One of the things I love most about fall and winter are the all of the warm, yummy drinks. I’m kind of obsessed with them ,actually. I’m sure a lot of you are used to having a hot drink in your hands just about every morning, year-round. But see, I don’t drink coffee, so I look like a total weirdo walking around with a cup of hot chocolate in the middle of July. I actually drove through the coffee shop drive-through last month when it was 96 degrees out to order a steamed milk with almond flavoring (a little addiction). The lady at the window said, “Really? You know we sell Frappachinos, right?” See? She thought I was so weird. So when the cool fall weather rolls around, it’s my cue that it’s socially acceptable to be seen in public with my little steamed milk or my peppermint hot chocolate. And during the fall months, there’s nothing better than a warm, spicy cup of cider.

One problem I have with a cider recipes is that they all seem to be designed to feed 50 people. I made this in a relatively small batch with measurements that are easily doubled to use the whole container of cider.

Hot Caramel Apple Cider
Recipe by Our Best Bites

1/2 gallon apple cider (64 oz or 8 C)
1/2 C orange juice, fresh squeezed or good quality bottled like Simply Orange
1 orange
8 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks (if yours are more than a year old- buy new ones!!)
1/4 t ground allspice
1/3 C jarred caramel sauce* more to taste if needed
optional: caramel flavored syrup
sweetened whipped cream (or from a can is fine!)
*For a delicious twist, substitute maple syrup for the caramel sauce in this recipe.

First off, let’s talk apple cider vs apple juice. Right off the bat I should mention to our international readers (I know, how cool does that sound?) here in the US apple cider does not refer to an alcoholic beverage like it does overseas. The main difference between cider and juice is that cider doesn’t go through all of the filtering processes that apple juice does, so it still has a lot of pulp and apple sediment in there. Check out this picture:

See how clear the juice is? A good apple cider should look kind of murky and when you shake it you should be able to see lots of pulp and stuff swirling around. It seems like there aren’t too many regulations when it comes to labeling because I still see some brands of apple cider in the stores that are indistinguishable from apple juice.

The biggest difference, however, is the taste. Apple juice is super sweet, yet watered down and not very flavorful. Apple cider is so flavorful it almost has a little zing to it. It really tastes like fresh apples all mushed up…because that’s what it is! Don’t even attempt this recipe with apple juice. You should be able to find apple cider just about anywhere these days. Look for one like this that is clearly labeled as cider, is made from 100% juice, and has no added anything!

Enough on that. Let’s make this stuff. Begin by pouring 8 C of apple cider into a large stock pot on the stove pot. Set heat to medium-high. Add orange juice, cinnamon sticks, and allspice.

And since I have a feeling people will ask… no, I wouldn’t substitute ground cinnamon or cloves. For one thing, the whole spices taste a lot better, but also ground spices will just add grainy pulp to the mixture. I used ground allspice because it’s a small amount and sometimes whole allspice berries are difficult to find.

Thoroughly wash your orange and then gently stab the whole cloves into it. If you find it hard to do that without destroying the cloves, use a toothpick to poke little hole first and then insert the cloves. This is brilliant (if I don’t say so myself) because it eliminates the need for a little bag to hold your cloves, and stabbing them in the orange releases oils and lots of yummy flavor! (If you are doubling the recipe, you can still just use one orange, just double the number of cloves you poke into it).

Gently drop the whole orange into the pot. Bring cider to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer on low for 60 minutes and longer if you wish. If you’re keeping the pot on the stove for an extended period, keep an eye on the orange. If at any time it splits open, remove it from the pot. If the white pith is exposed it will add a bitter taste to your cider. If you’re going to have the pot warming for hours on end, take out the orange. After you’ve simmered for an hour, add caramel sauce and stir to combine and dissolve. Add more caramel to taste if needed.

When ready to serve, ladle into mugs, top with whipped cream, and give it a drizzle of caramel and a sprinkle of cinnamon!

I mentioned in the ingredients that you could optionally add a shot of flavored syrup. You can find these types of syrups in the coffee isle of most grocery stores. The caramel sauce in a jar called for in the recipe gives a very mellow caramel flavor; it’s really more for sweetness, so if you want the flavor to be more distinct, a shot of coffee style syrup is your best bet.

And there you have it. I can’t think of anything more perfect for a cool fall day. And it’s a heck of a lot better, and cheaper than a coffee shop! Make up a batch to sip while you carve pumpkins this week!

Got cider? Use the rest in this or these!


And lastly a shout-out to all of you crafty kids who have been uploading pics to our facebook page. We love seeing your projects! Keep ’em comin’!!


