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. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Gail, here’s what the author Annabelle says about using a slow cooker to make boiled cider at home: “You’re welcome to give it a go… but it could take up to 15 hours and the heat isn’t as consistent as a stovetop. I’d recommend only using a slow cooker if it’s your only option.” We think you’ll be more pleased with the overall results if you use your stovetop. Kye@KAF

  1. CJ

    I’ve made boiled cider in crock pot. It needs to release steam so I covered it with a fine mesh splatter cover and let it cook all day. Stir it every hour. Came out fine.

    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      Home-pressed cider? How much better could that be, Steffanie? That sounds incredible, and I can’t wait to hear how it turns out. Happy boiling! Annabelle@KAF

  2. Cristina Munoz

    Thank you very much for the recipe. I just needed a small amount for one recipe. After reading the instructions I realized I could use a smaller amount and boil in a large cast iron frying pan. It takes a much shorter time (larger surface area, smaller volume) and made only the amount I needed.

    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      Perfect, Cristina! Since it keeps in the fridge — pretty much forever — I usually make a big batch but it’s really nice how versatile the process can be if you only need a little bit. Annabelle@KAF

  3. Barb Ferguson

    Let me tell you about boiling cider. My mother-in-law made the BEST apple butter the secret ingredient was boiled cider. I could get unpasteurized cider from our local orchard. All I had to do was boil 1 gal cider to one pint boiled cider. My wonderful mother -in-law loaned me her “special” 25 year old pan given to her by my wonderful father-in- law. To the stove I went. Hours later I had burnt the cider to the pan in a black mess. NOTHING removed it. I had to tell my mother-in-law I had burnt her beloved pot beyond redemption. I buy my boiled cider from King Arthur to make apple butter. It is delicious and no burnt pots.

    1. Tam

      I buy mine from KAF. I get so many compliments on my apple pies since I started using this “secret” ingredient. I never thought to use it w apple butter! Going to make a batch today. Thx for the tip!

    2. Julia Risi

      I find baking soda and a little water left to soak overnight removes most burnt gook!! Then a paste of same to bring out the sparkle again.I hope this works for your beloved pot Barb.

  4. Darlene Lawson

    Put up 3 pints last year… looking for cider to go on sale again this year… 3 gallons cider got me 3 pints of boiled cider…

  5. Deb Hall

    Certainly can be made at home. Been there, done that. Not ever again after having to wash my kitchen walls and entry way of the sticky apple film. Beware of the delightfully smelling apple steam.

  6. Margy

    My stove runs on tank propane, so I don’t like to cook anything taking 6 hours on it. Fortunately, my slow cooker has a browning setting, so I boil my cider in it. I also use the old jelly test to check consistency…put a teaspoon on a saucer and place in the freezer for a minute, then check.
    True story: I was doing this one day, looked at my screen door, and found about a bazillion bees flying outside. Apparently the aroma had attracted them from a local beekeepers hives.

    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      You’re welcome to give it a go, Cynthia, but it could take up to 15 hours and the heat isn’t as consistent as a stovetop. I’d recommend only using a slow cooker if it’s your only option. Annabelle@KAF

    2. M Wrobel

      I’d been wondering the same thing for a long time! I’m happy to see your reply, Annabelle. Since you didn’t note anything major against trying this, I’m going to try it in my Crock pot. I believe I will leave it on high, with the cover off for evaporation. Sort of a set it and forget it situation, I hope. If anyone thinks scorching is possible, let me know, please. (After all, even 24 hrs on low without hardly looking at it would not be a problem.)

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re glad you asked. Here’s what Annabelle said about using a crockpot to make your own boiled cider: “You’re welcome to give it a go… but it could take up to 15 hours and the heat isn’t as consistent as a stovetop. I’d recommend only using a slow cooker if it’s your only option.” We think you’ll be more pleased with the overall results if you use your stovetop. Kye@KAF

    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      Not that I could tell, Sandy. Choose whichever cider looks good from your local grocery stores or orchards. Happy boiling! Annabelle@KAF

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