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Hot Caramel Apple Spiked Cider

Hot Caramel Apple Spiked Cider

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A boozy take on hot apple cider that’s perfect for cool evenings.MORE+LESS-

Updated September 20, 2016


cups high-quality apple cider


cup thick caramel sauce


cup heavy cream (optional)


oz. spiced rum (more or less, to taste)

For Garnish (Optional):


cup thick caramel sauce or frosting, for rims


cup cinnamon candies, finely crushed, for rims

Hide Images

  • 1

    Do ahead: Place cinnamon candies into a plastic zip-top bag. With bag zipped closed, crush candies well with a rolling pin or hammer. (Larger pieces of candies won’t adhere well to the rims.) Place finely crushed candies on a small plate. On another small plate, place 1/4 cup of thick caramel sauce or frosting.

  • 2

    Dip the rim of each mug first into the caramel, then into the crushed candies. Immediately place mugs into freezer to set the caramel rim. Repeat with second mug. After 5 minutes, remove mugs from freezer and place in refrigerator until 10 minutes prior to serving. (Allow glasses to warm to room temperature before serving.)

  • 3

    Over medium heat, combine apple cider, caramel sauce, heavy cream and cinnamon. Whisk while reducing heat to a drinkable temperature (do not boil). Remove from heat and whisk rum into the mixture, making sure the cinnamon is thoroughly combined and not clumpy.

  • 4

    Pour cocktails into rimmed room-temperature mugs. Top with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Expert Tips

  • Thick frosting can be used instead of the caramel on the rims, and red sugar sprinkles or jimmies can be substituted for the crushed cinnamon candies.
  • The amounts of cream, caramel and spiced rum can be adjusted to taste.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrate
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A
Vitamin C

0 Starch; 0 Fruit; 0 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 0 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat; 0 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 0 Fat;

Carbohydrate Choice

3 1/2

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

More About This Recipe

  • Welcome fall with this warm, smooth, adults-only apple sipper.

    One of the best parts of fall is that it’s finally apple season.

    And apple season means it’s also apple cider season.

    And apple cider season means…

    Wait. This is starting to sound like a Dr. Seuss book. But make no mistake—the next line is just for us adults:

    Apple cider season means it’s also… spiked apple cider season! YES!

    All you need for this cocktail: apple cider, cream, caramel sauce, cinnamon and some stuff with a bit of personality (rum).

    This smooth sipper is all about pouring fall into your mug.

    Speaking of mugs, rim yours first with some thick caramel sauce dotted with crushed cinnamon candies.

    It’s not only pretty, but we’re rolling with a fall flavor theme here, too.

    Heat up the cider, cream, caramel and cinnamon. That’s a whole lot of c’s… but we’re NOT. DONE. YET.

    Gotta add the rrrrrrrrum!

    Pour the warm drinks into the rimmed mugs and top with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.

    Then sit down and feel the snap in the air while you sip one of the season’s premiere palate pleasers.

    This is fall, after all!

Hot Caramel Apple Cocktail

I’m always looking for new go-to recipes for entertaining. I don’t want anything with a long list of ingredients or something that takes a long time to make, because that’s impractical for me with three kids. I usually have a few tried-and-true recipes (like this apple dip and this asian salad) to make and bring with me to potlucks and get-togethers, but I wanted an easy drink for entertaining during the cold months.

Ya, it sure gets cold here in Iowa!

Every Thanksgiving, my Grandma always has a little crockpot (the same one she’s had since her early marriage years) full of spiked apple cider. This is the one and only day of the year that she serves alcohol and it’s become a sweet, little tradition.

My sister and I created a different version of this fall drink, but still thrown together and served in the slow cooker. Heating the drink on low allows the flavors to come together while keeping it warm for guests.

Don’t forget about the coolest part! Serve the drink with the famous Caramel Apple Pops (I remember loving these as a kid!) Use the suckers to stir, but don’t just let them sit in the piping hot drink for too long or they will come off of the sticks.


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Hot Caramel Apple Cider

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. You could also try the Starbucks brand. 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!