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Hot Caramel Apple Cider

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Enjoy the flavors of fall all year long with this Caramel Apple Cider. A close copy to the Starbucks caramel apple spice, and the perfect belly warming drink for fall and winter. You only need 4 simple ingredients and about 5 minutes to whip up this incredible tasting drink.

top down shot of a glass of cider with whipped cream and caramel drizzle

Recipe Features:

  • Better than Starbucks: Dare I say, this recipe is so much better than the one you get from the coffee chain. AND it will save you money by making it at home!
  • 4-Ingredients: The ingredient list is short for this recipe, so reach for high quality items. More on this later.
  • Family Favorite: Our entire family loves this quick drink and it’s perfect to double (or even triple) for parties!

Last fall I had a serious craving for apple cider. Turns out there aren’t many places that serve the stuff, and our local Starbucks was closed for the night. I could have killed for one of their apple spices. Which lead me on the journey to create my own copycat Starbucks caramel apple cider recipe. Boy-oh-boy am I glad I did.

This recipe tastes very similar to the one from starbucks, but with a hint more caramel flavor. Unlike many other versions, I opted to skip the caramel syrup and go straight for the brown sugar and cream. It makes all the difference and will have everyone begging you for this recipe.

Trader Joe's spiced cider, heavy cream, and a scoop of brown sugar on a table

Caramel Cider Ingredients:

While you technically could just mix in a spoonful of caramel sauce, this recipe is so much better with the extra step of heating brown sugar and cream. It takes your cider to the next level and really makes you fall in love with apple spice. It is worth the extra minute. Trust me.

Here’s what you will need to get started:

  • Brown Sugar- I had light brown on hand and we find this gives you the best flavor. However, dark brown would work in a pinch.
  • Heavy Cream- Whipping cream is another common name. Just make sure you use this and not milk.
  • Vanilla Extract- I say this all of the time, but use pure vanilla and not imitation. Trust me on this. Imitation will leave you with a chemically aftertaste that is not super appealing.
  • Apple Cider- The star of the show. Make sure you pick a really good quality, since this is where your flavor is going to be coming from.
  • Apple Pie Spice- Optional, and an ingredient I only suggest using IF you have a cider that is more on the bland side.

Optional ingredients would be the toppings. Whipped cream and caramel drizzle is a fun way to jazz up the drink and make it look like you bought it from a fancy coffee shop!

ladle pouring apple cider into a mug

How To Make Caramel Apple Cider

  1. Combine the brown sugar and cream in a small pot. Whisk until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  2. Turn the heat to low/medium and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a simmer or is bubbly, about 2 minutes total.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract followed by the apple cider.
  4. Whisk to combine and move back to the heat. Cook until warmed through and serve.

If the cider you purchase has less flavor, whisk 1/2 teaspoon of apple pie spice to the cider before adding it to the caramel.

Tips and FAQs

  • We love this recipe as-is, but you can always add a dollop of whipped cream on top.
How to keep apple cider warm?

Once you have made this recipe, transfer to a slow cooker set to the lowest setting. The cider will stay warm throughout your gathering and everyone will be able to ladle out the warm punch to enjoy.

How do you add flavor to apple cider?

If you are finding that your apple cider is missing flavor, try whisking in some apple pie spice or cinnamon. Some store bought brands will have less and others will have more. I always like to taste the cider before adding to the caramel to see if I need to add anything extra.

What is the difference between apple juice and apple cider?

The biggest difference between cider and juice is that apple juice goes through a more thorough filtration. You will also find that a lot of ciders have added spices, like cinnamon, to boost its flavor.

What is the best store bought apple cider?

There are many local farmers that make a homemade cider that will beat out the store bought versions. However, if you live in the city those options are limited. We find that Trader Joe’s offers a delicious version, although it is seasonal so grab it while you can. We also enjoy the cider from Martinellis, although we do add more spices to the last one.

How long does caramel apple cider last?

This cider is best drank within a few hours of mixing.

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Caramel Apple Cider Recipe

Caramel Apple Cider Recipe

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Enjoy the flavors of fall all year long with this Caramel Apple Cider. A close copy to the Starbucks caramel apple spice, and the perfect belly warming drink for fall and winter. You only need 4 simple ingredients and about 5 minutes to whip up this incredible tasting drink.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon apple pie spice, optional

Instructions

  1. Combine the brown sugar and cream in a small pot. Whisk until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  2. Turn the heat to low/medium and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a simmer or is bubbly, about 2 minutes total.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract followed by the apple cider.
  4. Whisk to combine and move back to the heat. Cook until warmed through and serve.


If the cider you purchase has less flavor, whisk 1/2-1 teaspoon of apple pie spice to the cider before adding it to the caramel.

Notes

  • We love this recipe as-is, but you can always add a dollop of whipped cream on top.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 152Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 14mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 0gSugar: 24gProtein: 1g
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