I just love Wassail. We have it every holiday season- it is a tradition to make a batch of this for holiday decorating weekend and for Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Incredibly comforting and soothing- not as heavy as hot chocolate and a perfect accompaniment to breakfast dishes or holiday appetizers and desserts. You can serve this non alcoholic for the kids or add a splash of bourbon to amp it up for adults.
The kids love apple cider and this holiday wassail just takes the cider up a few notches to make it really special for the holidays. It is incredibly simple to make on the stovetop or in the slow cooker. The house will smell delicious and festive.
If you aren’t familiar with Wassail, it is just a spiced cider that was consumed in England as part of rituals to ensure a bountiful apple harvest the following year. The word wassail, is a greeting to be healthful so this is a wonderful homemade gift idea.
I have seen wassail recipes with spiced wine, cranberry juice, orange juice and so on… tons of variations on this recipe to suit your tastes. I prefer wassail as a spiced apple cider base with some ctirus, a hint of cranberry and sometimes I slip in a little bourbon. Delicious!
Here is my simple recipe- this is a slow cooker recipe that cooks on low for several hours to really let the flavors meld together. If you need this quickly, just place your liquids on the stovetop in a large pot and let simmer for 45 minutes instead.
- 64oz apple cider
- 4 oranges, freshly juiced (or about 1 cup of orange juice)
- 1 lemon squeezed (about ¼ cup of juice)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
- cinnamon stick
- 12 cloves
- fresh cranberries for garnish (optional)
- Add your apple cider to a slow cooker
- Mix in fresh orange juice, fresh lemon juice and brown sugar
- Sprinkle in cloves and add cinnamon stick
- Set slow cooker to 6 hours on low
- Remove cloves and cinnamon stick before serving.
- Top with sliced oranges or lemon and fresh cranberries.
This is incredibly simple and assumes you have a spiced cider. If not, you might add an extra cinnamon stick and a teaspoon of nutmeg.
I prefer to remove the cinnamon stick about 3 hours in to cooking (or add it three hours in). The cinnamon flavor can get quite strong from the stick and the spiced cider to my taste but completely up to you.
It might seem like overkill to cook this for 6 hours but just taste the wassail every so often as it cooks and you will find the flavors really evolve- so totally worth it.
Pop this in the slow cooker the night before and it will be ready first thing in the morning or just cook it up and place in a container in the fridge and just heat before serving.
I like to top with fresh cranberries for just a hint of cranberry flavor but that is totally optional.
One last note- I used freshly squeezed juices so there might be a little pulp in your wassail. You can strain the juices if you prefer.
Enjoy your Wassail and be healthy my friends!
I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe and any variations you might have made.
Here are a few other recipes you might also enjoy: