An Easy Wassail Recipe For Yuletide

What is Wassail?

Wassail is a spiced cider traditionally served during the winter holidays. This nonalcoholic version, flavored with cloves, apples, cinnamon, lemon, orange, ginger, and nutmeg, is especially good when sipped by candlelight on a cool winter night. You could certainly add alcohol if you wish by adding a splash of brandy, bourbon, rum, or whiskey, to taste.


Where Did This Drink Originate?

Wassailing is an old custom that’s not often done today. The term “wassail” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael’ meaning “good health.” Originally, this delicious mixture was a hot drink made from mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, and sugar. It was served in huge bowls made of silver or pewter. Wassailing was traditionally done on New Year’s Eve and Twelfth Night, but some rich people drank it on all twelve days of Christmas! The drink mixture was also known as “lamb’s wool” because it looked frothy like lambs’ wool.

The wassailing tradition falls into two distinct categories: house-visiting wassailing and orchard-visiting wassailing. The house-visiting wassail is the practice of going door-to-door and offering a drink from a special bowl in exchange for gifts; this tradition still exists, but has largely been displaced by caroling. 

The orchard-visiting wassail takes place on Twelfth Night (New Year’s Eve). Villagers go into orchards and sing, make loud noises, and dance around to scare off evil spirits and also to ‘wake up’ the trees, so they will give a good crop. They also place pieces of toast soaked in beer or cider into the boughs of trees to feed and thank the trees for giving apples. That’s where our custom of ‘toasting’ people with a drink comes from!

Try this easy traditional recipe and share it with friends while celebrating Twelfth Night or all 12 Day of Yule. 



Barbi Gardiner
This recipe has been passed down through generations and is a delicious traditional Yuletide drink. The delicious warm cider drink is an ideal balance of orange and apple, with cinnamon and spices perfectly blended in.
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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Drinks
Servings 8 people


  • 2 apples
  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 15 whole cloves or ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar optional
  • Instructions


  • Stick cloves into the apples on all sides.
  • Add all of the ingredients—including the apples—to a large pot and stir gently over low heat.
  • Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  • Remove the apples and whole cloves. Ladle into mugs and enjoy!


Pour leftovers into an airtight container before storing in the refrigerator. You can also make this in advance, store it in the fridge until ready to heat and enjoy, and then pour into a saucepan or microwave-safe dish to reheat.
Keyword Wassail, Wassail recipe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Concluding Thoughts

Whether you’re planning a Yuletide or Christmas party or just looking for a fun and delicious recipe to try, this Wassail recipe is perfect for your needs. It’s festive, easy to make, and perfectly combines all the flavors of the season. And if you’d like even more great recipes that are perfect for entertaining, check out our recipe index.


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