Homemade Caramel Apple Cider (with a Vegan Option): It’s Like Liquid Fall!

Apple season is coming into full swing here on the central coast, despite the temperatures still peaking in the high seventies every day.

A close up of a mason jar full of caramel apple cider with cinnamon sticks sticking out of the jar.

There is nothing quite like buying fresh, local apples when they are in season. There are honestly no supermarket apples that can compare. If you have a local apple farm you can visit this season, do it at least once. If not, go on a drive and find one. It’s worth it.

A close up of small 1/2 pint mason jar full of caramel sauce with a whole apple and cinnamon sticks placed in the background.

I like them best straight out of the fridge – sweet, crisp, and cold. However, when you buy them 10 pounds at a time, you’ve gotta find something to do with them. I can eat 2 a day, but that’s not enough to get through them before they lose their crispiness.

A spoon dipped into caramel sauce being dripped backed into a mason jar.

So, I chopped a bunch of them up and tossed ’em in the slow cooker with some warm spices and let them hang out in there all day. When they were done cooking, I had the most amazing apple cider that I had ever had. Sweet and spicy at the same time, with a pronounced apple flavor that surpasses any cider you buy at the store.

A spoon dribbling caramel sauce into an empty mason jar to complete an apple cider drink.

I knew that caramel was going to be a necessity with the cider, so I whipped up a quick batch of Ashlae’s Almond Milk Caramel Sauce while the cider cooked. I know, it seems so difficult and scary to make the caramel, but if you follow her directions to the T (basically, cook for 25 minutes, no stirring) it’s actually super simple and fool-proof.

Apple cider being poured into a large mason jar that already contains caramel sauce.

I even used the Trader Joe’s Almond Milk Beverage (who made that decision?). I thought about trying to “improve” the recipe and making it my own, but really – why mess with perfection?

If you aren’t on a vegan diet, you can also use old fashioned caramel sauce made with dairy cream. Our caramel candy recipe includes the sauce version. The directions for the sauce and candy are basically them same recipe except the candy requires more cooking/reduction.

Top down view of an caramel apple cider drink, a jar of caramel sauce, a fresh apple, sticks of cinnamon, and cloves scattered about.

Or you could simply purchase a ready-made container from the store.

To make this even better, I added a shot of bourbon to my caramel apple cider the other night, and wooo wee – I could get rather drunk on that stuff. So warm and drinkable and cozy, I could probably drink it all night if I’m not careful. Do it.

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Oblique view of a the ingredients being blended for an caramel apple cider recipe

Homemade Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Cider (with Vegan Option)

  • Author: Raquel Smith
  • Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2 gallon, or 8 drinks 1x


An easy and delicious recipe for slow-cooked apple cider. Just combine the ingredients and walk away! And then, a recipe for caramel apple cider, with a shot of bourbon for the adventurous.



To Make the Cider:

To Make the Drinks:


  1. Core and slice the apples, then place in a 6-qt slow cooker with the water, cloves, and allspice. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours.
  2. While the cider is cooking, make the caramel sauce. When finished, pour into a glass jar or heat-proof container and cover lightly to cool. Don’t screw a cap on too tight or you’ll have a fun time taking the cap off after it is done cooling.
  3. When the cider is finished, strain into a pitcher or a few large jars. You have a couple options here – for a semi-clear cider, you can strain it through a colander into a bowl (this is what I did). If you want it to be rather clear, strain in through some cheesecloth (this can take a while).
  4. To make the drinks, combine 2 tsp caramel sauce and 1 cup of the cider. Mix, taste, and add more caramel if you want.
  5. If you’re feeling frisky, add a shot of bourbon to the caramel cider, and enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Category: Beverage
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Fall Drinks

Keywords: slow cooker, caramel, apple cider, autumn, beverage, drink, vegan, oktoberfest, thanksgiving, winter

How would you drink this beverage? With a shot of bourbon? Virgin? A little of both? Let us know in the comments below and if you love this recipe, please give it a rating!

If this is your thing, you’ll love these recipes:

Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on September 25th, 2014. Last updated: December 29, 2019 at 18:04 pm.

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 Raquel Smith

Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now merged into Foodal).

3 thoughts on “Homemade Caramel Apple Cider (with a Vegan Option): It’s Like Liquid Fall!”

  1. I love apples right out of the fridge too 🙂 this looks delicious! I LOVE anything that has the name caramel apple cider! I will definitely be trying this.

  2. Might have to try this this weekend. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as almond milk caramel sauce. Thanks for introducing me to it!


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