Homemade wassail is brimming with all your favorite Christmas spices: cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and ginger! With lemon juice, orange juice and apple cider, this nonalcoholic wassail recipe is perfect for the holidays.

Looking for a cold Christmas drink? Christmas cranberry slush punch is brimming with all the holiday flavors but in slushy form!

A glass of homemade wassail against a black background.

It may be cliche to say it, but this really is Christmas in a cup. The smell makes me want to put on a warm sweater, turn the fireplace on, grab a mug of wassail and pop in a Hallmark Christmas movie! It’s all the holiday feels, smells and flavors.

My mom would make homemade wassail for the holidays growing up, and I loved it! We’d have it hot or cold — either way, it’s delicious. I think we’d have it hot more often since winters in Idaho are freezing

There’s just something so perfect about the Christmas season filled with all my favorite people and foods! We have wassail with homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. Then Christmas day is filled with music, lights, and my favorite kinds of food! Homemade rolls, pot roast and mashed potatoes — the list could go on, but I’ll spare you. 

If you’re looking for the perfect holiday drink to share with your family and friends, this wassail recipe is for you! I promise you’ll love it. 

A cup of wassail surrounded by red apples.

Ingredients

  • Granulated sugar — Needed for the sweetness.
  • Water 
  • Cinnamon stick — A jar of cinnamon sticks from the store keeps for a while so you can use it for years to come in every Christmas wassail! 
  • Allspice berries — I think the allspice berries just might be my favorite spice in this! 
  • Cloves or ¾ tsp ground cloves — Fresh cloves will give a stronger flavor. Although you can use ground cloves instead if you’d like. 
  • Fresh ginger, peeled — Fresh ginger will have a stronger flavor than ground. Although, you can use ground ginger.
  • Orange juice — The orange flavor really makes it feel like Christmas in a cup!
  • Lemon juice — Gives a beautiful citrus flavor. I use lemon concentrate (the cheap stuff, usually in a green bottle).
  • Apple cider — *Yes, apple cider not apple juice.

How to Make Wassail

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, stir the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  2. Remove from heat. Add the cinnamon stick, allspice berries, cloves, and ginger. Cover and let sit for 1 hour. (Be prepared for your house to smell amazing!)
  3. Stir in the orange juice, lemon juice, and apple cider. Place over medium heat to warm the drink. Serve warm (or cold)!
A glass of wassail against a black background with red apples around the edges of the photo.

Recipe Tips

It’s important to let the liquid and spices sit for the entire hour. This is what infuses the wassail with those delicious Christmas flavors!

Make sure to use apple cider and not apple juice. The flavors and sweetness are completely different. However, if you are in a bind and you only have apple juice, you can use it in leu of the apple cider. The taste will be slightly different.

If you don’t have whole cloves you can substitute with ground cloves, I suggest 3/4 tsp.

If you don’t have fresh ginger (make sure you peel it before adding it to the drink), you can use 1/2 tsp ground ginger.

Strain the wassail before serving so you can remove the allspice berries, cloves and ginger. If you’d like to leave the cinnamon sticks in there for a pretty look in your serving dish, you can!

A glass of wassail on a wooden background surrounded by red apples.

FAQ

What does wassail mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, wassail comes from the term “ves heill,” which means “be well.” It dates back to the 12th century and was used as a toast. It transitioned to being referred to the drink, instead of a toast, that was enjoyed during Christmastime. You may also be familiar with the Christmas carol, “Here We Come A‐Wassailing.” In England, wassailing is another word for caroling since carolers would drink wassail to warm them up!

Can you make wassail with apple juice?

Technically, yes. But I don’t recommend it. The flavors and sugars in apple juice are different to apple cider. This will affect the flavor of your wassail. I’ve tried making it with plain apple juice and it just doesn’t get there.

How many servings does this Wassail recipe make?

This recipe will make about 18 — 1/2 cup servings.

Holiday Food Favorites

If you make this recipe or any other recipe on Salt & Baker, I would greatly appreciate you coming back to leave a rating and review. Thank you so much! ❤️

A glass of homemade wassail against a black background.
Print Review
5 from 1 vote

Wassail

This homemade wassail is the recipe my mother would make around the holidays. The spices and smell or orange juice and apple cider simmering on the stove will surely boost your spirits (and taste buds)!
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 25 mins
Servings: 18 1/2 cup servings

Ingredients
 

  • 1 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 5 cloves - or 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 inch fresh ginger - peeled, or substitute with 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup lemon juice - I use the lemon juice concentrate
  • 4 cups apple cider - can also use apple juice but you'll lose some flavor.

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot over medium heat, stir the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  • Remove from heat. Add the cinnamon stick, allspice berries, cloves, and ginger. Cover and let sit for 1 hour. 
  • Strain the mixture.
  • Stir in the orange juice, lemon juice, and apple cider. Place over medium heat to warm the drink. Serve warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 89kcal (4%)Carbohydrates: 23g (8%)Protein: 1g (2%)Fat: 1g (2%)Saturated Fat: 1g (5%)Sodium: 4mgPotassium: 122mg (3%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 20g (22%)Vitamin A: 55IU (1%)Vitamin C: 19mg (23%)Calcium: 11mg (1%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
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This recipe is the one my mother would make every year in December. She got the recipe from Lion House