Hot Caramel Apple Cider (for grown ups!)

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It’s starting to get a bit chilly here in Pittsburgh! The leaves are finally starting to fall and mid-terms are right around the corner – fall has arrived. So to celebrate and warm up a little, today we have a really simple drink recipe for those of you who are at least 21 years old – Hot Caramel Apple Cider!

We got our apple cider for this recipe from the Amish country in Lancaster, PA. We took a little “mini-moon” after the wedding and drove up to Lancaster for a few nights. As for the caramel vodka, we got that at the wine and spirits store. We’re not sure of any other brands other than Smirnoff that make caramel vodka, but if you know of any please leave a comment. We also want to give credit to Erica’s friend Megan for introducing us to this drink!

ciderOn another note, happy 225th birthday to Pitt! This past weekend was homecoming and we got to go onto Heinz Field to help celebrate. The band formed an outline of a “P” and students holding balloons filled inside of it. Then, we sang “Happy Birthday” and released the balloons. It was so much fun! Here are a few pics:

We’re on Heinz Field!

We stood in the bottom right portion of the “P”


Hot Caramel Apple Cider

Print this recipe!

Nothing says fall is here like hot apple cider (with alcohol!)
  • Servings – 4
  • Prep time – 1 minute


  • 4 mug’s worth of apple cider
  • 1 mug’s worth of caramel vodka (you can always use less (or more?) if you want, this makes it fairly strong)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (mostly for rimming your glasses, taste the cider before to see if it needs sugar or not)


1. Mix all of the ingredients above in a large pot. (Edit: Heating up the cider before adding the vodka ensures that the alcohol doesn’t burn off! Heat it up to your desired temperature and then add the vodka.)

2. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until liquid just begins to steam (don’t over heat or else the alcohol will burn off).

3. While cider is warming up, take your mugs or glasses and rim them with brown sugar.

4. Pour cider into your rimmed glasses, serve and enjoy!


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  1. Sharon says

    I want to do this in a crockpot. I am thinking that I can start with cider and get it hot. Then, lower to warm and add vodka and sugar if needed. Do you think this will be ok?

  2. Lisa says

    I was looking for something warm to serve as a cocktail for thanksgiving and I am not fond of the spiced versions. I tested it out last night and it was fabulous. Thanks so much!!!

  3. Kayli says

    The brand Pearl makes a caramel vodka that is pretty good. You can find it at most grocery stores and it’s cheaper than Smirnoff!

    • Declan and Erica says

      Do you know if they make any other kinds of flavored vodka? We are trying to come up with a Winter/Christmas themed drink.

      • Brynne says

        Smirnoff makes a ton of flavored vodkas. I like to make hot chocolate and add whipped cream vodka or caramel vodka (or peppermint Schnapp’s). Peppermint hot chocolate is a quintessential winter drink :)

        • Jude De Witt says

          My husband and I are partial to hot chocolate w/ butterscotch schnapps! We are looking forward to your recipe when we go camping in Oct. Thanks!

  4. Chris says

    If I made this to put in a large coffeemaker and left it to warm, would the alcohol all burn off simmering in the coffee pot or would it not get hot enough to lose the alcohol?

    • Declan and Erica says

      We haven’t tried using a coffee pot. Because it has so much more sugar than coffee, the bottom might burn if it doesn’t get stirred, so be careful. If you want to try it this way, we would recommend only heating up the cider and then add the vodka right before serving!

  5. Sheri Herman says

    This is perfect cold! I made this cold in a huge jug. 1 gallon of apple cider, 1 liter of caramel vodka and a half cup of brown sugar. It was a huge hit in the neighborhood at Halloween!!

  6. Monica says

    Just made this for the first time. Me & my husband are sipping it now. We like it! Thanks for this great recipe!

  7. Kaillyne says

    I wonder how caramel sauce and whipped cream vodka would do instead of the caramel vodka. I might have to try it and see. :)

  8. Ashley O says

    I made this tonight for a party tomorrow. I used salted caramel vodka and it is out of this world! So glad I found this recipe because I’ve made versions of this and it was never this good! Also…Go Pitt! ( my while family is Pitt alumni)

    • Declan and Erica says

      So glad to hear this worked out for you! We hope it’s a hit at the party (let us know what people think).

      Hail to Pitt! Thanks for reading!


