Wassail is a traditional mulled cider that dates back to Medieval times, though the recipes have evolved over the years.  This is one of our favorites for its use of Christmas spices and the incredible aroma it produces.


  • 6 qt or larger slow cooker (you can also use a pot on the stove at low heat)
  • 4 qt. cider (you can also use unfiltered apple juice, but it tends to be more expensive)
  • 2 pt. cranberry juice
  • 1.5 c. sugar
  • 4 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. whole allspice
  • 1 cloved orange (more on this below)
  • 2.5 c. spiced rum (optional)

Step 1.  Cloving the Orange

Credit: flickr / free range jace

This is really the only time-consuming (and painful if you’re not careful!) part of the recipe, but the end result is well worth the effort.  Using whole cloves, take a small orange and pierce it with the sharp end of the clove so that it sticks through the peel.  Continue to do this in whatever pattern you like until you’ve completely covered the orange.  The more densely you cover the orange, the more clove flavor you will get, but as long as you have decent coverage you should get the desired effect.

Credit: flickr / Bill Rogers

Now for a warning - cloves can be sharp little buggers!  Be careful when puncturing the orange peel, as the other side of the clove can stick you.

Step 2.  The Mix
Pour the cider, cranberry juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks and allspice into a slow cooker, and mix gently so the sugar dissolves.  Place the cloved orange into the mixture so it floats at the top.

Step 3.  Heat!
On low setting, heat for 6 - 8 hours.  On high, 3 - 4 hours.  The lower and longer approach will infuse the wassail with even more of the spices and has the added bonus of filling your home with an amazing, holiday aroma.

Step 4.  Serve!
Simply ladle into your favorite coffee mugs and enjoy this delicious, warming holiday treat! Feel free to add a candy cane or cinnamon stick as a garnish.

Step 4a.  Spike!
If you want an equally delicious adult version, simply add 2.5 cups of your favorite spiced rum roughly 30-45 minutes before serving.  This will give the rum just enough time to heat up and infuse some of its own unique flavor into the mix.