Winter Wassail is s a warm celebration of winter with seasonal spices, cider, and a little spike if you wish!

Wassail :: A warm celebration of winter

The Winter Solstice is next weekend, and I can hardly wait!

The darkest day of the year?!

Yep. I love it. For years this beach-bum dreaded the shortest day of the year…until I realized that really all it means is that it can’t get any darker! In other words…longer days, signs of spring, and warmer weather are on their way!

Wassail :: A warm celebration of winter

Winter Wassail cheer!

We still have a good 3 months of snowy winter left where I live. But every fall when our huge magnolia tree in the front sheds its leaves everywhere, it leaves behind its reminder that spring will come again. When we first moved here I remember wondering what those large, fuzzy buds were on this beautiful bare tree. Come May those buds are one of the first things to bloom in our yard like a big, warm hug for making it through our harsh winter. During blizzards of snow and frigid temps I often look to those buds to cheer me up!

Wassail :: A warm celebration of winter


So for the last handful of years, we celebrate the darkest day of the year instead of dreading it! Because we do need winter. A time to rest, rejuvenate…and pull out big warm blankets, fuzzy wool socks, and enjoy the silence of the snow.

Wassail :: A warm celebration of winter

What is Winter Wassail?

Wassail is a simple mulled cider and wine, and now that we have a house full of little ones that like to celebrate the seasons with us, I keep the drink spiking to just the mugs for my husband and I. It is such a simple way to make the house smell amazing and give your family or guests coming in and out a warming drink to celebrate the winter season.

Wassail :: A warm celebration of winter

So cozy up to the fire, and say cheers to the darkest day of the year!

Traditional Winter Wassail

Renee –
Celebrate the winter season with this warming drink.
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings


  • 7-8 cups organic apple cider
  • 2 cups organic cranberry juice
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 10 allspice berries
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 organic orange sliced into rounds (if organic is unavailable, just use a conventional one BUT you will want to peel it first.)
  • *Optional: 1 cup dark ale or wine of your choosing OR ½ cup rum or brandy in the pot. If you don’t want the whole pot spiked, you can do splashes of the alcohol in each mug. Since I serve this to my girls too I just add wine to the mug that my husband and I drink from.
  • *Optional: organic honey to sweeten if you desire – I usually don’t but it is good!


  • Tie up the cloves and allspice in a cheesecloth or small piece of tea towel using kitchen twine.
  • Put everything into a large soup or stock pot and bring to a low simmer.
  • Lower the heat and very low simmer the mixture for 2 hours before serving. Keep it on low or use a crockpot on low if serving over hours.
Keyword how to make wassail, wassail recipe
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  • You could use a slow cooker instead of stovetop to make this too. I would go on low for a good 4 hours or so, and then you can just keep it on low or warm for serving.
  • This is a great drink to double up and keep on the stovetop while guests arrive for holiday gatherings. Not only does it make the house smell amazing, but it is a pretty allergen friendly, crowd pleasing drink to serve.
  • These are the glass mugs I love to serve our wassail in! I also found these pretty smaller glass mugs that would be nice to have a couple sets of to use for serving at a family gathering or party.
  • For tying up the spices I just use an old kitchen tea towel that I have cut up for this sort of thing – they wash out nice and I can re-use them. Cheesecloth works really nice too!

This post was shared at Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday & Allergy Free Wednesday!

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Recipe Rating


  1. I just bought fresh apple cider and didn’t know how I would use it (not a big fan of plain apple cider). This looks amazing and something my whole family will love! Thank you for the recipe…can’t wait to make it later this week.

  2. The color of the wassail pictured here is one of my favorites! I have never had wassail before, even though I wrote a blog post about it! In all honestly, while the recipe looks absolutely delicious, I have found that my sweet tooth has diminished so significantly that sweet drinks are too sweet for me. Nonetheless, cranberry juice is not sweet, unsweetened, so that may mitigate some of the sweetness of the apple juice. I think I may be drawn to egg nog, non alcoholic! I bet you have a recipe for that too!

  3. I love wassail, and I love that this recipe doesn’t include a ton of extra sugar. So many other recipes include a ton of brown sugar and things like that, which isn’t possible for me. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Glorious pictures! I like this recipe. So festive. I have made similar but the cranberry juice is a perfect addition to my ‘ol stand-by recipe! Thanks for sharing.
    Here’s to a flavourful HEALTHY winter. Celebrating Solstice!

  5. This is so pretty and I can see it being very popular at a Christmas gathering. But I really want to TASTE it! I love the cloves and ale. How earthy and historic it sounds. Pinning for later when I can have juice again. 🙂

  6. I have never had this before (or ever heard of it until now) but it sounds like a drink I must make! I’m actually heading to a friend’s house for dinner on Saturday and I think this might be something great to make.

  7. Pingback: Sunday Snippets
    1. Hi Shalilee! You’ll see everything across the board from fruitier and dry white wines to reds when you look up traditional wassail recipes. I personally prefer a lighter white wine because I feel like reds make it too “thick” if that even makes sense? I felt like red took over the spices and cider flavor too much, while something lighter just accented it. Does that help? Make sense? I’m not a wine expert but this is how I have experienced it!

  8. 5 stars
    I’ve never heard of wassail before but sounds so cozy and delicious! I love warm winter drinks like this one and I’ll have to make it soon.

  9. 5 stars
    This is a lovely winter drink. I wonder if I can make it in the instant pot. I recently found the keep warm function on IP being so handy!

  10. Hello, maybe I missed it in the post, but is there a conversion for cinnamon sticks to ground cinnamon or the cloves to ground cloves for example in the powdered form for each of those?

    1. Hi Steven! You’ll want to use the whole form of these spices because you won’t want the powder floating in your drink! The whole form allows it to infuse the drink and keep it clear!

  11. Renee,
    I’ve never heard of this but it sounds like the most comforting drink. I’m going to whip this up this week! Thanks for sharing. ❤️

  12. This has been my family’s go-to wassil every Christmas since it originally posted! I’ve found similar recipes since but for us this recipe comes the closest to what I grew up waking to every Christmas morning! Nothing like waking to the intoxicating smells of spices and warm out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls to catapult me back to my childhood! I’ve always loved the addition of cranberries and this is one of the main reasons I landed on this recipe.

    In the past, I simply whipped it up in the crockpot early Christmas morning before everyone would wake, but this year I’m toying with the idea of making it in my Instant Pot so I too can sleep in a bit. 😉 Based on other recipes with this method, I’m thinking 10 minutes on high pressure (with the mulling spices in a strainer for easy removal) with a 10 minute natural release…then just keeping on the WARM feature. Thoughts? Would love to see an updated Instant Pot version of this holiday favorite! ☺

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe all those years ago!