    • Emily Stubbs says

      OMG Salted Caramel is my fav new coffee creamer flavor. I bet is it’s soo good with this. I’m so glad I kept scrolling down to read comments!

      • Emily Stubbs says

        And of course thank you for the original recipe, I was looking for something good with the hot cider, but also wanted something easy. Most other recipes have multiple liquors & ingredients. However that does remind me that a lot of them added a little butter to the mix, but those all had rum in them. Do you think a dab of butter in this would be good or no?

        • Declan and Erica says

          We’ve heard of butter with rum before, but never with vodka. But, we don’t think anything has even been made worse with the addition of butter though! If you try it, let us know! We love new takes on our ideas.

  9. Julia Bergener says

    I live in the Burgh too! I’ve been drinking apple cider and caramel vodka on the rocks, which is amazing! It’s like drinking a caramel apple. But I never thought to drink it warm, thanks. I really want to try it your way, especially with the extras!

    • Declan and Erica says

      Isn’t Pittsburgh the best?! That’s awesome to hear you live here as well, maybe we will bump into you sometime :)

      Also, great suggestion about drinking this over the rocks (which we have tried and enjoyed)!

      Thanks for reading!

  10. Kendra S says

    Made this this afternoon for the husband and I. He really enjoyed it :) We added about tablespoon of brown sugar to the mix and seemed to be a nice touch. We don’t like overly sweet, so it worked out perfectly!

  11. says

    I want to make a gallon of the cider but not hot how much vodka should I use …. And should I add the brown sugar to the mix if I do it that way and do I still heat it up

    • says

      To get the same ratio that we had, you would use 4 cups of vodka. That’s a little more than a standard 750ml bottle of vodka, so it’d probably be easiest to just use the whole bottle (the caramel flavor isn’t as strong as normal vodka)! If you’re serving it cold, you don’t need to heat it up at all first. Taste it without any sugar and see if you think it’s sweet enough. Add a little at a time if it needs it.

      Let us know how it goes! :)

  12. says

    I am really looking forward to making this in the next couple of days but I have a question. What kind of mugs are you talking about? Small coffee mugs or large beverage mugs. It only matters because I worry about using too much or too little brown sugar.

    • says

      We used regular coffee mugs, probably around 12oz. The amount of sugar also depends on how sweet your cider is to start with! I would start with the cider and vodka and then add sugar to sweeten as you see fit. Some of the sugar called for is also used to rim the glasses/mugs.

  13. says

    ur apple cider… is that alcoholic on its own? or it just like apple juice?? sorry – im australian, and here apple cider is alcoholic and carbonated – is this what you mean?

    • says

      Ah, sorry for the confusion! Normally apple cider here is pretty much unfiltered and non-pasteurized apple juice. We have had alcoholic cider before though, which is carbonated. That’s not what this recipe calls for, though. If you can’t find the right thing, maybe apple juice would work? It would definitely work cold, but we’re not sure about hot. Let us know!

    • says

      It should definitely last in the fridge! I wouldn’t anymore than a week or so, though, just because you already heated it up. Also, if you reheat it, just know that some of the alcohol might burn off some, depending on how you heat it up.

  14. says

    You just made my day! I have been so bummed seeing caramel apples popping up in the stores because this is my first autumn having braces. No caramel apples for me but I will for sure be trying this! (and I love the fact that it is accompanied by a picture of my favorite sports field in the whole world)

    • says

      Glad we could help out :) this really is one of our favorite fall drinks! It’s so nice to warm up on a chilly fall evening with a nice hot mug of apple cider! Let us know if this curbs those caramel apple cravings!

  15. says

    Oh wow…. this looks incredible!! I love hot ciders, and the addition of the caramel sounds amazing. It’s just heading into winter here in Australia so I’ll definitely bookmark this recipe for the cold nights ahead! Thanks xx

  16. says

    This was really, really good! Stoli also makes a caramel vodka. We liked a little less vodka (we’re old now) and cinnamon and I heated the cider and cinnamon in the microwave, then stirred in the vodka.

    • says

      It depends on how sweet you want it. We put a little bit in the pot and also rimmed the glasses, but some people might not like it with too much sugar. It’s really up to your taste buds!

  17. says

    I was going to make this tomorrow evening as a relaxing drink after the big Thanksgiving meal but we couldn’t wait! So I made a pot for us tonight and its delicious!! We will all sleep great now! Thanks for the recipe


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