Slow Cooker Mulled Wine

updated Dec 4, 2023
Slow Cooker Mulled Wine Recipe

This holiday party favorite is infused with whole spices and sweetened with maple syrup.

Serves10 to 12

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Every holiday party needs a festive cocktail, but there’s no need to spend the night mixing drinks to-order. Add a few bottles of red wine, brandy, maple syrup, whole spices, and orange peel to a slow cooker and heat until warm. Guests fill their own mugs and mingle all night long.

What Is Mulled Wine?

Mulled wine is spiced and sweetened wine served warm, often with a shot of hard liquor. In Germany, it is called Gluhwein or “glow-wine” and the shot of liquor is rum or amaretto. In Scandinavia they serve Gløgg, adding blanched almonds, raisins, and port. Spain’s sangria is similar, although served chilled and filled to the brim with cut fruit.

You might remember singing the holiday classic “Here We Come a Wassailing,” but did you know that wassail punch is a Christmas drink? Wassail is made of ale, wine, or hard cider, served hot and sweetened and flavored with spices, ginger, and citrus.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Ingredients Needed for Mulled Wine

A single batch of this recipe makes 10 to 12 cocktails. The recipe is easily doubled for larger parties or halved for smaller gatherings, just keep the amount of whole spices constant.

  • Red wine: Pick up 2 affordable bottles of red wine from your favorite big box store or local wine shop. Look for bottles described as “jammy” or as having a “fruity, full-bodied flavor.”
  • Brandy: Brandy is a spirit made from fermented fruit or distilled wine. It’s often aged in oak barrels which impart notes of vanilla, maple, and cinnamon into the liquor. Cognac is a type of brandy.
  • Whole spices: Infuse the wine with whole cloves, star anise pods, and cinnamon sticks Ground spices can leave a ring unpleasant grit in the bottom of your mug.
  • Maple syrup: This amber syrup adds robust, earthy sweetness, and dissolves more easily than granular sugars.
  • Orange: Remove the zest from 1/2 orange, and make sure to shave off any bitter white pith with a sharp paring knife.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

What Are Mulling Spices?

Mulling spices often includes spices like cinnamon, star anise, clove that add flavor and fragrance to warm drinks like mulled wine and apple cider. While a pot of mulling spices simmering on the back stove during the holidays adds a cozy scent to the home — you do not want to drink a mugful of potpourri.

A pair of cinnamon sticks and star anise pods and a mere four whole cloves will perfume a batch or two of mulled wine. After that, if the party keeps rocking, fish out the spent spices and replenish with new.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How to Make Slow Cooker Mulled Wine

  • Add ingredients to a large slow cooker. Combine wine, brandy, maple syrup, cloves, star anise pods, cinnamon sticks, and orange peel in a slow cooker.
  • Heat on LOW until hot. It will take about an hour for the mulled wine to get hot. Do not set the slow cooker HIGH as this can boil the alcohol away and won’t give the spices time to infuse the wine.
  • Reduce heat to WARM and serve. Mulled wine actually improves as it sits; the flavors mellow and the spices perfume the whole house.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How to Serve Slow Cooker Mulled Wine

Slow cookers are the perfect serving vessel for winter cocktail parties. The drink stays at a constant cozy temperature and the only babysitting it needs is an occasional glance to let you know when to refresh the crock with wine, brandy, and maple syrup. Replenish the spices only when they appear saturated and their fragrance dwindles.

Set serving glasses or mugs alongside the slow cooker and be sure to arrange a ladle on a spoon rest. Finish the setup with a few small bowls of garnishes — sliced orange, strips of orange peel, fresh cranberries, cinnamon sticks, star anise pods. A dark-colored towel or napkin set discretely nearby will ease any worry if spills occur.

Slow Cooker Mulled Wine Recipe

This holiday party favorite is infused with whole spices and sweetened with maple syrup.

Serves 10 to 12

Nutritional Info


  • 1/2

    medium orange

  • 2 (750-milliliter) bottles

    red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon

  • 1/2 cup


  • 1/2 cup

    maple syrup

  • 4

    whole cloves

  • 2

    whole star anise pods

  • 2

    (3-inch) cinnamon sticks

  • Optional garnishes: cinnamon sticks, star anise pods, orange peel or slices, cranberries


  • Corkscrew

  • Liquid measuring cup

  • 3- to 4-quart slow cooker

  • Vegetable peeler

  • Ladle

  • Knife and cutting board


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  1. Remove orange peel. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from 1/2 medium orange. Use a paring knife to shave off any bitter, white pith.

  2. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Place the orange peel, 2 (750-milliliter) bottles red wine, 1/2 cup brandy, 1/2 cup maple syrup, 4 whole cloves, 2 whole star anise pods, and 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks in a 3-quart or larger slow cooker and stir to combine.

  3. Heat on LOW for 1 hour. Cover and heat on the LOW setting until hot, about 1 hour.

  4. Lower the heat to warm, ladle into mugs, and garnish. Turn the slower cooker to WARM setting for serving if available for serving (otherwise turn off). Ladle into mugs or heatproof glasses and garnish as desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Strain leftovers to remove spices, then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Half batch: For a smaller batch, combine 1 bottle wine and 1/4 cup each brandy and maple syrup, but keep the same amount of zest and spices.