The Best Hot Homemade Wassail Recipe (2024)

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ByAnn Drake

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Fill your home with the scent of Christmas by making this homemade wassail recipe for family and friends in your slow cooker. Easy and delicious!

The Best Hot Homemade Wassail Recipe (1)

Here we come a-Wassailing
among the leaves so green.
Here we come a-wand’ring
so fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
and to you a Wassail too,
And God bless you and send
you a Happy New Year,
God send you a Happy New Year.

The Best Hot Homemade Wassail Recipe (2)

What Is Wassail?

We’ve all heard this familiar Christmas carol, but have you ever wondered what exactly is a wassail or wassailing? It turns out that they are two very different things. A traditional wassail recipe is an apple cider based drink that is made spicy with cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Even more flavor is added by including fresh fruit. This traditional holiday drink tastes very much like hot mulled cider.

The Best Hot Homemade Wassail Recipe (3)

What Is Wassailing?

Wassailing is actually the centuries old, British custom of wandering around apple orchards singing to the trees, hoping all the while that the next harvest will be abundant, and that everyone will enjoy good health. This ritual eventually evolved into groups of people going from one home to the next, singing Christmas carols. Wassailing ceremonies typically take place on Twelfth Night (January 5th or 6th) depending on the tradition. Somewhere along the way, these small groups of people began carrying a bowl filled with wassail (the drink) to share with their neighbors.Traditionally, a wassail bowl was made from wood, and had a pedestal bottom.

Wassailing has enjoyed a revival in recent years, with families and communities bringing back the old customs as a way to connect with their cultural heritage, and celebrate the changing seasons.

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How To Make This Hot Drink

  • Add to a 4 quart slow cooker: cranberry juice, apple juice, orange juice, ginger beer, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and fresh cranberries.
  • Stir until combined.
  • Thinly slice the orange and lemon.
  • Add orange slices and lemon slices to the slow cooker ingredients.
  • Cook on low for at least 2 hours before serving.

Helpful Tips

  • I tried to cut out as many calories from this recipe as I could. I used diet Ocean Spray cranberry juice, Trop50 orange juice, and diet ginger beer. Knowing it was a skinny 60 calories per serving made it even tastier and more enjoyable!
  • Other items that can be added/substituted: pineapple juice, lemon juice, apple slices, ground cinnamon, star anise, whole allspice berries, or any other fruit juices.
  • An added bonus to warming this delicious drink in a Crock-pot is that as it simmers, it makes your house smell wonderful.
  • If you don’t have a Crock-Pot, it works just as well to simmer the mixture on the stovetop in a large pot or stock pot, using medium-low heat.

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Even if you don’t plan to go wassailing this holiday season, I enthusiastically recommend that you whip up a pot of this hot wassail recipe anyway! It’s a delicious and spicy treat that’s the perfect drinkfor Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day. Start a new family tradition by serving this warm drink at your holiday gatherings.It also makes a wonderfulcozy drink on a cold day!

More Festive Holiday Drinks

  • Crockpot Hot Chocolate
  • Cranberry Christmas co*cktail
  • Pomegranate + Lime Spritzer

Homemade Wassail Recipe

Fill your home with the scent of Christmas by making this homemade wassail recipe for family and friends in your slow cooker. Easy and delicious!

Rate this Recipe Print Recipe Pin Recipe

5 from 2 votes

Servings: 6 servings

Author: Ann Drake

Prep Time 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time 2 hours hours

Total Time 2 hours hours 15 minutes minutes


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  • 4 quart slow cooker


  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 2 cups apple juice or apple cider
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups ginger beer or ginger ale
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries


  • Add to a 4 quart slow cooker: cranberry juice, apple juice, orange juice, ginger beer, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and fresh cranberries.

  • Stir until combined.

  • Thinly slice the orange and lemon.

  • Add slices to slow cooker ingredients.

  • Cook on low for at least 2 hours before serving.


I used Ocean Spray Diet Cranberry, Tropicana Trop50, diet ginger beer, and apple juice (no sugar added.) When calculated with these ingredients, a 10 oz. serving has 60 calories.

This recipe can be doubled if a larger slow cooker is used.


Serving: 10oz. | Calories: 193kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 14mg | Potassium: 407mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 268IU | Vitamin C: 72mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 1mg

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The Best Hot Homemade Wassail Recipe (8)


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The Best Hot Homemade Wassail Recipe (2024)


What is wassail drink made of? ›

What is Wassail? Wassail is like the tastier sister to Apple Cider. Traditional wassail was made with hard liquor, apples, brandy, and other spices. This recipe is made with cloves, apples, cinnamon, lemon, orange, ginger, and nutmeg and is a nonalcoholic wassail recipe.

