Celebrate Fall with Mulled Apfelwein Bowle (Hard Cider Punch)

My husband loves one thing about when the weather starts to get cooler.

It’s not that he gets to wear warm sweaters, or that he no longer has to blast the A/C in his car on the way to work.

It’s warm mulled apple cider.

Vertical closeup of a glass mug filled with mulled apple cider, with apple slices and a cinnamon stick, on a gathered blue cloth with white flecks, in front of two orange plastic pumpkins, printed with orange and white text.

This spiced drink is one that we love to indulge in on a nightly basis before we go to bed. Snuggling up under a blanket in our flannel shirts and knit socks, with steaming mugs warming our hands, is something that I look forward to at the beginning of September each year.

There are so many different types of hot mulled cider cocktail recipes out there that use whiskey, vodka, and a number of other spirits.

However, I recently stumbled upon this more traditional German Mulled Apfelwein Bowle recipe during an Oktoberfest celebration, and it has totally changed everything I thought I knew about making homemade mulled cider for a crowd.

Vertical overhead shot of two glasses filled with punch and sliced fruit, garnished with cinnamon sticks, on a gathered blue and white tablecloth with sliced and whole apples.

The joy of this hard cider punch recipe is that it can be made in your slow cooker. It’s so easy to create, and that’s why it is my favorite recipe to pull out for a fall or winter party.

The taste of the drink is a tasty balance of apple and warming spices, with a touch of sweetness. I am particularly fond of it because the drink doesn’t require a ton of hard liquor to make it boozy.

Instead, it’s rather light on the ABV (alcohol by volume) scale, since it only uses hard cider that is between 4 and 7% ABV. The only other liquor you get in the drink is the brandy that the apples are soaked in to accompany the cider mixture.

Two glass mugs of hard cider punch, with sliced apples and cinnamon sticks, on a gathered blue cloth with white flecks, in front of two orange plastic pumpkins.

And let me tell you about those apples for a second. Fresh, seasonal fruit gets a delightful soak in brandy overnight, to give them some extra boozy sweetness. When you bite into one with a sip of the warm mixture, it’s like eating an apple pie. Seriously, it’s an absolutely stunning combination.

I used Gala apples for this particular recipe, but you can choose from a wide variety of apples to soak up that brandy goodness. Rather than choosing a varietal that will stand up to the heat, like those you would select to make a pie or cobbler, you can focus instead on the type of flavor that you want to highlight in this apple cocktail.

Top-down shot of two glasses of apple punch with fruit slices and cinnamon sticks, on a gathered and folded blue and white cloth with whole and sliced fruit, and two decorative light and dark orange plastic pumpkins.

This isn’t an overly boozy warm punch that is going to knock out your guests after the first glass. Instead, it brings just the right amount of alcohol to keep you feeling all warm and cozy from the inside out.

You can totally make this punch any time before the party – all you need is a slow cooker to keep the mixture warm throughout your party prep, and the party itself.

Top-down shot of two glass mugs filled with mulled apfelwein bowle, with cinnamon sticks for garnish, on a gathered blue and white cloth with sliced and whole fruit.

This is an easy drink to serve since, a large batch makes enough for 10-12 glasses. And you don’t have to tend to it on the stove all night long. You can easily set it and forget it, giving you the freedom to kick back and enjoy the party with all of your guests.

That’s the whole point of having a party in the first place, isn’t it?

So, let’s give a toast to the season, cozy up with our favorite people, and savor every last sip of this delicious German-style hard cider punch.

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Top-down shot of two glass mugs filled with mulled apfelwein bowle, with cinnamon sticks for garnish, on a gathered blue and white cloth with sliced and whole fruit.

Mulled Apfelwein Bowle (Hard Cider Punch)

  • Author: Sandy Weismann
  • Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x


Cozy up with a warm mug of Mulled Apfelwein Bowle at your next gathering for a special treat. It’s autumn apple comfort in a glass.


  • 16 fl oz brandy (2 cups)
  • 2 cups sliced apples (about 2 small apples, I used Gala)
  • 36 fl oz German apfelwein or hard apple cider (4-7% ABV), room temperature
  • 64 fl oz spiced apple cider (8 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 large cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp whole cloves


  1. The night before serving, soak the sliced apples in the brandy in a large mason jar. Seal the top and set in the refrigerator to soak overnight.
  2. The day of your event, warm the hard cider/German apfelwein, spiced cider, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a slow cooker set to high for 2 hours, or low for 4 hours. Once heated through, turn the slow cooker to the lowest/warm setting.
  3. When ready to serve, pour excess brandy off the apples and carefully add them to the punch.
  4. Serve warm with a cinnamon stick to garnish each mug.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Category: Fall
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: fall, autumn, apple, apple cider, brandy

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Make Brandy-Soaked Fruit

A sealed mason jar of sliced apples in brandy, on a wood background.

Cut the apples into 4 pieces and remove the core from each. Cut the pieces into slices, and place them in a large mason jar or other lidded container.

A jar of sliced apples soaked in brandy, on a wood surface.

Add the brandy to the mason jar, rearrange the fruit if necessary to ensure that it is covered. Put the lid on top, and place in the refrigerator to soak overnight.

Step 2 – Measure Remaining Ingredients

On the day when you are planning to serve the punch, measure all of the remaining ingredients as listed.

Vertical oblique overhead shot of three bottles of hard cider, a plastic half gallon of spiced cider, two apples, five cinnamon sticks, and whole cloves, on a wood surface.

Set them aside, so they will be ready to go when you need them.

Step 3 – Prepare Punch

Add the apfelwein or hard cider, spiced cider, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and cloves to a slow cooker set on high for 2 hours, or low for 4 hours.

If German apfelwein is not available in your local market, any type of hard apple cider of your choosing can be used as a comparable replacement.

Overhead shot of a slow cooker full of apple cider with whole cinnamon sticks and cloves, on a wooden surface.

Once heated through, keep the slow cooker on the lowest setting to keep the beverage warm throughout your gathering.

If you like, you can strain the mixture to remove the whole cloves before adding the fruit and serving, but I find it is easy enough to avoiding ladling these into the mugs when I serve my guests. Either way, you don’t want an accidental mouthful of clove!

Step 4 – Add Fruit

When you are ready to serve, drain the apples and reserve the excess brandy for later use. It’s fantastic for using in cocktails and mulled wine.

Top-down shot of sliced apples floating in liquid in a crock pot, with whole cloves.

Add the fruit to the punch, and serve warm. Garnish the mugs with a cinnamon stick before serving.

What Goes with Mulled Apfelwein Bowle?

When it comes to pairing food with this slightly sweet and spiced cider, the best place to start is with some savory meats.

I think this is a fantastic drink to pair with all the tailgating recipes you can get your hands on, from ribs to burgers, pulled pork to steak, and so much more.

It’s great to add in the savory elements to complement the sweet fruitiness of the drink, as well as the cinnamon and cloves.

Two glass mugs of mulled apple cider punch, with cinnamon sticks for garnish, on a gathered blue table runner with a pattern of white spots, on a wood table and against a brown wood backdrop, with sliced and whole apples and plastic pumpkin decorations in the background.

Take a look at our archive of Oktoberfest recipes as well, for even more seasonal dishes that you might enjoy.

Or if you are looking for more fall cocktail recipes, then these your tingle your tummy:

What will you pair with this warm mulled drink? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe after you’ve tried it as well!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Based on a recipe originally published by Sandy Weismann on September 3, 2013. Last updated: September 16, 2023 at 16:48 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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