Easy Hot Spiced Cranberry Cider Recipe

Last Updated on February 23, 2024 by Ellen Christian

This hot spiced cranberry cider recipe is a nice change from apple cider. The vibrant red color makes it the perfect choice for holiday entertaining.

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Easy hot spiced cranberry cider recipe

Easy Hot Spiced Cranberry Cider Recipe

I’ve been making this for a few years and have no idea where the original recipe came from. I’ve modified it a bit over the years to reduce the sugar content. This isn’t super sweet so you can taste the cranberry and the cinnamon more than the sugar.

If you prefer your beverages sweeter, you can increase the amount of brown sugar. You can also try using honey, stevia, agave or maple syrup in place of the sugar.

I find that the brown sugar is the perfect combination for the cinnamon and apple cider in this recipe. This recipe makes enough for about six glasses so if you’ll be having company, make sure to double the recipe.

As a tip, you can keep this warm in a slow cooker so that your guests can enjoy it throughout your party. Just keep the temperature on warm and be sure to use a ladle to serve it with.

Can you heat up cranberry juice?

You definitely can! Just heat it in a small pan on the stovetop. Don’t let it boil. You don’t want to burn yourself when you drink it. This is such a delicious hot drink to enjoy with friends and family over the holiday season.

We love it with a piece of homemade bread and some cranberry butter while we sit around the woodstove.


Which cranberry juice is best?

There is a difference between cranberry juice and cranberry cocktail. Cranberry juice is just that. It’s cranberry juice either with or without added sugar depending on which you buy.

Cranberry cocktail is a mixture of juices and often contains a much higher sugar content. We prefer cranberry juice with this recipe for a more authentic taste.

If you want to make cranberry apple cider, you can add apple juice or apple cider to the recipe.

More recipes

Easy hot spiced cranberry cider recipe

Best cranberries for apple cider

We buy a few bags of fresh cranberries every fall while they are in season. Then, we freeze them so that we can use them throughout the years.

You want to use fresh cranberries in this hot spiced cranberry cider recipe, not dried cranberries. Make sure that you buy them while they’re in season in your store.

This hot spiced cranberry cider recipe is a nice change from apple cider. The vibrant red color makes it the perfect choice for holiday entertaining.

Hot apple cider with whole cranberries

I love keeping some of the whole cranberries in the cider. It looks so festive that way. You can easily add a few more if you want. Or, you can remove them if you worry about drinking them whole (which is fine).

Serving ideas

We tend to serve ours in a mug rather than put it in a slow cooker or a large pot for people to help themselves. If you want to leave it in a slow cooker, you can add slices of oranges to float on the top.

And, when you serve it, you can put one small orange slice in each cup to make it look pretty.

Recipes Using Eggnog: Cranberry Almond Eggnog Bread

Can I adjust the sugar?

Yes, you definitely can. This cranberry cider recipe isn’t super sweet, to begin with. But, you can use less (or more) sugar depending on your taste preferences.

You can also experiment with other types of sugar if you want to. Because my husband is diabetic, he often uses swerve to cut the sugar in recipes.

Or add stevia like my Stevia lemonade.

More cranberry recipes

If you love cranberries or have a few bags of frozen cranberries in the freezer that you want to use up, why not try these cranberry recipes next.

You can make the loaves of bread and then freeze them by the slice if you want to continue to enjoy them throughout the season. 

Yield: 6

Easy Hot Spiced Cranberry Cider Recipe

Easy hot spiced cranberry cider recipe

Easy hot spiced cranberry cider recipe

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 4 cups of real apple cider
  • 2 cups of cranberry juice (not cocktail)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star of anise
  • 1 lemon or orange
  • 1/4 cup fresh cranberries


  1. Put the apple cider, cranberry juice and brown sugar in a pot.
  2. Add the cloves, cinnamon sticks and star of anise wrapped in cheesecloth or in a muslin bag.
  3. Add the cranberries to the pot.
  4. Bring a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the spices.
  6. Pour into glasses making sure that the cranberries are evenly divide.
  7. Slice the lemon or orange and add one slice to each cup.
  8. Serve


You can keep this warm in your slow cooker if you're entertaining.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 82Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 9mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 0g

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14 thoughts on “Easy Hot Spiced Cranberry Cider Recipe”

  1. I've never used real star of anise before--just anise extract for flavorings. I love cinnamon and cloves in many fall dishes, even sprinkle it over potatoes. I can imagine the sugar content before you reduced it. Some cider recipes are so sweet I can't drink it.
  2. This looks delicious. I love hot apple cider but never thought about making cranberry cider. I will definitely have to try this.
  3. I've never had cranberry cider before. Sounds delicious. Love your recommendation of "real apple cider," I always recommend getting it from a farmer's market if possible. I'm really picky about my apple cider, I want to know it comes from good apples. No bad apples here, lol!

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