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
About

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.

comments

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We don’t recommend reducing cider in the oven as it will take a very long time to concentrate to the right consistency, and it will be more difficult to gauge the progress (and potentially more likely to burn on the bottom). A thick-bottomed, large sauce pot over low heat is the best way to go or you can, of course, pick up a bottle here. Kye@KAF

    2. Gary

      I much prefer to make this in my oven. I bring the cider to a boil in a pot on the stovetop, then place it in a 235F oven put a temp probe in the cider set to give me an alarm @ 215F.

      I’ve never had it overcook, my preference is to take it up to 225F for boiled cider

  1. Laura Anne Welch

    I just tried making my own, using an uncovered, small crockpot on high. I started with a half gallon of cider last night. It was about half reduced when I went to bed, and although I forgot to turn it off, this morning it wasn’t ruined. It took about two more hours to reduce down to what looked very much like the boiled cider I bought a couple of years ago. Ran it through a very fine sieve and now will put it through a coffee filter and then refrigerate it. I am very happy with the result and am looking forward to using it in my apple pies and will try it in apple cake. Next time, though, I will start this early in the AM when I am around all day.

    Reply
  2. Walt

    This article should have warned that the cider MUST NOT contain any preservatives. If it does, the preservatives will increase in strength as the cider reduces to about 2 cups since the water in the cider evaporates but the preservatives do not. This could cause serious health issues for whoever consumes the reduced cider.

    For years now, I have been using a digital candy thermometer to make my boiled apple cider and apple molasses and the temperature has risen to 232 degrees Fahrenheit which produces a wonderful molasses-like product that is sweet and has a very strong apple flavor. The resulting product is not bitter and does not have any ‘off’ taste whatsoever.

    Reply
  3. Rob Elliott

    After making the boiled cider, can it be canned and kept on the pantry shelf?

    I can’t see why that wouldn’t work…

    Thank you,

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Yes, Rob, I think canning would be fine. Don’t skip the water bath, but it shouldn’t be any different than canning applesauce. Susan

  4. Sandy

    So far I have used boiled cider in the KA Morning Glory Muffins and in a pumpkin bread recipe with excellent results. I am making a roast chicken today and It will be included.

    Reply
  5. Marjie

    I made this a couple of years ago on top of our wood burning stove. I was unsure about what to expect in terms of yield. It was good but probably could have been reduced just a little more. Now that you’ve offered a simple, low-tech method of determining an end point, I’ll make it again.

    Thank you,
    Marjie

    Reply
  6. Marilyn Post

    Just now put 3.5 qts of cider on to make this boiled cider. It was a container that I had frozen previously when I bought several “gallons” of cider from a local orchard. They sell it frozen, so it keeps and is a flavorful blend from several types of apples. I know boiled cider is really good having bought it from the place it is made, along with their syrup. Having my own apples to make applesauce and jelly, I want to use this to enhance my Cameo and Pink Lady creations!
    My apple flavored caramels were delicious using the recipe from King Arthur’s website. My fault they were too chewy rather than melt in your mouth soft, even using a candy thermometer! I will try again to make them. Actually a fondue party with sliced apples, etc. would be fun with that recipe at the very soft stage.

    Reply
  7. Cherylynn Gronhoff

    I made my own last year. First gallon was just a run of the mill cider. The next 2 gallons I made using a braeburn and I believe it was a gala apple ciders. The combination (at the end I added them all together) was so absolutely delicious! It’s good on anything you’d put apples on. Nice good flavor on oatmeal too! It’s worth the time to do, and I store mine in the freezer.

    Reply
  8. Diane Calsbeek

    I make this as a topping for apple pie. I add some butter and rum or brandy. Um-good. People always want my pie recipe, but I tell them it’s the boiled cider that makes it.

    Reply
  9. Deb

    I love having my own boiled cider on hand. To a gallon I add 1/4 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice (my favorite apple pie combo). Last year I canned it in pretty jelly jars to give as little Christmas gifts with a tag listing ideas on how to use it. Like topping plain yogurt (my fave), oatmeal, ice cream, or bread pudding; as a syrup for pancakes and waffles (as is or mixed with maple syrup); added to apple pie or buttercream frosting. I also included the web address to KAF’s boiled cider search page for more inspiration and recipes. Thanks for those!

    Reply

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