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Christmas Punch That Warms the Soul: 20 Wassail Recipes

Rose Mary's mother and all of her aunts are great Southern cooks. She likes to think she's not so bad herself.

Make alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of this classic holiday beverage.

Make alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of this classic holiday beverage.

What Is Wassail?

Wassail is a traditional Christmas punch that has roots as far back as 1066 when the Normans likely introduced this warm brew to England. Some may use other names to refer to traditional warm holiday punch, such as mulled cider or mulled wine.

Most wassails have an apple juice base and spices, such as cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and cloves. Some add orange juice or other juices. My favorites tend to be the ones with pineapple juice added.

Wassail is a traditional Christmas punch.

Wassail is a traditional Christmas punch.

I spent some time on a couple of my favorite recipe sites and pulled together this collection of 20 recipes. I tried to make sure that each was sufficiently different from the others, and I divided them into three broad categories:

3 Types of Holiday Punch Recipes

  1. Classic wassail (and a few unusual ones)
  2. Wassail with fruit
  3. Wassail with alcohol

These recipes include a variety of combinations of juices. One recipe uses apricot nectar. Other ingredients include grapefruit juice, lemonade, and tea. Some of the recipes use interesting ingredients like cranberry jelly, Red Hots candies, or black pepper! I even found a sugar-free version using Crystal Light. I have included versions with wine, sherry, brandy, and whiskey at the end.

Try traditional and non-traditional versions of this punch.

Try traditional and non-traditional versions of this punch.

1. Apple and Orange Juice Wassail

Serves 16

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 10 cloves
  • 4 cups orange juice
  • 8 cups apple juice

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 1 1/4 hours

Directions

  1. Add water and sugar to a pot.
  2. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Add spices and cover for 60 minutes.
  4. Add juices and bring to a rapid boil.
  5. Remove from heat and serve.

Original recipe from Food.com.

2. Cider, Orange Juice, and Lemon Juice Wassail

Serves 24

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 12 cloves
  • 12 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 quarts orange juice
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1 cup lemon juice

Prep Time: 1 hour Total Time: 1 1/2 hours

Directions

  1. Add water and sugar to a pot.
  2. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Add spices and cover for 60 minutes or overnight.
  4. Add cider and juices and bring to a boil.
  5. Remove from heat and serve.

Original recipe from Food.com. You might also try a crystallized ginger version or a pineapple juice version.

3. Cranberry, Pineapple, and Orange Juice With Fruit Punch Wassail

Serves 32

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 7 cups water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 (6-ounce) can frozen fruit punch concentrate
  • 40 ounces pineapple juice

Directions

  1. Heat cranberry juice, water, and sugar on medium heat in a large pot.
  2. Place spices in a cheesecloth bag and tie.
  3. Add to the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove spices.
  5. Add fruit juices and concentrates.
  6. Serve hot.

Original recipe from AllRecipes.

4. Apple, Orange, and Grapefruit Juice Wassail

Serves 16 to 24

Ingredients

  • 8 cups apple juice
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 12 to 24 cloves
  • 4 cups orange juice
  • 4 cups grapefruit juice

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 15 minutes

Directions

  1. Heat apple juice, sugar, and spices until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat.
  4. Add orange and grapefruit juice.

5. Pineapple and Orange Juice and Tea Wassail

Serves 7

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 orange pekoe tea bags
  • 1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • Honey
  • Lemon juice
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon stick

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

Directions

  1. Boil water in a pot.
  2. Add the tea bags.
  3. Cover and steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Discard the tea bags.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients.
  6. Heat over medium-low for 15 minutes.
  7. Discard the spices and serve.

Original recipe from Food.com.

6. Cider, Orange Juice, and Lemonade Wassail

Serves 12 to 16

Ingredients

  • 1 quart water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 12 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 (6-ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate

Prep Time: 1 1/2 hours Total Time: 2 hours

Directions

  1. Combine sugar and water in a large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat.
  3. Add spices.
  4. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.
  5. Strain to remove spices.
  6. Add thawed orange juice, lemonade concentrates, and apple cider.
  7. Bring to a boil.
  8. Serve.

