Holiday Wassail


This warmed apple cider recipe is the perfect mocktail option at your next holiday gathering.

Holiday Wassil
Photo: Andy Lyons
Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
2 mins
Bake Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 17 mins

When the holidays arrive, you need the best wassail recipe to make a toast with your friends and family. Wassail is a drink traditionally made up of ale or wine that’s been sweetened with sugar and flavored with spices. This easy wassail recipe is a hot drink that is made with apple cider, orange juice, lemon, roasted apples, ginger, and a spice bundle. Each glass of this nonalcoholic wassail is garnished with an apple slice and cinnamon stick.

What Is Wassailing?

Wassail originates from the old toast, Ves Heill, which means “be in good health.” This drink was often used as part of wassailing in England. There are two variations of wassailing. One variation involves people traveling door-to-door singing traditional songs and spreading good wishes while carrying a bowl of wassail. The other variation is practiced in fruit-growing regions and involves wassailers singing to the trees to ensure a good harvest for the coming year.

To Serve in Apple Mugs

Cut the tops off of 8 very large apples (about 3 1/2- to 4-inches in diameter). Press 2 1/2-inch ice cream scoop into the cut surface of apple to to form and edge about 1/2 inch thick around the edges of the apples. Use a melon baller to scoop out the center of apples, taking care not to scoop out too close to the bottom and sides of apples. If desired, brush inside "mugs" with lemon juice to prevent browning.

If you’re short on time, but still need a festive holiday recipe, check out these holiday drink ideas that you can prep in only 15 minutes.


  • 4 small apples, peeled and cored

  • 1 tablespoon butter, quartered

  • 4 tablespoons packed brown sugar

  • 8 cups apple cider

  • 8 cups orange juice

  • 3 lemons, juiced (about 1/3 cup)

  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

  • Apple slices (optional)

  • Cinnamon sticks (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Fill core of each apple with 1/4 of the butter and 1 tablespoon brown sugar.

    Test Kitchen Tip: Choosing the right variety for whole-baked apples is important. Some of the best apples for baking are Braeburn, Jonagold, Granny Smith, and Jonathan.

  2. Place apples in 1-quart baking dish. Pour 1 cup water around apples to help soak up flavor during baking. Bake, uncovered, 40 to 60 minutes or until apples are soft.

    Test Kitchen Tip: If necessary, remove a thin slice from the bottom of each apple so it sits flat in the baking dish.

  3. Cool slightly; quarter each apple. Set aside. Discard cooking liquid.

  4. In 6-quart Dutch oven combine apples, cider, fruit juices, lemon juice, ginger, and Spice Bundle. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 2 hours.

  5. Remove Spice Bundle and strain.

  6. Add an apple slice and cinnamon stick to each glass before serving, if desired. Makes 18 servings.

Spice Bundle

  1. For Spice Bundle, place 5 sticks cinnamon, 2 teaspoons whole allspice berries, 2 crushed cardamom pods, and 1 teaspoon whole cloves in the center of a double-thick, 6-inch square of 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth. Tie closed with a clean string.

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