Is wassail good for you? ›

Not only is this a warming, festive drink, but the medicinal herbs provide multiple health benefits. During the mulling process, the cinnamon, ginger, and clove impart a spicy aroma as well as anti-inflammatory, immune supporting properties to the wassail.

How do you make wassail mix at Biltmore? ›

Biltmore Wassail Recipe with Merlot
  1. Produce. • 1 Apples.
  2. Condiments. • 1 tsp Honey. • 1/4 oz Lemon juice, freshly squeezed.
  3. Baking & Spices. • 2 tsp Biltmore wassail spice blend. • 1 Cinnamon stick.
  4. Beer, Wine & Liquor. • 3 oz Biltmore red wine. • 3/4 oz Hudson bourbon. • 1 dash Walnut bitters.
  5. Liquids. • 2 oz Water.

What is the difference between wassail and mulling spice? ›

Both contain spices and some juice. One of the main differences is that mulled wine is often made with whole oranges. However, Wassail is traditionally made with apple juice.

What is in Trader Joe's wassail? ›

A sweetened blend of black currant, apple, and lemon juices, with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, and orange peel, Trader Joe's Winter Wassail is a fruit punch whose flavors and aromas evoke the holidays. You can serve it chilled, over ice with bourbon; or warmed, in a big mug, with a cinnamon stick garnish.

What are the two types of wassailing? ›

The tradition of wassailing (alt sp wasselling) falls into two distinct categories: the house-visiting wassail and the orchard-visiting wassail.

What country is wassail from? ›

In the cider-producing counties in the South West of England (primarily Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire, and Herefordshire) or South East England (Kent, Sussex, Essex, and Suffolk), as well as Jersey, wassailing refers to a traditional ceremony that involves singing and drinking to the health of ...

Why do people drink wassail? ›

By wassailing their crops in the winter, it was said to ensure a healthy crop in the spring. As Christianity began to spread, this ritual evolved further into singing and drinking to the health of next season's crops on Twelfth Night; the last night of the traditional Christmas season.

What the heck is wassailing? ›

Wassailing is an age-old West Country tradition to awaken the apple trees and scare evil spirits away to bring on a plentiful harvest. It's still widely popular in the cider-producing counties of the West Country, including Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Somerset and Herefordshire.

Why is it called wassail? ›

The word 'wassail' comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase 'waes hael', which means 'good health'. Originally, the wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar. It was served from huge bowls, often made of silver or pewter.

What did the Vanderbilts eat at Biltmore? ›

A 1904 menu book, which recorded a lot of what the Vanderbilts ate that year, shows the family enjoyed sumptuous holiday feasts including oysters, consommé royale, Spanish mackerel, and even calves' brains with mushroom sauce and a fashionable salad of celery served with Virginia ham.

How do you organize a wassail? ›

And this is what you do
  1. Put on some music to create some Old Twelvey Night atmosphere.
  2. Soak a slice of toast in cider and hang it in the branches of your Wassail tree.
  3. Pour some cider around the roots of the tree.
  4. Chant the Wassail song.
  5. Make some loud noise with your pots and pans to scare away those evil spirits.
Jan 11, 2021

What do you do at a wassail? ›

What is wassailing? The purpose is to encourage the spirits into ensuring a good harvest the following season. It takes place on the twelfth night after Christmas and involves a visit to a nearby orchard for singing, dancing, drinking and general merrymaking.

Why do they toast at wassail? ›

The word 'Wassail' comes from the Anglo Saxon toast 'waes hael' – meaning 'be well' or 'be in good health'. This ceremony promotes the health of the trees and encourages a bountiful harvest, traditionally taking place around the old Twelfth Night (January 17).

What is a wassail punch? ›

: an early English toast to someone's health. 2. : a hot drink that is made with wine, beer, or cider, spices, sugar, and usually baked apples and is traditionally served in a large bowl especially at Christmastime. 3. : riotous drinking : revelry.

Does wassail contain alcohol? ›

Modern recipes begin with a base of wine, fruit juice or mulled ale, sometimes with brandy or sherry added. Apples or oranges are often added to the mix, and some recipes also call for beaten eggs to be tempered into the drink.

What's the difference between wassail and mulled wine? ›

Since mulled wine and wassail are traditionally homemade family recipes, past down by generations, and the drinks are not likely to be found on store shelves, the two beverages can be nearly identical, which is a spiced wine, ale, or liquor, blended with aromatic spices and often served warm.

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