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A glass of home brewed hard apple cider, made using this hard apple cider recipe.
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4.67 from 3 votes

Homemade Hard Apple Cider

Homemade Hard Apple Cider is fun and easy to make, and highly customizable. Make your Hard Apple Cider from apples, or purchased cider!
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time45 mins
Resting time130 d
Total Time130 d 2 hrs 45 mins
Course: Beverage
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5 Gallons
Calories: 3497kcal
Author: Marie Porter


1 6.5 gallon fermenter bucket and lid
1 or 2 6.5 gallon glass carboys
1 air lock and stopper
Siphon, siphon tubing.


  • 5 gallons Apple cider*
  • 5-10 lbs white and/or brown sugar we use ~7 lbs brown sugar**
  • 2 packets of wine yeast We like Red Star “Cote de Blancs” for this recipe
  • Optional Ingredients:***
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raisins
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves


  • In large stock pot, combine apple cider with the sugar. Heat to almost boiling, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue to heat for about 45 minutes – never allowing it to come to a boil. Remove from heat, cover with sanitized pot lid. (If you don’t have a 7-10 gallon stock pot or turkey fryer, you can do this in batches.)
  • Once mixture has cooled to room temperature, use a sanitized funnel to transfer cooled mixture to a sanitized 6.5-7.5 gallon fermenter. Using clean hands and sanitized utensils, add any flavoring ingredients you’ll be using to the fermenter. Go easy on the flavorings – you can always add more later, but cannot take it away if you overdo it!.
  • Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading. Keep track of the number! (This is an optional step, but will allow you to calculate your final ABV %)
  • Sprinkle yeast into fermenter, cover with sanitized air lock. Let sit, undisturbed, overnight.
  • Within 48 hours, you should notice fermentation activity – bubbles in the airlock, carbonation and /or swirling in the cider must. This means you’re good to go! Put the carboy somewhere cool (not cold!), and leave it alone for a month or so.
  • Using sanitized equipment, rack the clarified cider off the sediment, into a clean, freshly sanitized 6.5 gallon carboy. Cap with sanitized airlock, leave it alone for another 2-3 months.
  • When you’ve let it clarify as much as you have patience for – with no more sediment being produced – you can move on to bottling:
  • For uncarbonated cider:
  • Using sanitized equipment, take a final gravity reading, then rack the cider into clean, sanitized beer bottles, and cap them. Allow to age for a month or so before drinking. (Like wine, the flavor improves with age!)
  • For naturally carbonated cider:
  • In a small pot, mix together 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar or brown sugar. Use a sanitized funnel to pour this into a sanitized large carboy. Rack the cider over into this carboy, swirling it as you go. Bottle cider as described in the previous step. Allow to age at least a month or two – residual yeast will ferment the added sugar, carbonating the cider.
  • Alternatively, you can rack the cider (without the added sugar syrup!) into a keg and force carbonate it, if you have the set up for that. That’s what we did with our last batch, and blew through it pretty quick during the tornado clean up! Chilled hard apple cider is just what’s needed for that sort of thing, LOL!
  • Enjoy.. and start planning for next year’s batch(es)!


*Apple Cider: You want it to be preservative free. This is absolutely key! If your apple cider has anything like sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, etc, your yeast will not be able to ferment it. Worst case scenario, most grocery stores will carry a pasteurized apple cider in plastic bottles, near the apple juice. Go for it!
** Sugar: While sugar is technically optional, NOT adding any sugar will result in a very, very dry cider. Any amount of sugar will result in a higher alcohol content. At around 7 lbs, you should have a good, semi sweet cider. We like to use brown sugar, as we find that it gives the final cider a richer flavor. Feel free to use either type, raw cane sugar, or a mixture of any/all of these.
*** Optional Ingredients: While you don’t need any of these, they can enhance the flavor of your final cider, and allow for a LOT of personalization. Honey can be swapped for all or part of your sugar. Maple syrup and brown sugar can be added for flavor, or swapped for PART of your sugar (Flavors too strong to swap for ALL).
Add a 2-5 lbs of raisins to the primary fermenter for added flavor AND body.
Software generates nutritional information based on the ingredients as they start, and is unable to account for the sugars consumed in the fermentation process. As such, the calories, sugars, and carbs are shown WAY higher than reality.
Additionally, the listed value is for the entire recipe, NOT per serving.


Calories: 3497kcal | Carbohydrates: 881g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 156mg | Potassium: 3832mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 817g | Vitamin A: 38IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 307mg | Iron: 5mg