Homemade Wassail | Instant Pot recipe

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Instant Pot Wassail is a warm, lightly sweetened drink perfect for holiday parties made with apple cider, fresh oranges, cinnamon, and cloves. This non-alcoholic version is a family favorite. 

a close-up of a lovely warm apple wassail in a mason jar, with a curl of orange zest and fresh cranberries floating on top.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Wassail is a classic wintertime drink that will warm you right up. It’s naturally sweetened and spiced with seasonal flavors that will instantly put you in the holiday mood.

We always serve this spiced and sweet wassail for the holidays, and we’ve updated this recipe with new tips and photos to make your Christmas celebration that much warmer. 

Wassail is always on our holiday menu, along with other Instant Pot favorites, such as Instant Pot Cranberry Baked Brie, Instant Pot Cheesy Potatoes Au Gratin, and Instant Pot Cornbread

Wassail is an old English drink that’s mentioned in several Christmas carols (according to this news story, it was also a favorite sip of Charles Dickens). There are countless ways to make it, but all of them seem to be served hot and start with an apple base and warm, Christmas-y spices.

However, some family recipes call for less citrus (or different types of citrus), some have cranberries or cranberry juice, and others use allspice, juniper berries, or other classic holiday spices.

This recipe is our family’s favorite, but feel free to make it your own with the flavors and ingredients you love this time of year. Cheers!

an overhead shot of apple cider, fresh orange juice, oranges, lemons, vanilla bean paste, spices, and cinnamon sticks

Wassail Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make sweet and gently spiced wassail in your Instant Pot:

  • Apple cider. You want regular cider, not juice, and not alcoholic hard cider.
  • Orange juice. You can use freshly squeezed or your favorite bottled brand of OJ. 
  • Spices. Use whole cinnamon sticks and cloves, plus a bit of ground nutmeg. Originally we used fresh ginger, but we’ve updated the recipe a bit.
  • Citrus. You’ll want the zest and juice of several lemons and oranges. 
  • Vanilla. Look for whole vanilla beans or high-quality vanilla bean paste. 
  • Sweetener. You can sweeten your wassail with brown sugar or simple syrup to your taste preference. 

How to Make Wassail in an Instant Pot

This easy recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL.

To make this warming winter drink in a pressure cooker, start by making a small spice sachet. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, lemon and orange zest, ginger, and vanilla bean in a cheesecloth bag or mesh steamer basket. 

Next, add the apple cider and orange juice to the pressure cooking pot, along with your spice mixture. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. 

Finish with a quick pressure release and remove the lid from the Instant Pot. Remove the cheesecloth or steamer basket and discard the spices.

Your wassail is ready to serve, straight from the pressure cooking pot. 

After pressure cooking, you can strain your wassail through a fine-mesh strainer if you like. This will remove any cloudiness in the drink, but it’s totally optional.

An overhead shot of the Instant Pot full of wassail, ready to serve with cinnamon sticks and fresh cranberries for garnish. In the background are a white crosshatch towel, fresh lemons and oranges, and more cinnamon sticks

Important Tips for Making Wassail

  • We’ve found that making wassail with sliced or whole citrus fruits can leave a bitter flavor from the white pith. Instead, we like to use thin slices or spirals of citrus zest as a garnish after pressure cooking. 
  • We also like to garnish a bowl of wassail with fresh cinnamon sticks, fresh cranberries, and apple slices.
  • We think the strained version looks better, as it’s much less cloudy. But it’s up to you if you’d rather skip that step. 
  • We like to use a cheesecloth packet, which keeps the spices off the bottom of the pressure cooking pot. However, you can also easily place them in a metal or silicone steamer basket in the pressure cooker, especially if you intend to strain it.
  • If you’re using fresh vanilla beans, there’s no need to split them. 
A side shot of a glass mason jar mug, filled with a lovely orange-brown drink, with fresh cranberries floating on top. The drink is on a round wooden tray, with orange zest garnishes and additional oranges visible in the background.

Frequently Asked Questions about Wassail

How should I serve wassail?

We always serve this drink straight from the Instant Pot, which keeps it warm. You can add your favorite garnishes, such as citrus peel, apple slices, and cinnamon sticks. 

Is wassail alcoholic?

Our version of wassail is non-alcoholic. But if you’d like to make an adult version of the holiday punch, you can add bourbon or dark rum to each glass. 

Can I use dried ginger instead of fresh?

It should work well to substitute 1 teaspoon of ground ginger for the fresh ginger in this recipe. 

Can I halve the recipe?

Yes, you can cut this recipe in half with no changes to the cooking time or instructions. 

Can I make wassail ahead of time?

You can prepare this wassail in your Instant Pot up to two days ahead. Then reheat it using the Saute function on the pressure cooker until it’s warmed through. 

An overhead shot of two clear glass mugs of wassail sitting on a wooden round, with orange zest, a fresh cut orange, and a sliced apple in the background.

MORE Holiday Instant Pot Recipes

Try these other festive recipes in your Instant Pot / pressure cooker:

A photo of two glass mugs of apple cider, with a wooden round board underneath, with fresh orange and apple slices and an Instant Pot in the background.

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Electric Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Wassail

Electric Pressure Cooker Wassail

Yield: 12 cups

Instant Pot Wassail is a warming alcohol-free holiday drink made with apple cider, fresh oranges and lemons, and plenty of cinnamon. It's perfect for holiday parties!

Ingredients

  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups orange juice (fresh or your favorite bottled brand)
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled (optional)
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • Zest and juice of 2 oranges, plus more oranges for garnish if desired
  • 2 vanilla beans, split (or 1 teaspoon high-quality vanilla paste)
  • Brown sugar or simple syrup, optional, to sweeten to taste
  • Garnish with additional orange wedges, apple wedges, curled orange zest, fresh cranberries, as desired

Instructions

  1. Pour apple cider and orange juice into the pressure cooking pot. If desired, use a cheesecloth bag or a mesh steamer basket to hold the spices. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, zest and juice of lemons, ginger (if using), and vanilla beans to the basket. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 10 minutes cook time.
  2. When the cook time ends, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a natural release.
  3. Remove the cheesecloth bag and discard its contents. If desired, strain the wassail through a fine mesh strainer to remove any cloudiness from the zest.
  4. Turn the pressure cooker to Keep Warm and serve the wassail hot from the pot. (Use the low slow cook setting if you need it hot.)
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 212Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 38mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 3gSugar: 43gProtein: 1g

Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.

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