Wassail is the perfect holiday drink to take the chill out of any day! A classic mulled holiday drink served hot full of homey warming spices. This mocktail recipe can be spiked too!
Have you ever wondered what the words of the classic Christmas carol ‘Here we come a-wassailing’ mean?
This long-time family Wassail recipe will warm your holiday season with comforting ingredients and homey spices.
I’ve served this recipe to hundreds of friends and family over the years and have handed out the recipe more times than I can count.
It’s a classic holiday drink that can be served as a mulled mocktail or with liquor too.
Hot Wassail is the perfect big batch drink for Christmas Eve.
What is Wassail?
Wassail, (pronounced ‘wah-sul’) is an old English mulled hot drink with mixed fruit juices, spices and usually some alcohol.
A ‘mulled’ drink is heated with spices and sometimes sugar. It’s served for autumn or winter.
This recipe is a non-alcoholic Wassail recipe but certainly can be spiked with liquor if desired! Suggestion included below.
What is Wassailing?
You’ve probably heard the popular Christmas carol about people wassailing, right? But what does it mean?!
It refers to a a specific type of holiday party!
What is a Wassail Party?
Groups of Christmas carolers being given a steamy mug of the drink Wassail in exchange for their songs.
The heady aroma of cider-based Wassail fills the cold winter nights with irresistible, homey smells.
These days it’s more likely to find families sipping around the holiday game table or at Christmas parties.
However you drink it, it’s a holiday winner and easy to make.
What is Wassail Made Of?
A combination of delicious fruit juices and spices make a sweet, slightly tangy drink.
- Apple Cider
- Pineapple Juice
- Lemon Juice
- Orange Juice
- Cinnamon Stick
- Whole Cloves
It simmers to blend the flavors into a warming holiday drink!
Swap in some cranberry juice.
Consider adding some ginger and nutmeg to the spices.
Using mulled cider will automatically add rich warming spices to the recipe.
The SECRET Ingredient in this recipe
Our family recipe has a unique ingredient that not only makes it taste great but creates the pink hue: red hots!
Dissolved into the Wassail recipe they add a cinnamon taste that is delicious!
Cinnamon Imperials used for baking can be used too.
A recommended amount is provided in the recipe card below.
If you prefer it spicier, you can add more!
How to Make it – Step-by-Step
Like most punch recipes, it is easy to make.
- Combine all ingredients.
- Simmer for 20 minutes and it’s ready!
It’s perfect to leave on the stove top to stay warm and serve from there.
Alcoholic Wassail Recipe
Traditional Wassail included some type of liquor. Just enough to keep fingers and toes from tingling in the winter cold.
Most recipes today do not include liquor which allows anyone to drink it!
It’s an easy drink to spike if you wish. Try adding:
- Vodka (a neutral flavor that won’t change the Wassail flavor)
- Bourbon (will add some whiskey flavor)
- Rum (will complement the fruit flavors and taste a bit like a Mai Tai)
How to Add Liquor
You can spike the main Wassail batch if desired.
Adding liquor per serving instead of the whole batch allows children and teetotalers to enjoy it too!
Crockpot Wassail Recipe
Make this recipe in a Slow Cooker!
This is a great option if you want it out of the mainstream cooking.
Or if you want it hot and ready when you come home from chilly outdoor activities.
How to Make it in a Slow Cooker
Add all the ingredients to a large slow cooker and cook on:
- HIGH for 3-4 hours, or
- LOW for 6-8 hours.
How to Store it
If making ahead or having leftovers, store the sealed in the refrigerator. Warm before serving.
TIP: I store it in a glass jar with spigot. This makes it easy to draw a cup to heat in the microwave.
More Christmas Drink Recipes you’ll love:
- Glogg: Scandanavian Mulled Wine
- Designated Driver Required Egg Nog
- Sparkling Cranberry Vodka Punch
- Slow Cooker Mulled Apple Cider (non-alcoholic)
- Homemade Hot Chocolate
- Christmas Punch recipe (non-alcoholic)
More Recipes to Try
- Roasting Chestnuts: Everything You Need to Know
- Christmas Breakfast: Enchilada Casserole (an Easy Breakfast Casserole All Year Round!)
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: The Best Method Ever!
- Quiche: Quiche Lorraine (A Classic Cheesy Bacon Quiche)
Please SUBSCRIBE and FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK , TWITTER , INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST!
- 2 quarts (8 cups) Sweet Apple Cider
- 5 cups Pineapple Juice
- 2 cups No-Pulp Orange Juice
- 1 cup Lemon Juice
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 1 teaspoon Whole Cloves
- 2-3 ounces Red Hots or Cinnamon Imperials (Baking Decorations)
- Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a low simmer and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes for the flavors to blend.
- Strain into serving mugs and serve warm.
Quantity of Red HotsThe original recipe which is from the early 1970's called for '1/2 a small package' of Red Hots. Since then multiple sizes of Red Hots and cinnamon imperials are available. The estimated amount is 2-3 ounces, or half of a 5.5 ounce package in current sizing.
Originally published December 11, 2011
Wassail is a sweet, spiced hot Christmas drink served as a mocktail or cocktail!
Phil;lip Minyard says
Since Red Hots are available in sizes from .9 ounces to 10 pound bags, Can you advise on the amount to use in ounces?
Toni Dash says
Hi Phillip. Thanks for your question. This recipe is from the early 1970s when there were only two sizes of Red Hots. You are correct, now there are many sizes. I’ve updated the recipe to reflect a suggested amount of 2-3 ounces, or half of a 5.5 ounce package.
My package of red hots were found in the candy aisle, they are a box of 5.5 oz , is this considered small?
Toni Dash says
Hi Sonya. I would use a ‘normal’ size as a reference vs movie size. It seems like everything is getting supersized these days so if your package looks like a more regular size you should be good. If it IS a supersize package use 1/4 of the package.
This drink was everything I hoped for and more. Such a great holiday drink.
I bet the house smells so good after cooking this up! Saving this recipe for the holidays!
Myrah Duque says
You had me at “Alcoholic”! I love the cinnamon Red Hits. The first time I tasted Wassail was in Branson MO and I was hooked on it. It was the alcoholic option, but super delicious! Perfect beverage.
This is totally the taste of the holidays for me! Love it!
Julie Blanner says
I’m ready for the holidays after reading this! This looks perfect for holiday get togethers.