Make homemade wassail a new winter tradition with this easy crockpot wassail recipe. Similar to mulled apple cider, and loaded with warming spices, this is the perfect cold-weather drink!
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Wassail is my go-to winter beverage. Even though it is a very old drink many people, especially here in the states, have never even heard of it!
This recipe was inspired by a recipe for Dollywood Wassail that I found years ago. I've adapted it to cook in a crockpot and over the years I have changed up the flavors just a bit.
Also, I feel the need to disclose that I have never been to Dollywood, so I have no idea if this recipe is anything like what is served there, I jut know that it's delicious!
Ingredients and substitutions
Wassail is generally made with apple juice, other fruit juices, and spices. This is the combination that I really love, but feel free to play around with it and add other fruits or spices to suit your preference.
- Apple Juice or apple cider
- Lemon Juice - sub with orange juice if desired
- Pineapple Juice or cranberry juice, or pomegranate juice
- Cinnamon Sticks or ground cinnamon to taste
- Ground Nutmeg
- Ground Ginger or a ½ inch piece of peeled fresh ginger
- Vanilla Extract or vanilla bean paste
- Honey or brown sugar
- Apple, Lemon slices - you can also fresh cranberries or pomegranate arils (optional)
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to make Wassail in a crockpot
This homemade wassail is so stinking easy to make that I am not even sure if the instructions deserve their own section but alas here we are 😉
To make wassail simply combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker. Then cover, and cook on low heat for at least 2 hours, but up to 6 hours. The longer the wassail cooks, the more flavorful it will be.
Tip: Serve the wassail immediately after cooking or set the slow cooker to 'keep warm' for up to 5 hours.
Variations of traditional wassail
There are nearly infinite ways to change up classic warm wassail. These are just a few of my favorite options:
- Spike it - Wassail is often seved with alcohol. Some common additions include dark rum, bourbon, Amaretto, or brandy. I suggest adding alcohol by the glass as you are serving but you can add it in step one as well if you prefer.
- Wassail Spritzer - After cooking, allow the wassail to chill. When you are ready to serve combine ½ cup of the chilled wassail with ⅓ cup of ginger ale or ginger beer. Serve over ice.
- Stove Top Preperation - Add all of the ingredients into a large stockpot or enameled dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce to low and simmer for 1 hour.
The only equipment required for this wassail recipe is a slow cooker (6-quart or larger), measuring cups and spoons, plus a ladle and mugs for serving.
Storage and making in advance
To store leftover wassail, allow it to cool completely then place the covered slow cooker in the fridge. You can also transfer the cooled wassail to a pitcher for easy 'by the glass' serving (this is my preferred method for storing leftovers)
If you would like to make your wassail in advance, cook it according to the recipe card, then follow the above instructions for storing leftovers. If you want to prepare multiple batches for a large party, simply store the extra in the fridge, then add it to a warm slow cooker as needed.
To reheat leftover wassail cook it by the glass in the microwave or on the stovetop just until warm. You can also return it to the slow cooker and cook it over low for 2 hours, or high for 1 hour.
Leftover wassail can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days.
You would have to look back hundreds of years to find the origins of wassail. It actually has pagan roots, when it was offered up as a toast during the pagan new year. But now most people think of it as a warm mulled apple cider that is often spiked and is usually consumed over the winter holiday season. It is most popular across the UK.
Wassail and mulled wine are very similar. In fact, some people use the names interchangeably. The primary differences are that wassail does not always contain alcohol, whereas mulled wine obviously contains wine.
Wassail and mulled cider are also very similar. Wassail usually has multiple fruit juices, whereas mulled cider typically only contains apple juice.
Mulled simply means to heat, sweeten, and flavor a beverage with spices. So you can see how there is plenty of room for overlap with all of these warm drinks 😉
Traditional wassail recipes usually do contain some type of alcohol. More modern takes (like mine) often do not. Be sure to read the 'variations' section above for ideas if you would prefer a spiked wassail!
Store cooled, leftover wassail in a pitcher in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, simply pour the cold wassail into a microwave-safe mug and heat for about 1 minute or until it is warm.
Crockpot Wassail (Mulled Apple Cider)
- Slow Cooker
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Combine all of the ingredients except the cinnamon sticks, apple, and lemon slices in a slow cooker. Whisk them together until the honey starts to melt into the juices.
- Add the cinnamon sticks, apple slices, and lemon slices. Cook on low heat for at least 2 hours, but up to 6 hours. The longer the wassail cooks, the more flavorful it will be.
- Serve immediately or set the slow cooker to 'keep warm' for up to 5 hours.
Be sure to read the entire post for tips, tricks, and help troubleshooting.
The nutrition information listed here is only an estimate and is simply provided as a courtesy. It nor any other information within this post should constitute medical or nutritional advice. Be sure to read all packaging and ingredient labels for potential allergens. Optional ingredients are not included unless otherwise specified.