This warm Wassail recipe is made with spiced apple cider that’s been infused with baking spices and fresh citrus. It’s the perfect cozy holiday drink to make during the winter months.
Traditional Wassail Recipe
The smell of homemade Wassail gently simmering is, hands down, one of the best parts of the cool winter months. Luckily, in order to get the best flavor, you’ll need to cook the Wassail low and slow for a number of hours. This traditional holiday drink is made with apple juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, and lemon juice that are slowly simmered with deliciously fragrant spices like cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and star anise.
Since our version is alcohol-free, family and friends of all ages love Wassail and look forward to it every single year. But, if you want to spike it, I recommend using your favorite bourbon or whiskey.
What is Wassail?
Wassail is a traditional English hot mulled punch that is typically made during the winter months and around Yuletide. Modern day Wassail is typically made with apple juice or apple cider, another juice such as orange juice, pineapple juice, or cranberry juice, and baking spices. Sliced citrus and/or apple slices are added to the liquid, and it is then simmered for many hours to allow the flavors to infuse. It’s meant to be served warm, with or without alcohol.
Ingredients in This Wassail Drink Recipe
- Apple Juice - you can use any kind of apple juice or apple cider for this Wassail drink.
- Orange Juice - use either store bought or fresh squeezed orange juice.
- Pineapple Juice - this adds a little extra sweetness and flavor. A great substitute would be cranberry juice, or extra orange and apple juice.
- Lemon Juice - this balances out the sweetness and flavors really nicely.
- Sugar - our Wassail recipe calls for granulated sugar, but brown sugar would also be great.
- Cinnamon Sticks - the flavor of slowly simmered cinnamon sticks truly can’t be beat. But, if you don’t have any whole cinnamon sticks, mix in about 1 ½ tablespoons of ground cinnamon.
- Whole Cloves - simmering whole cloves adds a lot of flavor, but it doesn’t overpower the drink. If you want to substitute ground cloves, add about ¼ teaspoon.
- Star Anise - it only takes 2 whole star anise to add flavor to this entire batch of Wassail. You don’t want to go crazy with the flavor, but it’s so festive and delicious.
- Oranges and Lemons - to prepare, wash the rinds in water then slice them whole into ⅓"-½” slices.
How to Make This Wassail Recipe
Slow Cooker Wassail Recipe
- Add ingredients to the slow cooker. In a slow cooker, add the apple juice (or apple cider), orange juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and star anise. Mix together, then add the sliced oranges and lemons.
- Cook. Cover, then cook on low for 5-8 hours, or high for 3-4 hours until hot and very fragrant.
- Strain. Strain through a piece of cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer, then return to the slow cooker.
- Serve. Serve warm. Enjoy!
Stovetop Wassail Recipe
- Add ingredients to a large pot. In a large pot, add the apple juice (or apple cider), orange juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and star anise. Mix together, then add the sliced oranges and lemons.
- Bring to a simmer. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer over medium low heat and continue to simmer with the lid slightly ajar for at least 1 hour or up to 6 hours.
- Strain. Strain through a piece of cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer, then return to the pot.
- Serve. Serve warm. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
This Wassail drink recipe does not contain any alcohol. However, if you want to make this a spiced alcoholic drink, we recommend adding 1 ounce of your favorite bourbon or whiskey to a mug, then filling with warm Wassail. Stir with a cinnamon stick and serve.
While mulled cider and Wassail are essentially both warm spiced apple cider drinks, the main difference is that Wassail is usually made with another juice while mulled cider is typically made with only apple cider.
You can keep leftover Wassail in the fridge for up to 1 week. Just make sure you don’t put a large pot of hot Wassail into your refrigerator! Allow it to cool completely first, then store in an airtight container.
The reason that you need to cook Wassail for so long is to allow it time for all of the spices and flavors to mix and mingle. In short, the longer that you cook your Wassail, the more flavorful it will be. We recommend cooking over the stovetop for at least 1 hour, but preferably up to 6. Or, you can cook in a slow cooker on low for 5-8 hours.
You can, although since Wassail really should cook for a long time in order for the flavors to infuse, we recommend either using a crock pot or the stovetop. However, if you want to try making Wassail in an instant pot, simply add the liquid ingredients to the pressure cooker pot and the rest to the basket. Secure the lid, seal, and cook at high pressure for about 10 minutes. Use the natural release, then carefully open the lid and serve warm.
Storing and Reheating
- Refrigerator: store cooled Wassail in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- To reheat: transfer Wassail to a large pot and reheat over medium until warmed through. You could also add a single serving to a mug and reheat in a microwave on high for about 2 minutes, stirring in between.
- 3 quarts Apple Juice or Apple Cider
- 3 cups Orange Juice
- 2 cups Pineapple Juice
- ½ cup Lemon Juice
- ½ cup Sugar
- 4 large Cinnamon Sticks
- 1 teaspoon Whole Cloves
- 2 large Star Anise
- 2 small Oranges sliced
- 2 small Lemons sliced
- In a slow cooker, add the apple juice (or apple cider), orange juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and star anise. Mix together, then add the sliced oranges and lemons.
- Cover, then cook on low for 5-8 hours, or high for 3-4 hours until hot and very fragrant. Strain through a piece of cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer, then return to the slow cooker.
- Serve warm. Enjoy!
More Easy Holiday Drink Recipes
- Holiday Punch
- Caramel Apple Punch
- Crockpot White Hot Chocolate
- Crockpot Hot Chocolate
- Nutella Hot Chocolate
- More Drink Recipes
- More Winter Recipes
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This Wassail recipe is easy, delicious, and permeates the entire house with the most amazing smell. It's the perfect warm spiced apple cider drink to make during the winter holiday season.