7. Juice, Tea, and Cranberry Sauce Wassail

Serves 4 to 8

Ingredients

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1 family-size tea bag (or 3 regular tea bags)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup real lemon juice
  • 1 can cranberry jelly sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 1 1/4 hours

Directions

  1. Place spices in a paper coffee filter and tie it off with a tea bag string.
  2. Steep the spice pouch and the tea bag in 2 1/2 cups of water in a large pot for 5 minutes.
  3. Combine cranberry sauce, 1 1/2 cups boiling water, and 3/4 cups sugar in a large bowl.
  4. Mix with an electric mixer until the lumps are gone.
  5. Add orange and lemon juice and 1 1/2 cup boiling water.
  6. Remove the tea bag and spices from the pot.
  7. Add the cranberry mixture to the tea in the pot.
  8. Heat all ingredients in the pot or use a crock pot.

Original recipe from Food.com.

8. Wassail With Fruit Juice and Apricot Nectar

Serves 22

Ingredients

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole nutmeg
  • 1 gallon apple cider or apple juice
  • 4 1/2 cups pineapple juice
  • 4 cups orange juice
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans apricot nectar
  • 1 (12-ounce) can frozen lemonade

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 1 1/4 hours

Directions

  1. Make a pouch of spices in a cheesecloth.
  2. Add all ingredients to a large Dutch oven pot.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Uncover and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the spice pouch. Serve hot.
  7. Transfer to a crock pot to keep warm.

Original recipe from Food.com.

9. Wassail With Fruit Juice and Red Hots

Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 1 quart apple juice
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Red Hots candies
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 15 minutes

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a pot.
  2. Heat, stirring frequently until Red Hots are dissolved.

Original recipe from Food.com.

Try adding pineapple, apricots, and more.

Try adding pineapple, apricots, and more.

10. Apple, Pineapple, and Cranberry Juice Wassail With Lemon Slices

Serves 18

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
  • 3 cups pineapple juice
  • 4 cups apple juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 lemon slices

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 15 minutes

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a pot.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Original recipe from Food.com.

11. Crystal Light Wassail

Serves 10

Ingredients

  • 1 large can apple juice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pouch Crystal Light Raspberry Ice
  • 1 pouch Crystal Light Cranberry Breeze
  • 1 orange, sliced

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 3 1/4 hours

Directions

  1. Add apple juice, water, and cinnamon sticks to a crock pot.
  2. Cook on low for 2 hours.
  3. Stir in Crystal Light.
  4. Add orange slices.
  5. Cook for 1 hour.
  6. Remove cinnamon and orange slices and serve.

Original recipe from Food.com.

12. Wassail With Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, Cider, and Apricots

Serves 16

Ingredients

  • 2 (16-ounce) cans apricots with juice
  • 8 cups pineapple juice
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 30 cloves
  • 10 cinnamon sticks, broken

Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

Directions

  1. In a blender, process apricots and juice until smooth.
  2. Pour into a large pot.
  3. Add cider and juices.
  4. Make a cheesecloth pouch with spices and add to the pot.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.

13. Cranberry, Pineapple, and Lemon Juice and Cider Wassail With Orange Slices

Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon apple cider
  • 1/2 gallon cranberry juice
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups pineapple juice
  • 1 large orange
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 24 cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Mint leaves and orange slices, for garnish

Directions

  1. Combine cider, juices, and a thinly-sliced orange in a large pot.
  2. Add sugar, honey, cloves, and cinnamon sticks.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to simmer.
  5. Add the remaining spices.
  6. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Serve warm with garnish.

Original recipe from AllRecipes.

14. Apple Cider Wassail With Sliced Apples

Serves 16

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 6 cored apples, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon anise seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 thinly-sliced orange
  • 1 thinly-sliced lemon

Directions

  1. Add cider, apples, and cinnamon sticks to a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Reduce heat and add the remaining spices and brown sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar.
  3. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add orange and lemon slices.
  5. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
  6. Serve in mugs with fruit.

