Homemade boiled cider: How to make this ultra-flavorful secret ingredient

Boiled cider: a thick, syrupy, apple-scented secret ingredient that brings your favorite apple desserts from good to “how on earth did you make this?!”

Wood’s Cider Mill creates this pantry staple here in New England. But what happens when you finish the last drop and have a hankering for pie or Apple Cider Caramels?

In a pinch, you can make homemade boiled cider. All you need is fresh apple cider, a pot, and time.

Homemade Boiled Cider via @kingarthurflour

How to make homemade boiled cider

So, how much apple cider do you need? A gallon (3,969g) of fresh cider will reduce down to about 2 cups (690g). Since the cider takes up to 6 hours to boil down, I’d recommend starting with at least a gallon to make it more worth your time.

Select a large, sturdy pot designed for long-term stovetop cooking, such as a cast iron pot or Dutch oven. For a gallon of cider, I use a pot that holds at least 5 quarts.

Run out of your favorite fall-baking ingredient? Learn how to make homemade boiled cider in your own kitchen. Click To Tweet

Bring the cider to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 to 6 hours, giving a couple of quick stirs twice every hour. Starting around hour five, stir more frequently — every 15 minutes or so.

Note that cook time will vary depending on your stove and which pot you choose. In testing, the boiled cider I made in a metal pot took five hours; in a cast iron pot, six.

Homemade Boiled Cider via @kingarthurflour

An 8-cup measuring cup makes it easy to see how much the cider reduces with each hour.

Homemade Boiled Cider via @kingarthurflour

As the simmering goes on, a 4-cup measuring cup shows the decreasing amount as it thickens and darkens.

How to know when your homemade boiled cider is ready

After the kitchen has been filled with apple-scented steam all day, I feel a little impatient waiting for my boiled cider to be ready. There are a few ways to test if it’s done.

Homemade Boiled Cider via @kingarthurflour

Bubble color: I know it’s done when I stir it and dark copper-colored bubbles form, covering the entire surface.

Homemade Boiled Cider via @kingarthurflour

The chopstick test: The cider will boil down to about 1/8 of its original volume. The easiest way to track this is to place a skewer or chopstick into the cider before turning on the heat. Mark the height of the cider on the chopstick before you start boiling it. Repeat once every hour, marking the new height until it’s about 1/8 the original height.

Homemade Boiled Cider via @kingarthurflour

Homemade boiled cider on the left, honey on the right.

Consistency: Boiled cider has a similar viscosity to honey; when hot it behaves like hot, runny honey. Once cooled, it mimics thick, room-temperature honey.

What about temperature? Just as water does, apple cider has a boiling point: 219°F. The temperature won’t change once it begins to boil. Because of this, the temperature isn’t a good indicator of doneness.

Homemade Boiled Cider via @kingarthurflour

Slightly over-cooked cider on the left has the thick consistency of molasses. Sour, but still useable. VERY over-cooked cider on the right is firm and sticky like taffy. It’s mouth-puckering and liable to rip out your fillings.

Be careful of overcooking boiled cider beyond that copper-bubble stage. It’ll become too thick to easily pour or bake with. It also becomes unpleasantly bitter and sour.

Homemade Boiled Cider via @kingarthurflour

Infuse your homemade boiled cider with other ingredients

To make your batch truly one of a kind, infuse your cider with other flavors. Simmering on the stove for several hours gives you the perfect opportunity to add a little something special. Cinnamon sticks, your favorite spice blend, a sliced vanilla bean, a splash of rum, or orange peels will make your homemade boiled cider extra special.

Homemade Boiled Cider via @kingarthurflour

It’s done!

Run the finished cider through a coffee filter or cheesecloth to remove any impurities, if desired. Store your finished homemade boiled cider in the refrigerator.

Boiled cider-fanatics have told me it will keep indefinitely in the fridge, but mine never sticks around long enough to test that theory.

So, if you run out of this favorite ingredient, can’t wait for shipping, and have a day to spend in a gloriously apple-perfumed kitchen, have no fear! You can make your own boiled cider at home.

If this seems like a present you might like to give to friends and family, include a note with a few ways to use homemade boiled cider every day, or even your favorite recipes calling for it.

What’s your favorite way to use boiled cider? If you’ve never tried it, what will you make first? Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks to Anne Mientka for taking the photos for this post.

Annabelle Nicholson

Annabelle grew up in New Hampshire and Vermont and attended New England Culinary Institute to study baking and pastry arts. She works on the Digital Engagement Team, and spends her non-baking time playing board games and cuddling her hedgehog.


  1. Juliane T

    I get that everyone wants to stay true to the concept of boiled *cider*, however in the real world some shortcuts don’t diminish the quality of the end product.
    The absolute *easiest* way to make boiled cider is to start with frozen apple juice concentrate and skip some of the boiling down.
    If I start with 3 frozen containers, I want to end with the equivalent of one container in volume- thick, like molasses once cooled.

  2. Tanya J Briggs

    Thank you for this. I have not ordered the boiled cider from KA for some time now since I can get some KA flours locally.

    SO NOW…all I have to do is find some good apple cider and boil it down for hours. LOL! But it is worth it for my “apple tea” that is nice when one feels sick.

  3. Michael

    Should the finished cider have any sour notes? I made a batch from 100% cider and was a little puzzled on when take it off the stove. It became evident, like honey, that when it is hot it is very thin. I was expecting it to be thicker in the pot while cooking. It thickened as it cooled and is delicious but I’m trying to confirm whether I overcooked it a bit. Thank you!

    1. Susan Reid

      Michael, it depends on how sour your cider was originally. It’s always a good idea when reducing things to have a small plate next to the pot on the stove for testing. Put a teaspoon of the liquid on the plate and let it sit for a minute; then you can see what it’s consistency is going to be like when cooled. If it doesn’t taste bitter or burnt, the sour notes you’re getting could be from cider that was getting ready to turn or was more acidic to start with. Susan

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Heather, you could certainly try, but it might take a really long time. We can understand the impulse to use a “set it and forget it” device rather than a stove that requires babysitting for several hours, but unless you’re okay with leaving it to cook for multiple days, the stovetop is probably your best bet. Kat@KAF

    2. Bishop J

      I’ve not done boiled cider in a crock, but I make apple butter in one. On hi about 4 to 5 hours, low 8 for butter. I believe you can do the cider, just remember to leave the cover off and check on it, once the cider starts to thicken, it reduces faster. Just like making maple syrup from sap. Easy to scorch or burn if not careful

  4. Janet

    I made this in October and have used it for a variety of things. Today I finally made hot apple cider reconstituted from it. It is to die for. I will be making this every year.

  5. Carolyn

    For anybody curious about cooking times for smaller-than-1-gallon batches, I reduced a half-gal down to 1 cup today, and it took 3 hours, 15 minutes. I used a big stockpot, so maybe more surface area and less volume means less time?

    1. Susan Reid

      Carolyn: I would agree, but the larger the surface area the more critical it is to be paying close attention as you get closer to the ideal level of concentration. Susan

  6. Valerie Miraglia

    I made this and have it in my refrigerator. Used some in pancake batter this morning along with some cinnamon. Delicious!

  7. jennifer

    I initially made boiled syrup to enhance the flavor of a cake. However, I have since eliminated processed sugar from my diet, and I have started using it as a tangy replacement in my cooking. It improves homemade ketchup, teriyaki chicken wings, salad dressings etc. I also use it, more traditionally, as a concentrated substitute for apple juice or cider in recipes. The stuff is amazing.


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