  1. 1
    Michelle Forster says:

    I just have to say how happy it makes me to get on your blog at 7 am and have there be a happy new recipe for me!

  2. 2
    LollyChops says:

    I could really go for some of this right now. Do you guys deliver???

  3. 3
    Miki says:

    Mmmm this sounds soo good right now…especially the caramel touch!

  4. 4
    sara says:

    I'm having troubles trying to print this… anyone else? Everytime I go to the printer-friendly option it brings up the delicious rolls!

  5. 5
    LOUDnPROUD♥MÓKneeKah says:

    looks delicious and thanks for all the great tips,I will certainly make this once our weather gets a little more fall like!

  6. 6
    Elaine says:

    I just wanted to tell you that I just discovered your blog yesterday after THREE days of recovering from the dreaded H1N1. I'm on my last (hopefully) day of rest and I am still enjoying reading through old posts. Thanks so much for such great recipes and wonderful pictures! I totally wish I could be you guys and do such lovely work all the time!

  7. 7
    TheFitnessFreak says:

    Yum! I LOVE hot apple cider! The cider mill by me has the best apple/pear cider so I could totally use it for this : )

  8. 8
    i am says:

    I can totally see this in the crockpot….

  9. 9
    Jennifer says:

    Mmmm I make caramel apple cider all the time but I use the little packets of cider mix instead.

    That reminds me, I have to add caramel sauce to my grocery list…

  10. 10
    Helen says:

    i actually can't believe that american cider is just cloudy apple juice and not alcoholic! you don't know what you're missing out on 😉 haha

  11. 11
    MDtripmom says:

    This looks like my kind of drink, can't wait to try it!

  12. 12
    Amy says:


    In the US, we have "hard" cider. That's the alcoholic version. Yes, it is good stuff.

  13. 13
    Brooke - in Oregon says:

    YUMMMM that sounds so good and I LOVE spiced cider. Plus the house will smell so good! We do a 'Oktoberfest' every year at work and have a cider press. Nothing like fresh pressed cider! Oh ya!

    Thanks for the great recipe!!

  14. 14
    Morgan and Derek says:

    Sara- I'm the same way with hot drinks. I busted out the apple cider here, even though it was 90 degrees. I NEED it to be COLD so I can drink HOT STUFF!

  15. 15
    Amanda says:

    Oh my – that sounds amazing. We live less than a mile from an apple orchard (I know, heaven!) and we can watch them make the cider in their cider barn. very fun! If you like shakes, they make an apple cider milkshake, so I duplicated it and put it on my blog. It's delicious!

  16. 16
    Kari says:

    IS THAT what the clove orange is for. I've been trying to figure it out every year my kids make one in Preschool.

  17. 17
    Charisse says:

    I am the exact same way as you. I do not drink coffee. I do not drink caffeine for that matter. My best friend's mother has been making me spiced tea for the last 12-15 years. But, I too, feel silly carrying that around in, oh…JULY!!! I actually just posted on my friends FB page that I am so glad the cooler temps are here so I can use my spiced tea again.

    I LOVE ME some caramel apple cider. It is delicious. But I do have a problem paying $59685 bucks for it at the local coffee shop. I will be trying your recipe….THIS WEEKEND!!!!

  18. 18
    Beth says:

    Let me start by saying warm drinks are not my favorite. I LOVE cold apple cider, water, cranberry grape juice. People are always trying to get me to try warm apple cider I try to decline, still end up with a mug and give it to my husband we he is done with his.
    I tried this recipe why I don't know but I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It is soooooooo good. Thanks for the great recipes!!

  19. 19
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    Thanks Beth- I'm glad we managed to make a cider lover out of you!

  20. 20
    Jessica says:

    That looks soooo good. I'm tempted to go to the store right now and get all the ingredients

  21. 21
    Verde says:

    This looks sooo good!

    I've never had any kind of apple cider before and was just wondering, if I make a batch of this and have more than I need, can I just put it in a pitcher in the fridge and heat up more as I need it?

  22. 22
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    Verde- you bet. You can definitely store extra in the fridge and reheat. I would take the orange out though, when the mixture goes in the fridge.

  23. 23
    The Nedrys says:

    I made this for my parents while they were in town for Thanksgiving and we all loved it! Easy to make and very yummy!

  24. 24
    Tami says:

    Has anyone every made this in a crockpot. We do a big family get together for Christmas Eve and I would love to do this. But since we have to rent a hall, since no one has a house big enough, and I won't have access to a stove I was wondering.