15. Apple Juice Wassail With Apples, Oranges, and Black Pepper

Serves 10

Ingredients

  • 1 (12-ounce) can frozen apple juice
  • 3 1/2 cans water
  • 2 sweet oranges
  • 1 sour orange
  • 1 red apple
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 star anise seed

Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 55 minutes

Directions

  1. Pour apple juice and water into a crock pot.
  2. Quarter the oranges.
  3. Squeeze the orange quarters into the crock pot. Add the squeezed orange quarters to the crock pot as well.
  4. Quarter the apples and add.
  5. Add spices to the crock pot.
  6. Heat on low for about 45 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to warm setting and heat for up to 6 hours.
  8. Serve in mugs.

Original recipe from Food.com.

Try adding some "holiday spirit" to your wassail.

Try adding some "holiday spirit" to your wassail.

16. Apple-Cranberry Wassail With Rum

Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1 small orange studded with cloves
  • 1 cup rum

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 4 1/2 hours

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a crock pot.
  2. Cover and heat on high for 1 hour.
  3. Reduce to low and heat for 4 to 8 hours.

Original recipe from Food.com.

17. Ginger Ale Wassail With Milk, Sherry, and Brandy

Serves 25

Ingredients

  • 8 Pink Lady apples
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 liters ginger ale
  • 25 ounces sherry
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

  1. Bake whole apples in 350°F oven until tender (about 25 minutes).
  2. Gently crush the allspice and break the cinnamon sticks. Place all spices in a cheesecloth bag.
  3. Bring 2 cups of ginger ale and the spice bag to a boil in a large pot.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the spice bag.
  5. Add the remaining ginger ale, sherry, and brandy.
  6. Heat until hot, but do not boil.
  7. Whisk in the milk.
  8. Pour into a punch bowl and add baked apples.

Original recipe from AllRecipes.

18. Tavern Wassail With Fruit Juice, Red Wine, and Sherry

Serves 20

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 lemon slices
  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 6 cups dry red wine
  • 1 cup dry sherry

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes

Directions

  1. Combine water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and lemon slices in a large saucepan and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
  2. Strain and discard the cinnamon and lemon.
  3. Pour juices, wine, and sherry into a large pot and simmer for several minutes.
  4. Combine the wine mixture and the sugar mixture in a serving bowl.
  5. Serve hot in mugs with lemon slices.

Original recipe from Food.com.

19. Apple-Cranberry Wassail With Whiskey

Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 3 quarts apple cider
  • 1 quart cranberry juice
  • 2 tablespoons allspice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pint whiskey
  • Orange slices, for garnish

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 1 1/4 hours

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except whiskey in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Simmer for at least 1 hour.
  3. Strain and add whiskey.
  4. Garnish with sliced oranges.

Original recipe from Food.com.

20. Apple Cider Wassail With Baked Apples, Eggs, Cream Sherry, and Brandy

Serves 25 to 30

Ingredients

  • 2 cups peeled and baked Golden Delicious apples
  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon mace
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups cream sherry
  • 1 cup brandy

Prep Time: 1 hour Total Time: 2 hours

Directions

  1. Cut the baked apples into medium-small pieces.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the cider and the baked apple pieces.
  3. In another saucepan, boil sugar, water, and spices for 5 minutes.
  4. In a third saucepan, boil cream, sherry, and brandy.
  5. In a mixing bowl, process 3 egg whites until firm and stiff but not dry.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, mix 3 egg yolks until creamy and light in color.
  7. Fold the egg whites into the yolks.
  8. Add the spice mixture a little at a time, stirring constantly.
  9. Add alcohol.
  10. Then add the cider mixture.
  11. Remove allspice and cloves.
  12. Serve warm.

Original recipe from Food.com.

Love Wassail? Try Wassailfest

My favorite Christmas festival is the annual Wassailfest in New Braunfels, Texas. It is held the first Thursday of December and lasts until the wassail runs out! That’s usually about 10 p.m., but I have seen them roll up the sidewalks at about 9.

The store owners in the historic downtown area serve this traditional warm punch and open their doors for browsing. Some shops have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of wassail to offer up. As you go from shop to shop sampling the punch, make notes! You get to vote for the best one.

Wassailfest at Town Square in New Braunfels, Texas

Wassailfest at Town Square in New Braunfels, Texas