think of anything better than that?

Mulled hot cider in the crock pot on a ladle

Ingredients Needed

This mulled apple cider recipe is made up of only the freshest ingredients that come together to create a warm, flavor bomb holiday drink.

Mulled Cider

  • Apple Cider: high-quality, fresh apple cider is the way to go for the best flavor.
  • Mulled Cider Spices: you’ll use a combination of star anise, cinnamon sticks, and a knob of fresh ginger to season the cider.
  • Fruit: we’re using a combination of lime slices, orange slices, and fresh cranberries.

Optional Pecan Caramel Rim

  • Coconut Milk, Vanilla Extract, Butter, and Sea Salt: makes up a dairy-free, homemade caramel to decorate the rim of the glasses.
  • Pecan Pieces: use finely chopped or even ground pecans. The smaller the pieces, the easier it is to get them to stick to the caramel!

Optional Add-Ins

When it comes to adding alcohol, I always recommend starting with less and adding more to taste. You can always add more but you can’t take it out!

  • Bourbon or Dark Rum: I recommend 1.5 – 2 ounces per glass of cider.
  • White Wine: adjust the ratio of wine to cider depending on your preferences.
  • Vodka: you can use regular vodka or caramel vodka for a fun flavor twist. I recommend 1.5 – 2 ounces per glass of cider.

Get creative with this recipe for holiday entertaining by creating an individual spiked cider bar! Simply place liquor(s) out next to the slow cooker and let friends or family create their own spiked mulled cider beverage!

hot mulled cider recipe ingredients

What is Mulled Cider?

“Mulled” means to heat, sweeten, and spice. So, Mulled cider, also known as wassail, is a sweet cider that’s heated with spices and various fruits and served warm. 

What is the Difference Between Apple Cider and Mulled Cider?

Apple cider is traditionally served cold and plain. Mulled cider, on the other hand, is warmed and simmered with spices and fruit. 

While I love my Apple Cider Sangria, it’s different completely! Here you make your hot mulled cider and spike as desired afterwards! Or, leave it alcohol-free for the kiddos.

How to Make Hot Mulled Cider in the Crockpot

This crockpot mulled cider could not be any easier to throw together. 

Cook the cider: Place all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours.

The Caramel Pecan Rim

While completely optional, this addition is so fun and delicious. Use my paleo and vegan caramel, crush up pecans, and line the rim of the glasses!

The Method

Full ingredient list and method detailed in the instructions below!

  1. Make your caramel. Store caramel in the refrigerator until the mulled cider is ready.
  2. Pour caramel onto a small, shallow plate.
  3. On a separate shallow plate, place crushed pecans (crush pecans in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or bottle, or grind in a nut grinder or food processor).
  4. Dip your glass of choice in the caramel until the entire rim is well covered.
  5. Dip the caramel rim into the pecan mixture.
  6. Now you are ready to pour in that mulled hot cider!

Health Benefits of Pecans

Pecans are lower in carbs and higher in fiber compared to many other nuts, and they’re a “good” source of monounsaturated fat, including the beneficial oleic acid that’s found in olive oil! A handful of pecans (about 19 halves) is a good source of fiber, thiamin, and zinc, and an excellent source of copper and manganese – a mineral that’s essential for metabolism and bone health. Plus, they have that yummy, buttery flavor! I love using pecan pieces to make my life easier during the chopping of them!

mulled hot cider with a caramel pecan rim

Can You Make this Crockpot Mulled Cider on the Stove?

Absolutely! Although I prefer to make this recipe in the crockpot, you can easily make it on the stove if you’re lower on time. 

Simply combine everything in a large saucepan and warm the mixture over low heat until heated through. Make sure the cider stays at a low simmer, though. If it comes to a boil, the cider can separate.

Mulled Cider Spices

Once you have a good quality apple cider, now it’s time to spice it up, and cook it up! Cinnamon and star anise are the stars here. You can also add cloves, allspice, and nutmeg to your mulled cider recipe if you have it on hand.

Can You Use Ground Spices?

Ground spices create a gritty texture and cloudy appearance that’s not very pleasant and can be difficult to strain out. Whole spices add all of that delicious flavor, but you can just remove them from the cider when you’re ready to serve!

Mulled apple cider in glasses and in crockpot

Serving Suggestions

This hot mulled cider pairs deliciously with appetizers, dinner, with dessert, or as part of a brunch spread! Here are some recipe ideas:

How to Store Mulled Cider

Leftover mulled apple cider will last in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, warm on low on the stove until hot or in individual servings in the microwave.

pouring hot mulled cider into glasses

If you like this cocktail recipe, try these other favorites:

Print

Slow Cooker Mulled Cider with Pecan Rim

This Crockpot Mulled Cider will be a hit at your holiday parties all fall and winter! It’s made with sweet spices, lime and orange slices, fresh cranberries, and has no added sugar. Serve spiked and decorated with a caramel pecan rim!

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Drink

Ingredients

Scale

Mulled Cider Ingredients:

  • 1.5 liters of fresh apple cider
  • 4 star anise
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 orange thinly sliced, used half of the slices on serving glasses and 1/2 of the slices for the mulled cider
  • 1/2 lime, thinly sliced
  • 1-inch knob of ginger, skin removed
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries

Pecan Caramel Rim:

  • 1 cup coconut milk, only the cream used
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup pecan pieces, finely chopped or ground

Add-In Alcohol Options:

  • Bourbon, 2 ounces per glass
  • Dark rum, 2 ounces per glass
  • White wine, to taste
  • Vodka, 2 ounces per glass

Instructions

  1. Place all mulled cider ingredients into a slow cooker. Set on low for 4 hours.
  2. While cider cooks, make a batch of caramel. Place coconut milk, vanilla, butter and sea salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low and let simmer, whisking often, for about 30 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Take off heat and let cool. Store in the refrigerator until the mulled cider is ready.
  3. Pour caramel onto a small, shallow plate.
  4. On a separate shallow plate, place crushed pecans (crush pecans in a plastic bag with a rolling pin).
  5. Dip your glass of choice in the caramel until the entire rim is well covered. Dip the caramel rim into the pecan mixture. Pour mulled cider into glasses and spike your drink with the desired alcohol if using, then stir and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Storage: Leftover cider can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  2. Make It On The Stovetop: Simmer the mulled cider ingredients in a large saucepan over low heat. Cover and let simmer for about 1 hour. Make sure that the cider stays at a low simmer, if it comes to a boil, the cider can separate!

Keywords: mulled cider, hot apple cider, hot mulled cider

Did you make this recipe?

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This post was originally in collaboration with the American Pecan Council and Gluten-Free Stoli Vodka in 2017! All thoughts and opinions are always 100% my own! Thank you for continuing to support LCK and the brands I work with!

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November 25, 2021

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