  25. 25
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    Tami, it should work just fine in the crock pot. I would keep it on low and keep an eye on the orange. If it starts to split at all, take it out so the cider doesn't turn bitter.

  26. 26
    Natasha @ Saved by the Egg Timer says:

    Awaiting the fresh apple cider to show up in the stores and farmers markets. As soon as I see it, I am going to give this yummo a try!

  27. 27
    Emilee says:

    I love caramel apple cider from Starbuck's. I can't wait to make my own now!

  28. 28
    Kelly says:

    Yum! I am totally making this as soon as I can get to the store!

  29. 29
    meliss3092 says:

    I've honestly never used cloves before (not a cook lol). Are they expensive?

  30. 30
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    Melissa- no cloves aren't really that expensive! You can find them in the spice isle :)

  31. 31
    Tammigirl says:

    Oh thank you!

    I had some caramel apple cider at The Cheesecake Factory and it would be swell to have some at home as well.

  32. 32
    Jessica B says:

    I made this recipe today and everyone thought it was delicious! I do have a question though. It seems as if the caramel sauce curdled in the hot cider so there were small feathery bits floating around. I used Hershey's caramel topping. Was that supposed to happen, or did I do something wrong?

  33. 33
    Erik and Tracy says:

    I am hosting a chili feed for 18 high school boys and want to make your cider to go along with the meal. How many servings do you think I can get out of your recipe?

  34. 34
    Erica says:

    This was so good! (and this coming from someone who barely likes apple cider) I want to double the recipe. Do I double everything except the orange?

  35. 35
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    Erica, ya that works to double everything but the orange. Glad you like it! Also you *could* double the orange too, if you wanted a stronger flavor. Up to you.

  36. 36
    Alissa says:

    Being the depths of winter here in Australia, I’ve been on the search for nice warm, non milky drinks – it never even crossed my mind that cider was non-alcoholic in America! My local supermarket has just started stocking an awesome cloudy apple juice that is just apples, nothing else, so I plan to try this recipe out with that and see how it goes – yummo!!! I can see this being very popular at our (late afternoon/evening) playgroup!

  37. 37
    Karen says:

    At what point do you remove the cinnamon sticks? Or do they stay in the cider the whole time? Thank you and I can’t wait to try it.

  38. 38
    Candles says:

    Pretty popular recipe! Sounds wonderful and I’m going to try it myself! Thanks for the cool blog and have a great day!

  39. 39
    Hillary says:

    My husband decided we should do a Halloween treat tonight while we watch movies. I agreed and so he chose this recipe. 3 grocery stores and 1 hour of shopping later I finally found all of the ingredients and bought a pot big enough to hold the amount we were making. I was a little skeptical about this as I’m not a huge fan of apple cider, or caramel, but man… I am glad he picked this recipe. It is delish!! (even if a tiny thing of whole cloves costs 5 bucks)

  40. 40
    Sarah says:

    I made this yesterday for a party and OH MY….it was fabulous! Everyone loved it.

  41. 41

    We made this for dessert for family night…they were SOOOOO YUMMY!!!

  42. 42
    Jo says:

    Thanks so much, all the way from Belgium, for clearing that one up for me I really could not understand how you could heat up apple cider & add cream to it.
    As much as I love me some cider I could just not get my head around this one. So I’m off the the store to go look for some ‘American style’ cider.

  43. 43
    Amber says:

    I used Hershey’s Caramel Syrup and it seemed to CURDLE! There were weird clumps of stuff forming and floating in the cider…Hmm I believe a girl named Jessica mentioned on here that the same thing happened to her. But it looks as if you didnt answer her. Well anyway for those of you making this awesome drink I don’t recommend using Hershey’s Caramel Syrup. It doesn’t seem to dissolve right. =/

  44. 44
    Victoria says:

    I must say that this is an exciting caramel syrup that I would love to wake up to every morning.

  45. 45

    Ah, you have me thinking of fall and it’s only June 18th!

    Apple Cider is one of my favorite parts of fall. I will definitely try this drink.

    Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

    Do drop in for a visit when you have a moment!


  46. 46
    Lindsey says:

    This sounds so yummy! Can’t wait to try it and the Apple Cider Floats!

  47. 47
    Dawn says:

    Sounds de-lish…. what would be a good add to make this a more “adult beverage”… would like to top it off for the adults at an upcoming party. thanks! also which caramel sauce would u rec… sounds like Hershey is not the best choice??

  48. 48
    Rose says:

    Oh… this makes my mouth water just looking at the recipe! I might have to wait till Christmas for a “chilly fall day” though. Here in Texas our fall days might be 70 degrees! Thanks for the recipe!!

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